Okay, as usual, I am a bit late but what else is new, ey? Happy New Year! Welcome to 2023. Let’s hope this shitshow will turn around a little bit.
As we all know, a classic thing to do at the end of each year are recaps of the year we’ve had. So again, I’m a bit late, I know. But without further ado, here are the top positive developments that happened for me in 2022.
First off a caveat – we have had some really bad health situations this year, but since my mental health journey I have been trying to focus more on the positive things in my life.
- Buying a flat
Right off the bat, the biggest one has certainly been the fact that we found and bought a flat, yay! This actually was something we planned to do when we returned from China in 2019. But due to my illness, it’s been dragged out and this year in March we just about managed to close a deal and right before the interest rates just shot up insanely due to Ukraine and the inflation and all that jazz.
So we really got in at the last minute and I consider us so extremely lucky that we did. I’m super happy with my flat. Finally, I feel like I have a home that is mine after almost four years of just floating around in the ether and not settling down and only living in temporary flats. So that’s also been a reason why I completely went nuts, decorating for Christmas because I finally feel like I have home again.
2. Being fired
Then the next big thing for me was that I got fired from a job that I started in 2021. So you may be thinking how the heck is being fired from a job a good thing? Well, here’s the thing. I took that job mostly because of its location and it served its purpose in getting me there. However, the topic that I was working on really was not up my alley at all as a proclaimed feminist. I was working in the permanent makeup industry and this company was essentially making money off making women feel insecure about their bodies and about the ageing process.
So I really did feel quite out of place in terms of my values, but also, I didn’t click with my colleagues, many of whom were from the Balkan area, which I think can be culturally quite different, especially when you’re coming from China. Aggressive shouting matches were not uncommon in my office, which is something I, as an extremely conflict-shy person, absolutely do not like. There was name-calling of colleagues in front of everyone. Yeah, not a very healthy and supportive work environment either. So both of those factors really impacted my mental health. And so when I was fired, I suddenly realised that my mental health just improved so much. I felt so much happier.
3. New jobs, new boss
I’ve also started with a new company, sadly, not full-time yet. And their company environment and culture is just the most amazing one that I’ve ever seen. This was exactly the type of work environment that I imagined when I left China and thought about what is it going to be like working in Europe. So I am super pleased to have found this company now. I’m just trying to work on convincing them to give me at least 20 hours a week, ideally a full-time contract. But that’s not going to happen.
Anyway meeting my boss at said new company was another highlight for me because even though she says of herself that she is not a feminist I have only seen her do things to prove the opposite. She was a big factor in introducing menstrual leave in my company. She is amazingly inspiring, a successful career woman now a co-founder of the company I’m at. She’s incredibly kind and she is very generous with positive feedback. On those occasions when there is criticism, it’s delivered calmly, it’s delivered in a nice manner and you can learn a lot from her. She is actually the best boss that I’ve ever had. And she is the reason that I’m still clinging on to this company, although most of my friends and colleagues have said they think I may be better off looking somewhere else if I need full-time employment. But I’m hoping that 2023 is going to be the year when that all turns around. I am quite optimistic.
The other good news is that I started with a second company that is China-related. Yay! I’m finally back to working as a content creator who creates content explaining China to non-Chinese people, which was what I was doing in China for almost six years and it is still something that inspires me and makes me happy. I don’t know how aware you are of this but especially German language media coverage of China is just so skewed and so insanely negative all the bloody time. And yes, it’s not factually incorrect. But the German media – believe it or not, even worse so than the British – just really, really focused on all the negative aspects of China. Therefore, me being able to do a slightly more neutral type of content creation about this complex country makes me happy.
4. Getting back on camera
The other big thing for me is that I finally got back my confidence to step in front of a camera because I absolutely loved working as a TV reporter. I really enjoy filming and editing and working on-camera, but due to my illness and the medication that I had to take, I put on 20 kilograms. Now I was never a very confident person in terms of my body shape and size.
I always felt a bit uncomfortable when I was at around 60 kilos. So you can imagine what being 80 kilos did to me. I’m happy to say that, I don’t know how – don’t ask me how, but I lost 10 of those kilos over the course of the last year. And so that’s been one of the factors that have made me confident enough to say okay, even though I am still larger than I used to be, if I work a bit with good angles, I won’t look like a walrus.
So then I started to film videos for my social media channels. And now I’m also doing video content for both companies that I’m working at. So I’m super happy to kind of get back on the horse in terms of working with video. (The feature image of this post was the first photo in three years I actually felt pleased with).
5. More travel than I’ve done in the past 3 years combined
Another big one for me, especially considering our past epidemic years is that this year I got out and about and I travelled a lot; as much as I haven’t travelled in the entire past three years. I was in England twice and then I did two weeks in Turkey which was absolutely amazing. I cannot recommend Turkey enough as a place to travel and Izmir in particular where I spent a really chill and lovely holiday or a ”workation” as you call it now.
6. Getting my groove back
Then the next big thing for me was motivation. Depression really knocked my motivation flat. I think that I’m generally quite a motivated person. I like to make things happen. I like to do stuff and keep busy but the depression just caused me to completely lose my motivation. All I would do after work is lay in front of Netflix and on the weekends, I would sleep at lunchtime for hours on end and I just didn’t even want to go outside at all, which was also not super great for Mr. Li because usually it’s the other way around. I’m the one dragging him out and dragging him off everywhere. But not so in the past couple of years.
But when I visited the UK in May and also while I was there saw a chiropractor who did a little bit of strange readjusting to my head, all of a sudden, my motivation just came back so I was absolutely fascinated by that but also very, very happy.
7. Getting back into cooking and baking
The other thing that happened this year is that I’m now finally back in a place where I can cook on a basic level and bake again, because on the one hand I have a good kitchen but also on the other hand the aforementioned motivation has returned. So I mean, yes, the luxury of living in China was that there was no need to cook ever because food delivery and restaurants were so cheap, cheap but now I’m getting back into it, especially baking, and just putting a podcast on or putting some music on and just pottering away. I’m really enjoying that again in our new flat because we now have a really lovely kitchen. The year before we did not, since we were staying in a temporary flat.
8. Enjoying clothes again
The other big thing for me was that I decided to enjoy clothes again. I came back from China with two full suitcases stuffed to the brim with barely worn clothes. Because at my job in China, I was given a budget to purchase clothes because I was on camera. And that meant that I had all these clothes that I’d worn maybe once or twice and then I come back to Europe and as I said, need to take medication, which means I put on 20 kilograms. So of course, none of my clothes fit me anymore.
This also meant that I just felt too fat to even be allowed to have nice clothes. I really didn’t want to shop for clothes at all. I hardly bought anything, partially because I was also unemployed and didn’t have any money coming in, but mostly really due to my physical “transformation” if you like. But, again, my visit to England where I ran across Uniqlo, my favorite clothes brand really kicked off this feeling where I realized okay, now I’m back to 70 kilograms, which still isn’t ideal, but I can fit in the standard clothes sizes again. So that makes me feel much better. And I know it shouldn’t really matter with all the body positivity yada yada yada but for me, it really did. So another thing this year I’m happy to report is that I’m back into enjoying clothes and liking to dress up a bit and feel a bit fancy.
9. Finding my tribe
Another big one for me was building up my circle of friends in this new city and through sheer luck ending up with a circle of China expert friends as well as some amazing Chinese friends that I have met via my Douyin channel. So I’m now back to speaking Chinese on a regular basis and not just with Mr. Li. I just have met the most incredible people here and I’m so grateful for the circle of friends I’ve managed to build up that reminds me a lot of my circle of friends in Beijing.
10. Finally – sleep
Another big topic for me was sleep because at the beginning of this year, I was still sleeping a good 12 hours a day. I managed to quit one type of medicine that made me sleepy and drowsy and then over the course of a few months managed to quit the other medicine that was also making me really drowsy. So I’m now just on one type of medication, which doesn’t affect my sleepiness.
As a result, now I’m back to sleeping normal hours – between seven and nine hours a night – and that has also made such a difference. Because when you’re sleeping 12 hours a day, what else can you do? There’s hardly any time to do anything but sleep and you know, having to have afternoon naps or lunchtime naps breaks up the day in a way that I really do not like and so I am very, very pleased that I’ve also managed to normalize my sleep patterns again.
So all in all, I have to say looking back at 2022, although there were some sad news and some health-related issues, overall, I couldn’t be happier with how this year has turned out.
Right, so I think that’s it from me. I’ve gabbed on for long enough once again.
How has your year been? Let me know! I would love to hear your 2022 recap and I’m hoping that you also came out on the other side with a bit of happiness and achievement over the past year. Here’s to 2023. Yay!