Eight years ago when I moved to Cyprus, I knew that I was leaving behind a life that I thoroughly loved. I had a great job, supportive colleagues, and a bunch of friends who I relied on. I enjoyed hiking at the weekend and climbing at the local gym. When I could, out on the rocks of the Peak District. From a professional perspective I knew it was going to be hard to move to Cyprus, but I was prepared to give it a try.
When I arrived in Cyprus, I decided something for myself as I went forward; that I wouldn’t try to recreate the life I had in England in a new place that I knew nothing about. I knew that climbing, the hobby that I loved, was out of the question; honestly, where was I going to find a new person whom I trusted to hold the rope from which my life dangled at the other end? I knew that I would have to accept a period of not having a clue what was going on in everyday conversation until I had made some progress with learning the Greek language. I accepted that I wouldn’t have close friends, at least for a while. These were all things for which I was prepared to compromise. But there was one compromise I wasn’t prepared to make. Although I knew it was going to be difficult to find employment in Cyprus, my job was the only thing that I wasn’t prepared to leave behind. I loved my work, and I valued the contribution I made to our household. For me, working was non-negotiable.
And then I arrived in Cyprus.
The job I thought I had disappeared into the ether before I’d even started, and I spent five months without employment or a salary. I found it almost impossible. Eventually I found a job, not the same job but a job nevertheless. But thanks to the international financial crisis that was a short-lived adventure. Left with little option, and faced with the looming fact of my redundancy, left both myself and my husband with a thought. What if we created something for ourselves?
Being an entrepreneur was never something either of us intended. It’s not exactly the mindset created by working for over ten years in the NHS as we both had. But we duly set up a medical practice, and it was during the down time in this new position when I remembered that I had another dream before I moved that I was no longer pursuing. Writing. The entrepreneurial mindset was already sparked, and that position in which we found ourselves gave me the freedom to believe that just maybe this time I might be able to make it work.
Those early decisions were the foundation for how I managed to pursue the loftiest of my professional ambitions. The worst moment in my career became the seed from which the best could grow. In the UK I always wanted to be a writer, and even wrote my first book while I was working in the NHS. But being in Cyprus allowed me to dedicate time to finding my voice as a writer. I found the time to dedicate to reading and honing my craft until I eventually wrote the book that snagged me an agent and a publishing deal. I learnt what it meant to be entrepreneurial, to decide for myself when and how hard I needed to work, and how to manage that work when I had no boss. And slowly over time, I found friendships with people that supported the idea of working for myself too.
During the time I lived in the UK I’m not sure that I knew anybody who owned their own business. But now once a month I have dinner with two girlfriends, both of whom are entrepreneurs. They are building their own businesses too. The dinner is about three friends getting together and doing whatever friends do when they drink wine and eat good Japanese food. We talk about our life, our homes, and whose kid managed to pee on the potty or slept through the night. But these dinners are also about supporting each other in our ventures. We discuss how things are going, who’s had a success, and maybe who has experienced a failure. We offer each other support and guidance, even though none of us really know the minutiae of each other’s work. We cheer each other on and encourage one another when we need it. These friends mean so much to me, and I don’t know what I’d do without them. I’m embarking on a new venture now too, a passion project for which I’m currently doing the necessary training and development. They both offer the words of encouragement I need to move forward.
Eight years ago, I thought the only thing I wasn’t prepared to accept losing in Cyprus was the career I’d worked hard to achieve. As it turns out, now that I no longer have it, I don’t miss it at all. But as for the support of trusted friendships, I wouldn’t want to trade that for anything. Not again.