Dear 2018, you've been bitter-sweet.

I had to reinvent myself professionally.

  • I tried to create a business out of my active living outdoor lifestyle. Fast. I learned that monetizing anything takes time. I learned that monetizing your lifestyle within unrealistic timeframes may very well fuck up your lifestyle. It was hard for me to give it the time it needed. I also learned that founders have co-founders for a reason. It was hard for me to do it alone. But I am incredibly proud of the three Food Circles and the Plus One Camp we managed to put together. Thank you boyfriend and Svetla for all the support! ❤️ That was a lot of fun and a lot of learning. If nothing else, I learned that we do need an offline community to belong to. I also learned that I do love getting people together and I look forward to organizing more events for my closest people. 👭
  • I tried freelance business/growth/strategy consulting for the flexibility and (location) independence. I learned that I need to create a meaningful impact through my work. I learned this requires long-term commitment, rather than a one-off campaign/workshop/training that often was the case through independent consulting. I also learned that I didn't enjoy consulting with just any company. I wanted to work with – founder run, independent scale ups with small teams. Just when I was considering full-time employment again, I was contacted by a small, founder-run scale up for a long-term project that not only had the potential for meaningful impact, but also allowed me to work as a contractor. I think I go pretty lucky! Somehow, I managed to combine the best of both (employment vs freelance) worlds – something I never thought was possible. 👩🏻‍💻

I had a bunch of firsts. 

  • I took my first ever tennis lesson and was immediately hooked. So much so that both me and Kiro now train with the craziest, funniest tennis coach twice per week! Tennis by far is the hardest, most physically and mentally challenging sports I've ever tried. The boyfriend deserves massive thanks both for keeping up with me when I was in my tennis lows and lightning so much love for the game in me. I can't wait for Sofia Open and Mutua Madrid Open – the first ATP tournaments that we'll see live. 🎾
  • I did my first ever 4-day mountain trek. I loved it so much that two others (2, 3) quickly followed. Turning off your phone for 4 days straight was the longest I've been disconnected and it was absolutely amazing. The mountain is pure happiness, trekking is the best meditation. Thank you, Alek, for showing us the mountains and being the best guide we could hope for. Just one quick favor – can we get lost a bit less this year? At least skip the accidental detours? 😆🥾
  • I did my first ever velo tour crossing borders of 3 countries: Bulgaria, Greece and Macedonia. We cycled 200km for 2 days. It came with sunburn, butt pain and lots of laughs. 🚴‍♀️
  • I did my first ever mobile photography weekend on wheels where I learned how to tell photo stories (1, 2) and take portraits. Photography is therapy. Thank you, Vera, for showing us this world and teaching us to tell better stories and use our phones for good. 📱Side note, our particular weekend made it to the Atlantic! Way to go, Vera! 🎉
  • I tried wakeboarding! I only did it once, but I know I'll be doing more of it. One thing I learned – your teacher can make all the difference. And oh how lucky I was to be trained by a professional wakeboard instructor and a fellow marketer! Thanks Ian for the great lessons. 🏄‍♂️

I made a (couple of) dreams come true.

  • We did a 2-week snowboarding roadtrip through Slovenia, Italy and France. It was not only amazing, but I also improved my riding a lot - mastered the button lift, my stance is much better and I almost landed a 180. Mileage matters. Practice makes perfect. 🏂
  • We lived on an island and surfed every day for almost a month! Besides the everyday surfing part and improving our riding (yay, I planed my board and mastered the harness!), we met a ton of amazing people, some of which we now call friends. Thank you for the adventure, Siroko Wind Club, Sashe, Alex, Mitko, Bube! Limnos is forever in our hearts and we can't wait to be back. 🌊
  • We saw the Arctic Monkeys live in Athens. As if that wasn't enough, we almost got a private concert by Miles Kane. Also, I think we're a bit too old for festivals now. Or maybe the AM crowd is a bit too much 15-year old! 🤣🎸

I had to accept death and move on. 

  • I lost my brother to a suicide after several years of fighting a borderline identity disorder. I had dedicated a good chunk of my life to help him any way possible I knew. Accepting that someone else’s life is not in your control and that you can’t really make the changes they need to make is hard. Trying to enjoy your firsts or reinvent yourself while all of this is happening is especially bitter-sweet. Accepting death is hard. But in the end of the day, there’s little you can do – you can either move on, or slide yourself on a downward spiral of self-pity and remorse. I choose to move on. 🤘

I choose to move on because life is good. Every now and then, I pinch myself to remind myself how lucky I am. I am healthy, I do meaningful work, I have the flexibility to work whenever, wherever and however I want, I can afford to follow my passions around the world and try new ones, I have a handful of good friends I can trust.

But most of all — I have the most amazing person to support me in the lows and cheer with me in the highs. Thank you for being the boyfriend, Boyfriend! ❤

Dear 2019, I look forward to living you with my heart full and my eyes open.

Featured image by Missy Meyer on Unsplash