Counting down to 2022: 10 Things I am Grateful For
Reflecting on the past year, I realized a lot has happened and every one of us had so many challenges with the pandemic. Whether it was the changes in government restrictions, the emergence of new virus strains, or disruption of livelihoods, 2021 has been a year of dramatic changes.
We have survived through multiple waves of COVID-19 spread and eventually led to the opening of Vaccinated Travel Lanes (VTL) to various countries around the world. It was life-changing for those who were stranded from returning to their homes for almost two years.
As for the rest, we got to plan our winter holidays in a calibrated way, getting frequent swabs to enter a foreign country for vacation. Being able to go on an overseas vacation rather than spending time in expensive local hotels was a real treat.
The past year wasn’t just about coping with unreasonable constraints, it was also about perseverance. We had to adjust to prolonged lock-downs, survive back-to-back virtual classes, and not take many leisure activities, and eventually, we got through that traumatic period, justifying the government’s effort against the rapidly developing virus.
Thus, I would like to share my thoughts about the things I am grateful for during these trying times, which may give insight into how we can deal with issues beyond our control. If you are here to find out more, I hope you stay till the end of the article!
1. Placing my own well-being first
As we were closely barred from meeting people outside of our immediate family during the pandemic, it forced us to disengage from many situations and people. Our brains get quieter and more focused on our own thoughts, which can be a good thing. Eventually, I had more space and time to myself.
During that short period, I realized many things had distracted me and was not focusing on my well-being. Whether it is our mental well-being or our physical health, we often neglect them in our fast-paced society.
Since the news covered the deaths of COVID-19 constantly, pent-up anxiety in the house was inevitable. My disengagement from working from home was not helping me to manage the uncertainties in my new role, so I knew I had to manage my anxiety and stress.
Having the awareness that something needs to be dealt with is a step towards taking care of ourselves. Without being given the time to understand myself, I would eventually place my personal well-being at the back of my mind as time passes.
For me, having self-care should become a priority, not just when we have the time to do it.
2. Getting a job amidst the pandemic
As we visualize one student spamming clicks on every job posting by the hundreds, another gets responses from companies that will hire. Those who did not receive an offer would probably have to deal with a pile of rejection emails or be ignored by Human Resource (HR) officers, which may undermine their confidence. It becomes common among job seekers, especially for those looking for entry-level jobs after graduation.
When there were no signs of vaccines, many companies severely tightened their headcounts and reported massive restructuring exercises with short notices, which gave a huge knock to snap everyone back to the harsh reality.
Many people could not pursue their dream jobs and had to find jobs that paid the bills instead. In reality, businesses became very selective about hiring graduates instead of giving them more options. At that time, it was normal to go through four to five rounds of interviews before landing a job.
The economy has not entirely failed, and some sectors are still hiring, including accounting and technology. Even though its competitive nature made it difficult for me, I was given the chance to begin a career in accounting. I eventually accepted the offer and was grateful for the opportunity.
For students entering the pandemic job market, speak to your seniors and friends who are working in the roles you’re interested in, and find out how you can make yourself stand out on your resume or during interviews.
3. Being able to exercise regularly
Until the outbreak restricted movement and gatherings at work, people regularly traveled to offices. When I was working at an office, I used to travel back and forth for two to three hours every day.
Having to travel less meant I could go for a run after work and watch the sunset, which was both relaxing and calming. Aside from that, it allowed me to have a little time off work and focus more on my thoughts and emotions. The benefits of regular exercise go beyond physical fitness, as it improves both mental and emotional wellness.
I find it increasingly difficult to be more active as we get older because of commitments and lack of discipline. Hence, I was grateful that I didn’t have an excuse to skip a workout session, which was a blessing in disguise.
4. Knowing our priorities
My experience of the epidemic led me to reevaluate my priorities and determine what I value most in life. Although social pressures compelled me to become well versed in many aspects of life, diving deeper into specifics gave me a better understanding of what I was capable of in my short life.
As we balance many commitments and responsibilities, it is even more important that we know what we truly value and what we should focus on. By having that time and space to reevaluate, I realized how we should not decide based on others’ expectations. If we prioritize other aspects of our lives in order to be better, then we should make changes.
5. Receiving support from your family and friends
Through the painful time where I had to struggle between finding a full-time job and graduating an arduous semester while the world was in ruins because of the pandemic, I needed the support of my closest friends and family members more than ever.
Their support provided a safe place for me to express my inner turmoil, liberating parts of me that were heavy and warmed my heart. It may have been nothing tangible, but having someone who could reassure me gave me the confidence to continue.
There has never been a better time to decide who to treasure and who to spend less time with than when the world was in chaos.
6. Reconnecting with friends
While it may not be true for everyone, I have found that social media has provided opportunities to reconnect with friends after sending subtle nudges through direct messages and emoji responses.
I was initially hesitant because it was difficult for me to overcome my barrier of reaching out to people with who I had lost contact.
When I considered how limited my time was, I knew that once it was gone, it would never return. I knew I had to take my chances of reaching out to them. So having the option to reply with a simple emoji was perfect, rekindling our conversations once again, and making me still feel like we were on good terms.
After breaking through that mental barrier, I gained back so much more control over who I could reconnect with, and catching up using virtual chat was so much easier since there were no obligations to meet.
7. Being able to write and share my thoughts
No matter how worried I am about how others will perceive my ideas and opinions, I strongly believe everyone may choose what they truly value and believe in.
Having the ability to express myself through my medium gave me the chance to connect with like-minded people who could relate to what I was going through.
By writing, I gain clarity on my thoughts and emotions, which helps me discover more about myself. I also enjoyed it because I could express myself freely, something I have wanted to do for a long time.
I am deeply touched by the warm encouragement and inspiration I receive from the people who read my posts. It means the world to me just to have this little space of my own to write in, and I think that’s enough for me.
8. Being empathetic towards others
Apart from donating money to the ones who need it, I always had a difficult time understanding what others felt because I wasn’t very expressive. My tendency to be too logical led me off the grids, and I couldn’t react well if someone was down.
When I was feeling low because of the circuit breaker, I felt the warmth from my family and friends, which made me realize how important it is to not just give tangible support, but also to be empathetic.
Support comes in many forms, and showing empathy is one of them. I am still working on it, but it has since become something I really want to develop. Not just showing empathy when someone is down, but showing it because I truly care.
9. Realigning my goals and ideals
While I am always big on setting goals and dreams, I thought it was vital to take a step back and realign them. Having high expectations for myself is a way of pushing myself beyond my comfort zone, but it may get out of control if I don’t set realistic boundaries.
It was disappointing to realize that I didn’t expect many things the way they turned out, but working towards it gave me more data points on whether to pivot or to stay true to the path I’ve chosen.
Although sticking to ideals might work for some, it is good to know when to diverge from them. For me, I focused on my little wins in life and move on to greater things.
It is okay sometimes not to achieve your dreams, but don’t let them remain as dreams. Do your very best to pursue your dreams and let your hard work decide.
10. Being alive in this time and age
With the vast advancement of technology, I couldn’t be more grateful to be alive in this current time and age. Communication becomes much easier, and information is transmitted almost instantaneously.
We could connect with people without having to meet physically, which is very helpful for human interactions. Even if I pictured myself living in a pandemic two or three decades ago, I might not endure being deprived of many joys in life over an extended period.
Even though some argue that life was much simpler then, I think every generation struggles. Were it not for technological development, more lives would be lost and more livelihoods would be disrupted.
I am truly thankful to be alive now.
About The Author:
Vince Law is an Accountancy graduate from Singapore Management University. Having a keen eye for numbers and a bent for problem-solving, he is currently working as a business consultant at one of the Big 4 Accounting firms, focusing on both consulting and assurance. During his free time, he writes on topics related to personal development and current affairs through his lens.
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Yin Kai Law (Vince) for more future updates!