A year in review – 2021[Full marathon, bulging disc, depression, quitting my job, 100 days + break & travel, a new me]


You are alive. I am alive. Congratulations to both and all of us for making it into 2022.

I know last year feels like 2019 and the next year is already 2022.

We all have either time travelled or lost in time. 

Gladly, we didn’t lose ourselves (I hope).

In the last couple of years, we all have gone through tough times.

In the past, you know me for doing personal challenges yearly.

This year, I had big goals but I hit zero of them.

Yet, 2021 is my proudest and strongest year.

Because this year was not about hitting a goal when I was good mentally and physically. 

Rather, it was about surviving through a very dark phase while I wasn’t sure if I was mentally or physically capable of doing anything.

Anyone who is used to getting into habit-forming for anything can hit their goals. If you like the activity and be consistent for a few days. The high that consistency gives your a kick for Internal motivation. Once the internal motivation kicks in. Hitting the goals is easy.

But surviving through a dark phase is harder because the motivation levels are zero. The social interaction levels are close to zero. Self-doubt is at its peak. Existential crises are at their peak. Have less than 1-minute attention span to talk but worked harder at the office. Body image issues. Loneliness. I was not even physically fit to go into the kitchen without feeling a pain in the back.

I survived to through it. This is the proudest thing I have done so far.

Below list are the things I gone through this year and I put them in chronological order.

The list:

Full marathon: 42.2km run (Jan 2021)

Bulging disc, Medication & Depression: A big Oops moment for a few weeks in my life(from March 2021 – July 2021, which felt like a forever limbo)

Coming out of it: August / September 2021

The long break: Quit job, 105 days break done(this has few weeks travel). Pretty sure about another 25-35 days at least before joining somewhere.

Travel planning: September to early December

Travel experiences & a  new me: I just wish I could describe this feeling.

Miscellaneous: My social links & a few writings I did in my notes throughout this year.

Feel free to skip directly to a topic/timeline/content or read it all. 

Full marathon: (Jan 2021)

I finished a Half Iron-distance duathlon a few weeks before that. Finished a full marathon in January. Leanest and healthiest physically. Greatly doing in terms of happiness, mental health and contentedness. 

Whenever I used to come back from a run session. I used to come back with my legs on the ground and my soul 10 feet above the ground. I would finish a long cycling session and come back to admire my tanned calves and well-shaping quads and thighs.

Every day, I would look forward to every meal because I optimised my food to excite me to have them, and in limits.

I used to look forward to going to work on a Monday morning. I really loved my work too.

Bulging disc, Medication & Depression (March 2021 – July 2021)

On one of the 100km cycle ride, I started getting lower back pain. After a few days of rest, I felt fine.

I started running and my lower back pain came back, but not much. I went to Gokarna. Carried heavy bags, lifted some weight for some reason there and did a couple of hikes. The pain started to aggravate. After coming back. One fine morning it took me 45 mins to get up from the bed. I was getting shocks in the spine even when I move a little.

Went to the doctor. Got my MRI done. Then got to know that I had a building disc.

The medications I took to relieve my back pain(which I took for a few weeks) pushed me to lower attention span(less than 1 min for a while), screwed up my sleep cycles, put on 10 kilos, got into depression (few mild and few deep phases). Mentally, this was a very dark phase for me throughout the above-mentioned timeline.

I wrote about my experience in this article(link) – I was scared to sleep at night.

Coming out of the dark phase (August 2021 – Sep 2021)

My pain level came down. When I was asked my pain score on a scale of 1-10. I was told to stop the medication when I mentioned the number 1 or 2 on the pain scale. Initially, my days started getting better. I tried to start my routines in running, diet, reading, writing. But I was not able to keep up with the routine I wanted to have for more than 3-4 times/days. I thought the medication was doing it to me.

But it took me a few days to realise that I was capable of doing things like before in terms of building motivation and I realised I was bullshitting myself that the medication may still be the reason for my procrastination.

Around that time, I happened to have the feeling of moving out from my current(…err previous) job. I and our team at truepush[dot]com have built a wonderful product and grown the product globally. I had a FOMO factor that I may not find another good company with a similar or better culture. But I took a leap of faith, listened to my gut feeling and put down my papers(exited the company on Sep 15th).

100 days + break and long travel (Sep 2021 – Dec 2021)

After quitting my job. I knew I did not want to join anywhere yet as I felt I was not mentally ready to take the workload and get into the grind. I felt like wanting to take a 12 week/3-month break.

Initially, it was scary to think that I would be able to pull off such a long break. So mentally I got prepared for a 4-6 weeks break but wanted to hit 6 weeks somehow. After the 4th week, I figured I can push it to 8 weeks and in the 7th week, I knew I could do 12 weeks/3 months. But secretly I wanted to hit the 100-day mark.

As of today, I have done 106 days of break and looking at the velocity of my interviews, it may extend to another 25-35 days.

These are all the places I wanted to visit before starting (only in the south). https://goo.gl/maps/nueKFmAVxToaowaA7

But things change. Below are the places I went.

Over this time I was at 13 places(other than Hyderabad) – Ponycherry-Auroville, Chennai, Home town(Vizianagaram), Vizag, Murudeshwar, Wayanad, Kochi, Vagamon, Allepe, Varkala, Banglore, Kodaikanal, Viziawada. 

This travel gave me a serotonin wash and I have changed completely as a person.

Travel experiences & a new me:

Every place has either given me a new experience or a perspective and they have completely changed me.

Pondicherry-Auroville – my ambitions died and I wanted to live there on a farm just so I can make my food, stay and sustain myself.

Chennai – It has a surfing school which I want to go to for a few days at least.

Home town(Vizianagaram) – parents, home food and being lazy most time.

Vizag – It has a beautiful beach and it is a very pleasant city. I went for a 10km beachside ride there with my friend.

Murudeshwar – I experienced the underwater world – through Scuba Diving.

Wayanad –filled me with serotonin because it was too beautiful with nature.

Kochi – is a cute city but seeing people go on a ferry for Rs.6 was interesting to see how locals commute.

Vagaom – I swam in a natural pool(Infinity pool) in between secluded hills, after which a 30-meter waterfall goes down.

Allepe – Though it is a bit overrated, I loved the Kayaking experience in the backwaters.

Varkala – A place I stayed for 18 days and hardly went sightseeing. This is a place to live and this place has my heart and the future place that I would plan to stay for a few weeks at least.

Bengaluru – Gave me reasons why I need to earn a lot of money and why I need to move away from crowded cities.

Kodaikanal – When you are going there, Whatsapp’s me. Or just go to Vattakanal directly. It was called – the princess of hills stations for a reason.

Viziawada – Went for my Nephew’s function and met new kiddos in our family.

In my travel, I met people for a few days who became great friends, got attached to a few places, got attached to a dog, experienced a new world of underwater, hiked the hills, swam in natural pools, tried surfing sport, swam in the beach, seen beautiful sunsets, travelled 40km to see a viewpoint and missed it in few minutes because the fog came just then, did zip lining, done pedal boating, went for kayaking, smelled trees, heard the waves, went in a ferry, fell on a hill, got bit by leeches, walked in the mist, took a shower in a small waterfall,  rode for hours in rain without a raincoat, felt at peace, I heard my breath without keeping an effort, I found myself mentally in new dimensions.

Every day, I was forced to have a good time, because having a bad time away from my current base felt scary. With in a couple of weeks, I developed having a good time every day as a habit, which now feels like a spiritual muscle I have built in my travel.

8-12 weeks is a very short time for a exploratory break or self discovery break(while on travel).

I feel incomplete now. Because I know there are a ton of places I want to go and experience new things. I have become a lot calmer and empathetic person(towards people, and slightly more on animals & plants). I started to feel detached from many things. For example, now I see earning money as leverage to travel more and take a longer break but not as a meaningless increamental goal.

If you are going to say that I don’t need money to explore. Please show me how to do multiple sky diving sessions, multiple scuba diving sessions, travelling around the world with little or no money.

City life doesn’t make me complete now. I am finding ways to feel better like I did on travel. I wish to see what 2022 has for me. I just wish 2022 popups from back my chair and say – Boooooo here are all the big surprises I hid from you in the last couple of years.


Instagram: I posted my travel pictures here – https://www.instagram.com/manojsurya/

Medium: I keep writing my short thoughts here – https://manojsurya3110.medium.com/


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