Since COVID-19 first hijacked our lives back in late February/early March I’ve experienced every emotion under the sun. I’ve been sad, angry, scared, happy, relieved, and strangely optimistic – all depending on the day you ask me.
Today’s main course on my smörgasboard of feelings is gratitude.
I started I Heart Reykjavík in 2011 for a multitude of reasons: I wanted to help people, I wanted to prove someone who didn’t believe in my vision wrong and I wanted to show people that I thought mattered that I could make something out of nothing.
As time passed, my goals changed. I went from having a hobby to having staff and thousands of happy customers. I got lost many times but always found my way in the end. I’ve been on a journey – as clichéd and apparently millennial it is of me to say that.
millennials love referring to overcoming a personal problem as “their journey”— zhm (@zachfromcorp) April 30, 2020
When I look back at this time, there are a few things I’m particularly grateful for.
I’m grateful for the chance to learn so many things I never could have mastered any other way. When I started I knew nothing about running a business and although I strongly believe that you should never stop seeking new knowledge in life or in business, I have proven to myself that I can do anything I set my mind to.
The person I was in 2011 didn’t have the imagination for aspirations to become who I am today. I’ve exceeded even my wildest expectations for myself and although the events of the last few months sometimes made me doubt myself, I am confident that I am someone who has a lot to offer in this world.
I am grateful for all the amazing people I have met through I Heart Reykjavík. You know who you are! The support and love that I’ve felt from this little community and our customers have saved my life many times over. I hope you all know and appreciate how much that has meant to me.
I was blessed with amazing staff that all taught me different lessons that I will take with me in whatever I do. I’ve had great supportive partners who have always been willing to cooperate with me on all kinds of whacky projects and who’ve valued our business as much as I’ve valued theirs.
Last but not least, I’m thankful that I’ve been able to share this with my husband Hrannar. He came into my life when I needed him the most and every single day since he’s been my rock. If our relationship can survive spending almost every waking moment together for four years straight, we can probably survive anything.
I think the biggest life lesson I’ve learned, especially during these strange coronavirus times, is that life is short and you can’t take anything for granted. Through my journey (sorry again gen Zers) I’ve learned the hard way how important it is to take care of yourself. It’s made me realize what is most important to me.
With that in mind, I am here to tell you that I Heart Reykjavík as a business has run its course. We will be closing up shop and handing in our travel agency license to the Icelandic tourist board on September 1st.
We are not bankrupt – it’s just time.
We have already been in touch with all our customers that had money or postponed bookings with us and offered them refunds. We’ll spend the next two weeks offering support to our remaining customers that still have bookings with us until September 1st and making sure we settle all bills with our partners. No one is losing any money (except us, of course).
There are many reasons why right now is a good time for making this decision.
On the monetary side, due to COVID-19, we’ve been bleeding money for the last few months and things do not look like they will improve anytime soon. At some point, I just had to ask myself how much of my family’s savings I was willing to sacrifice for something that may take years to improve.
Even without the coronavirus, tourism is a fickle business and a global pandemic makes it an almost impossible one. The uncertainty is just too great to justify continuing on.
Although money is important, it’s not the only reason why we’ve made this decision. As a wise woman once said to Hrannar: “There’s no point collecting money under your pillow if you kill yourself doing it.”
During these last few months, as difficult as they’ve been, I’ve also felt an enormous relief. For nine years, I Heart Reykjavík has completely controlled my life. I’ve been chained to my phone or laptop every day, every evening, every weekend, every Christmas and holiday. Always ready, always alert.
It’s nobody’s fault but mine but at least I’m taking responsibility for my own wellbeing now by deciding for myself that I don’t want to live my life like that anymore.
COVID-19 has given me time to reconnect with friends and family that I have neglected for too long. Relationships have been mended, new family members that I want to have time to get to know have arrived in this world and I’m not willing to give that up again.
Professionally, I also feel like I’ve accomplished everything I wanted to accomplish with I Heart Reykjavík and I’m ready for some new challenges. I want to focus my energy on school for the next couple of months and enjoy getting lost in discovering new ideas. Embrace new opportunities.
I have no regrets about the last nine years of my life. I did what I had to do to reach my goals. In hindsight, I could probably have done many things differently but every mistake I made propelled me forward and left me richer in experiences and life lessons. I’m immensely grateful for that.
However, I don’t want another decade like the one I’m now leaving behind. I don’t want to look back at my life ten, twenty years from now, and have misgivings about time and opportunities lost. This chapter was good but now it’s time to close it.
I know it may seem like this announcement is coming out of the blue. Especially because I’ve said many times over the last few months that we’re not going anywhere. At the time, that was my truth and I really felt like we were going to fight and push through this.
After months of confusion and numbness, something finally clicked in my head and my heart and I knew that this is what I need to do.
I started this statement with a quote about how when one door closes another opens and that’s what I’ve had to keep telling myself throughout the process of making this decision.
Although I now have no doubt that this is the right decision for myself and my family and it may sound like it was easy to make, it’s actually been incredibly difficult. Although there’s been a relief, there’s also been nagging doubt and a sense of loss that I can’t even explain.
I’m heartbroken but hopeful at the same time.
Which is why I’m choosing to focus on all the fond memories. The lessons learned and the amazing people who’ve contributed to this chapter of my life story.
I will forever be grateful in more ways than you can imagine and you’ll always have a special place in my heart.