Looking back, looking forward
Life after graduation
Graduation Day – that day or time when a graduate feels a transition of a sort. It is perhaps more intense if you’re a full-time student – enormous happiness and a little apprehension that they’re leaving school and entering the working world. Life will be different. They will think about job and career or furthering their education. Understandably it can be a bit stressful, but if you graduate this year, it will be undoubtedly much more so due to the pandemic. Unavoidable adjustments to plans and pathways have to be made or shelved and ways of life are disrupted. Nonetheless, despite the added odds, they’re now better with a certain qualification and this provides a measure of confidence, achievement and pride.
It is much akin to the time when boys finished their National Service (or ORD); elated but also a sense of loss because there won’t be that routine to follow (training or lectures to attend), and wonder what lies ahead.
For those who did part-time studies, there is the sense of relief that they would not have to juggle work and family so tenuously; but at the same time ruminating on the friendships forged over the many tired evenings. More significantly, they have attained what they set out gutsily to obtain – that coveted degree or diploma.
Invariably, some find the course they pursued pave the way to their passion. Some may explore various options made more accessible as they are better qualified or equipped. For the part-timers, it may open more avenues in their career advancement and direction. To graduate may well be one of the most important or enjoyable decision and investment one has made in life.
Overview of 2020
Soon 2020 will be behind us. Undeniably it will be a year heavily defined by the COVID-19 pandemic, to be reckoned by history as extraordinary and unforgettable. There is disruption socially and economically on a global scale. There is worldwide lockdowns, cancellations and postponement, such as the international Tokyo Olympics. The Olympics were only previously cancelled in 1940 and 1944 due to WWII. We also experience the largest economic recession since the Great Depression. Many have termed 2020 as arguably the “worst year”.
The pandemic is such a persistent focus on everybody’s daily life that it seems to drown out or “dilute” the other important news that typically would attract our interest or attention for a longer time.
This is because the virus is deadly and does not differentiate. Even some world leaders and even royalty have contracted the virus.
Singaporeans are also very adversely affected by the pandemic. Many of us were shocked and fearful when it dawned on us that the dreadful coronavirus is upon us. This culminated into a “circuit breaker” in April 2020 being imposed to arrest the situation. At this moment of writing, we had managed to keep the community transmission to zero for 15 straight days – until a new community case was detected towards the end of Nov 2020. This shows the government has spared no effort to keep the virus under control, exhorting the public not to let their guard down – as no community spread does not mean there is no infection, but rather that infections are not being detected.
The Singapore 14th General Election also took place this year in July, amidst the pandemic. It is also exceptional as the voters have to keep a safe distance.
In politics, around the world, many people were transfixed with the US election. There is a president-elect named but the sitting president is challenging the vote count and has not conceded as at Nov 2020. Environmentally, there were the great forest fires in California and Australia; and socially, the Beirut explosion caused much suffering. Economically the ongoing trade tension between the USA and China continued unabated while the stock exchanges suffered unprecedented losses which are predicted to take years to recover.
Countries around the world imposed “quarantine” and “lockdown” to contain the virus. These were imposed, then relaxed or revised somewhat, and re-imposed again as the virus seemingly receded but re-surged with a vengeance. Indeed “quarantine” has become the word of the year.
The sporting world has not gone unscathed. Due to safe distancing, many sports events were cancelled or postponed and stadiums were devoid of crowds when teams compete. Some sad news for fans was the passing of Kobe Bryant, the great basketball player who died in a plane crash in Jan 2020; and recently in Nov 2020, football fans, including myself, were saddened by the death of football legend Diego Maradona.
We live in an uncertain world and earth. Climate change is a very pressing issue as it not only threatens our quality of life but also the succeeding generations to come. Nonetheless, we all continue to chip in to do what we can for our environment and hope for a better earth to live in. This is what we must remain steadfast despite the dark clouds – which I am convinced, will pass.
New Year resolutions
So cheer up, Christmas and New Year is around the corner. It is the time of the year to keep our chin up bravely and keep the cheers and revisit the ubiquitous New Year resolution. Let’s talk about something that keeps our heart aflutter and hope shining. Let’s have the New Year resolution to accompany us to make us happier. I would say: to each his own – as it’s a rather personal choice.
Statistics suggest that less than 10% of people actually keep their New Year resolution. So do be mindful not to have too many but only doable goals.
2020 sharpened our awareness of the vicissitudes of life. With this perspective, personally, I would like to focus on family. Most of us are busy and making time for family has not been an easy priority. In 2021, take every opportunity to put family first, to bond and make great memories.
Another personal resolution is to de-clutter. Make a point weekly, gradually, to rid those clutter from our home that does not add value to our life. It can be refreshing and liberating to our space and soul.
Last but not least, do venture or travel – let it be a spice of life. As the pandemic has caused the global situation to change constantly, we can travel domestically – until overseas travel is safe. Singapore has added many new attractions and natural habitats, so we can discover much as a tourist in our city. I’m sure we will find new things to appreciate, things that we took for granted previously.
Let’s celebrate as we survive in 2020. There are things aplenty to look forward to a brighter and safer 2021.
Keep the Cheers.
Happy & Safe 2021
Dennis Tan Wu Chen