The year 2016 didn’t go easy on me. The year of 2016 started by me giving my notice during the month of January. I had been working for a year in a company that was very harsh towards their staff, I was working a crazy amount of hours a week, I had a lot of responsibility, a never-ending mountain of work. Burn-out knocked on my door and I had to give in. I resigned in January, and worked at the firm until the 31st of March.
After that, I stayed home for six weeks to look for a new job. Why six weeks? Well, it’s the time it took me to have a succesful job interview after which I got hired. I know, it’s not a terribly long time, but it felt extremely long to me and I got really anxious during those weeks.
For some people, it might have been a risky move to stop working at one place without having another job in prospect, but I just didn’t have enough energy to find myself a new job while I was still working at that company.
After those six stressful weeks of looking for a new job and not finding anything great, I got started at another firm, as a customer service employee for four days a week. It was something temporary until October and I signed the contract because I knew I needed to take it slow and I needed something that allowed me to bounce back. I am forever grateful that they took me in and offered me employment, because if I look back on it now, I know I wasn’t at the top of my performance. Time went on and around september I started to feel like myself again. I was ready to look for a job that was a bit more high-end and on a fulltime regimen.
It was also around september that I noticed that I didn’t have that much money in the bank and that I needed to get into my savings account more often than I felt comfortable with. I started tracking my expenses and I noticed, to my horror, that during the months of July and August, I had spent more than I had earned. Which was doubly horrifying because I had made a lot of money during those months, and I only needed about 1/3rd of my salary to cover my monthly expenses (rent, food and cell phone). I was 26, I did not have any car loans or mortgages to pay off, and I threw away about 5000€ in the course of 5 months.
Taking charge of my financial situation
I was quite shocked. I mean, I knew that I was struggling with the burnout and the overall malaise I was experiencing, but still, in my mind, it is not an option to spend that amount of money just to feel better about myself.
I also realised that I was forced to take on the job as a customer service employee because I had no choice, I needed to have an income. It served as a lesson. There is nothing wrong with a job in customer service, it’s just not the right fit for me, because I like working at my own pace without being interrupted by the phone all the time. I have tremendous respect for people who work in a customer service job.
I realised that if I had saved more money, I would have had the time and space to stay at home and recover from the burnout. Instead, I took on a job where I had to deal with angry customers all day. Moreover, my daily commute was 2 hours a day (!!). It just made me feel down and I started to think that I would never get a job in the field I graduated in: Art History.
It is also around this time that I stumbled upon the fabulous blog Frugalwoods. This is a blog written by a couple who went through the same kind of realisation about careers and made a plan to retire at 33 through extreme frugality. It is a wonderful and inspiring blog. I realised that I had made more than enough money all along, and still would in the future, and that I’d actually be capable of saving a lot more money if I just paid attention to my spending habits.
So I embraced the idea of being frugal myself. It would resolve many issues: the constant pressure of doing well at your job, or even having to take on a job I didn’t like, simply because I had no choice; it would resolve my anxiety over my budget and my savings account.
And I started putting money away that same month. Within the first month, I did not spend more than I earned; I even saved around 225€ (240 dollars). And that was the first step towards a healthier lifestyle. Currently, I’m well on my way to saving a great amount of money from my paycheck and I feel relieved.
Writing a blog (a.k.a. Happy DIY!)
It was also around the month of May 2016 that I started this blog. It’s purpose was primarily for me to be creative and to start healing. Even though it’s been great fun, I don’t feel this blog is very fulfilling right now. My goal for 2017 is to take it slow and to develop a new jewelry collection to sell on Etsy. It was a fabulous feeling, when at the end of 2016, I experienced a veritable creative explosion. Many ideas for new pieces were born during the month of December. I’ve made dozens and dozens of different pieces that I’m very proud of.
So all in all, this year was long, hectic, chaotic, painful, beautiful, enriching.
Being in love
I’ve had some extremely beautiful (and also some extremely painful) moments in my relationship with my partner. As our relationship develops, our connection becomes more and more profound and without limits. It’s truly wonderful to be in a relationship with him: he is everything I ever needed, he is always there for me, he knows me so well. I have nothing but admiration for this man who tries to be everything he can for my own happiness. The extremely painful moments refer to the ugly faces of the year 2016, and that put us (and our relationship) under enormous strain. But, as always, we keep on sailing, and I love him. Next month will mark our 4-year anniversary.
So I want to be thankful for this past year. It’s been horrible, but I’ve learnt a lot, and most of all, I’ve learnt that I can always, always lean on my boyfriend.
So here’s a picture of the brunch he made me almost one year ago, for our 3-year anniversary. My goal is to replicate these brunches a bit more often in the year of 2017.
And I want to thank all of my readers, who do not give up on me, who keep visiting my blog. I’m almost at 1.000 views on my blog, which is incredible. THANK YOU SO MUCH! Have a great new year, I hope ALL of your dreams will come true.
Lot’s of love,