MY2020: This year has been harsh, but the lessons learnt were invaluable

From learning new skills to appreciating what I have, 2020 was a harsh teacher - but it was one of the best years of my life.

Jeremy Na

Just like that Khalid song, Young, dumb and broke. Ok maybe not dumb but definitely the other two.

Published: 22 December 2020, 10:23 AM

In this MY 2020 series, Youthopia writers explore everything that happened in the past year – the good, the bad, the ugly – and also share their hopes and dreams for 2021. What’s yours?

2020 is not commonly regarded as a good year. Between raging forest fires, a collapsing economy and a global pandemic, calling 2020 a bad year might seem like the understatement of the century.

Although I now see 2020 as a blessing in disguise, it was by no means an easy year for me and the struggles my family went through deeply affected me as well.

My mother, who had been struggling to find a job for two years, was on the verge of getting hired. However, the pandemic and its resulting economic crisis meant that hiring freezes became commonplace and my mother was left without options again.


Part of a school assignment I did on the struggles my mother faced while searching for jobs amid the pandemic. PHOTO CREDIT: YOUTHOPIA/JEREMY NA


As for my father, he has been stranded in China since February this year. He was about to return to Singapore when China imposed lockdown restrictions and, fighting to keep his job, he is forced to remain in China and can only return home in February 2021.  

By the time he gets back, I truly would not have seen him for a full year.

This series of events lead to a stressful home environment where everyone was on edge and being cooped up at home due to the circuit breaker really pushed me to the edge. I was extremely irritable and truly had a miserable time.

So it’s pretty ironic that in hindsight, the circuit breaker was the best thing that happened to me this year. 

For one, it brought me closer to my mother. 

Before the circuit breaker, I still spent most of my time out of the house, either studying or hanging out with friends. However, once the circuit breaker began, I was faced with the reality of how lonely my mother must have felt being home alone every day. 

With my father stuck in China and my brother serving his National Service, I realised that I was the only one that could actively spend time with her. It was the small things like chatting over a meal, or frying eggs together that made a noticeable change in her demeanour. 

She became more bubbly and cheerful which served well to relieve the gloomy atmosphere in the house. Although there are no longer restrictions on going out, I still try to eat with her as much as I can to keep her company.


I learned that you don’t need grand gestures to show that you care, because it’s the thought behind it that matters. PHOTO CREDIT: YOUTHOPIA/JEREMY NA


I also learned to appreciate the friends that I have. 

Although most of my secondary school friends are in NS and we couldn’t meet up in real life due to lockdown restrictions, we all still made time to hang out with each other online and it almost became a ritual to have an entire Saturday set aside for gaming. We even spent weeks recreating our entire secondary school together in Minecraft and celebrated some of our birthdays there.

Even when we ran out of games to play, we would just chat and listen to music with each other. Just knowing that I had friendships that transcended physical meetups made me grateful to have the friends that I do.

Lastly, 2020 was a year of self-improvement. I taught myself how to play the keyboard, picked up photography and discovered that I was actually an introvert. This discovery allowed me to better take care of my own mental wellbeing and resulted in a happier, more contented me. 


I picked up photography by practicing indoors during the lockdown before finally being able to head out for shoots. PHOTO CREDIT: INSTAGRAM/THE.WANDERINGSINGAPOREAN


Sometimes what you need is a hard knock to put things into perspective – and there’s no harder knock than 2020. So while it may not have been the most comfortable year, it definitely was a year filled with learning for me.

With the new year coming soon, things are starting to look brighter. A vaccine is being developed and the economy is looking to recover. 

It’s hard to say if 2021 will be a better year for sure, but if it isn’t, I’m more than willing to learn some more.

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