Hello friend, and welcome back!
If you have being following my blog in previous years, you have noticed that I suddenly stopped writing some time in 2018. I would like to talk about why that happened and what’s to expect from this space in the future.
In the summer of 2017, I took an important life decision. I decided to leave Greece and move permanently to Switzerland. The goal was to find a full time job in my field of study, Computer Engineering, and achieve financial independence. I took a giant leap of faith, as I left with next to zero savings and only equipped with my education and skills.
I didn’t know what to expect from the Swiss job market, as my previous work experience was in the EU. I was hit hard with the reality that Switzerland is very different, not only in recruitment processes but social interactions as well. I spent 5 grueling months until I found my first job. In those months, I managed to find a local yarn shop, where I could regularly offer knitting and crochet classes. I also did some freelance work. But the income was no way near enough to cover the very basic expenses. Five months were enough to accumulate such a debt (borrowed money from friends of my family), that it took me almost 2 years to pay off.
My first job was not stellar, either. I had a fix term contract which was interrupted for 2 months, already after a month of employment. I was suddenly faced with the reality of having to cover 3 months’ expenses with only 1 month pay. The contract conditions were horrible. I had very little holidays and was not paid when I got sick. At some point I discovered that I was also grossly underpaid; 30% less than my male coworker doing the same job (same age, less education). Why would I take on a job like this, you ask? Firstly, I was very desperate to get any job when I found this one. Secondly, I was unaware of the standard working conditions, benefits and salary ranges that are expected in the Swiss job market. Thirdly, my previous employer was an ass. He saw how desperate I was and simply took advantage of me.
After a failed attempt at getting a salary raise (was first ignored and then bullied), I decided to quit in 2019 to look for a new job. I was absolutely terrified. I was still paying off my initial debt, had very little savings and was afraid that I would again be unemployed for months. That’s why, three months before my employment would end, I registered myself in the regional unemployment office and applied for jobs. While still keeping up with my full time job, I had 11 interviews and eventually received 3 job offers. I picked one and secured a position starting in early 2020.
This new position is where I am currently employed. In contrast to my previous job, this company is a good place to work. When I started, I really wanted to do a good job and make a good impression. But the work itself was new to me as well as very challenging and demanding. I felt extremely exhausted, but I thought that I cannot relax, I had to prove myself. I tried so hard that I completely forgot how to stop and rest.
In November 2021, I crashed. I couldn’t work anymore. The week I got diagnosed with burnout, I would cry every time I tried to work and get physically sick (fever, headache, etc). I had almost touched the bottom during the years before, but this time it was definite. I had to admit to myself that I had failed. I had failed to keep up with my own imaginary expectations; expectations that dictated that I could do it all. Everything I set my mind to. Well, reality slapped me really hard, saying ‘NO’.
I sought help. I started therapy. There, I learned that the burnout was not just due to work. It was a result of various smaller traumas accumulated over the years. Radical change of cultural & social environment, financial insecurity, loneliness. It is difficult to have an active social life in Switzerland. Being alone in a new country, one needs friends. I spend a lot of time and energy looking for good friends. This was also mentally and emotionally exhausting in many ways.
One of the most devastating effects of the burnout was that I could not enjoy myself anymore. I had a hard time resting and finding joy in the things I used to. I stopped writing on this blog initially due to lack of time, but eventually because I didn’t find it fun anymore.
I spent many months this past year trying to figure out what to do with my “hobbies”. I felt super guilty for having neglected the output of my work of the previous decade: my blog, my shop, my knitwear design work. I also felt lost. I felt like I had lost a part of me, that my life changed so dramatically, that I didn’t know who I was anymore. Was there space for the things I used to do in my free time before? Or did I have to let everything go?
At some point I was feeling so low, that I was ready to let everything go. Give up on all the knitting related activities I did in the past: no more designing, no more blogging, no more teaching. Just do it for myself and share with no one. Just the thought of this prospect was hurtful. I don’t know exactly why, but I felt extremely sad. Then, in the midst of this sadness, I realized something profound. Some of my best friends, people very close to my heart, I have met through my classes; they were my students. If I where to give up on everything, I would also have to give up to the prospect of meeting amazing new people.
This thought held me back. And I am glad it did, because this past summer I met a new knitter that gave me a renewed sense of hope. The sense that the work I had done so far and the skills I have acquired were not in vain. That they are still relevant and needed. Not just for myself, but the local knitting community as well.
I feel I have found a new purpose and this makes me feel really good. In the past couple of months, I have had a sustained good mood for days; something I hadn’t managed to have for at least 2+ years now.
This good energy has flooded my mind with new fiber related ideas. I want to write about them in this blog. I don’t know how they will develop with time, I am prepared to go with the flow. As the first “project”, I will be working with existing knitted samples and altering them by using various techniques, such as hand sewing and embroidery.
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(I don’t like posting much to social media anymore and can’t guarantee updates there.)
Hope to see you around 🙂