Annet | From the “perfect” unfulfilling life in Amsterdam to living authentically off the beaten path in Valencia
BY ELENI MERAKI
I am the youngest of three, born and raised in a cute little town in The Netherlands, Edam (yes from the cheese).
I studied fashion management and pursued a marketing career in Amsterdam working for a variety of companies. Honestly, I think I doubted my grown-up working life since day one but as everyone seemed to be doing just fine I thought I should just go with it and I’d get used to it over time.
Since my mid-twenties I struggled a lot to find my place in this world; feeling restless, unhappy, emotionally unstable and easily overwhelmed. I wasn’t excited about the life I was living, I felt numb.
On paper my life was perfect. I had a great job, was in good physical health, had a nice house in the centre of Amsterdam, a good relationship and many friends. There was no logical explanation for my feelings.
I felt disconnected from myself and I knew I had to do something.
5 THINGS ABOUT
Dessert lover | Gut Feeling | Highly sensitive | Dancer | 10PM over 4AM nights
LEAP OF FAITH
The first time I reached out for professional help was back in 2014. There were a couple of turning points in my life but the real turning point was after a 6-month period in a psychologist trajectory that didn’t get me anywhere - except a lot lighter on my bank account.
I had been told that I needed at least 6 months of “heavy” therapy to get things sorted for myself. It sounded logical and so I listened to other people’s advice, as I hadn’t learned yet how to trust my own heart and gut. Only to find out that this advice was absolute nonsense. This one was the last one in a range of three different psychologists and other alternative therapists. I got a lot wiser but nothing really helped me emotionally and practically to move forward in my life.
After all these “failed” attempts, years of digging internally and my lost hope in the healthcare system, I decided to take a break from it all and travel for a couple of months.
Getting started to turn things around for myself
After two months of traveling I did feel a sense of relieve not having to go to my job and not feeling the societal pressure. Yet internally I still felt the same turmoil.
I remember this moment very clearly. I was in the middle of nowhere somewhere in the jungle of Vietnam, calling a friend of mine back home, in tears. I felt so lost and truly didn’t know what to do with myself anymore.
As she always tried to help me (but didn’t have many ideas left) she dropped the idea of a coach that was from my hometown and turned her own life around. I decided to give it a go and call her.
That phone call was the best decision of my life.
I’ve been working intensively with my coach, Eleni (Founder of Guts & Tales), ever since that call. Even though I had lost my hope in the professional health care system this interaction felt different right from the start. She’d been through the same and she proved there is a way to the other side.
I started working with Eleni through Skype whilst traveling through Asia. I know I have been privileged to be able to go on this deep inner journey, away from the everyday life.
The past year has been one of profound transformation. I have turned myself (and my entire life) upside down and finally got the peace within myself that I was looking for all my life.
MY COMPANY - RED VIBES MARKETING
As coaching has been truly life-changing and life-defining for me, I decided to become a Marketing / Business Consultant for female coaches. Using my years of marketing expertise, my thorough understanding of the coaching field and my hunger for personal development, I help female coaches getting their business up to speed so they can help more women like me to find their path and happiness in life.
I know entrepreneurship can be lonely and challenging when you have to juggle all parts of your business all by yourself. I help female coaches with online marketing, social media management and website design but also by being a sparring partner to them on their entrepreneurial journey.
I aim to create long-term partnerships together with my clients, as that’s what truly fulfils me. I want to accompany them on their journey of elevating their businesses and flourishing in life.
I had saved money to go traveling with my boyfriend at the time, enough for a year off. I didn’t live in luxury and I had to cut back massively on my expenses to do the coaching trajectory as well, but I was determined to find myself and to invest in my own happiness. It was more important to me than staying in luxurious accommodations.
As I had decided that I didn’t want to live in The Netherlands any longer I made the conscious decision to stop traveling at some point, so I could invest my saved money in the start-up phase of my new company. When I got clear on the place I wanted to relocate to, I strategically decided to invest my money in a house and my living expenses for the first couple of months of setting up my new endeavour.
After 6 months of building I can now sustain myself living a simple life here in Spain. I don’t know if Spain is where I’ll stay all my life, but for now it’s more than perfect. I see the choices I make now more as part of a big adventure and discovery in my life; more fluid, less set in stone.
THE TOUGH TIMES
1. The failing of the traditional health-care system felt like I was a failure myself. I thought it was me that was wrong and there was something really not right about me. That was a tough pill to swallow.
2. I discovered that I am actually highly sensitive and I pick up energies from environments and other people easily. Until I got to that understanding of myself I’ve had a very hard time interacting in certain environments and with certain people, thinking I was just being a pain in the ass.
3. It’s been a tough process to rediscover and connect with myself. Just like every other process I had a lot of ups and downs. In the beginning the downs overruled but that started to shift over time. Practicing what I learned and understood from the coaching trajectory wasn’t always easy – I literally had to let go of my old self and old ways of thinking and doing, to come in touch with my authentic self.
4. Letting go of people that didn’t match my own growth has been really painful. Including my long-term relationship. I have come to understand that this is inevitable on this journey of evolving, but it doesn’t make it easier of course.
5 INSIDER TIPS
1. Take the time to truly reconnect with yourself. It’s so easy to get swayed into the chaos of everyday living. Re-discovering who you truly are underneath all the must do’s and have to’s is essential if you want to live a happy life.
2. You have to find your own ways of working and coping with life and its challenges. There is no wrong or right. What works for someone doesn’t have to work for you.
3. Investing time, energy and money in yourself is essential. Money will always come and go and is relative. You’ve got to put yourself and your own wellbeing first.
4. Learn by doing. Don’t just sit there with ideas. Make mistakes and learn from them and then amend as you go. Figuring out what you want to do exactly will not come overnight.
5. Learn to come in tune with your gut and follow it - it’s always right.