2 0 2 0 – a year we all thought was ‘Our Year’ but turned out nothing like we expected – a walking meme of Expectations vs Reality.
From forest fires, virus outbreak, realising WFH is not as fun as it seems, to closed borders and massive shutdowns – 2020 has affected all of us in one way or another.
The New Normal, is now just – Normal.
As the year draws to an end and we reflect on our past decisions and experiences, here are the 10 life lessons, each of us have learnt in 2020 :
1. It’s okay to say no.
Before pandemic, my weekends & nights after work were mostly packed with outings after outings, cafe-hopping, movie dates, etc. Don’t get me wrong. I love hanging out with my friends, catching up over coffee & drinks but honestly, it can be a lil tiring (low-key worn out). So when we went into full lockdown & only essential outings are allowed, I had ample of time to recuperate in my cosy lil cocoon by staying in, working from home & picking up new hobbies (bullet journaling, skincare photoshoot, movies with my family). Things that I actually love doing.
This has taught me that saying no is OK every now & then. Finding joy, making time for myself with hobbies I am passionate in the comfort of my own home, surrounded by family about is far more important than anything else. My home can be my oyster.
2. Choose what is essential
If there’s one thing this pandemic has taught us, it’s definitely choosing what is essential in your life. I’m sure you’ve seen pictures of people hoarding toilet rolls (rolls eyes), instant noodles & what not when Covid-19 hits. Honestly, ask yourself. Can you consume everything before they expire? Nothing is ever enough & this is definitely one of the most important lesson I’ve learned this year.
I was a hoarder & an impulsive shopper when it comes to beauty products. SEPHORA sale? You’ll see me there, filling up my basket. Definitely not my proudest moment. During MCO, I spring cleaned my vanity & finally realised – I HAVE TOO MANY PRODUCTS. Overwhelmed with the amount of products I have (both PR & products I purchased), I decided to stop buying once & for all. That’s when I realised I can save so much money when I stopped impulsively purchasing all these non-essential items. I love the saying – just because it’s on sale doesn’t mean you need to buy it. I did cave in & purchased one product (My HG One Thing Houttuynia toner because I ran out of it) but other than that, still standing strong with my no buy *selfpat
Practicing essentialism is a lesson I’ve learned this year & definitely a healthy mindset to practice in the long run.
3. Opinions don’t matter. Believe in yourself.
So much noise. So many opinions. So much negativity. So little headspace to brain them all. Oddly, the pandemic did not hit me hard (thank you, god) but the negativity that surrounded me was far more toxic than COVID. I was swallowing so much opinions on my body (I was called fat multiple times), the way I dress (somehow wearing comfortable loose clothes is deemed unprofessional but body hugging dresses are extremely professional *rollseyes), my face (my hyperpigmentation & panda eyebags), etc.. etc. Devouring everyone’s opinions on me made me feel so small & useless, honestly.
But you know what? Screw it. I told myself opinions don’t matter & they’re just temporary. As cliche as it may sound, always believe in yourself because nothing is bolder than self-confidence (but jangan over confident when you’re clearly wrong, ok?)
I started ignoring all these negativity & tackle them with positivity. Positive replies surprisingly isn’t fun for them & eventually, all these comments stopped. So, yay to positivity!
4. All that You Need to Grow is Already Within You
2020 messed up alot of major plans for me. It was hard accepting and adapting to the fact that whatever ideas I had for the year would have to be on hold indefinitely. This unfortunate and unintentional turn of events has however taught me that we are more resilient and adaptable than we give ourselves credit for.
I choose to believe that whatever we are going through at this current point of time is molding us and equipping us to be better versions of ourselves for whatever the future holds. Kinder, happier, stronger, more empathetic versions of ourselves.
Like a planted seed, it is difficult to see what good can come out of being buried deep in the soil. But have patience in the process. Trust that you have all that you need within you to push through these dark times. Because all that you are experiencing right now is just preparing you for when you finally blossom during brighter & happier days.
5. Find Joy in the Little Things
I’m not one for big flashy luxury items but I admit, I do place disproportional value on monumental events thinking that it’ll bring me most happiness. But when I think about it, apart from a handful of cornerstone life events, our everydays are actually made up of hundreds of little joys instead.
“Look closely. The beautiful may be small.”Immanuel Kant
Hustling for something we want is not wrong, but it is just as important to slow down and savour the daily moments that brings our souls delight. I believe one is happier and more contented when one learns to appreciate life’s little joys. A gentle breeze, a friendly smile, homemade cookies, a lame meme, a friendly doggo. These seemingly small things add up.
I realized that it is the simple things that has consistently kept me happy. That have brought me to a state of appreciation & gratitude and thus, kept me optimistic despite the circumstances.
6. Be intentional
Before the pandemic, I had been mindlessly filling my time and agreeing to things and commitments that brought me no long term purpose. It was temporary bursts of highs that left me drained for days after. I was essentially on auto-pilot. Then the lock-down was implemented & suddenly all of my misplaced priorities were brought to light.
Time, money and energy are all such a precious commodities. Hence, it is so important that we make decisions and align our actions towards making the most of these limited resources to add value to our lives.
It is being conscious of the choices we make. It is being deliberate in the actions we take and words we speak . It is being mindful of all of these and its eventual effects on ourselves, our relationships and our life goals. To be intentional is to be purposeful, and this state of self-awareness (that I’m still working on) has helped me to let go of things that are not important and focus on the things that are.
7. Where there is Love, there is Strength
The one thing I feared most came true when I lost my mum earlier this year. Armed with only a memory of her, I wondered how I could possibly muster the strength to live in this new reality. Now, days have turned into months since she left, and I found that it’s my love for her that keeps me going.
It’s love that wills me the strength to carry on with the values she raised me with, to continue to make her proud and to continue to care for the living. In the darkest hour, it’s easy to feel like the future is bleak – what this has taught me is that if we remind ourselves of what/who we love, we will eventually find our way.
8. People get away with what we allow them to
Earlier this year, I found myself on a brink of a burnout – I was overwhelmed with work, and when your work station is a 5 second walk from your bed, it feels like the line between Work and Rest gets blurred. After one too many anxiety attacks, I soon learnt that I am responsible for setting my own personal boundaries.
By frequently fire-fighting and delivering on last minute requests, I’m reinforcing the behaviour, essentially saying ‘This is okay, I’m always available’. So, when I finally drew the line – assessing the importance of the request before saying yes; people around me started respecting my time better, making requests in advance. All it took was a mindset shift on what is acceptable and what is not.
9. Set systems not goals
One thing I wanted to do this year was to cook more and to eat healthier. Instead, I was mindlessly ordering Grabfood and dreading the thought of cooking. After stumbling upon a video by Roweena Tsai, I asked myself – what was holding me back?
I realised that how a series of events unfold in our lives depends on few key decisions and in this case – if I purchased groceries or not. If I did, I would be more inclined to cook cause my kitchen was stocked with supplies, and if I didn’t, I would likely order out cause it was just too much effort. It was a monumental shift for me, from setting grand goals to setting up a system that cultivated good bite-size habits. As the old saying goes – ‘Trust the Process’.
10. Bricks build cities, Kindness builds Humanity
Where there is a dark cloud, there is a silver lining. With so many facing hardship, it’s just so heartwarming to see movements like ‘KitaJagaKita’, ‘Support Small Businesses’, fundraisers and many altruistic efforts. Gestures like donating a new face mask & water to our Abang Grab rider who delivers food right to your doorstep or passing some cold drinks to the Abang polis at the roadblock checkpoint that stands under the sun all day long will definitely put a smile on their faces. It goes to show that a little kindness goes a long way, and creates a domino effect for others to pay it forward.
This year has truly taught us the importance of being kind, choosing to serve others and to care for our loved ones.
Love and Compassion are necessities, not luxuries.Dalai Lama
Without them, humanity cannot survive.
We hope you walk away from 2020 with a set of valuable life lessons too.
Wishing you a fruitful year ahead. Happy 2021 🙂