2020 has been an interesting year, to say the least. Many people consider it a “wasted year”. Others wish it never came at all or have been wishing for it to go away. Well, it is finally going to be over.
For me, 2020 has taught me to live life differently. This is the year where I decided not to spend much time outside of my home. The mall-trawler and the eating out part of me has died. The few times that I had to go out for professional reasons, all I could think about was returning home. I have become a homebody and I am at a stage where I love being a recluse living in my own bubble with the only other inhabitant being the Wife.
This is a good year for introverts like me. I have spent time honing my cooking skills and creating all the hawker dishes that I missed. I packed and tidied up parts of the home which I would not have done otherwise. I did not miss interacting with other humans. With less external activities, I have had time for myself, to hear my inner thoughts, learn more about myself and how to manage stress in life.
In the 15 years of marriage, this is the first time that the Wife and I have enjoyed so much time together.
The line between work and home has been blurred this year, often cited as one of the negatives of working from home. It is not only employees who face this challenge, let me speak for employers who are suffering as well. Not having to commute, my work day starts at 8.00am. I have discovered recently that if I do not take breaks throughout the day, the whole day is just one long work day, without doing anything else.
E-mails, Whatsapps, SMS (yes clients do use that still), Facebook Messenger and messages from LinkedIn just consume my life. I have become allergic to my handphone. I dread looking at it as most messages are work-related. I do not look at the phone after I finish work and when I wake up. I need the distance from my handphone to keep sane.
I experienced fatigue a lot this year, largely Zoom-fatigue caused by webinars and online conferences. For people like me who suffer from short-attention syndrome, sitting down and staring at the laptop for hours to attend meetings and learning new skills has lost its novelty.
The other major concern I have is how my colleagues are faring working from home. People face mental health issues, whether they are aware of it or not.
It is common knowledge that the single colleagues do not enjoy working from home and prefer to go to the office. The married ones have many obligations to fulfill at home besides work. So, they say that life is still busy. However, it gives them a golden opportunity to spend time with their family and children.
So, self-care and support from each other and from employers is essential. Our weekly meeting has gone online and I take time to do Zoom social check-ins in smaller groups with them every week.
2020 marked the new beginning of life. The old ways of living and working are being questioned, reviewed and changed. We are learning new habits and creating an entire new way of life. It is exciting in a way as how often do we get to do that in a lifetime? Phy-digitalising is the new norm of life where parts of our working life will be spent remotely and at other times in the workplace.
The only activity that I miss is travelling. This year saw the usual working trips and two special holidays being taken away from me right in front of my eyes. Not knowing when these holidays will materialise again is a little disturbing but we console ourselves when we read about how COVID-19 is rampaging those countries we were supposed to holiday in.
2021 as yet does not seem to offer us any reason to celebrate. It does, though, mean that we have put the worst year behind us. We can look at the upcoming new year with great hope whilst still being cautious. More changes will introduce us to new ways of interacting in a group.
The biggest hope is whether life return to how it was in early January 2020. Will we ever go back to those good old days? Just like how life as I knew it in the ‘70s and ‘80s will never return, life before January 2020 is not likely to return.
It sounds sad, but that is because we only knew a certain way of life before all this took place. Maybe, the new post-COVID-19 life will usher in a different way of life and we will get used to it. It just takes time and a new mindset to accept the change.
The Wife tells me that I need to go out more and engage in more social interactions. That will happen, but in the meantime I am enjoying COVID-19 2020. It has been a great year of learning and living life differently.
I have added in a prayer that the world gets out of this pandemic quickly in 2021 so that families and loved ones can reunite and we can celebrate happy occasions and honour the lives of the departed with the dignity they deserve.
Dishes whipped up by Rajan whilst working from home: