Mu-An Chiou

Leaving GitHub

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Hey! I'm leaving by Mayday

Today is my last day at GitHub.

In the last 7 years I met so many great people, and got to step into worlds that I didn’t think I belonged in. I’m extremely thankful to those of you who welcomed me with open arms and helped me along the way, internally and externally.

I often wonder what it was that I did right, to be so lucky that I met many friends who would advocate for me, mentors who were willing to invest in me, and teams that valued my contributions.

However, I still ended up finding myself in a difficult situation.

I have been experiencing serious burnout. Many friends saw this before I did, and before I was willing to admit it. And then 2020 came around. This year hasn't been easy on any of us. While I am fortunate and privileged in many ways, it has reached a point where I desperately need a break for my mental health. Unexpectedly, I found out that getting a break was very difficult.

Then, I spent a long time asking myself what it was that I was holding out for.

Life, work, US politics, and their intersection had me wondering was it worth all this? And the answer is, it wasn’t.

The GitHub today isn’t the place that I so excitedly joined back when I was in my early 20s. It shouldn’t and couldn't have stayed the same, but I think it has changed so significantly that I ought to re-evaluate this choice.

There are many decisions made by the US government and by Microsoft GitHub that I disagree with. Leaving wouldn’t change any of them, but between being a temporary immigrant worker in this foreign country and a human resource in a mega corporation, I just feel powerless, and complicit. By leaving, I will be able to direct my time and energy on issues that I have the power to influence, and in democratic processes that I get to participate.

I thought I couldn’t afford to leave, but I can. I thought I had no choice but to stay, but I was mostly scared. I was scared because 7 years of GitHub has shaped my adulthood, because leaving a group of people I deeply respect and enjoy working with seems unwise, because making two major life decisions (resigning and moving) at the same time is overwhelming... on top of all of this, isn't everything around us terrifying enough?

Thanks to many friends and coworkers who lended their time to listen to my worries and frustrations. I really couldn't have come to be so sure of this decision without all their perspectives and supportive words. They helped me see that I have the materials in my inventory to craft a happier setup 🎮, and that I deserve it.

So now, I have to say goodbye to this chapter 👋🏼.

I’m going back home to Taiwan, and will try to recover from my burnout. I will look at some nature and hang out with my family and friends who won't be thousands of miles away anymore. And we can go from there.

Hope this serves as a reminder that you might have a choice as well, despite how scary it seems. Talk to the people you trust, and a path might reveal itself.

- Mu-An @ Brooklyn, already happier.

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