By Chew Yu Xuan, Scott Koh, Ria Sarjak Shah, and Grace Ong (Year 12 MarComm interns)
From gradual improvements to being launched right back into another total lockdown, while we aren’t allowed to go to theme parks lately, this year has already been a crazy rollercoaster ride.
So as we gently tread towards the end of 2021, and march into the new year, we glance back and reflect on some of the key lessons and takeaways we believe have been especially highlighted throughout this entire period, and extend all of our hopes and wishes for the upcoming year, 2022.
Key Lessons Learnt in 2021
“What comes easy, won’t always last. And what will last, won’t always come easy.”
In 2021, most, if not all of us have tested our boundaries and pushed ourselves beyond our limits. Pandemic or not, we have to find a way to move forward in our lives and work towards our goals one day at a time. It isn’t a simple task and we have all come up with creative ways to adapt with the changes, and learned how to strive to reach the stars even when the tide is against all of us. While we have yet to see the end of the pandemic, we are now stronger, tougher and more prepared for what the world will throw at us in the future.
As students, we have encountered countless challenges this year, all unique to each and every single one of us. Some have coped with the grief of losing a family or friend to the virus. Some have worked diligently to bring their grades up. Some have tried to survive all the extra homework, exams and stress that virtual learning has delivered. We all have gone through and conquered challenges that we would never have thought of two years ago, and we have made it to the end of 2021.
Hence we would like to highlight the importance of resilience: to push against the resistance and never give up. To stand up and rise over and over again although the odds are against our favour. George Herman once said, “It’s hard to beat a person who never gives up”, and we totally agree. No matter how arduous these times are, life finds its way. Humanity finds a way. We will find the way. As long as there is blood flowing in our veins, we must not give up hope; we must stride forward with strength and positivity. We must be resilient.
No one could have predicted the sheer impact this virus would have on all our lives. In just a matter of months after patient zero, our entire world was upended. The MCO and lockdown forced sudden and major changes onto our daily lives we were unprepared for: students had to switch to a virtual, online school; we had to restrict our socialising with friends; and it drove a wedge into many of the activities and goals we wanted to pursue outside of our homes.
Change is scary, especially when it happens as quickly as the pandemic did. It’s natural to feel a little stressed or overwhelmed when you’re completely thrown out of the loop and into a new and unknown environment; uncertain of what the future may hold, unsure of how to deal with it. Everyone has their own way of coping with change. It is never an easy process, but in order to move forward and grow as a person we have to learn to adapt to it.
Even though the coronavirus may have closed a lot of doors, it’s important for us not to feel threatened by it and allow it to knock us down, but to approach it and see it as a challenge – and to find more doors to open ourselves.
With every crisis comes opportunity. Even if the situation is tough, it’s not an excuse to stop trying. What opportunities can a lockdown provide you? Maybe all this extra time on your hands now provides you with the perfect opportunity to get organised and understand what your true priorities are; maybe it’s a chance to learn a new skill, or start an online course; or maybe it’s even time to reconnect with your family.
Amidst the pandemic, whether we like it or not, most of our friendships or relationships turned long-distance. Our social circle narrows, the places and people we visit reduce. Even during those short intervals of lockdown where we are allowed to eat out, the excitement of seeing your friends again, the pleasure of enjoying your meals in a restaurant are overwhelmed with the logistics of safety and the apprehension of exposure. People grow to become more reluctant to go out with friends or meet new people, the lack of in-person social interactions makes it more challenging for us to connect with the people around us.
Our ability to adapt plays a crucial role in helping us adjust to the new normal. We need to find ways to cope with the new way of living, which includes switching our approach in maintaining friendships and relationships. It is fairly common for friendship fallouts to occur during lockdown due to the absence of physical social interactions. Everyone grows at a different pace in different directions. You may think you will be friends with someone for the rest of your life because of how happy and comfortable you feel around them right now, but realise during the lockdown that both of you are struggling to maintain your friendship because of how much you both have changed if you do not spend time to reconnect with one another.
It takes two to tango, a friendship or relationship requires both parties to invest time and effort to construct a strong foundation and to maintain it. Reciprocal connection is the key, active listening is important, honesty and trust is critical to a long-lasting, functioning friendship or relationship. Recreating these through social media and video communication platforms during lockdown helps you to keep in touch with your friends.
Friendships and relationships form the core of our emotions, they occupy a huge part of our lives. Over the past year, you may discover how vulnerable and delicate they can be. Be there for your friends, put extra effort to maintain a friendship, it may not be easy but it is necessary.
Hopes and Goals for 2022
It’s 2022, what does life look like now? As 2021 comes to an end, we all have high hopes and expectations for the new year 2022.
It is 2022, and we slowly look to a win with this long-drawn battle against COVID-19. After a near two-year struggle with lockdowns, continuous online environments, isolations and virus outbreaks, life can finally begin to feel normal again. However, a new normal will take place, the same world, shaped in a new way. We know that this pandemic has proven to be a continuous struggle for everyone, who have had to face unprecedented challenges. As a student, the challenge to adapt to new ways of learning, to a completely new learning environment was definitely a new endeavour. We are immensely proud and inspired by the amount of determination and resilience everyone has shown with this ‘new norm.’ We now hope to look into a future free of the virus, a future without a virtual environment, and a future lit up with joy and hope for new beginnings.
We all gravely miss and crave for those social physical interactions, a world off the online platforms, a world where we get to see our friends and family in person. Many have been estranged from their friends and family during this time, creating a distance between loved ones. In 2022, we hope to finally meet those who we couldn’t due to the pandemic. We hope for our loved ones and simply everyone to stay safe and healthy, and that we can all make it safely through this time.
One of our goals for a meaningful 2022 is to prioritise self-care. As a student undertaking A-Level, the pressure and the workload is immense, and everyone struggles with coping well. Between feeling overwhelmed and just completely stressed, we need to pay more attention to our mental health, especially during this online environment. Allowing room for self-care, self-forgiveness, and understanding can avoid a burnout that comes with everyday stress. Physically, it is important to get enough sleep, have a balanced diet and exercise regularly, may it be light or vigorous exercise. One can indulge in positive self-talk to motivate themselves. Stress is easier to manage with prioritising mental health and self-care, which in turn just leads to a more joyful and enjoyable life, which is simply what everyone wants in life!
A last goal for 2022 is to conduct a Random Act of Kindness every month. An unexpected act of helpfulness or kindness towards someone, usually a stranger, releases positivity into the world, and encourages compassion for everyone. Without knowing, you could make someone’s day a whole lot better, make them feel recognised, and they in turn could further this act onto someone else. A chain of kindness makes the recipient and giver both feel better and positive. Regardless of what is happening in the world, everyone can give back by surprising someone with a random act of kindness – which can be even more beneficial in this pandemic as so many struggle with the loss of loved ones.
Why is it important as a student to conduct these acts? There is even a science behind it! It gives positivity to students as they feel happy with themselves, and increases serotonin levels. This important chemical affects their learning, memory, mood, sleep, health, and digestion. This overall helps their learning to be better and smoother. It is also a break for them, where they feel less stressed and more relaxed and happier, which is also important for their mental health.
And That’s a Wrap!
There were tears, there were smiles. There was sorrow, there was joy. We would like to invite everyone to join us, and pause for a moment, wherever you are in your hustling journey, to look back at this hectic year and reflect. Have you grown, even if it’s just by a little bit? What are the memories that are worth preserving? What are the final things that you would like to check off before we wrap up the year?
Happy holidays to each and every one of you. As we prepare to tuck 2021 away into the permanent past, we wish all of you the absolute best for the upcoming year and chapters of your lives.