You only get to do those “end of a decade” recaps only so often, so here goes. This post takes a look at the past decade, from the beginning of 2010 to the end of 2019.
However, to understand why the first thing I did in 2010 (quitting my job) was important, you do need a bit more context and so let’s start with that.
[1985 - 2010]
I’m someone who was born in 1985 in (still at the time) communist Bulgaria, graduated high school in 2004 and started university immediately after, just to drop off after 2 years in favor of a job. You can read more about my early job opportunities, adventures and fails here and here.
To keep things short I’m not going to focus much on the previous decade. I’m only going to mention that the university exchange program to the USA I participated in 2005 and 2006 was easily one of the most influential things in my life that set a course I’ve been on to this day in one way or another.
On the other hand, I wasn’t ‘feeling’ the degree in economics I was doing, or maybe just Bulgarian universities don’t ‘click’ with me, so I finally dropped out after 2 years in. At the time I got my first permanent, full-time job and focused on that. I started as a waiter in a 4-star hotel in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, called Sankt Peterburg. I had fun, met people, made friends, worked hard, got promoted to shift manager 6 months in and stayed at the job for about 3.5 years. I also picked up World of Warcraft and that was fun for a while. But at the beginning of 2010, I was a manager of a small restaurant (still under the same company), I worked a 9 to 5 and started to feel as if I don’t do something, that’s how my life would just keep going…
[2010 - 2020]
So I made a change - I quit! It was very hard and I felt so guilty handing in my notice, I felt as if I was betraying so many people. While my dad was the main driving force for my trips to the USA earlier, this time my mom was the driving force that sent me to Cyprus.
When I got there I lived on the other side of the island, she was in Paphos and I was in Ayia Napa, but the inspiration for this plunge came from her. On one hand, I was pretty scared - not in the literal sense, but like in general - shaken, from quitting doing what I was used to do for 3.5 years, just to go elsewhere to look for a job as a waiter and start from the beginning again? Did it make any sense? But either way, we did it - a friend and I. Our humble beginning in Cyprus did not come without challenges. We did not take a whole lot of money with us. Why? No idea. Luckily he had some friends and friends of friends, I had my mom on the other side of the island and worse comes to worst we would just go there?
After a few hectic first days, getting ripped off by paying sick amounts for rent for 1 week, he finally found a job and so did I. That allowed us to stabilize and after a while, things fell into place. Ayia Napa was an interesting place. That first year my job there is a small hotel as a waiter did not come without challenges, mainly because I had an abusive piece of a shit manager. I stuck it out till he was out of my face when I was able to start working on the pool bar and be away from him.
Slightly later that summer, I met my wife and the mother of my son. I just didn’t know she would be those things just yet. She was Finnish and as such went back to Finland when her vacation was finished. I was figuring things out and had no idea what I would do next.
I ended up going back to Bulgaria when the season in Cyprus was over, and given there was no going back to the hotel I worked in Plovdiv, I did another first - went to work at the Bulgarian ski resort of Banko for the winter. I met a lot of people I consider friends, many nice people and did my best at the job.
Sofi (my wife) came down to Bulgaria to meet me in early 2011. Months later I ended up going to Cyprus again for the summer season at the same job. Had more responsibilities, wrote the pool bar menu and had fun. Sofi came down there in June for a week, and then finally in August 2011, she moved to Cyprus. For a month we lived in different apartments until our friends suggested that my roommate would move in with another friend and Sofi and I could live together. And we did. Ever since.
The end of 2011 was a bit confusing as towards the end of the season in Cyprus, I was wondering what’s next and had ideas about going to the UK or else. In the end, we ended up going to Bulgaria for a while, live in Plovdiv, then went to Bansko together and worked for about 2 months at Kempinski, but after leaving most of our money for electricity bills and rent, figured we might as well not do anything and not have money, rather than work and not have money. So we went back to Plovdiv for the end of the winter in February 2012.
In March 2012 we went to Finland together for the first time on a week-long vacation that was a lot of fun. Then in April back to Cyprus for what would end up being the last season. I was in the same hotel there and Sofi got a decent job too. It was fun but now I was hitting another thing - this season life was starting to get too much - too much back and forth. We went through so many plans and options but ended up going back to Bulgaria for a few months after the end of the season in Cyprus. Finally, in December 2012 we moved to Finland.
This was another bigger and interesting chapter. It also did not come without challenges. I decided to apply for a university and go back to computers and software engineering, which I had done some way back in high school. In January 2013 I applied, in April I did my entrance examinations, in May I found out I was accepted and in August I started studying at Metropolia University of Applied Sciences. That was a big win for me for which I’m happy and grateful! What wasn’t a big win but was a very needed necessity was to work for some money in the meantime. I was lucky to be offered a job by Sofi’s friend Maya in their previous bar workplace. I appreciated this as we needed the money and of course, I did what I had to do, but I despised this place and every second spent on it.
2013 was the first year ever I never went back to Bulgaria. We were establishing and building a life for ourselves in Finland for now. There were interesting things to explore about Finnish culture and nature. I met new friends in school, was excited to start studying again, this time something I cared about. I worked the bar job on weekends and was so happy when every weekend was over and I would go back to school on Monday. I did a crap ton of extra studying on the side and building projects.
2014 came around, the first year of school was over, things were settling in and in August we went to Bulgaria for a 3 week vacation. It was fun, but it was also funny that in some way I was also looking forward to going back and starting the next school year.
When 2015 came, it came with a bang. I was progressing nicely in school, projected to graduate ahead of schedule. I was due to do a work placement in the Autumn semester of 2015, so I needed to get some sort of a job and so we started looking already in February. In April we both quit the bar job we had been doing for a while now (it felt amazing to leave this place!). In May I had an interview and was offered a job that I started on June 8th, 2015 at F-Secure as a trainee for the summer for 3 months. On June 16th, 2015 Sofi told me she was pregnant.
The rest of the year was mainly focusing on pregnancy and doing what we had to do. Did some preparation for the baby - furniture etc. The work was going fine, I was happy, learning and was able to secure contract extensions.
In 2016 I was supposed to be back to school so I had to go to some classes while working a full-time job. Then in February 2016, our third member of the family came. Becoming a parent and having a child had been easily the biggest highlight of the decade. It’s unbelievably hard to put in words what a life changer it is, and how much it’s worth it every step of the way.
2016 was also the year when I managed to write my bachelor’s thesis and finally graduate in September 2016. The rest of it was rather calm - work was going well and a lot of focus was going into our son.
In 2017 it was a lot more of the same. Learning and teaching at work, spending time with family and son, picking up some interesting hobbies with smart home automation, writing my blog and towards the end of the year - started to fly FPV racing drones which also changed my life in a few ways.
2018 contained an interesting work project, a trip to see my family in Cyprus in September.
It’s not like things have slowed down since plenty is happening but there are so many moments and memories that are priceless and hard to describe or I simply don’t want to disclose. The idea is that when you have a kid and spend time with them you’ll know what I mean.
2019 has been an amazing year once again, I’m very happy about - from spending family time, to going on the trip to Plovdiv, Bulgaria, to writing more on the blog and starting a YouTube channel. And to changing jobs. After more than 4 years at F-Secure, it was time to move on and to do other things and learn other things. I met a lot of nice people at F-Secure, many of whom I consider friends. Good times.
If you want to read more about the past 2-3 years, I do write these year-in-review posts in excruciating detail, so go read there more if you must.
It’s been 10 years. This was the decade when I partied like crazy, the decade when I met my wife, when I went back to school, became a parent, became an engineer, started working as a software developer, flew and reviewed FPV racing drones. A decade. I’m not very happy with James Cameron for not releasing at least one of the upcoming Avatar movies, but I’m looking forward to them finally coming out next year.
In all seriousness though, it has been an adventure. We, humans, tend to (for the better part) remember the good things and filter out the bad stuff with time. That’s normal. That’s also not to say that those past 10 years came without challenges; in fact, there were plenty. Luckily most of the challenges are somewhat easy to deal with, some are much harder. You just gotta push through and believe. Don’t stop.
So what’s next? What’s in store for the next decade? Hopefully, we are alive and healthy to see. I’m looking forward to so much more technological and space progress. We need to work hard and bring awareness to real issues with climate change, renewable energy, social media psychological impact on a personal and societal level. As a tech enthusiast, I’m excited, but it’s also clear there are issues we need to solve that humanity had never had before. That’s ok, we can do it. I’m super excited to spend time with my son and do a ton of things. I’m excited about the projects I work on. I’m somewhat itching for adventure so hopefully, we can have some of that too.
What are you excited about for the next decade?