Disclaimer: This story was first submitted to In Real Life on 1st January 2021. In Real Life is a platform for everyday people to share their experiences and voices. All articles are personal stories and do not necessarily echo In Real Life’s sentiments.
2020 has been a year unlike any other in our recent history – our norms have been shattered, we had to cope in ways we could not have imagined.
Suddenly, our human contact has been replaced by endless computer screens, virtual meetings and never before have we felt more isolated in our own bubble.
But while this has been a year of isolation, I think this is the year we’ve never been more connected as a people inhabiting this planet we call home.
Think about it — when was the last time the global community experienced something as a collective community, united by our fear of a single unknown threat and rose together to combat and defeat a virus faster than any recorded history?
We did that and we should be proud of it.
As I write this letter from my apartment in Madison, Wisconsin, it is New Year’s Day and we stand at the threshold of a new year. A chance to start anew, on a slate as pure and white as the snow outside my window.
It has been years since I’ve returned home to Malaysia, but the circumstances we have lived through are not limited to any country, whether it is Malaysia or the USA.
While it is tempting to charge into 2021 and forget about how the hellish year that was 2020, perhaps it is wise to take a long, hard look at a most unusual year and the lessons it has taught us.
With that, here are 3 lessons I think we should take with us as we turn the page to a new chapter.
1. First, love harder.
Living and working in a research facility in one of the hardest-hit US states now, I would give anything to see my loved ones without worrying about potentially exposing them to a deadly virus and I truly, truly envy those who are able to do this.
If you can and are able to (safe to), hug your family tighter. Savor that kiss with your partner a little more. Laugh a little louder as you sling an arm around a dear friend.
If 2020 has taught us anything, it is that life can throw a curveball at any time and the things we take for granted can be just easily taken away.
2. Be kind.
The world is cruel and tough enough as it is; why choose to put someone down and when you have the power to lift them up instead?
We are all fighting our own battles and a year of isolation and distancing has brought these demons out to the forefront. Everybody’s personal war is a valid one and we are all each other’s allies.
Check in on each other – sometimes, all it takes is one kind word to help fortify the bulwarks, holding back the waves of anxiety and depression from overwhelming someone.
3. And on that note, be forgiving.
As Asians, we are under immense external pressure to fulfil the expectations from our families and employers.
More often than not, we internalize those expectations to hold ourselves to impossibly higher standards.
In 2021, maybe it’s time to let that go, and realize that as much as we try, sometimes life happens and the only we can do is try our very best.
So be forgiving. Not just to those who wrong you, but yourself. Forgive yourself for that one extra treat on a ‘not-cheat-day’.
Forgive yourself for not being able to finish that one task despite trying your very best. And most importantly, forgive yourself for not being able to keep it together all the time.
I thought long and hard about my reasons for writing this letter.
To put simply, I write in hope and in optimism, which I would like to share with you, dear reader.
From the Dark Ages which was dominated by plagues, wars, and ignorance, emerged the Renaissance age, often dubbed “a rebirth” of Europe. I see parallels in these current times.
The light at the end of the tunnel will shine through, (and it won’t be from an oncoming train), forged from resilience and perseverance of the human race.
And into this light we walk into, carrying the lessons learnt that would make us a more emphatic and stronger community.
All my love,
A fellow Malaysian
For more stories like this, read:
8 Life Lessons I Learnt From My Early 20s to My 40s and What I Learnt About Self-Worth After I Got Laid Off At 30
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Disclaimer: In Real Life is a platform for everyday people to share their experiences and voices. All articles are personal …