The Journey Through a Pandemic
*Long post alert*
Today marks a year to the day, of my move to S’pore from Melbourne!
With this post, comes a part of the journey that I’ve been on and a little reminder that you never know when and how things will end up, but always hope for the best.
Before the chaos hit, I’m glad that some memories were treasured. When I returned to Melbourne on the 6th of Jan 2020, after a brief week and a half long Christmas break, nothing prepared me for the year ahead.
Victoria had a crazy bushfire on and I barely realised that the plane had landed as the smog was thick. I was in half a mind to extend my Christmas break, but work beckoned the following morning, and I risked the skies during a period where flights were being rescheduled. It wasn’t until I felt that bump on the runway, did I know I was back. Oh well, there was always another trip home in April coming anyway – or so I naively thought. You never know when the last time you see someone would be, or put less negatively, you never know when the next time you see someone would be!
Fast forward to news of the pandemic hitting Aussie shores, and so the roller-coaster began! That eagerly awaited flight home got cancelled, plans to renew my passport went out the window, Working from home began and living in isolation (iso) was soon to be the “new norm.” All this, without a sense of a timeline, pulls a number on you. Initially the novelty of making banana bread or in my case, cooking experiments began, as dine-in was banned. Seeing empty grocery stores with bare shelves was totally new and so the improvisations of canned/long-life food/stocking my pantry with essentials for more than 2 days, commenced. Heading to ethnic grocers was truly a lifesaver! To add to that, eateries and malls were shut as it wasn’t feasible to keep them open/regulations were in. Barely leaving the apartment was a surprise in itself! Seeing places close for good and an empty city with barely anyone around, was truly a sad awakening.
Trying to figure out when the next time you’d see loved ones will be, figuring out how to renew a passport while in a different city to the embassy (during a limited radius lockdown), and above all, keeping your sanity when working with students and people who looked to you to cope, was tough! If you’ve been following the previous posts, you’d have recognised the Iso-resources post that we put up, to help get through it. As much as you go through all of the uncertainty alone, you try not to overburden your loved ones with your fears especially when they are just as worried and miles away. Everyone was finding ways to cope with an unprecedented situation. Certain cognitive biases also set in as a coping mechanism and I began to try new ways of looking out into the future. To the community and those that got me through with daily calls, reach-outs, and check-ins, I am truly grateful. I never quite had an opportunity to express my gratitude in person, but thank you!
When the 1st lockdown was somewhat lifted for a week or so, a friend and I went to a restaurant to dine in. Meeting someone and having an actual conversation in person felt a tad weird, as you get semi-rooted in your home-mode ways. Dressing up, putting on makeup & organising a mask to head out honestly felt like packing for an extended vacay!! Quick grocery runs were limited and few and I most certainly avoided the self-checkouts just to have a conversation with the cashiers!
Right before normalcy even set in, came the news of a 2nd impending lockdown, one which didn’t have an exact end date in sight. The 2nd round was harder, as, in addition to the travel restrictions, my rescheduled flight and the exemptions to leave due to personal reasons were denied. Moving to SG wasn’t quite on the cards, but more of a consideration due to circumstances. Without going into all that, in a nutshell, I had to pack up my life in a matter of days, leave without saying goodbye to friends, figure a way to pack and uproot during a pandemic, send stuff to mates in cabs, and ship the rest off to SG sans any idea where I’d be Q-tining, and deal with the uncertainty of whether the flight would take off. As surreal as it all was, getting to a nearly empty airport – after multiple cabs cancelled my airport booking at the 11th hour – and only telling a handful of people what was going on in the chaos, was hectic. In a way, it was to avoid disappointing anyone should the flight get cancelled or anything else turns south, and also due to the uncertainty of the whole thing in itself.
Somehow, things worked out as I did manage to return home amidst the adversity. But nothing could have prepped me for re-adjusting to life and finding a social circle again in SG while still working/studying in Melbourne (WFH was still on default mode.). Quarantine (Q-tine) was hard, but I treated it as a staycation as an end date to be outdoors with fresh air and see loved ones, was in sight. A year on and multiple curveballs on how things evolved later, I’d say that iso does change you in a way that you don’t quite expect. The challenges feel like a blur, whilst I am aware that many are still going through it currently.
After months of living alone with virtual interactions, getting used to people around you again, takes some getting used to. Everyone has their ways of dealing, but for those living alone, it hits sort of a tad differently. Even reacquainting with those you knew and are familiar with, have its challenges. Expectations of one another, tolerance levels, settling in and finding new self-care routines were among some of the many challenges. These were partly due to the lockdown making the usual go-to's of beachside chills, manicures, haircuts, day trips, etc. a thing of the distant past.
Hence, I made more of an attempt to be out weekly/when time permitted, to enjoy the fresh air and the company of friends/family. But trying to find the rainbow in a storm isn’t as easy as it sounds and this post is a reminder that hopefully with every day that passes, we find new ways to rekindle the relationships that matter, including time with ourselves. I hope your loved ones find a way to reach out to you if you aren’t your usual self, and If you are having a tough time, do reach out to professionals or check out the mental health resources that we’ve put up. (If you’d like more resources, get in touch or leave us a comment!).
As the challenges of the curveballs that hit/continue hitting us loom, endless faith and infinite hope may just be the key to get through it. I shall leave sharing about the further restrictions that bring up the scars of the past and the rest, for another post. The various fears and challenges will most certainly exist, but we can believe and hope for the best. None of us are perfect, but a little effort to be better daily, in whichever area you choose, will go a long way, one day. Even if you feel like being in jammies and chilling the day away, occasionally, know it’s OK to not be OK. Be inquisitive, love wholeheartedly, be present at the moment, and always do your best.
The universe and law of attraction will make your wishes/dreams come true someday, and until then, find the courage to persevere through. You never know if tomorrow is the day you wake up to getting all that you wish for and more!
“But you know, happiness can be found even in the darkest of times if one only remembers to turn on the light.” ― Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.
Here’s sending tons of love, light, and good vibes your way. Till the next post, stay safe and find your light!