2020 was a year we never imagined. But 2021 was truly a test of grit, character, positivity and perseverance

If 2021 taught us anything, it is that life tests us through a combination of challenging moments to see how we endure. How do we get back up after falling flat and show gratitude in the midst of tough times? Whatever your test was, I feel you; it hasn’t been an easy ride this year.

With lots of appreciation and gratitude this past December, my family and I were lucky enough to leave Singapore for a two-week holiday in London. It was not easy making the trip happen, it consisted of so much apprehension, worry and anxiety, hours calling airlines, constant changes leaving us disappointed, and a deep sense of gratitude that we could even make this trip happen.

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I contracted Covid-19 in November in Singapore, without travelling, by being safe, and following the rules. Yet once the wheels of the plane lifted and we headed into the sky to cross miles and miles and land into London, there were tears in my eyes at the prospect of feeling stress- and worry-free after so many months. My husband and I both told our children: this was not a normal trip abroad. From taking pre-departure tests to paying for overpriced airline tickets (and losing money along the way due to countless travel changes), we made sure to explain to our kids the amount of effort it took to make the trip happen.

As I write this on Christmas Day on the plane ride back to our little red dot, I feel like it was all worth it. Just walking the streets, eating at different restaurants, discovering Christmas markets, singing carols, watching shows at the theatre, going on rides and ignoring our growing waistline, it felt like a different world.

We need things to look forward to, we need to create memories and treasure moments and with Covid-19 threatening to keep knocking us off our feet we need to amalgamate the tools we can use to stay strong, fight back and endure.

What I learned in 2021

1.     Live Today

Don’t wait for Covid-19 to go away. Because frankly, it may not, and just waiting for better Covid-free days will leave you exhausted and disappointed. All we know now is today, and it may sound scary to live like this for those who are planners and risk-averse, but if the last two years have taught us anything, it is that life is precious, and what you have today may be gone tomorrow. When we got on our flight to London, we had not heard of the Omicron variant, and seeing our familiar, cheerful Singapore Airlines staff brought back the most wonderful memories. If we live in constant fear and worry of the unknown, we may have just as well never lived. 

2.     Let it Go

I’ve always been easy-going, and could effortlessly move on from difficult situations, but through this year, I have personally never felt so tested and have never needed to be actively seeking ways to keep my mental health in check to remain strong and positive for those around me. I am sure I have failed miserably at many moments, but it was hard to just go with the flow and let it go. Now, after some clarity and also taking the risk to travel, I realise that I can’t keep playing it one step ahead. Everything is changing every day, and I can’t control it all. In these moments, we have to keep moving ahead and let go of what we cannot control.  

3.     Love

If I think back to game shows where they give you a lifeline to call for help, for that one thing or person who will save you, I cheesily admit that it is true love and kindness that makes the hardest day easier to endure. I think about the past year and the multiple losses we have had in our family, and how the family still came together to help support the ones left in the darkness. I think about when I had Covid, and how my neighbours and friends sent the most delicious food and how I would get multiple calls a day from my family so far away. Love and kindness come in the most unexpected way. From the babysitter in London who watched our kids with the most genuine of care so we could have a date night on the town to the staff at our hotel that helped us catch a glimpse of Justin Bieber just to make my daughter’s day. There was also that London taxi driver who gave us a tour and history lesson while driving us around. We need to be extra kind now; everyone is fighting a battle, and we need to show love and appreciation to those around us.

Raise Your Glass to 2022

This year, I won’t be making a wish for things to return to life pre-Covid, it’s not realistic. I think we all did that in December 2020, which left us slightly disappointed. But I do wish and pray to have more wonderful moments with my family, in Singapore or miles away. It wasn’t being away from home that made this trip special, it was that my husband and I were relaxed, and made time and memories for our two kids. I want more of that even within Singapore. I want to love those around me, I want to show appreciation for my family and friends who make my days full, I want to be grateful that I am alive and able to experience another day. And I hope the same for you. 

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