Valuable Life Lessons from Surviving the Pandemic

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Sometimes, we purposefully seek change and at other times we are thrown into it without warning. Many of us had a whole list of new year resolutions and items to tick off our bucket list, but COVID-19 arrived and left all of us stuck in limbo. Some struggled with balancing working from home and homeschooling their children, some others, coped with mental breakdowns from the sweeping uncertainty and several others, agonised over recovering from the virus itself. In light of the enveloping chaos that transpired since May 2020, is it possible to find a silver lining amidst all of it? Simply said, yes.

Here are some valuable life lessons gleaned from a survivor of COVID-19, a fresh graduate, group of front-line workers and an elderly, from the worldwide pandemic.

Surround Yourself With Community

As individuals, we can easily be shaken in the face of challenges. Our strength lies in being backed up by a loving community. COVID-19 has shown that regardless of our race, language, religion, or financial status, the virus does not choose. It has connected everyone everywhere and showed us that strength lies in numbers. On a bus ride home one day, I witnessed a young girl onboard without a mask. The bus driver rambled in a language she clearly did not understand, but then, pulled out a spare mask and handed it to her. Through the pandemic, people are learning how to share and stick together in tough times. This is a valuable attitude that should be carried into our school or workplace. Whether it is studying for an examination or pitching a new idea, coming together to provide aid proves effective.

Tan Li Mei, a survivor of COVID-19, started a movement called Kampung Kakis to help individuals with no caregivers or extra finances to live through this pandemic. This movement pairs needy individuals with better-off neighbours living around their estate who either help buy groceries, provide resources and support to their best capacity. Organisations can take a leaf out of their book by finding ways that they too can contribute to those in need, whether it is their employees or the community members whose lives have been disrupted.

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Make Room for Self-development

The pandemic has halted travel plans, large social gatherings, movie outings and even workouts at the gym. Due to this, many of us have had a lot more time on our hands. What have some been doing with this time? Together with two other friends, Wendy Yee, started an online business called ‘Ourhymy’ which sells a variety of quirky hair accessories and face masks. Teachers by day and seamstresses by night, the three friends found a way to accomplish one of their life goals during uncertain times. When asked why they chose to start a business during the pandemic, co-owner, Wendy Yee, said, “being a teacher, it is highly unlikely for me to lose my job. However, I did suffer a huge pay cut. Earning extra income was a crucial driver to kick-starting ‘Ourhymy’”. With some basic sewing knowledge under their belt, these ladies still had to invest time and attention to craft their scrunchies and face masks, in addition to managing the social media business.

As a recent fresh graduate with extra time on her hands, Nur Shyartini, 23, turned her dream of opening a quaint cafe into reality during this pandemic and launched Shybakes. She spent her last semester of university juggling school and concocting the perfect chocolate chip oat cookie recipe. Currently juggling a part-time job and her business, she has learnt how volatile life can be from the pandemic. “I think the pandemic was not exactly the reason why I started Shybakes, but more a push to materialise a dream that has always been there”. She viewed the extra time on her hands as an opportunity to diversify her income and bravely took the plunge. Since then, she has been on a journey to learn various skills such as brand conceptualisation, people management and being a business owner.

So if all you have been doing during 2020 is catching up with Netflix, you can invest your time in honing new skills. While most people are dissuaded from pursuing their goals and dreams because of the commitments of a 9 to 6 job, despite the odds, these girls certainly are not!

Invest in Your IT-proficiency

When Home-Based Learning (HBL) took place ad-hoc, teachers who were not IT-savvy had to learn how to deliver online lessons overnight. Parents of young children had to figure out how to use ZOOM, an online video streaming tool, which many may not have heard of prior to this pandemic. Businesses had to figure out how to be sustainable online, from restaurants to corporate offices to event companies. Now that most have gotten used to life online, this new lifestyle is said to be the new normal, even post-pandemic. The Ministry of Education (MOE) has already taken steps to move the ‘National Digital Literacy Programme’ forward. This programme will ensure students have devices that allow schools to inculcate online learning into the current education system. From young to old, almost everyone has been geared towards becoming more IT-savvy. In an interview with

The Straits Times, Mrs Priscilla Vargis, 70, shared, “the circuit breaker has taught me to be more persevering. Older people like me are not IT-savvy, we have to learn and practise to get it right. You get all worked up and frustrated when you can’t do it.”

Internet literacy is so crucial and having learnt the importance of it, this is a skill individuals should continue to adapt to as it will continue to be beneficial to everyone post-pandemic.

Despite the uncertainty and unknowns COVID-19 brought about, we can see that there is indeed a rainbow after the storm and dare we believe, a blessing in disguise? Many have learnt soft and hard skills that will benefit them throughout life. So the saying goes, “When you see bad things in the world, you can either do something or do nothing.” Always choose to rise above un- precedented crises and challenges.