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2020 is the year that I was supposed to make up for trips I’ve missed in the last two years. I thought I started the year right when I spent a week in Dubai in February. A birthday trip to Bali, a second visit to Dubai. I had it ALL planned.

On the 16th of March, the Luzon region was placed under an enhanced community quarantine, which is effectively a total lockdown.  That was the weekend I was supposed to be in Baguio with my friend, Ella. We both needed a “creative retreat”.

This is the part where I say “I’ve made plans but 2020 had other plans.”

Now what?

Obviously, the Bali trip in July isn’t happening. Aviation experts say the inconvenience of travel during the pandemic is likely to extend until 2023. Think extra hours for check-ins, disinfection in airports, and jacked up airfares.

No one can say what happens next. Things are uncertain now. Events can be frustrating.

The only thing we could expect is change.

Some of us have lost friends and loved ones to COVID-19. Others lost their jobs. Many businesses are on the brink of shutting down if they haven’t already. This pandemic taught us that life is unpredictable. One minute you are having a life, the next you could be fighting for it.

Catastrophic it is, but we can’t let loss and misfortune render us motionless and overthinking. Easier said than done but do we have a choice? Would you rather sit your ass the whole day, analyzing why you were shit-canned after five years with the company? Or you’d see it as an opportunity to start over, veering away from the same old jobs that kept you stuck.

Change, of course, is not necessarily pain-free, not to mention inevitable.

 

The New Normal

COVID-19 has left thousands unemployed and struggling. We keep hearing nowadays “brace for the new normal”. The term actually refers to a financial crisis following a global recession. This time, it refers to the aftermath of the virus outbreak.

To me, the new normal means a change of perspective and attitude. In a world where people are judged according to social and financial status, perhaps this pandemic is a reality check. It reminds us that we are no better than anybody else. The virus does not distinguish between rich and poor, the educated and the unschooled, or the able-bodied and the handicapped.

I came across the story of Thai actor Amp Pheerawas online. His paid appearances and filmings were canceled during the lockdown. He wasted no time. Amp worked as a Grab delivery driver while Thailand’s lockdown was in effect. No egos, no entitlements, just low key.  He simply decided to survive.

Two months of quarantine made me appreciate home-cooked meals, eight hours of sleep and decluttering my closet. Life, really, doesn’t need to be grand. You just need to embrace even its mundane moments.  The lockdown proved to us that we don’t need weekend Starbucks meet-ups just to keep our friends. Group chats can be fun too. Sunday trips to fancy restaurants aren’t necessary to bond with family. This pandemic reminds us that going back to basics also means living your best life.

 

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Don’t Avoid Change

You can’t stop change anyway so why fight it? Chances are, this isn’t the first time that you are faced with a dilemma. Think back. What is that one change that you feared in the past but ended up doing?

People who got fired from their first, second jobs eventually found new employment. Businesses that went downhill somehow reopened. Someone who got scammed in a bitcoin investment ultimately recovered his losses.

Life may not always be a bed of roses but neither is it a blanket of thorns. On the other side of adversity is a blessing.  You can’t avoid either. What you’ve lost, you’ll recover; what you’re feeling, you’ll overcome; and what shattered you will make a better version of you.

The pandemic is a time to learn our lessons. A new cycle is coming. These last few weeks taught us a lot – most of all patience and perspective.  No one is cursed even in a series of misfortunes. Just trust the process.

 

Reflect and Rewind

The lockdown was long enough to give us a chance to reflect.

How much have you learned about yourself over the last few weeks? Have you thought if the things you’re doing are in alignment with who you are? Do they make you happy? What things do you regret? Is there something you want to go back to?

Someone taught me this exercise but I never made time for it. She said “Make a list of the things that make you happy”. I asked, “Big things? Small things?” She replied “Whatever.” Then she told me to make another list, the things I do every day. She asked me to compare them. I can see where this is going once I make those lists. Decisions will be made and changes will follow.

Weeks of staying at home made me think of the things I’ve put on the back burner. I wanted to learn a third language (I think Spanish is sexy). I’ve put off blogging for a while now. And I have a habit of picking up books which I never quite get around to read. Every day, I spend ten hours at work and five on the road. I barely even say a word to anyone when I get home. I’m zonked on workdays.

Time certainly waits for no one. Who would’ve thought a virus would ruin all our plans? It’s way more frustrating than postponing to buy a dress and losing it to another customer the next day.

So when this is over, don’t wait for the “perfect moment” to do something you’ve been aching to do. There is no such thing as a perfect moment anyway, only calculated risks.

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