I Was Not Kind To Myself In 2019

It was the final days of 2019 and I was ready to write off the entire year as a complete failure until some deep introspection revealed otherwise.

I love the month of December for many reasons. It is my birthday month for starters, then there’s the Christmas season (presents!), but most of all, it signals the end of the current year and a chance to start over fresh with a new year.

Flashback to a couple of months ago with Christmas and my birthday out of the way, I sat down and began to reflect on how the past year went. It was meant to be a transformative year because I had just left a job in software in Colombo, Sri Lanka and for the first time ever, dared to be a full-time travel blogger. In short, I was attempting to go from zero to hero with a rather limited portfolio of work and online following. Fake it until I made it, right?

Ironically enough, I rang in 2019 in picturesque Bali with the flu and a very mild hangover from the New Year’s festivities the night before. Since I didn’t have a job to go back to, I extended my stay for a couple more weeks to set forth on my quest to be the internet’s next superstar. The scene was set and it had the trappings of my very own “Eat Pray Love” moment. Full disclosure: I’ve never seen the film nor read the book.

My time in Bali inevitably came and went, but I had taken a big first step – I launched this blog that was going to be the centerpiece of it all. Go me!

The months went by and the stark reality of not drawing in an income was starting to bear down on me. I quit my last full-time job out of sheer frustration of the role itself which meant I didn’t stock up the financial reserves as much as I wanted to feel comfortable while I was on this unpaid path of blogger stardom. My M.O. was travel. Travel costs money. So, there was a serious catch-22 that I had previously not taken into consideration when I hatched together this plan.

Another important milestone I wanted to reach in 2019 was proposing to my girlfriend of 5 years. We’ve known that we wanted to get married to each other for a while but kept pushing it off as far as we could. Since I was hoping to have the best year of my life – why not add another crown jewel to top it all off? It seemed completely logical!

To be perfectly honest with you, we stumbled into our engagement a lot earlier than I had planned and while I was elated about the fact that we were now engaged, there was a single, fine, several, strands of nervous sweat that trickled down my neck as the reality of it all began to dawn on me. I was now engaged and we began planning our wedding that was set to take place in 11 months’ time. The blog, at this point, was a non-starter (as evidenced by these updates), and I was burning through all the cash that I had left faster than I had originally planned. I set over-ambitious targets for myself which seemed to get further and further away from my grasp along with my passion for writing overall.

The anxiety I was feeling from all of this lead to a lot of inaction which didn’t help my financial situation much. After coming back from a 2-week trip to Melbourne, Australia, I decided to re-enter the workforce and hit the job search trail. My “Eat Pray Love” moment had come crashing to an end and I felt like an absolute failure.

The coffee in Melbourne was spectacular!

Before leaving for Australia, I had already set plans on a back-to-back trip to the United States for 2 months to visit my college buddies. Since my life trajectory had now changed drastically, this trip now morphed into a “get a job” campaign. I did feel bad leaving my fiancée behind to plan the wedding as well as not being by her side following the devastating Easter attacks in Sri Lanka which was pretty close to home for us.

I pounded the online job boards for a remote position that would suit me because I had no plans of leaving Sri Lanka but didn’t want a role with a local company since the wages were usually abysmal. After several weeks of filling out online applications, lady luck graced me with a positive hit on one my of job applications which eventually lead me to my current full-time role.

Hurrah! All my prayers were answered. Or, so I thought.

I started my new role on the tail-end of my 2-month trip to the US and I eventually came back to Colombo seemingly victorious. With the steady income coming in, my fiancée and I moved into a new place and we were even able to chip in towards the wedding expenses which were largely taken care of by my in-laws.

The wedding planning and ramping up at my new role consumed most of my life which left me very little gumption to continue working on the blog. Days and months went by and this blog collected digital cobwebs from long stretches of neglect. I saw 2019 blowing past in my rearview mirror with a sense of wasted opportunity that really took the shine away from our new place (complete with my new office!) and upcoming nuptials.

February 19, 2019 – Engagement Day!

Fast forward to today, roughly 66 days in 2020 and a wedding under my belt, I have had a complete turnaround in how I view 2019. In the end, it was a year of immense personal growth as I entered a new stage in life with my wife and our life together. After getting through our big, fat Indian wedding (more details on this soon, promise!), a frank conversation about life with a co-worker, and this book by Jon Acuff, this was actually how my 2019 turned out:

  • I got engaged to the love of my life ( and we got married in January of 2020!)
  • Moved into a new apartment with my wife, our first place together!
  • Tracked my flight mileage for the first time ever and recorded over 50,000 miles (comprising of 6 countries visited)
  • Got a new remote job with a lot of flexibility, solid compensation and a lot of benefits. The steady income allowed me to get back in the black financially.

My dreams of blogger stardom did not really materialize in 2019 but after looking at what I achieved on the list above, there is a lot to smile about. I have gotten back on the horse of writing and without the pressures of making money from it, I feel freer and more motivated to share my stories. I may not be an online superstar but I’ll be more than content with my little slice of the web.

Thank you for getting this far and all the support! 😌

Cheers 2019!

Share This Post:

Would you like a handwritten postcard?

Join the “Postcard Club” to receive a handwritten postcard from my travels along with exclusive updates and content.


Nico Atienza

Chief Storyteller

An expat remote worker based in Colombo, Sri Lanka with a penchant for window seats on planes, travel, and technology that makes everyone’s lives easier.