I say yes! To a life in Greece

I started this website because I wanted something of my own when I would move to Greece with my boyfriend. A getaway from his country and family, something to allow me to share the experience of living abroad. We had many ideas for businesses in Greece and imagined moving together next year to start a different life. 

However, business in Greece is not easy. With vague rules and regulations, unmet promises, and the siga siga mentality, plans for the future rarely work out as you want them to. While I got more and more excited to leave my life in the Netherlands, the chances of starting over in Greece got smaller and smaller.

My life doesn’t suit me

For me, the idea of a life in Greece is intertwined with the lack of happiness I feel in my current life. I struggle with my ADHD in the career-oriented environment I am in. It is not that I do not like to work. Instead, I love to work hard. But the repetitive aspect of my job here and the artificial landscape of Rotterdam, are two things that do not fit me. I need a more active and free life to feel my best.

During my years as a student, for example, I took time off whenever I wanted to. No one cared if I attended classes or studied at fixed times. I had the freedom to organize my life in a way that suited me. There were weeks I hardly slept and worked 16 hours a day. But there were also weeks when I left everything behind and explored other countries and cities. 

The result? I was happy and graduated with honors. I was great at what I did because I could do it at my own pace. However, no boss will allow me to work that way. Unfortunately, I do not fit into a regular job.

What do I want?

When the business ideas in Greece started to disappear, I didn’t know what to do. It had been the idea of a future abroad that got me through my days behind a desk. Without this idea, I felt lost. How long before I could start figuring out what I want in life? When would I find a lifestyle that suits me? How was I supposed to get rid of this intense feeling of being trapped?

I believe that, with the disappearance of a concrete plan for a future in Greece, I discovered what moving to Greece meant to me. It wasn’t that I was sad to lose the business plans. Instead, I lost the chance to have to opportunity to get away from my desk, connect with nature, and work at a pace that suits me. Greece had been about my need for freedom and an inspiring environment. And for this, I do not need a concrete plan. I need to be brave!

Realizing this, I decided that no matter what opportunities would come or not come, I would leave. Follow my heart and discover what makes me happy. Learn about myself and figure out what is bothering me in my current life. Work hard when I am motivated, and take time off when I need inspiration. 

A plan without a plan. Only based on my own emotions. Irrational and impulsive. And most of all, freaking scary.

Do I have to go alone?

After this decision, came doubt. Although I now thought of Greece as a way to discover my own needs in life, I always imagined going on this journey together with my boyfriend. However, around the time I decided to go to Greece, my boyfriend got a promotion. A new opportunity that got him excited. So excited that even if a business plan in Greece would have appeared, he would have wanted to stay.

Suddenly we wanted two different things in life. I wanted to realize his dream in Greece. He wanted what I had always believed my life to be. A successful career in the Netherlands.

We took some time to discuss and think about what this would mean for us. Was one of us supposed to wait? Was one of us supposed to give up their dream? Or were our dreams even false, influenced by the other person? 

Doubt

I doubted myself a lot during this time. I wanted to be ok with staying here, in this city, doing this job. I blamed my ADHD and told myself I just had to set my feelings aside and keep trying. Be normal, and be with my boyfriend. 

Besides my doubts about wanting to leave the life I have here, I started doubting Greece a lot as well. I mean, before I met the Greek boyfriend, I had never been to the country, nor did I have plans on going. How could it now be my dream to go to Greece? Was I being true to myself?

I tried to imagine myself in Indonesia, Italy, or Argentina. If I wanted to go to one of these countries, at least it would clearly be my own decision. However, no other country attracted me as much as Greece does. Greece fascinates me. Maybe because my happiest adult moments have been in this country, or maybe because the culture is so utterly different from the home I grew up in. I want to understand the Greeks, their relationships, traditions, and beliefs. But I also want to explore the country, the landscape, and the clear blue seas.

I choose life

I decided to quit my job in February. To travel and write in Greece, starting the first of March. My boyfriend will stay here in Rotterdam, and we are not sure how often we will be able to see each other.

I believe it was this website that helped me make this decision. During the past six months, writing about Greece was the one thing I kept enjoying, even when I did not feel good. The idea of being able to write daily, without other occupations, gave me a new sense of happiness in life. I have no clue how long I will stay, where I will go, or how I will support myself. But I do know this experience will make me a better, happier, and kinder person. And that is what is important in life!

From a successful career to an uncertain life

We are all taught that we have to study and work hard in order to make it in life. Having to be richer and more successful than our parents, the bar for us is high. So high, that many of us are under continuous pressure to “make it”. However, with all of us trying to become professionals, we end up looking like amateurs. You will have to be part of the very lucky one percent if you want to feel like you reached your goal of truly being special in this world. For the rest of us, I guess we just have to get the best out of our way there, our life, something many of us forget. At least I did. And this is my story, explaining why I am willing to trade a successful career in architecture for an uncertain life in Greece.

I kept pushing through

I spent the last ten years of my life dedicated to becoming the best architect I could possibly be. Working at top firms in the Netherlands, a 12-hour day at the office was a normal part of my daily schedule. Even the weekends I spent at the job. I truly believed that my professional success was the most essential thing in life. I could not even imagine what I would do if I did not have my career.

But as my years as an architect passed, I became more aware of the fact that I was not really living my life. I was living my work, but not myself. Traveling rarely, never taking a day off, and pushing through if I was sick. I never allowed myself to stop to listen to what it was I needed or wanted. Then, my beloved grandfather died in 2019 and I was unable to permit myself to take a break to grieve. Pushing through the pain of the loss I had felt, I reached my limit. I needed a change in my life.

Dark times followed my success

The start of this change was marked by a difficult time. I had a complete breakdown. Struggling with extreme tiredness, anxiety, and sadness, unable to continue the life I used to live. Even not able to buy bread at the supermarket across the street, it was time for me to stop.

I grieved my grandfather, my career, and mostly myself in the following months. I cried 10 years’ worth of tears and slept the rest of my days. But no matter how down I was during these months, I always felt that what I was going through was a good thing. I never pitied myself, nor did I feel like things would never get better. I needed a reset, and the darkness was just part of the beginning of that

Childhood trauma made me loose myself

In the summer that followed these dark months, I visited Greece for the first time. Meeting my boyfriend’s loving family, living a slow life, and connection with nature, made me reflect on what I had missed out on the decade before. As a young kid, I had always liked to swim and hike, grow vegetables, paint, built furniture, read books, write, and allow myself to get carried away by the creativity that was within my own mind. I used to be chaotic, creative, impulsive, and full of energy. However, for some reason, I ended up being an adult who did not have any of these characteristics.

I lost myself, I had drifted far away from the person I genuinely was and instead lived pretending to be someone else. I can tell you numerous reasons that explain why this happened to me. Including always being the strange kid in school, physical abuse and rape. But these reasons don’t really matter. The important part was that I recognized the parts of myself that I had been missing. I finally knew what to look for.

I am more than my career

It took a while for me to find myself back. I basically had to learn to let go of all the little norms I had taught myself to live by. When you say to yourself that you are not allowed to laugh for over twenty years, it is extremely hard to start giggling straight after you decide you want to. But piece by piece I reconnect with myself. Not only with the little girl I once used to be, but with a completely new adult version of myself as well.

I learned to be me, and love myself for that. I stopped rushing through life but instead learned to enjoy the journey that is my life. However, I was, and unfortunately still am, an architect at a big firm in the Netherlands. I am still expected to pursue a successful career in architecture. I still have to work overtime without getting paid, and I am still bound to a minimum amount of free days a year. The only difference is that today I can say that I don’t want this life any longer. And this made me realize that going from a successful career to an uncertain life in Greece might not be such a bad option for me.

Life in an office doesn’t suit me

The problem with a successful career today is that we are all putting too much pressure on our colleagues. Especially us, over-perfectionistic architects, are way too good at this. We all peer-pressure each other into staying longer, making slightly more beautiful images, and never stop thinking about a design. And even when you do this, it is never enough.

For me, a life like this does simply not work. Being someone who loves doing different things at the same time while being in touch with my body as well as nature, sitting on a chair for hours, looking at the same drawing on the screen in front of me, adjusting every little detail to create perfection, just to do it all over again the next day, simply does not work. I need to be outside, I need to be active. I need to be physically tired at the end of my days and I need to be able to be more out-of-the-box creative.

Uncertainty is better than not being myself

Understanding this part of myself, combined with the loving family that is waiting for me in Greece, made me decide that I will give up my career by the end of this year. Feeling like I will not function in the world of architecture without losing a part of myself, I choose to follow my own needs. What Greece will bring is still quite uncertain. Maybe I can work in tourism, or maybe this travel blog will turn out to go well. I could design holiday homes in Santorini, become an architect in Greece, teach English, or work in a bar or tavern. But since this life of uncertainty is less scary than having to tell myself to stay with my successful career, one more year, I believe the decision to quit is the right one. I am ready for my next adventure!

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