I’m not known to rely on routines. My life can be described as “chaotic” on a good day, but more often, I’d call it “messy.” But one thing I’ve stuck with is writing a recap of the year at the end of every December. Just went back to my LiveJournal to see when I started doing it and found the earliest annual post in 2008.

I skipped only 2 years – 2012 and 2022.
2012 was not a good year for me, but I don’t think it was the reason I didn’t write a recap of it.
2022 was just a garbage dumpster fire of a year, and I couldn’t bring myself to write anything even remotely reflective about it.

While 2023 brought even more darkness to the world, this time around, I feel the need to note down some things about this year. And while there is so much to be said about the darkness, I want to try not to talk about it today.


So here we go, 2023.

In 2021, I described my journey of coming to terms with the realization that I have ADHD. Two years later, I’m still working through how much it impacts my life and the way I show up to others and to myself.

One of the underlying peculiarities of ADHD is the “leaky bucket” of dopamine in my brain. It causes a feeling of chronic boredom & being underwhelmed, and, therefore, my never-ending attempts to counteract it with intense stimulation. For some people, this dopamine-inducing intense stimulation can be traveling, shopping, partying with friends, new hobbies every week, or adrenaline-heavy adventures.

For me, it’s work.

Work evokes my hyperfocus and, on good days, stimulates continuous production of dopamine in my brain. While it sounds great and very beneficial for my career, it also brings some challenges.

Together with hyperfocus and high stimulation, easily comes a feeling of being overwhelmed. I can’t fully regulate the level of my efforts. I either give my all and more, or I just can’t work. All or nothing.

It sounds grotesque and exaggerated, but it’s actually true. Once switched on, my hyperactive brain rarely switches off work: I think about it in the evening and during the night. It takes me days to get into “vacation mode” when I go on leave, and it’s not something I can voluntarily control. As exhausting and overwhelming as it is, it also somewhat expands my workload capacity and the mind space I have for work challenges.

At the same time, there are lots of days when I can’t make my brain switch on as it hits a wall of dopamine hunger – then producing any output takes every bit of my willpower. And when I say “willpower,” I mean berating myself for how lazy and inefficient I am and being extremely anxious about all the things that are not getting looked at or done.

As long as I have bills to pay, I can’t afford for my job to not be stimulating. I had to switch out of my specialty (Consumer Insights) to a much broader space of commercial marketing because I could feel boredom coming, and I knew I wouldn’t be able to continue being stimulated by Insights for 30 more years. I needed to keep my options open.

While I want some vertical growth, my focus is not to get promoted but to keep progressing through different roles and be trusted to do different things – so I’m able to switch it up and constantly preserve the level of stimulation which comes mostly from novelty, challenge, and personal interest.

Staying put in the same role for too long is my kryptonite because, as time goes on, level of stimulation the role offers inadvertently goes down. At some point, I’m no longer able to counteract being chronically underwhelmed and dopamine hungry, and therefore, producing output causes more & more internal self-berating and anxiety. In small doses, it’s bearable, but in the long term, it’s very self-destructive.

All of this is to say that I need to perform. I need to be good at what I do, I need to be seen as good at what I do, and I need to be trusted to have the potential to progress forward. Therefore, I have a lot of internal pressure to meet and exceed expectations.

This pressure, coupled with the inability to switch off, regularly drives me to the deep end of overwhelm and exhaustion.


In 2023, the business I was trusted to lead was not in the best shape. Not to dwell on details, but there were a lot of days and weeks this year that I spent in endless thought loops attempting to figure out what I could do to turn it around. On top of that, I was bombarded by kind reminders that if business doesn’t turn around, it will reflect poorly on me. Even if the root cause of underperformance lies outside of my scope of responsibility. In the same breath, people would say that it’s not only my burden to carry, that I can’t take on myself responsibility of others, and that, ultimately, I need to learn to let it go.

Letting go is an art I haven’t mastered and an act my brain struggles with, even on the best day.

In 2023, I’ve been swimming in a crazy mix of guilt and shame for not performing, for caring too much about it, for coming off too strong or too negative, for not being able to stop trying to control pieces that are not part of my remit while still being expected to influence them positively, for not being able to let it go.

This year, for the first time, I had a team of 6 people I was responsible for. I’ve been blessed with team members who are not only high-performing and extraordinarily talented but also the kindest, brightest humans whom I adore with my whole being. I had peers who were there to support me with advice, listening ears, sympathetic words, and warm hugs.

But I still felt utterly alone with my challenges – mostly because the main ones were coming from the inside and not the outside.

My instinct was to protect my team from the messy pressure cooker as much as I could. And, for better or for worse, I managed to succeed at that. They all worked really hard, but I hope that they didn’t get to experience as much turmoil and pressure from the top as I did. According to some, I’ve overdone it, and it’s probably a fair assessment, but I think this year it was the best course of action, and I stand by my choices. It’s hard to guide and coach others through the uncertainty and challenges you have no idea how to solve yourself first.

I’ve struggled to let go in fear of letting people down. I’ve struggled to let others try & fail in fear of them letting me down.

The business has been slowly but surely turning around. 2023 Exit numbers are looking great. I have no idea if I had any impact on it. I prefer to think that I did, but on low days, I think that it probably would’ve turned around without me just due to the evolving nature of a challenge we were faced with.

It’s been a relentless year, and I survived. My team thrived. I learned a lot. I have enough to be grateful for.


Beyond work, this year was full of good change. We moved to the UK, rented a beautiful house on Princess Avenue in royal Windsor, bought a perfectly orange hybrid car, created a full garden I didn’t know I wanted. I found a great PT and managed to get to a rhythm of exercising 2 times a week, came back to swimming, and restored my love for it. I developed new friendships with people in the UK and kept some precious relationships with people I’ve had in my life for a while. I play Wordle every day and try to sleep better. Didn’t even come close to managing my nutrition – as I know that my capacity to take control over things in my life is quite limited.

In my pursuit to fight feeling chronically underwhelmed, I almost always end up being overwhelmed. More than anything, I’d like to be just… whelmed. But it’s not even a word, so I think this state of mind doesn’t exist.

This December marks 10 years of being in therapy for me. When I think about where I started back in 2013, I feel an immense sense of pride, joy, and gratitude. I’ve done so much work, I’ve evolved, I’ve become happier and healthier. No words will be enough to describe this journey, but I’m so grateful that I had the strength to start it and then stick with it through all the highs & lows.

The last few years have been so dark, and 2024 doesn’t promise to be that much brighter. But we all can hope that light will prevail, and all I can do is to try to be good – to others and to myself.

Maybe that will be enough.


When I look back at 2021, it feels empty. Weirdly enough, I didn’t have that feeling at all about 2020 while event-wise it was much emptier.

Is it bad empty or good empty? It is both.

The biggest change of this year was our move from the Netherlands to France. I always struggle to talk about it because I don’t want to look ungrateful or entitled… but France is an extremely challenging country to move to from all angles. It is ridden with inefficient bureaucracy across all unsynchronized systems, it is famously English non-friendly, and it has no intention of being inclusive towards foreigners.

It’s such a drastic contrast to the Netherlands – the most welcoming to expats country in Europe, efficient, quick, digitalized, trade-oriented. Dutch people don’t want to mingle and socialize with expats that much, though they allow foreigners to enjoy their life in the comfortable bubble.

Do I believe people in France have to speak English and go out of their way to accommodate me or any other foreigner? Absolutely not. They don’t owe me anything, if something – it is on me to learn the language and adapt to their cultural norms. And that’s what I’ve been trying to do.

But as my job assumes no preparation for relocation timewise and no dependency on language for international moves (otherwise I wouldn’t end up in France), when we just moved EVERYTHING was hard ALL THE TIME. Starting from communicating with delivery guys about our furniture arrival and ending with procuring our residency cards in the Prefecture department that works exclusively with immigrants.

Don’t get me wrong – unlike people who move to France without any assistance, I had so much support provided by my company! We were assisted with housing search, lease agreement, all the set-up processes, bank account opening, visa processes, etc. Without that, I don’t think we’d get through it at all. But even with all that support, it took us about 6 months to resolve all the initial challenges and some of them are still lingering.

One other piece of this experience is completely subjective… I’m not in love with France. Never been – not as a tourist, not as a resident. I don’t hate it – it is beautiful, rich in culture, heritage, and places to go. But there is nothing in my heart that sings when I think about France.

I don’t like French cuisines (I know, I know, I’m a weirdo, that’s a well-established fact), I’m not a big wine-drinker, I don’t even eat baguettes. French architecture is objectively spectacularly beautiful but for me, it looks cold, grandiose, and monotonous.

This year, I spent two little vacations in the Netherlands. This country almost makes me cry tears of joy every time I arrive there. I LOVE “gingerbread” houses and canals with little bridges, I love bikes and windmills, cats and storks walking in the streets, I love how the air smells there – rainy with a touch of sea-side, I love Schiphol airport and Intercity trains, I love how small and efficient it is, how friendly and… easy.

We’ve spent three years in the Netherlands and going there feels like coming home. It also helps that we have so many friends living there! When we were leaving for France, we didn’t even get a chance to say goodbye to them cause of lockdown and that felt horrible.

Did I fully appreciate Holland while we were living there? Yes and no. I always had this feeling of living in a fairytale land, I was fully aware of how happy & accepted I felt and how easy it was to have a lifestyle full of activities and support I needed (for example, going to doctors or doing private training). But at the same time, I thought that we would be able to rebuild our routine in a different country, that we will overcome challenges and fully enjoy our life with different exciting context and opportunities to learn about a new country.

Are we miserable in France? Not at all. We live in Versailles, our apartment is exactly what we wanted and more, I have great colleagues at work, my French friends are supportive and accommodating, we finally got a car last week so now we will be able to explore the country much more and, most importantly, we have each other – so I have not much to complain about.

Though my main learning of the year is that nailing the challenges and overcoming obstacles is not something I want to do in my personal life. One of my closest friends told me in August: “Sonya, you’re always thriving in the face of a challenge, you love and enjoy the sense of achievement so obviously you will learn French and manage to find a way to adjust” and, surprisingly, he was wrong. His assessment of the way how I operate would be spot on a couple of years ago, but many hours of therapy later I’ve changed my ways.

It may sound like not something to be proud of, but it is. Two years ago, in my end-year review, I was writing about how I dream to have the “freedom to fail”.

“Failure is not an option” has been my mantra my whole life. And how I was getting to achievement through challenges and obstacles? Through the classic formula of “no pain – no gain” with a foundation of guilt & shame, auto aggression, tons of anxiety, and validation-seeking behavior on top.

Grit, willpower, effort, dedication, commitment, responsibility, work ethic – all that sounds great but, in my case, it stemmed mostly from an unhealthy place. Constant proving to the world and people around you that you’re worthy is exhausting. It takes so much, and nobody will ever give it back to you. I still use all the things above for my work (because I get back the money, recognition, exciting challenges, and things to do – that makes an equation of effort vs reward balanced, fair, and almost healthy) but in my personal life, I’m trying as hard as I can to utilize those things as little as possible.

Can I communicate with French people in French? No, I can’t, despite all the efforts I have made to learn the language. Did I beat myself up for it? Yes, for a while. And then I stopped. My brain can deal with only so much. New country, new job, new people to deal with, tons of admin stuff to take care of, routine life – I just couldn’t push myself any further.

I saw my limits and I accepted them. I was depressed for a good chunk of this year and still managed to deliver everything I had to at work and more. Expat life is usually portrayed as glamorous and almost effortless so I’m slightly ashamed to admit that it was an extremely hard move for me.

The first 3 months of being in France were borderline traumatizing. One night we were discussing with Stepan our plans for the future, he said the phrase: “When we will move next time…” and I immediately started crying. I couldn’t even imagine putting myself through that again. It was already a couple of months after the move and we were still surrounded by mounts of unpacked boxes, didn’t have wardrobes for clothes or couch in our living room and overall felt very unsettled (apartments in France are mostly rented out completely empty, in our case, we even had to buy a washing machine, fridge, dishwasher, and oven – all with closed stores in a lockdown).

It was rough. It still kind of is, just with lesser intensity.

Going back to my own limits, anxiety, and depressive states of mind.

I always knew that I’m overly agile to the level of the impossibility of keeping routine in place.

I’ve been an anxious person my whole life, I can’t stand boredom, have little to no patience, my energy and motivation come in crazy spikes with very low lows, I have a wide range of emotional reactions to life and different triggers.

My brain has multiple “tabs” open at all times and running as fast as a high-speed train in a multitude of directions, my attention span is either very short or almost endless, my curiosity never stops but also never stays in one lane.

My presence is either strong, loud, and intense when I’m around people or almost non-existent if I’m left alone and can deep dive into my thoughts and inner world.

I’m constantly exhausted and feel overstimulated even though people around me seem to perceive me like a fireball of energy, passion, and enthusiasm.

My apartment is always an overcluttered mess.

My work has been my life for the past 10 years and that never left space for any real hobbies…

Many of these things made me feel like a poorly functioning alien who, for whatever reason, the outside world sees as a successful human being.

Somewhere in the middle of this year, all the dots connected, and I had to face the reality of the fact that on top of my anxiety and other issues (or rather as the foundation for all of them) I have ADHD.

It’s a very multidimensional disorder that has a multitude of symptoms and presentations (which, by the way, is SO different in boys and girls due to differences in biology and societal expectations that till a couple of years back girls were massively underdiagnosed).

I’m not going to go in-depth about it but in short: my brain without additional stimulation is constantly lacking dopamine – a super important neurotransmitter that is responsible for many high-level functions of the brain, including motivation, sense of reward, emotional regulation, and overall life management.

Even when dopamine in my brain is being produced in needed quantities, its level is quickly going down instead of staying more or less consistent (as it should be) as if my brain was a “leaky bucket”. Therefore, I’m on a constant, never-ending hunt for stimulation to function. And long-term boredom is paralyzing for me: no stimulation -> dopamine level is not restored -> my ability to manage my motivation levels become non-existent -> I can’t do anything.

Contrary to popular belief, people with ADHD don’t have attention deficits. They have a deficit of ability to voluntarily regulate their attention.

Sometimes it looks like “browsing behavior” when a person switches between activities and things to do at the speed of light and can’t stay on one task longer than 5 minutes.

Some other times it looks like a state of “hyperfocus” when a person spends doing one thing only for 14 hours without the ability to switch off even to eat or go to the bathroom.

It’s obviously 2 polar opposite sides of attention regulation challenges and neurotypical people struggle with those challenges as well. But people with ADHD are much more prone to falling into these extreme sides rather than operating in-between.

As you could guess, in my work I mostly operate in the hyperfocus state. The “one thing” I’m capable of doing for 14 hours straight if I’m motivated enough is my job, in all its complexity. It’s worth noting that this state is highly productive. But it also causes overstimulation and exhaustion.

Even If I don’t work for 14 hours (and lately I categorically don’t do that) – my hyperfocus makes me stay “on” for many hours after work is done unless I’m switched to something even more stimulating (like meeting with friends, any other fun engagements or, on the contrary, serious problems).

Thanks to hyperfocus, I remember even the tiniest details about projects I’ve done three years ago and can be extremely productive even in strenuous conditions. Also thanks to it, I find myself almost burnt out way more often than any regular person.

What drives hyperfocus? Studies have shown 4 main motivating factors:
1) Personal interest; 2) Challenge; 3) Novelty; 4) Time pressure/Deadlines.
The first 3 we can consider positive factors, the last one – negative, but I’d say it is the crucial one, without it motivation has a huge chance to slip.

As I said before, I’m curious about pretty much everything – but my curiosity about any given topic stops at the point when I suck it dry – mainly when it is not intellectually challenging for me anymore or not novel enough.

For example, market research & consumer insights were all those 4 things for me for 9 years – during this time I changed sides of the business I worked on (agency/client), categories, brands, and even geographies (Russia/World) and kept reinventing my curiosity to the field by finding exciting new angles. All my jobs in the field were driven by time pressure and they all were challenging… till they weren’t. Did I think that I saw everything, done everything and there is nothing more to learn? Absolutely not. But every new coming challenge became less & less of a challenge taking less & less time for me to figure out and I became extremely bored.

The more bored I become, the more impossible it is for me to do even the simplest tasks. So even though I was dealing with things that were becoming increasingly easier due to experience and knowledge I’ve built, doing them was becoming increasingly harder cause I no longer was able to easily switch into hyperfocus and had to operate just based on motivation factor #4 – time pressure & deadlines. Don’t get me wrong, it still works but it feels awful.

Anyway, 2021 was a year of coming to terms with the fact that I do have ADHD and that defines a lot of my needs and specificities when it comes to working. And to life.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

I’m hyper. Hyper talkative, hyper intense, hyper loud. Hyper loyal, hyper responsible, hyper involved. Hyper passionate, hyper driven, hyper controlling. All me.

I live my social life (that includes work and friends) on overdrive. Otherwise, chances are I’d be constantly floating in my inner world not paying much attention to what’s happening around me.

Sometimes I wish that people could see what is happening behind this hyperactivity. What I’m left with when I manage to switch off. Who I am behind the mask of pretending to be “normal”.

The truth is that for the longest time even I couldn’t see past this mask and preconceived notion of who I should be and what the world expects of me.

“Stop pretending, just be who you are” is not so easy to do. I’m not sure I know who I am still and what I need to do to feel the most “authentic & resourceful self”.

I spent 30 years fighting my brain and the way it works, being afraid that one day people around will figure out what an incapable mess of a person I am.

In 2021, I came to the realization that I’m indeed a mess. But that’s okay. Not everything needs to be in good order. And I’m surely not incapable, I just work differently.

This year was empty and difficult. But I’m grateful for it.

My grandma was very sick in the summer and for two months I could barely sleep. She has since recovered and thriving (and I hope & pray she’ll continue to do so!)

Despite the COVID restrictions, we got to go to the Netherlands twice after moving to France and even visited the UK for a fun cultural weekend. We also managed to fly to Russia twice and will spend this New Year’s Eve with the family (we didn’t have this luxury in 2020).

We spent a month living in the center of Paris during the harshest lockdown & curfew at 7PM and ended up choosing beautiful Versailles as our place to live in.

We managed to catch up with so many friends across different countries and make new ones in France!

We got vaccinated 3 times and currently, I’m glowing with antibodies (lab confirmed!). Never thought that’s something to be grateful for but it is!

2022, bring it on. I know it won’t be easy but I think I’m ready.


In January, I received an offer for the move I worked for and asked for quite some time. After 8 years spent in CMI (Consumer & Market Insights), I was looking to broaden my skillset and potential future career opportunities. I was lucky enough to have supporters and believers in the organization who were ready to rally behind me for this move, which seemed a bit unprecedented in the world of RB. I had already quite a senior role in CMI and wanted to move to Marketing – function in RB, which is heavily commercial and with a lot of ownership for business decisions – something I never had before.

To say that I was confident that I will nail it would be a lie. I had enough confidence to project that I’m a fast learner and have a good set of soft skills that will allow me to adapt to different situations and challenges. Though I couldn’t be sure that Marketing itself and the challenges it is presenting will leverage & build on my strengths instead of exposing my weaknesses.

In January, I had the offer – Global Marketing Manager Lysol based in the US. My current boss’s condition was that I should deliver my part in preparation & presentation of 3YP on Air Wick in April. Then, I can move on.

When April came around, the world was very different from what I expected. It was quite clear that my physical relocation will have to wait. That I’m about to start a role in a new function, with a new boss, new team, new brand, and new scope from the wrong time zone and from a distance measured in calls, chats, and e-mails.

To add insult to the injury, I had to leave the team I loved so much. The team I was a part of for 2.5 years. In this time, we had so many thrilling experiences, trips, meetings, discussions, and dinners together that people who worked on Air Wick truly felt like family to me. I know it sounds cheesy. But when you spend so much time at work, and you’re so committed to what you do, it is only natural to develop attachment and affection towards people you do it with.

I had to leave it behind and step into uncharted territory, questioning me in every possible way.

So I did.

I’m not going to sugar coat it – I was lost, lonely, and confused for the first couple of months. My new manager was absolutely great and tried as hard as possible to provide me with all the support even though I was in the Netherlands and she – in the US. Naturally, she got promoted 3 months into my Marketing endeavor and to this day was not replaced! I haven’t had a hands-on functional manager for many years of my CMI career and got used to being on my own. Though in no way I expected it to happen in Marketing!

Lucky for me, even before going into the role, I had a good relationship with my “plus two” boss. We crossed paths while working on Air Wick and then had many chats in the office when he moved for his current role to Amsterdam. So when I was left to report directly to him without middle level, I at least wasn’t freaking out about building the connection with the new, very senior boss. I want to note – a boss leading the global strategy & innovation pipeline of Lysol (world-leading disinfectant brand) through the pandemic. So you can imagine he had virtually no time on his hands to guide me through my challenges.

There was a well-established connection on a personal level. Still, I had to earn his trust in my professional capabilities. His leadership style and approach to things are very different from my previous Marketing boss, so it took me a while to figure out how to deliver what he expects of me.

By August, I was absolutely overwhelmed. I decided to be extremely honest about it (even though I was scared, it will be perceived as a lack of agility & resilience). The response was, “yes, this whole situation SUCKS all around but it is what it is and we need to just get through this, one way or another.”

At the moment, this response didn’t help. It was validating, and I felt heard but didn’t provide any improvement I was looking for. In the long run, though, I think it gave me permission to not be a perfectionist, not try to floor people around me with my incredible performance. Most importantly, it allowed me to focus on the main goal – making sure I’m getting through this.

Spoiler alert – starting from August, things began to feel great. I still miss my family & friends terribly and very sad to not have been in Moscow for a year (and even more as my annual Christmas home leave didn’t happen). I worry about their well-being and the potential impact of the virus. I miss my colleagues, socializing, and the fun atmosphere of the office. But in both professional and personal space, I had a breakthrough.

At work, I found my footing and proved (mostly to myself) that I can do this job and do it well. Though one thing which pandemic did is to shrink the role of my work in my life. Not in terms of hours – they were long, and my boundaries between work time and personal time were not always the strongest. But work was always a source of many things in my life, including friends, fun times, traveling, and many different emotions.

I haven’t struggled with work-life balance per se in recent years as, sorry to say that, work was.. my life. That became much more evident and also justified with the move to the Netherlands, where I had no social network outside of the office. With the tempo and intensity of my job & business traveling, I haven’t had many activities outside of work either.

Pandemic made my work JUST work. And once this piece of my life stopped fulfilling my other needs as it did before, I noticed that I’m also willing to give it less of my time, passion, and attention. That drove my work motivation down for a while, not going to lie, but it balanced itself out. When I say “less passion,” it doesn’t mean that I stopped caring or making an effort, just that I left more time and headspace for personal endeavors.

I’m an anxious person. I deal with an elevated level of baseline anxiety my whole life. In the years of therapy, I developed a lot of healthy coping mechanisms to deal with it. Before the lockdown in the EU, I was preparing to move to the US. I was so unbelievably anxious, much more than before the move to the Netherlands. I knew the adaptation period waiting for me will be hard (as I already been through it). I was fearing certain aspects of bureaucracy and visa challenges, I wasn’t sure about many potential challenges of American system.

All in all, I didn’t feel that the US is necessary the right place for me at this stage of my life for a variety of reasons. So when my visa interview was canceled, the travel ban was imposed, and the whole world went into indefinite lockdown, I felt a certain sense of relief. My personal anxiety became a collective one. Weirdly, it made it easier to bear.

In March, my life entered vacuum space. There was no movement – in the most literal but also in the most metaphorical sense. I didn’t go out anywhere. My daily step count was below one thousand; I was working till late at night because of the time zones difference. When I wasn’t, I watched all sorts of video content (streaming TV, TikTok, YouTube – you name it). In June, there was news that L1 visas are not going to be issued until 2021, which made the fact that I won’t be moving anytime soon crystal clear.

I didn’t mind all of it. I was dealing with enough challenges, so I was rather grateful to be staying in my safe space and spending so much time with my husband. In this time of uncertainty our relationship was the greatest source of support, comfort and joy.

When the first wave ended, and the situation seemed to be much better, we went on vacation to France & Spain. We drove around cute towns while avoiding people and crowded places, walking a lot, and not thinking about work.

In August, fresh after vacation and celebrating turning 30, I decided that I need to do something to up my self-care (which obviously greatly suffered in the first months of lockdown). I also decided that it will be an ultimate priority. I was always honest with myself that whenever I try to commit to structured self-care, the moment work comes into play, it all goes out of the window. I never had enough resources and personal capacity for both the work and myself, however sad that may sound.

I couldn’t find support at work at the time, so the only way I could get through it is by shifting focus on my well-being – nobody else could do that for me.

I always had a very uneasy relationship with my body. When I was 17, I was diagnosed with PCOS – the #1 endocrine disease affecting women. It wreaks havoc on the body through hormone imbalance. It affects me in many different aspects – energy levels, stress levels, weight gain, irregular periods, hunger, cravings, body composition, reaction to exercise, and so much more.

13 years ago, it was a very under-researched condition. And it still is, on a global level. It is a multifaceted syndrome that combines many different causes and outcomes. Overall, treatment is all about fixing the symptoms and issues caused by it but not the root cause. In my case, I know that the underlying problem is in my impaired glucose tolerance and reduced insulin sensitivity (insulin resistance). That ultimately means that in my case, PCOS is positively associated with the development of second type diabetes.

I was very slim as a teenager. I was a sporty kid. I loved all kinds of physical activities – swimming, dancing, skipping rope, and all the other games I enjoyed. As I reflect back, I realize that it all went down the drain with puberty and the onset of PCOS symptoms. I started to resent my body. To hate all of the extra kilos I was putting on despite my best efforts. I hated exercising. Hated how weak I felt when I did exercise. Hated how I felt when I didn’t. I was angry, desperate, and full of very dark feelings towards myself.

All this time I tried to do something! Even though I’ve heard “no pain no gain” so often, something was telling me that I can’t get to happiness & health by torturing myself (through restrictive diet, intense exercises, obsession over scale numbers) and cultivating this hatred that was killing me on the inside. In 2015, after a couple of years of therapy, I finally accepted that I shouldn’t be putting myself through this mental abuse for any reason anymore, even if the reason seems to be the most sensible.

Doctors were telling me that I need to lose weight, and then my condition will improve. I knew that was a lie as I could remember how I was 55 kg and still had it in full effect. I gained a lot of weight over the last 10 years, and I knew it is not a great sign. I wanted to stop it so badly, but I also knew that it is a symptom, not a cause.

For the last 5 years, I couldn’t find a switch in my brain, which would allow me to approach this topic not through abuse, toxicity, and hatred but through love and care. In 2015 I discovered Pilates with a personal trainer. It was the first time I managed to commit to some type of exercising twice a week and not resent it. It helped immensely with restoring a connection between my mind and my body, and overall it’s fantastic mobility work which I do to this day. It’s also a very low-intensity workout (in my case!).

In my endeavor of getting my weight gain under control, I tried step aerobics, dancing, swimming, Bikram yoga, restorative yoga, spinning, skipping rope, HIIT. I either couldn’t stand it, or it felt like it was not enough. And all of it was opening a portal to hell in my mind.

Fast forward to this August when I suddenly had the resource to put myself first. My PCOS is driven by a whole variety of issues. Still, the underlying one is the following: when carbs come to my system, my glucose level is rising. As a response to that my body produces insulin to transport glucose to cells that need it to function. Here comes the problem – those cells of mine have reduced sensitivity to insulin.

Insulin is a “key” to open these cells and deliver them food, but with my condition, this key doesn’t fit or fit worse than it should. In response, my body first tries to produce more insulin to shovel glucose into cells. When that doesn’t happen, it decides to store all of this “unneeded” glucose into the liver and fat tissue. The problem is that cells still didn’t get enough glucose and send signals to the brain that they need more, quickly. You can imagine it is getting progressively worse with each round (more insulin is produced, more cells become insulin resistant) and has a very lasting and detrimental effect on the body.

I always perceived this issue to be body vs. me. I’m trying so hard to do better! It just resists all my attempts, making everything much more difficult, and always lets me down. Only this year, I suddenly realized that my poor body is constantly going through it, all my systems are derailed by this condition, and it is suffering all the damn time. There is no agenda against me. And if anything – I let it down with all my questionable lifestyle choices (work stress, lack of sleep, traveling, poor nutrition, lack of exercise, etc.).

I honestly don’t know what took me so long to figure this out. I always knew it rationally, but somehow it clicked on the level of true acceptance only this year. And once it did, I realized that I need to do 2 things: 1) ensure more consistent and slow insulin production 2) boost cell sensitivity to insulin. One is all about nutrition, the other one – about exercise.

Then I had another revelation – I can ask for help! I’ve been trying to crack this for so long, and I never felt like I deserve individual attention & approach to this issue. I’m a smart girl, I’m fully capable of doing my research, and I should have enough willpower and grit to make it work, right? Well, that never worked, did it?

I decided that I’m making a lot of money at my corporate job, enough to allow myself to get the help I need to better care for myself. I found a nutritionist, a masseur, and finally – a personal trainer in a proper gym studio. Primarily not to achieve a certain weight goal, not to make sure that my workouts are fully effective but to allow myself to do something 100% tailored towards my body and my fitness level. My goal was health. My goal was to reduce my body suffering.

I wanted exercises to be challenging enough to push me outside of my comfort zone (= doing nothing more than walking), but not too hard for me not to resent them. I wanted to be in a “zone of proximal development ” and not “utter discomfort which I can’t stand.” I wanted to trust a person to guide me to strength, not to force me there through pain and suffering. To allow me to slow down and take a pause if I felt like I couldn’t push forward but still motivate me to not give up long before my limit.

I’m happy to report that I found exactly that. Whenever I looked at some of the girls posting photos from their weight training in the past, I couldn’t even imagine that would be me someday. Lifting weights seemed like something absolutely out of the range of my capabilities (or desires).

I’ve been working out with a personal trainer 2 times a week with no breaks since August (a total of 31 workouts to date). While my progress may be slow, it is very consistent and encouraging. Last time I was doing a Romanian deadlift with 47.5kg, and next time, I’ll do 50kg. And I’m excited about it!

It let me discover many things about myself I never… appreciated or acknowledged. Apparently, I have very strong legs and very impressive core muscles (thanks, Pilates!). My understanding of different body movements is so well-established (thanks, Pilates!) that I can quickly get a new exercise with the right technique and stick to it. My arms were weak, but they’re becoming stronger very fast. My heart is a mess, my endurance is non-existent, but I learned to understand my heart rate dynamics. I know now when I need to take a small break and safely start again or when I can keep going.

For the first time in my life, I feel strong. Hideous to say that, but sometimes after workouts, I feel pumped. And overall, I feel much more energetic.

I ensured that my nutrition is well-balanced and full of needed macro-and micronutrients but not too restrictive to not over-obsess about it. I started cooking simple but nice dishes adapted to my PCOS – nothing crazy healthy, but fitting to my body’s needs. Thanks to the nutritionist, I realized what was missing (I was eating technically clean for some time already but had a tendency of undereating and completely missing protein).

We’re walking every day for at least 30 minutes. In the beginning, we were trying to find a new route through our beautiful town every day, but in the last couple of weeks, we made all the same loops following one beloved path. Restorative walking is a powerful thing that is often overlooked. It is not about burnt calories but rather calibrating your mind & body and spending quality time with your partner (or yourself, which is also great).

I eat well. I exercise regularly. I walk a lot. I sleep enough hours. And I’m trying to stress less.

While lacking support from things I used to rely on, I found it within myself. It’s so simple but also unbelievably hard.

I feel healthier than I was just 4 months ago. And yes, I lost about 4-5 kg along the way. But for the first time in my life, it truly was not the goal itself. And I didn’t hate myself or the mirror in the process. Also, for the first time.

2020 was a horrific year for the world and for a lot of people. But it was a very good year for me personally.

Here’s to a better 2021! And may you and all your loved ones stay healthy & happy and experience much more joy and ease next year!

Journey of 2019

I still struggle to define how bad or good 2019 was. It was a very challenging year full of uneasy and disappointing moments but also, I won’t lie, – I was quite happy throughout it and gathered a great amount of fantastic memories and joyful bits. As everything in life, it is not just black and white 😊

2019 started as a hangover from 2018. Last year was so insane, full of new experiences and crazy adventures; by the end of it, my head was spinning. As any proper party which lasts till 4 AM – you don’t want it to stop but your feet are covered in blisters, stomach doesn’t feel too well, and you surely know you will regret your choices in the morning. The beginning of 2019 was my 2018’s next morning.

My energy levels were down, my resource was completely exhausted. Good holiday break which I spent in Thailand and Russia made the matter even worse, if that’s possible. After a long-needed period of winding down, I had to come back to a very stressful and draining environment while not being fully restored yet but with a fresh sensation of how amazing doing nothing can be.

In February I had 3 business trips / long meetings with a wider team all in the same space. I’m a lucky girl as I absolutely love and adore people I work with, I’m always excited to see them and never miss an opportunity to catch up as usually we all sit in different parts of the world. So, don’t get me wrong – I always look forward to big get-togethers when we all end up in the same space.

But this intense February was the worst month out of the whole year. At the time I couldn’t figure out what was going on – I cried a bunch, didn’t want to go to work, felt like I lost the spark of interest towards what I was doing, I was defensive, easily irritated and very tired. Now looking back, I realized something which I always knew but never truly understood the extension and gravity of it.

Ever since I studied Psychology at the university, I knew that I’m an introvert. People usually laugh when I say that about myself as my behavior is very sociable. I’m talkative, quite loud and overall full of life; I easily establish connections with people, can keep up with almost any small talk and deal well with groups, presenting and entertaining people with stories and jokes, and will almost never skip a good party. Any profiling test will define me as an extrovert.

Truth is – all of it doesn’t give me energy. It drains the hell out of me. I can charge people with enthusiasm, I can share energy with others but all of that I’m doing at the expense of myself. I don’t get energy from people, big social gatherings of any kind leave me completely exhausted, parties make amazing memories but recovery from them takes a long time.

My social behavior is a learned thing, something I adopted at a very young age as you need it to succeed in many areas of life (or at least it works well for me). But it comes at a cost. When my resource is on a lower side, being in a big group becomes a very tough experience. It is true for many introverted people but as I have a very sociable persona for the outer world, it requires even more energy to keep that up and not just stay in the corner.

I need a lot of personal time, I need to have space to cocoon myself in vacuum, to unwind, restore and reflect. Usually, one business trip comes with a weekend afterward and then a couple of weeks of just stable working rhythm. On those weekends, I never plan anything except for staying at home and doing some yoga/nails/therapy. Surely no social occasions. If that pattern is getting disrupted – I’m screwed, and long-term effects can be drastic.

Also, it may sound weird, but I love to do nothing and just think my thoughts. Feel my feelings. Reflect on things, process them. All people do that, I’m sure, but if I don’t have enough space for my inner processes – I start to feel suffocated and become a miserable anxious mess. Together with some other things, this happened in February and ended up being the darkest period of this year.

All of that somehow made the topic of self-care much more important than it has ever been. Self-care in the most routine, tedious sense of it. Often when people talk about self-care it mostly consists of nice moments of indulgence: eating ice cream, taking a bath with candles, going to SPA and drinking a nice glass of wine while seating on the couch in your PJs. While all of it is good ways to deal with stress, it didn’t quite do the trick for me. I read somewhere that self-care is something that refuels you, rather than takes from you, it is knowing what you need to do to take care of yourself to then be able to take care of others. And that’s how I see it as well.

Self-care for me should start from the place of ultimate positivity. Somehow when it comes to nutritional choices, physical well being and other things related to what you need to do to feel good, majority of motivational impulses in our society come from very negative space, from almost punishment-like restrictions and often fueled by hate (e.g. towards one’s appearance, weight or weakness) or fear of consequences rather than by love and care.

In May I decided to start to approach differently my diet. I haven’t put any restrictions apart from not drinking Coca-Cola and Red Bull I identified as choices that are not making me feel good in a long-term (while bringing ice-cream-type of indulging feeling in the moment). For the rest of my nutritional choices, I just decided to be mindful about what I eat & drink, why and when.

Walk more. Exercise. Wash your face. Don’t forget to floss. Get enough sleep. Clean your space. Drink more water. Eat clean and healthy to fuel your body. Don’t check e-mails on the weekend. Put healthy boundaries in your relationships – with people, with work, with the world. Create enough space for yourself to restore. Take yourself out of toxic situations.

We all know all of that. We hear it all the time.

What I constantly tend to underestimate is how much resource I need for this. It all sounds simple, but it is not. It takes so much effort to keep up the routine and make healthy choices! Even small things that always bring me joy I tend to skip the moment I get overwhelmed with life. This whole idea of self-care goes out of the window when I hit an overly stressful period – I always manage to get things done, to hit the deadlines, to not let anybody down. But by doing so I usually let down myself.

Accepting that self-care routine I need to plan, that I need to remember about it and spend this resource to establish it properly and keep it up helped me to bring me forward on this journey. I still feel disappointment and annoyance at myself every time I slip and break it in favor of circumstances but at least I know now some things which work me. For example, I never do work or unpleasant errands on Saturdays. It’s a sacred day of joyful activities or me being in a ‘sleeping coma’. A couple of years ago I would say that a day which was spent in bed is a ‘wasted time’ and ‘not productive’ but now I know that sometimes the most productive thing you can do for yourself is to do nothing.

Routine is great but it helps to maintain the level of energy and restore it a bit but not to boost it. I’m still on a hunt of what will truly fill me with energy apart from quality time with my husband, tons of sleep, and nice relaxing traveling somewhere far away from the people. This summer we spent two weeks in Scotland driving around empty Highlands, hanging out with alpacas, horses, reindeers, rabbits, and guinea pigs, listening to our favorite music, talking to each other and enjoying fresh air, emptiness of our surroundings and slow pace. That was phenomenal. Considering that all our travels are usually crazy packed with new impressions, changing places every day, and desire to see more and do more, that was a very unusual but very satisfying experience.

Overall, I realized that the greatest source of energy from within I can unlock is doing activities which a kid in me would enjoy. Watching animated movies. Playing computer games (Overcooked 2 brought so much joy to me and so much stress to my poor husband!). Going to water parks or other thrilling places. Listening to favorite music on constant repeat. Singing on the top of your lungs and dancing like nobody is watching (even though I’m not any good in either!).

Another big thing which I re-established in my mind this year is my love for musical theatre. It’s a format that a lot of my friends struggle with. I’m not sure why but breaking into song and dance on the highest and lowest emotional points of the plot somehow doesn’t seem to be a comfortable and enjoyable way of expression for many people but I LIVE FOR IT. I loved the TV show Glee, still believe that Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is the best show ever made, often listen to the soundtrack of The Greatest Showman and can’t wait for In the Heights to hit theaters.

This year, I realized my long-time dream and went to see my first Broadway show while I was in NYC – Tootsie. Then I saw Chicago (left in the intermission as it was horrible). We flew to the UK to see a couple of West End shows and Hamilton was absolute and ultimate highlight of it. I’d wanted to know what the hype is all about for 3.5 years (ever since it premiered on Broadway) and now I’m borderline obsessed and would go to see it again in a heartbeat. Also, we went to see lighthearted & uplifting Everybody is Talking About Jamie and enjoyed the sarcastic Book of Mormon in Amsterdam with our friends.

Same weekend I saw Hamilton in London, I also got to see Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’s creator and main lead Rachel Bloom together with a couple of her co-stars in concert and in person and it was as mind-blowing as it gets. I’m not going to rave about it here anymore but just trust me that this was the most outstanding weekend of the year or maybe even the whole decade!

In 2019 I had 39 flights. I visited 8 countries excluding Russia and the Netherlands (US, UK, France, Germany, Italy, UAE, Croatia, Thailand). 21 flights out of these were for personal and not business reasons so vs 2018 it became a winning balance!

This year wasn’t full of new beginnings. It was mostly a continuation of things that started in 2018 as it was all about new beginnings. 2019 was a year of patience, of trying to be firm about what I want and need my pathway to be. Of trying to plan ahead and deal with uncertainty of all potential changes without an opportunity to actually have anything planned. I always look at obstacles I’m facing in 2 different ways – do I face them to be provoked to find a way to deal with them and push a bit harder to make sure I want what I ask for OR the universe just shows me that I need to stop butting my head against the wall and find another path. I wish I knew which one of these ways of thinking to apply to the experience of this year but, I guess, we shall see.

My company launched an internal RB focused campaign called #FreedomToSucceed and the more I see it around the office or RB social media platforms, the more I think that what I really wish is to have an internal freedom to fail.

I know that is coming from the place of extreme privilege as, in fact, I had the freedom to succeed and build myself in a way I did – thanks to my upbringing, parents, and different opportunities, I had along the way. What I’m trying to say is that ‘failure is not an option’ and constant pressure to be the best, to rise to the top, to outperform, overachieve, and get what is a universal idea of success is not leaving me too much space to breathe. To try and fail. To learn from your mistakes and find out what works for you and what doesn’t.

My dad to this day tells me when I leave my parents’ home – ‘Be a good girl. Behave. Get straight “A”s’ (In Russian it sounds more authentic and smooth 😊). Last time I was getting academic grades was almost 8 years ago but as he was saying this every morning for 15 years when I was leaving for school & university, it is hard to get out of habit, I guess. He obviously means well and it’s quite understandable and common message from a parent to a kid, even when a kid is almost 30 years old.

I remember the first time I got a C+ in a term for ‘Russian language’ in the 7th grade (it was my first mark below B in a term and all the rest were straight A’s). Apart from the fact it was an unfair grade (teacher calculated absolute average of all grades within the term and it was 3.66 out of 5.00 which I still think should be considered B- based both on Math and common sense 😊) I vividly remember how I was feeling. I felt as if the world was ending. I felt like the absolute definition of a failure like I let my parents down and can never recover from that. I was crying the whole commute from school and by the time I got home my mom was terrified that something utterly horrible happened to me. She couldn’t even imagine that a grade in school would make me this inconsolable.

Granted, I was a kid. But I’d lie if I said that I never felt like this again when external measurements mismatched with my idea of what I should strive to be and how I should perform. This soul-crushing, deeply destroying feeling of not meeting expectations, of not excelling, of not being the best they want you to be or just simply good enough is something I know all too well.

Fear of feeling this again is what usually pushes me to my limits when I feel like I have nothing left to give, what drives me forward no matter what, what squeezes every bit of my soul into everything I do. What usually makes me leverage this freedom to succeed they talk about and rise to the top.

This year I worked a lot on how to be brave. Brave to suck at something new. Brave to not strive to be the best at everything and just focus on process and/or progress. Brave to deal with my own limitations. Brave to choose not to give my all and leave something for myself.
It’s a journey. I still collapse sometimes and feel like utter failure but what I’m proud of is how fast I’m bouncing back from it and recover my sense of self-worth – something which would take months in the past now usually happen in 1-2 days. And it is a progress well worth celebrating!

This year I started to learn again how to drive a car – something completely out of my comfort zone. It requires different learning approach vs my academic years and my job, different skill set and I’m pretty sure it uses parts of my brain which I usually prefer not to rely on (like spatial thinking, constant alertness, etc.). The majority of adult people is excelling at it, but I never really needed it.

The first time I tried to learn how to drive it was quite clear – I won’t be the best or maybe even truly decent at it. Practice makes perfect as they all say but I have a gut feeling that while I’m sure I’ll be able to do it skillfully I will never truly enjoy it. It is not my area of excellence and strength. And that’s okay. You can’t always be the best.

Brainpower. Hard work. Practice. Dedication. Perseverance. Resilience. All these components of getting excellent results and objective achievement are well-known and highly praised. This way of approaching everything works great for me in a professional area. But somehow for years now I struggle with other areas.

I wanted to develop some Arts & Crafts hobbies. To paint in watercolors. To do calligraphy. To tap dance! I’m objectively very-very bad at it. I was never a creative kid, I never had a ‘talent’ for arts & crafts. My mind and my body are not that well connected which affects my ability to do things with my hands, and the left hemisphere of my brain is so obviously dominant it is not even funny.

Granted, with all the things listed above I’d achieve some results. Hard work, practice, and perseverance triumph over a lot of obstacles, even sometimes the lack of talent. But as I’m a prisoner of overachieving and excellency and always judge my work based on results and not the process, this doesn’t quite work here as I will never be satisfied with myself. At the end of the day, it is not a job but a hobby.

More than anything, I want to learn how not to focus on objective achievements, not to set smart goals, not to be in a mental prison of results and allow myself to suck at something new without underlying desire to progress… but just to enjoy the process and see where it goes.

Enjoy learning something new. Enjoy not being the best in what I do.

And have the freedom to fail. And try again.

A Love Letter to “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend”

There is this ‘little’ show called Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. My love for this piece of TV art is deep, ever growing and essential.

There are not enough words to describe this series. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, to say the least. It is a very niche combination of comic element, a tragedy of battling certain patterns and tendencies of mental issues, non-conventional honesty of struggles of regular life – all with more than 150 original musical numbers which are used to express highest and lowest moments, storms of feelings and different routines.

It’s an absolute treasure for me, one I can’t share with many people as I know they won’t understand and won’t appreciate this very peculiar format of story-telling. It so happens that a couple of my like-minded friends somehow started to watch it independently of me and love it as much as I do, but generally, I kept it to myself for 4 years – ever since I started watching its first season when there was no clarity if even season 2 would ever happen.

But this Friday Crazy Ex-Girlfriend comes to an end, so I feel like I need to pour out my feeling of appreciation and gratefulness for this gem.

The whole story arc was initially planned for 4 seasons – it was pitched to the network this way. Despite the lowest ratings on the CW (and among all network channels for that matter) they got an order for all 4 seasons and were able to tell the whole story – for this, I’m eternally grateful to whoever made this decision. Somebody allowed a brilliant team of dedicated to their craft people make things right.

This makes this show stand out – it was never intended to be indefinite and to go for many seasons, now, when it is ending it feels more like a very long movie (or musical) with an obvious starting point, great arc and inevitable end in sight.

That way show never recycles past plot points, it doesn’t make stories out of nothing. On the opposite – it creates space for all characters to grow through their experiences, for the tone of the show to change from season to season, and for the audience to feel as they went through thick and thin together with these characters and learn something essential along the way.

Creators of Crazy Ex had a brilliant and very ambitious plan of deconstructing classical romantical tropes while using them to toy with the audience, manipulating us into feeling a certain way and then making us face the fact that some of the natural responses to this manipulation don’t make any sense.

The main protagonist, Rebecca Bunch, is a Jewish girl with an IQ of 164 and striving career of a respectable lawyer in New York City. She feels deeply unhappy about her life, battling anxiety and depression while still trying to meet enormously high expectations of her overbearing mother. One day she meets her ex-boyfriend (from the time they both were 16 and spent summer in a camp) Josh Chan who lives in West Covina, California. Mislead by her feelings of happiness related to this summer when she was 16 and obsessed with the romantic idea of reviving an old flame, she makes a rash decision to leave New York and move to West Covina to chase Californian dream.

The first season was at times very uncomfortable to watch – Rebecca is an emotional mess in total denial. She is smart, caring, thoughtful, funny – you can’t avoid feeling sympathy for her. She is a good person (yes, it’s true!), or at least has sound reasoning to do whatever she does. Through the whole season, she tries to fill the void in her existence by getting Josh Chan to love her and choose her (while he obviously has a long-term girlfriend). Many situations she ends up in because of that are drowning in second-hand embarrassment and therefore cringy at times. Rebecca disrupts the lives of people around her but is blind to the impact her behavior has on others. There is no self-awareness in what she does until she hits rock bottom and realizes for the first time that maybe she is a villain in her own story – and it serves as an initial turning point in this overall classical story of romantic comedy.

Rebecca’s journey is full of attempts to break old patterns, work through abandonment issues and tendency to obsess over the idea of love, her intense nature of going ‘all in’ in whatever is in focus now. It is also full of her self-sabotaging tendencies and spiraling into the endless void of shame, self-deprecation and ultimate darkness she has no control over despite intellectual understanding of what’s going. All of that resonates with me on a very deep level.

I don’t have a mental illness which Rebecca has, but my own journey of self-discovery, personal development and attempts of breaking old patterns always follows ‘three steps forward, two steps back’ approach. It’s never a direct route but a spiral, every new spin brings me closer to something profound and deep but unavoidably also pushes me back. It’s exhausting and discouraging. Sometimes in this process, I feel desperate. There is no easy fix, there are cracks and voids in me I can’t fill with any amount of rationality and logic. But not this long ago I realized that this little show gives me hope.

By season 4 [Spoiler alert!], Rebecca got diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder after failed attempt to commit suicide, she is in an excessive amount of therapy, working through her issues day by day. She is also surrounded by friends, who stayed by her side despite her many less than honorable actions towards them (and herself), she is loved and cared for. She has a support system and terrific amount of self-awareness and even tools to notice and articulate what’s going on with her and check herself if she is in need to up her self-care.

On her journey she managed to inspire people around to change their lives in a best possible way – some discovered their sexuality, some – career aspirations they never were brave enough to admit they had, some faced their long-term issues and got out of dead ends, some broke up relationships which didn’t work… But what is common – the whole reality surrounding Rebecca became honest, gentle and accepting. From infantile illusions and ultimate blind desires of season 1 to adult conversations around needs, issues and uncomfortable situations of season 4, this journey led us to a heightened world of care, love, warmth, hope, support, and self-awareness.

Sometimes the thing or person you think will make you happy – doesn’t.
This show made me question my own views and perceptions as to what makes me truly happy and if I rely on some specific things or people way too much for that. And believe me – I do. This intense desire to go ‘all or nothing,’ simplify the reality of multidimensional things to black and white categories, all these new starts, new challenges, new relationships – something I call myself out on regularly. My emotional skin is way thicker than Rebecca’s, and I’m a bit more stable and structured, but happiness for me is a journey. I have an amazing husband who is my best partner in life, I have a loving family, many dear friends, the job I’m super passionate about… I ‘tick the box’ almost by all attributes and it’s not superficial stuff. But sometimes I still feel deeply broken, sometimes I spiral into the lifeless void, sometimes I feel like there is no light at the end of the tunnel. And you know what? That’s okay. That’s okay to not feel okay. Tomorrow will be another day.

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is not a perfect show. It is not a perfect story about love which conquers all. I literally spent an hour of therapy to talk about the penultimate episode and how torn I feel about it and how sad it makes me. Not because I’m a TV nerd but because it touches something very deep inside of me. In some way, I see myself in Rebecca and the way she is projecting and extending herself into the world. Even her romantic interests are reflecting her, and she is reflecting them. It feels very confusing as if there were no boundaries and no distance between her and the world. And the show is telling us it is not a healthy situation. And I wrecked my brain thinking about the outcome which would feel both healthy and satisfying, and I couldn’t find one! Life doesn’t make narrative sense. Maybe the truth is that some situations don’t have a satisfying and healthy outcome. But I still have big hope for tomorrow’s finale!

This long love letter I want to end with words of gratitude and appreciation to creators, cast, and crew of this show. I’ve never seen such a talented, multidimensional, committed, kind-spirited group of people who love what they do so much it spills over the screen. I love all the characters, all of them without any exception. They all are REAL people, they have depth and their own quirks, they are like close friends to me who I know and whose friendship I cherish. I’m genuinely heartbroken this era is ending. I don’t think there will be EVER a show like this one. The show which stayed true to itself from the beginning to the very end. Actors who gave it all. Dancing, singing, acting and just having fun – it was glorious 4 years together. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart. I will miss you forever.

And now….

Top-25 Songs from Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. The ones I can listen again, again and again. The ones I know all the words to.

Continue reading A Love Letter to “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend”

Итоги 2018

For English version – scroll all the way down! 🙂

В конце 2017-го мне досталась моя мечта на блюдечке с золотой каемочкой. Мечта эта была долгосрочной, одной из тех, путь к которой я прокладывала планомерно и уверенно в течение многих лет, но сбылась она сильно раньше, чем я могла предположить в самых своих амбициозных планах.

Если бы в начале 2017-го кто-нибудь спросил бы меня каковы шансы, что в течение года я перееду в Нидерланды (или любую другую страну), я бы сказала – около нуля. Я еще даже не работала в RB в тот момент, и идея, что я сначала сменю работу, а потом получу повышение с переездом в другую страну, выглядела чрезвычайно нереалистичной.

Но это случилось! И если 2017 был годом феноменального карьерного взлета, который привел меня к этой мечте, то 2018 стал годом ее реализации.

Этот год был самым сумасшедшим и невероятным в моей жизни. Он был полон важных открытий, ярких впечатлений, крышесносных путешествий, потрясающего опыта, взрывного вдохновения, неугасающей страсти…

Что еще характеризует этот год? Безумное количество работы, нескончаемые усилия, критическая нехватака ресурса, шаткие границы, предельная гибкость, неизведанные территории, постоянное давление со всех сторон.

Когда я оборачиваюсь назад и думаю про этот год, я улыбаюсь. Был ли он легким? Ни в какой мере. Он был чрезвычайно интенсивным, таящим в себе много испытаний и вытянувшим из меня все соки. В этом году было много дней, когда мне было сложно даже выбраться из кровати, и единственное, чего мне хотелось – это найти кнопку «пауза» и нажать на нее. Но эта карусель никогда не перестает крутиться. Кнопки «пауза» не существует. Опции сдаться у меня никогда не было, поэтому я продолжала делать то, что делала. День за днем. Порой тихими шажками, но всегда в нужном направлении.

В процессе я узнала очень много всего – о прекрасной стране, в которой я сейчас живу, о людях, которые меня окружают, о моей работе и, самое главное – о себе. Я попала в шторм изменений – вместе с моим личным продвижением (новая роль, новый бренд, новая страна), вся моя компания проходила через мощнейшую реорганизацию после разделения бизнеса на две части. Вся моя команда была абсолютно новой, процессы нового бизнес юнита еще не были установлены, роли не до конца определены, а офис нуждался в расширении и, соответственно, ремонте…

В этом году было много месяцев неопределенности, незнания куда я иду и что будет дальше. Вместе с переездом я потеряла почти все системы поддержки. Семья, друзья, коллеги, все люди, которых я так любила, регулярные занятия вроде спорта и хобби, четко сформированная рутина заботы о себе – все это я оставила в Москве. Слава богу, мой муж переехал со мной и служил для меня единственным оплотом стабильности в этом году. Но во многом этот переезд для него был еще тяжелее, чем для меня, поэтому совладать с этим изменением нам вместе тоже было непросто.

Моя новая роль выглядела большой и страшной. В начале мне казлось, что я понятия не имею, что я делаю, поэтому “fake it till you make it” было моей основной мантрой. Я работала дни и ночи напролет, пытаясь разобраться в том, что происходит и понять как жить мою жизнь новым образом. Нет ничего удивительного в том, что моя память о первых паре месяцев после переезда – одна большая черная дыра. Что удивительно, так это то, насколько успешно я на самом деле справилась со своей ролью и сейчас, глядя назад, меня очень впечатляет все то, чего мне удалось достичь в тот период.

Я никогда не была фанатом походов, так как я никогда не могла понять почему люди сознательно выбирают часами испытывать дискомфорт – обливаться потом, испытывать напряжение и усталость, преодолевать новые и новые рубежи, все ради духоподъемного вознаграждающего ощущения подъема на вершину горы или окончания непростого маршрута. Но, честно признаться, это точное описание того, как я воспринимаю свою работу и этот год – не исключение. Мы свернули горы, прошли через огонь, воду и медные трубы, различные взлеты и падения, – это было долгое движение вверх, мы еще даже не достигли вершины, но я очень горжусь путем, который мы проделали.

Большая часть процесса адаптации к новым условиям была связана с моим личным стилем взаимодействия с окружающими. Любой, кто знает меня, подтвердит, что я очень прямолинейный человек, с прозрачным, ‘no bullshit’ стилем коммуникации в духе ‘открытой книги’. Плюс к этому я эмоциональна, пассионарна, и, как аккуратно выражается мой босс, ношу свои чувства на своем лице. Все это вместе – непростое сочетание, когда речь идет о построении отношений с новыми людьми, особенно – людьми других культур и бэкграундов.

Поначалу наш офис был очень холодным местом. Не было никакой сформированной организационной культуры, люди были новые и очень переживали за свои, еще незнакомые им, роли, многие только-только переехали из других стран. Сейчас это кажется очевидным, но тогда я винила в этом культурные различия и думала, что мой уютный дружелюбный рабочий мир потерян на всегда. Тот факт, что я – самая “младшая” с точки зрения уровня карьерной лестницы в этой части организации тоже не помогал. Раньше я всегда была окружена не только коллегами моего уровня, но и сильно более младшими товарищами. В этом году я была постоянно окружена в основном сослуживцами, на 3-5 уровней выше меня. Они, очевидно, тоже люди и я всегда рада общению и социализации с ними, но в целом это создает непростую ситуацию с точки зрения иерархии и возможности быть собой.

Все вдохновляющие цитаты звучат в духе: “всегда оставайся собой”, “не теряй себя” и т.д. Но в профессиональном мире всегда остается пространство для “личного развития”, особенно во время первого международного назначения. В этом году я довольно часто слышала: “Я не хочу, чтобы ты меняла или предавала себя, но, может, тебе стоит подумать как…” и дальше следовала длинная речь про мой стиль коммуникации, то, как я доношу свои мысли или что-то, касающееся моей великолепной личности.

Довольно много времени у меня ушло на то, чтобы понять какие свои черты я не готова менять никоим образом, так как они являются фундаментальной частью того, кто я есть, а какие я готова немного отполировать и показывать миру в другой форме, но не с другим содержанием. Есть очень тонкая граница между тем, чтобы изменять себя и изменять то, как ты демонстрируешь себя окружающим, зная, что нормы и ожидания от твоего поведения отличаются от того, к чему ты привыкла. Грустная правда состоит в том, что никто не поможет тебе разобраться где эта граница проходит, в то время как давление соответствовать нормам достаточно высоко.

В итоге я поняла как оставаться верной себе и при этом не ощущать себя неадекватной по отношению к окружающему меня миру. Мне удалось установить близкие дружеские отношения с людьми из разных команд, стран, людьми разных уровней и бэкграундов. В конечном итоге, несмотря на культурные различия, люди – это люди. И даже когда окружающая обстановка выглядит холодной и неприветливой, можно быть теплой и открытой и велика вероятность, что люди отреагируют на это и даже будут благодарны.

К настоящему моменту у меня есть прекрасная компания людей, с которыми я могу поболтать за заслуженной чашой кофе в течение дня, позвать выпить бокал-другой после работы, запланировать семейный ужин в воскресенье и рассчитывать на них в плане веселья до последнего на вечеринках.

При этом все это даже близко не заполняет пустоту на месте тех людей, что я “оставила позади”. Невозможность видеть родственников, участвовать в веселых встречах с друзьями, быть рядом с любимыми, когда им это нужно и делить жизнь в моменте – все это большой, хорошо известный недостаток экспатриации. Я не хочу заменять этих людей кем-либо, поэтому я очень стараюсь поддерживать отношения, несмотря на расстояние. Мне очень повезло с друзьями, у которых находится время на общение со мной, на встречи, когда я приезжаю. С друзьями, которые приезжают в гости, и, главное, не забывают обо мне. Хотя часто работа и другие обстоятельства настолько поглощают меня, что я прячусь в свою пещеру и “пропадаю” с радаров. Очень надеюсь исправиться и не допускать такого в 2019!

В этом году я всегда выбирала быть открытой и честной обо всех моих проблемах и потребностях, и о том, что я думаю по поводу людей, ситуаций и обстоятельств. Это делает меня достаточно уязвимой, но, по крайней мере, я могу быть уверена, что важные мне люди знают, что происходит в моего голове и могут решить, что с этим делать, если они того хотят. Также это означает, что каждый раз когда мне хотелось сказать кому-то как сильно я ими восхищаюсь, получаю удовольствие от работы с ними или насколько они мне небезраличным, я это делала. И, честно говоря, я думаю, что этот мир был бы немного лучше, если бы все делали так же.

Не так легко делиться позитивом в то время как мы почти постоянно сфокусированы на негативе, с которым нам нужно так или иначе справляться. И это ощущается как большой риск – раскрываться в отношении других людей, не зная какова будет реакция. Но правда в том, что люди будут удивлять вас в хорошем смысле чаще, чем разочаровывать, и не существует такого явления как “слишком добрый”, “слишком небезразличный” или “слишком человечный”.

В этом году хватало разочарований и непростых моментов, очень болезненных переживаний и ощущения безысходности, но… это часть жизни. Этот год сделал меня сильнее и уверннее в себе и добавил мне понимания как укреплять и поддерживать себя, как продолжать двигаться и делать, что делаешь, когда сил уже почти нет и при этом оставаться по-настоящему благодарной несмотря ни на что. Мне очень повезло, я получила небывалую возможность взрывного изменения моей карьеры и я схватилась за нее изо всех сил!

Год назад один француз долго рассказывал мне почему эта роль прекрасна для меня по многим разным причинам, одна из этих причин заключалась в том, что я увижу мир. Признаюсь честно – он не обманывал! За этот год я совершила 41 перелет и 9 поездок на международных поездах, а также выезжала в мини-поездки в соседние страны Европы на выходных. Я посетила 16 стран: США, Канаду, Бразилию, Мексику, Испанию, Германию, Францию, Бельгию, Великобританию, Швейцарию, Лихтенштейн, Италию, Польшу, Данию, Таиланд и Россию. В пяти из этих стран я до этого никогда не бывала! Все эти поездки оставили у меня яркие впечатления, они были веселыми, напряженными и очень насыщенными самыми разными эмоциями. Путешествия – моя самая большая страсть и я очень счастлива, что мне удалось оценить европейский образ жизни изнутри и расширить мое понимание мира вокруг меня. Но план на следующий год – затормозить и оставаться чуть дольше на одном и том же месте.

Я желаю вам всегда оставаться верными себе. Мечтать о большем, но знать свои пределы. Не забывать дышать и заботиться о себе. Устраивать себе перерывы и нажимать на “паузу”, если есть такая возможность. Держаться своего нарратива и не сходить с намеченного пути. И всегда помнить о том, что по-настоящему важно вам и вашим близким.

Пусть 2019 будет полон счастья и здоровья! Говорят, будущее выглядит прекрасным!

At the end of 2017, I got my ultimate dream on a silver platter. This dream was a long time in the making -I’d been paving my way to it for many years- but it came true way earlier than I anticipated in my most ambitious plans.

If at the beginning of 2017 somebody asked me what were the chances that I would move to the Netherlands (or any other country) within a year, I would have said – somewhere around zero. I wasn’t working in RB at the time and the idea that I will first change jobs, and then move countries all within one year seemed unrealistic.

But it happened! And if 2017 was a year of fantastic career take off which led me to this dream, in 2018 I was literally living the dream.

This year was hands down the craziest and the most incredible year of my life! It was full of important discoveries, vivid impressions, mind-blowing travels, ‘pinch me’ moments, amazing experiences, explosive inspiration, and endless passion…

What else characterizes this year? A crazy amount of work, relentless efforts, severe lack of resources, wobbly boundaries, extreme flexibility, uncharted territories, and immense pressures all around me.

When I look back at this year, I smile. Was this journey easy? Absolutely not. It was very intense, challenging and tiring. There were many days when it was hard to even get out of the bed, and the only thing I wanted was to take a pause. But the carousel never stops turning. There is no ‘pause’ button. Failure was never an option, so I kept going. Day by day. One step at a time.

In the process, I learned so many things: about the beautiful country I now live in, about the people around me, about my job, and most importantly – about myself. I got into a storm of change, together with my personal move (new role, new brand, new country), the whole company was going through drastic reorganization after splitting the business into two. My entire team was newly formed, all the processes of the new business unit were yet to be established, roles to be defined, office to be expanded and remodeled.

There were many months of uncertainty, not knowing what I was stepping into and what was coming next. With the move, I lost almost all my support systems including my family, close friends, peers at work who I knew and loved so much, regular activities like sport and hobbies, well-established self-care routine – all that I left in Moscow. Thankfully my husband moved with me and was the only stability I had throughout this year. Though in many ways, this move was even more challenging for him, so navigating this change together was also not easy.

My new role seemed big and scary. In the beginning, I felt like I had no idea what I was doing so ‘fake it till you make it’ was my resounding mantra. I was working days & nights trying to make sense out of what was going on and to understand how to live my life in a completely new way. It’s not a surprise my memory of the first months after the move is one massive black hole. I was surprisingly successful in ‘faking it’ though, and now I’m very impressed with what I achieved and delivered during this time. But it surely didn’t feel like that at the time.

I’m not a big fan of hiking as I never could understand why people would put themselves in uncomfortable hours of sweat, tension, fatigue, endurance, sometimes blood and tears, all for the elating and rewarding feeling of getting to the top or braving some treacherous route. But, as a matter of fact, that describes exactly how I usually feel about my job and this year is no exception! We moved mountains, went through thick and thin, various ups and downs – it was a long way to the top, we’re not even quite there yet, but I surely feel proud of the journey we had.

Functional challenges aside, a big part of the learning curve this year was related to my personal style. Anybody who knows me can testify that I’m a very direct person, with a very transparent, ‘open-book,’ ‘no bullshit’ style of communication. Plus, I’m very emotive, passionate about things and, as they put nicely, wear my feelings on my face. All of that together is quite a mix when it comes to building relationships with new people and especially new people from entirely different cultures and backgrounds.

At first, our office felt pretty damn cold. There was no established culture. All the people were new and stressed about their roles, many just moved countries. It seems obvious now, but at the time I blamed it on the differences in cultures and thought that my cozy world of friendly working environment was lost forever. The fact that I’m the most junior person in my part of the organization didn’t help either as I previously always had not only peers of my level around but juniors as well. This year I was surrounded mostly by people way more senior than me – 3-5 levels above my head. While they are still people, and I enjoy socializing with them, it is a very confusing situation in terms of hierarchy and opportunity to be yourself.

All inspirational quotes out there say something along the lines of ‘you do you,’ ‘just be yourself,’ ‘don’t lose who you are,’ but in professional space, there is always room for ‘personal development’ especially on your first international assignment. One of the things I’ve heard quite frequently this year was – ‘I don’t want you to change or betray who you are, but you may consider how to…’ and then a long speech about communication style, the way of delivery or my beaming personality.

It took me a while to figure out which traits I am in no way ready to change, as they embody who I am, and what parts I’m willing to polish and present to the world differently by changing the form but not the content. There is a thin line between changing who you are and changing how you’re presenting yourself while knowing that the norms and expectations of your behavior differ from what you’re used to. The sad truth is nobody can really help you to figure out where this line is all the while the pressure to be in line with the ‘norms’ is quite high.

I found a way to stand my ground but not to feel out of place. I’ve managed to build beautiful, meaningful friendships with people from different teams, countries, levels, and backgrounds. At the end of the day, despite cultural specifics, people are people. And even when surroundings feel cold and not welcoming, you can be warm and open – chances are people will respond to that and even be grateful.

Nowadays I have an amazing community of people around me, ones I can chat with while drinking well-deserved cup of coffee during the day, ask out for a drink or two after work, plan to have a double date dinner on Sunday night, and rely on to have utmost fun partying like there is no tomorrow!

However, all of this doesn’t begin to fill the void of all people I ‘left behind’. Not being able to see my family, to participate in fun gatherings with friends, to be there for loved ones when they need it, to share life in the moment, all of that is a big, very well-known downside of expatriation. I don’t want to ever replace these people with anybody else, and therefore I try very hard to make a conscious effort of keeping relationships despite the distance. I’ve been blessed with friends who always have time for me either to chat or meet up, who visit me and, most importantly, don’t forget about me. Even though sometimes work and other challenges swallow me so much that I cave and lose touch, I hope to work on that in 2019!

This year I always chose to be truthful and honest about my struggles and needs, the way I feel about people, situations and circumstances. It makes me a tad vulnerable, but at least I can be sure that people important to me know what is going on inside my head and can decide how to go about it and act accordingly; if they want to. It also means that every time I felt like telling somebody how much I admire them, enjoy working with them or care about them I did. And honestly, this world would be a bit better place if everybody did the same.

It’s not so easy to spread positivity while we’re usually focused on all the negative things we need to handle. It also feels risky to put yourself out there not knowing what the response will be. But what I learned people will positively surprise you way more often than disappoint you, and there is no such thing as being ‘too kind,’ ‘too caring’ or ‘too humane.’

I had my fair share of disappointments this year, I had very low moments, I was hurt many times, but… that’s part of life. I came out of this year way stronger, more confident and with an understanding of how to build myself up, keep on keeping on, and still be grateful no matter what. I’m one very lucky girl, I got an opportunity for an outstanding step-change of my career, and I grabbed it as hard as I could!

A year ago, one French guy had a whole speech about how this role is going to be great for me for many different reasons, one of them being that I will see the world. He didn’t lie! This year I had 41 flights and 9 train rides between countries as well as several weekend car getaways. I visited 16 countries – US, Canada, Brazil, Mexico, Spain, Germany, France, Belgium, UK, Switzerland, Lichtenstein, Italy, Poland, Denmark, Thailand, and Russia. In 5 of them I’ve never been before! All these trips were highlights of 2018, they were fun, intense and very fruitful in experiences and emotions. There is no bigger passion of mine than exploring different places and I’m so happy I got to immerse myself into the European lifestyle and expand my understanding of the world around me. With that being said, next year I plan to slow down and be a bit more grounded in one place.

I wish you to always stay true to yourself. To dream big but know your limits. To not forget to breathe and take care of yourself. To give yourself a break and hit pause when you can. To live your own narrative and stay your ground. And to always remember what is truly important for you and those who are close to you.

Here’s to happy and healthy 2019! They said the future looks bright 😊

Let me tell you how I’m doing

My good friend asked me today how I am doing and said that from the outside it seems that I found my inner harmony. And he is absolutely right.

After tumultuous 8 months of a roller-coaster life full of crippling emptiness, utter pressure, isolation and feeling lost, I can say that I finally found my groove back.

I have 2 homes, 2 happy places I am glad to be coming to and from.

I have the best partner in life and all adventures we face, who has never left my side and is my rock.

I have amazing friends who haven’t forgotten me (at least yet) and continue to be in my life and fill me with the purest joy.

I have a job which I love and I’m damn good at. Colleagues who value me not only as a coworker or function but also as a person.

I travel so much that sometimes I become sick of that. But I see the world and collect impressions which blow my mind.

Changes are never easy. Leaving people and things behind hurts. Learning how to live your life in a completely new way takes time.

But now I feel not only extremely lucky, but also content and happy. It all sounds easy and quite rational. But, oh my god, what a journey it has been…

FIFA 2018

A month ago I was scared. Not that I thought Russia is not capable of hosting a big super significant international event but everything around that time was screaming ‘danger’. I wouldn’t say that every day of my life I feel like I have a lot of reasons to be proud of my home country. I have a love-hate relationship with Russia, but I can’t handle foreigners talking shit about it. Politics aside, it hurts me that people who don’t sometimes know a single thing about a country with more than 140 million citizens are very quick to judge all of them based on what they hear and read in media. But that how it works, with all of us. And I was afraid that people around me would have one (or several) more reason to judge.

But I couldn’t be more wrong! I can’t count times when I heard this month how amazing and beautiful Russia is, how great the whole thing was organized, how happy people who visited Cup are and how they felt welcomed, loved and showered with warmth. I never in my life wanted to be in Moscow more than in a last couple of weeks. I didn’t have a chance to be there, but I lived through hundreds of videos and photos my friends posted to feel the atmosphere. And it felt magical.

The whole Cup did. I find it amusing and very fitting that this tournament was such a distinctive one. Cup of many ‘firsts’, of record-breaking own goals, unpredictable wins and upsets, Cup, where South Korea won over Germany and Russia knocked out Spain. Cup of ‘unbalanced’ board where almost every game of playoff was fun to watch.

I never was a football fan. I’m what some segmentations call ‘Cup follower’ – I’ve been watching big events since 2004 but nothing more. I never liked the game itself, but I was always very curious to see how it all was playing out. I liked to read articles and participate in sweepstakes, liked to watch matches in a bar with a good company. But as Russia is known for being not the strongest team in the world, I never felt strong personal affiliation after they got kicked out. Till this year.

I now work in a global organization with many-many international people around. English, French, Spanish, German, Brazilian, Portuguese – you name it! In almost every game there was a team I could support just because it was a team of my friends. And with this personal affiliation, I suddenly found out that I like to follow the game because of the game! When teams were not too close to my heart, I wanted the game to be as unpredictable, eventful and tense as possible. And I almost always chose to root for an underdog – and this Cup delivered!

Despite having tons of French friends, I wanted Croatia to win. Because I love fairy tales. I love an idea that everybody can win if they put all their dedication, sweat and blood into it. How Japan did playing against Belgium. How Russian team did both in 1/8 and 1/4 (even though that one they lost). How Croatia did throughout the whole tournament.

They lost. But it is still a fairy tale. For England who got into the semi-final without expecting this at all before the tournament. For Croatia as they got to the final stage for the first time in history. For France who now celebrate their well deserved World Championship. And for my home country – you made it all possible. Thank you, Russia. I couldn’t be more proud.

3 months in the Netherlands

It has been a bit more than 3 months since we packed all our stuff and moved to the Netherlands. 3 months doesn’t sound like a lot but it feels like an eternity.

This whole time I’ve been feeling like on a carousel which never stops and is only spinning faster and faster as times goes by. I live in a dream I never imagined to be possible and it feels crazy.
Crazy surreal. Crazy interesting. Crazy fancy. Crazy serious. Crazy exhausting.
Just crazy.

In a kaleidoscope of countries and places I visited in the past several weeks, living in between temporary homes, long working hours, busy weekends, visiting friends, never ending bureaucracy things, business trips and multiple worries, I don’t have a room to breathe. To think. To process. To feel the ground.

I like challenges, I always did. And while sometimes I get absolutely overwhelmed from the mix of external and internal pressure, I’m very aware of one simple fact – I’m choosing it myself. I’m enjoying it. All those emotional swings of extremely high highs and absolutely devastating lows are the system I live by. And I really hope one day I will find a middle ground and this room to breathe but I’m clearly not there yet.

I’ve been thinking about sharing my true experience, experience full of deepest self doubts, triumphant victories, tiring anxieties, exciting adventures, borderline exhaustion, extreme vulnerability, needed resilience, endless gratitude, limited resources, interesting self discoveries, personal compromises, floods of tears, brightest emotions, sleepless nights… but in the end of the day I would never be able to explain all of this.

At some points I felt lonely and isolated. I wished I knew people with the same struggles but I was (and still am) surrounded by absolute superstars with much more stable emotional reality who are just pushing through and don’t complain. More of that – I know a lot of people who see me the same way. I’m afraid to overexpose my vulnerability as multiple times I was punished for it. I don’t want to be perceived as a sensitive flower, to give a negative vibe or be accused of being not agile or resilient enough.

But reality is – sometimes I become fragile, defensive and dramatic. Sometimes I hit rock bottom and don’t see a way out – ‘failure is not an option’ but it also feels impossible to keep going. I feel stuck and desperate.
At moments like this I stay still. I feel the silence. I don’t try to find a way out. I just wait. And then suddenly I feel the sun on my face. I see the man of my dreams next to me. I laugh with people at work who mean much more to me than just colleagues. I look at my job with excitement and satisfaction. And I keep going.

This journey has been absolutely crazy but I love and accept every moment of it.

Итоги 2017

“Я хочу команду, адекватного руководителя, чёткие задачи и позитивную мотивацию.
Я хотела бы работать в косметике. Или в RB”
Эти слова я написала в свежекупленной тетрадочке с надписью на обложке “If you want to be somebody special – be yourself” 14 ноября 2016 года.

В тот момент я находилась в состоянии чрезвычайного дистресса и мысль о возможной смене работы была успокаивающей, но очень далекой от реальности. Настолько далекой, что я не пыталась оценивать возможность осуществления своих желаний, я просто записывала все, что стучало в голове.

1 марта я вышла на работу в RB.
Я до сих пор не очень понимаю как это вышло. До конца 2016 года я пробовала расшевилить свои связи, т.к. я работала с RB когда ещё была на агентской стороне, но ничего толкового из этого не вышло и я решила расслабиться. Я не была в отчаянном поиске, я вообще не до конца была уверена, что я готова менять работу.

Я любила Инбев или, по крайней мере, свою мечту о нем, я любила и до сих пор люблю людей, с которыми я работала, у меня был интересный и большой скоуп… Но у меня не было надежды на светлое будущее. И я не была счастлива. Каждое утро я заставляла себя ехать на работу в надежде, что если перетерпеть ещё один день, то на следующее утро откроется доселе не видная мне перспектива. И я снова буду гореть. И чувствовать себя счастливой.

11 января мне позвонили из RB – просто случайно нашли мой профиль на LinkedIn. 16 января было первое интервью, 2 февраля, 5 собеседований спустя, у меня на руках был оффер.

8 февраля я подписала оффер на позицию Senior CMI Manager Russia с командой из 2 человек в подчинении, ответственностью за судьбу 15+ брендов в России и офисом на Павелецкой.
8 декабря я подписала оффер на позицию Global CMI Lead AirWick с командой из 0 человек в подчиненнии, ответственностью за судьбу одного бренда во всех странах мира и офисом в Амстердаме.

За 10 месяцев между этими офферами я обрела всё, о чем мечтала. Великолепную команду из талантливых, умных, поддерживающих, отзывчивых и самостоятельных девушек. Задачи, которым, как оказалось, не надо было быть чётко поставленными кем-то свыше, потому что, став лидером CMI функции, я стала определять их сама. Невероятный портфель брендов, за который я отвечала – моя любовь к этим маркам началась задолго до того, как я начала работать с ними.
Я обрела свободу, пространство и возможность дышать полной грудью. Я нашла совершенно прекрасных людей. И потрясающего руководителя, в адекватности которого мне ни разу не довелось усомниться.


2017 год стал для меня годом счастья. Годом, когда всё сложилось как надо, от и до. Так, будто кто-то и правда все заранее продумал и надо было только довериться мирозданию и ждать, когда все детали пазла соединятся как задумано. Я оборачиваюсь назад, рассказываю друзьям как всё происходило одно за другим, и мне говорят – “видишь как всё идеально сложилось!”. Прям как на этом видео (не отвлекайтесь, потом посмотрите!).

Но пока этот пазл складывался, я испытывала очень много тревоги. Иногда я сидела в отчаянии, глядя на множество кусочков, которые я не могла сложить в единую идеальную картинку даже в своей голове, потому что картинка эта требовала такого количества невероятных предположений, что я подумать не могла, что все это правда может случиться.

Я испытывала тревогу, когда только перешла из Инбева в RB – у меня был неопределенный скоуп, точно такие же как я потерянные во времени и пространстве подчиненные (они пришли в RB почти одновременно со мной), огромная незнакомая команда маркетинга и трейд маркетинга. Первый месяц я была готова признать, что идея со сменой работы была провальной и что на свете счастья нет.

Я испытывала тревогу, когда мой функциональный руководитель (CMI director), находящийся в Амстердаме, позвонил мне спустя два месяца после моего прихода в RB и сказал, что он уходит в Хайнекен, а на замену ему фактически никто не приходит.

Я испытывала тревогу, когда, уже влившись в коллектив и найдя общий язык со своим непосредственым руководителем (Marketing Director), я вдруг осознала, что он в течение года уедет из России на повышение, поэтому все наши грандиозные планы о том, как мы изменим CMI функцию, мне придется реализовывать при поддержке кого-то другого. Или не реализовывать.

Я испытывала тревогу, когда в октябре нам объявили, что бизнес делится пополам, что CMI функция так же делится пополам без увеличения количества рабочих мест, что из России уезжает не только мой босс, но и босс моего босса – генеральный директор RB Russia. Что всё надо строить почти что заново, вероятно – в одиночку.

Я испытывала тревогу, шквал тревоги, когда мой любимый босс сказал, что мне предлагают позицию в Амстердаме, в его команде. Позицию, о которой я и не смела мечтать, потому что до сих пор не уверена, что я с ней справлюсь.

Я испытывала тревогу по многим другим поводам, касающимся бюрократических, технических процессов, финансов и таймингов, в которые я не буду углубляться. Но, например, у меня пока нет визы, поэтому пазл все еще имеет шанс не сложиться.

Но за всей этой тревогой я всегда ощущала одно новое для меня чувство. Чувство, что всё будет хорошо. Что всё получится. Что, так или иначе, картинка сложится.

И когда вчера я получила ответное поздравление с Новым Годом от босса моего босса, от человека, при появлении которого у моего стола, я неизменно вздрагивала первые полгода, и прочитала “2018 should be exciting! See u in Amsterdam”, я наконец испытала это чувство в полной мере. Всё будет хорошо. Всё будет прекрасно.


В этом году мы впервые сняли квартиру. Маленькую однушку на Цветном бульваре, которую мы немедленно превратили в царство песочно-рыжих тонов. Через месяц мы узнали, что жить нам в ней осталось недолго, но это был очень большой шаг, о котором я ни секунды не жалею – ни о том, что мы не сделали этого раньше, ни о том, что мы это вообще сделали.
Я впервые побывала в Великобритании. Предсказуемо влюбилась в Лондон, узнала очень многое о том, как британцы, шотландцы, ирландцы занимаются сексом (это была рабочая командировка) и в очередной раз ощутила себя абсолютным нищебродом.
Мы впервые побывали в Армении и Греции, двух совершенно необыкновенных странах с огромной, не всегда простой историей. Обе эти страны произвели на меня очень сильное впечатление и мы обязательно туда ещё вернемся.

Весь этот год я радовалась тому, что я научилась отделять себя от окружающего меня нарратива. От чужих ожиданий, от чьих-либо идей о том, как мне стоит жить, от чужих тревог, от не своей ответственности, от наносного чувства вины. Раскапывая во всем этом себя, я наконец ощутила свою силу. Силу идти своим путем к своим мечтам и никогда не оправдываться за то, какая я есть и как воспринимаю мир вокруг себя.


Я желаю вам, чтобы 2018 год был ярким, счастливым и гармоничным. Чтобы он был свободным и теплым, полным смысла и реализованных целей. Здоровья вам и вашим близким.
И приезжайте в гости, мы будем ждать!