Eleni Vardaki Youth Mentor


HAVE YOU EVER FOUND YOURSELF LOOKING BACK AND THINKING: “I didn’t do enough?” I certainly have. This is can be particularly challenging for those of us who have a history of slipping into people pleasing habits – the helpers, the givers. That’s why it’s particularly important for people like us to take some time out to reflect, check in with ourselves, and compare how we’re feeling to the facts of how much we’ve actually done in a day, month or year. How much progress we’ve made. How much we’ve actually achieved. 


As 2018 came to an end, I felt a desire to tune in to Christine Arylo’s end-of-year reflection ritual.


While I’d certainly initiated a lot of projects in 2018, I still had this nagging feeling of “I didn’t do enough”, when December rolled around.


I was aware that I still had so many ideas floating around in my head that had not yet materialized into content.


I felt like I’d failed to make all of my 2018 dreams come true.


Can you relate?


Thankfully, doing Christine’s exercises where exactly what I needed to help me shine a light of self-compassion and self-love on these self-bullying thoughts.


I was able to appreciate exactly how much great content I’d already taken from idea to execution in a mere matter of months, so that I could start to climb out of the funk I was in, and finally feel a well-deserved sense of achievement.



Listening to Christine’s wisdom opened my heart to appreciating what an incredible year of expansion and exploration 2018 was for me, in my journey as a solopreneur.


It helped me take stock of all that I’ve achieved.


For example, I also organized, filmed, edited and launched an online well-being training event, attended by over 700 parents, teachers and school leaders, called the Stress Less Summit. At this event, I shared my 17 pre-recorded interviews of experts from all over the world who shared their well-being advice for parents and schools. It was so well-received, that I’ve now made this available as a permanent resource for IB Schools!


I also wrote an article for the IBO community blog to help IB diploma students learn the importance of distinguishing between constructive ways of communicate their stress and destructive forms of communication.


At the same time, I was working hard with Alexandra Katsarou from the Twende Dance Project, where we co-created an innovative Body Confidence for Teenage Girls workshop.


Alongside these projects, I was also planning, filming and edited a handful of new interviews for my followers on YouTube and Instagram:


  • I interviewed Ellen Sofia Nilsson, an undergraduate student in Australia who got her IB diploma in Sweden on how to start revising for important exams.

  • I interviewed Sophia Moret, an IB diploma student in Florida, on her pro-active time management skills.

  • I also Ashley Alvin, an IB diploma student at the International School of Berne who shares a website with interviews of people in different careers that can help students make more informed decisions.

  • I interviewed Soumya Sharma, a university student who got his IB Diploma in India, about how improving his study skills allowed him to go from good to great in IB Chemistry.

  • Ezgi Ceren Pinarbasi, IB diploma student in Turkey talking about how she overcame procrastination, and about what she wishes her teacher knew.


And as if that wasn’t enough, I also started playing with some new innovative projects on how to build well-being and study skills training into my history teaching.





The real moment of self-compassion came when it dawned on me that I did all of this content creation…on top of the usual day-to-day responsibilities of working 30 hours a week as a part-time classroom teacher, and my on-going personal youth mentoring practice.


Thanks to Christine’s year-in-review exercise, I realized that my self-judgement of “I didn’t do enough this year” was (from a logical point of view) totally and utterly misplaced.


And my body confirmed that to be true, as I was experiencing symptoms of burn out that were preventing me from being able to truly enjoy my Christmas break.


My body made it clear to me that what I needed was the exact opposite of pressuring myself to do more. It was sending me a clear message: it’s time to start doing less big project free content work, such as video interviews, in order to protect my need to rest and decompress. In other words, what I now need is to go beyond the action-focused type of self-confidence (a.k.a. beyond my easily excitable, ‘CAN DO!’ approach, which has certainly served me well in getting a lot done in these first 10 years of my career…but often at the expense of my health and well-being).


I feel that it’s now time to move into a more meaningful form of confidence: self-love, self-appreciation, and self-respect.


So what are my biggest takeaways from 2018?


I’m doing enough.


I did my best.


I am enough



What were your biggest takeaways from 2018?


I’d love to hear from you.


Let me know in the comments below.