My attempt to summarize how the year 2020 went for me, hope it inspires you and leaves you realizing that we are all in this together.
Many would describe 2020 to be “unprecedented”, “cancelled” or even a “nightmare” as the world was largely dominated by COVID-19.
Yet we have the ‘most memorable working phrases used’ of the year — “You are on mute!”, “Can you see my screen?”, “Remember to wear your mask”, “Eh eh, social distancing please!”, “Yes, I’m WFH (working from home) today.”
Besides the global pandemic with close to a hundred million infected people, there were the Australian wild fires, the Black Lives Matter protests and riots, national and local elections, and the rise of remote working as well as home-based learning. Not to mention the SolarWinds and Twitter hacks, TikTok’s rising in prominence, Netflix’s sky high profits, Chadwick Boseman and Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death, an overnight explosion of Among Us, and COVID-19 vaccines finally rolling out. Describing 2020 in just a word or two just seems like too much of a daunting task to do.
If I could sum it all up, 3Ts — Turbulent, Trying, and Transformative are the three words that I’ll use to describe the year 2020.
According to Cambridge dictionary, Turbulent is defined as involving lots of sudden change.
Yup, you’d bet that it did involve a lot of sudden change for me personally and I’m sure for many out there too. Throwback to last January, I had a prior flight booked to China, Shanghai to meet my dear friend but unfortunately I had to make a very tough decision. I cancelled my flight and chose to stay in Singapore as the cases of COVID-19 were soaring in China. Months of planning gone into waste left me in disappointment and bitterness. Thoughts like “Why does it have to be now?”, and “Why not another time?” sinked deep. I also had other travel plans cancelled with another group of friends too.
This year, I also planned to hike a mid-high difficultly mountain overseas to challenge my stamina and mental capacity, and yet it had to be postponed too. It felt suddenly my life was on pause. Things had to wait. When could we return back to normal?
I also did not like the idea of working from home. In my previous post, I wrote about how to feel socially connected at work despite the physical distancing. I honestly struggled with the WFH work days given that I value the in-person discussions and lunch breaks. You can read more on my WFH challenges here.
This year is also a trying year for me. Given my resilient self, I redesigned the way I did things and I made new experiences, friends and hobbies. I definitely rolled with the punches.
💪🏼 I tried to become more adaptable. During the lockdown (Circuit Breaker), I turned to Zoom for many things. Zoom fitness workouts, Zoom cell group sessions, Zoom insurance calls, Zoom hthts and Zoom volunteering sessions with our Beautiful People youths. I felt like people around me also made the effort to connect with one another which was very heartwarming for me :’) Pretty thankful for that. Side note: I bought more flowers in this year to also cheer things up a little around me to intentionally feel different 🌷
💪🏼 I tried to explore Singapore a little more. Wow! I went to Tree Top walk, island hopping (Lazarus, Sister’s, and St.John), Mount Faber, Bukit Timah , Puaka Hill at Pulau Ubin, Coney Island, Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, Jewel, Gardens By the Bay, Tiong Bahru Estate, Jurong Lake Garden, Universal Studios Singapore and East and West Coast park etc etc. What a mouthful.
💪🏼 I tried to read more. This year, I read a record breaking amount of books — 9 books. My fave reads were — Meaning of Marriage by Timothy Keller, Swipe to Unlock: A Primer on Technology and Business Strategy written by three Product managers, and of course the book of the Year — Bible. I actually am close to finishing reading the Bible in just one year. What an achievement that I am deeply proud and fulfilled. I set 1–2h aside daily to spend time reading the living Word of God and it was the best goal I set for myself this year. It truly is the most impactful when I saw how God spoke to me through the bible and shared with me His wisdom.
💪🏼 I tried to be more patient and meek. I must say with all the changes that were happening around me, I needed to have an extra capacity within me to have patience. I was easily frustrated with my circumstances especially during the lockdown: how the lockdown seemed to last forever, spending my 2nd anniversary with my partner online and how we couldn’t go out and experience new things. Meekness is another character milestone that I was trying to learn this year. Meekness — is not a weakness but gentleness and humility towards God and toward others, simply strength under control.
In Lisa Bevere’s book, Without Rivals — ‘ Destiny is revealed in seasons of confrontation rather than in seasons of comfort.’
💡I learnt more about who I am
I learnt that in such an ever changing transient world where an instance of a pandemic shakes up the lives of many emotionally, financially or even mentally, I wondered deep down in my heart on what can I be anchored to, so that when storms of life come, I would not be shaken.
⚓️ Anchors are nautical devices that provide stability to ships during harsh storms where the sea is rough. Anchors protect the ships from being tossed around at sea, preventing shipwrecks. This device is much needed for sailors. Similarly, in such a season of confrontation full of anxiousness and hopelessness, I realized that only Jesus could be the anchor of my soul — firm, steadfast and secured. I do not wish to be tossed around by the storms of life.
To realize the worth of this “anchor”, I needed to feel the storm. True enough, I felt shaken and I felt bitter about how plans got canceled, how I had to stay at home more, how I was not able to go out as much as I wanted and how the social distancing measures made me feel honestly distanced from people.
Nonetheless, these events gave me a glimpse of who I am; my thoughts, actions and words and finally what I am searching for in my life.
“Knowing who you are is vastly more important than knowing where you are going or even what you can do. Because he is your Creator, God has quite a bit to say to you about who you are. And who you truly are carries within it the revelation of what you could be.” — Lisa Bevere
💡 I understood more on what matters
This period left me more physically alone (also more online hoho). I had more alone time to myself more than ever before because of the lockdown. With that, I had the capacity to deeply reflect on myself, people and things around me.
Out of the many that I learnt, I understood that relationships are more important than I thought. During the Circuit Breaker period, I spent time a lot more quality time at home hanging out with my family. I must say I was surprised that we got more united, compassionate and tolerant towards one another. We started to enjoy spending time with each other playing PS4, board games, chatting late night and helping each other get groceries or lunch/dinner. On top of that, to maintain close friendships, I called up several friends and we would hang out online either chit chatting, playing Skribbl or Codenames.
I came across this post by someone which left an impression on me and it went like this: “I also was forced in this period to look at my own humanity in relation to others on this planet. I had to accept my responsibility as a citizen to behave moral, ethical and spiritual person, to care about others enough to wear a mask.” I understood my responsibilities as a citizen more this year — that we don’t live alone in this world. We have to care about each other, stand together and go through this crisis of our lifetime together.
Another thing that I will remember the most is on the importance of pursuit towards sanctification. I recalled that when I was in a job transition, I asked myself on the purpose of work. Was it just to move up the corporate ladder? Is it just purely for monetary reasons? I thought about it long and hard. God revealed to me that what matters in life is the goal of sanctification whether it be in work, studies or pursuing any personal dreams.
💡 I learn how to embrace the uncertainty of life head on with hope, peace and joy
Summarized nicely from yearcompass.com, there are only three things you can control — your actions, words and how you handle your own emotions.
Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” — James 4:13–15
Everything else is outside of our humans’ control or power. Yes, I obsessed and worry about about too many things that I have no real influence over. I was worried over my job change, church transition, getting a house, finances , relationships with others, my health, how valued am I and whether I am good enough.
It’s time I start to recalibrate how I view life and it’s uncertainties. It does not have to be filled with anxiousness, jealously, hopelessness, guilt, bitterness or any form of grievance. I want to start seeing everything from a renewed perspective full of joy*peace*hope* where uncertainties (seasons of confrontation) are where my destiny will be revealed slowly.
* Joy — gladness not based on circumstances
*Peace — more than just the absence of conflict or state of rest. It means completeness or wholeness, and it points to the presence of something else.
* Hope — found in the person Jesus
🙏🏼 Closing Thoughts
If one day my child asks me, “Mama, what was it like back in 2020?” This post would perfectly sum it all up and do all the sharing on behalf of me.
2020 can be a year when everything around us shakes. And yet with our Almighty’s help, we do not need to be shaken. It is a year of chaos, yet a year of great clarity for me. It is also a time of holy upheaval and divine purging. While the world seems crazier and darker, the more clearly and soberly our light can shine.
‘Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you, He will never let the righteous be shaken’ — Psalms 55:22
I’ll leave you with this:
“The ultimate measure of a person is not where they stand in moments of convenience, but where they stand in moments of challenge, moments of great crisis and controversy.”
— Dr Martin Luther King