MY2020: This year has left me counting my blessings

The past year hasn’t been the best, but I’ve learned the importance of appreciating the things that we have.

Phoon Jia Hui

Jack of all trades, master of drinking boba milk tea.

Published: 21 December 2020, 11:41 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?

Like most people out there, 2020 was not one without tribulation. 

I mean, who would have thought the COVID-19 pandemic would become full-blown and put a damper into many of our plans? It served to be a wake-up call however, to never take things for granted and appreciate whatever we have. 

On a personal front, it hasn’t been the best of years. 

Except for a couple of freelance gigs, I found myself without stable income for almost six months as many activities came to a halt in Singapore. While there were a couple of half-baked job offers which came my way, they never really materialised. 

Being the eldest child in the family, I naturally felt the pressure. I constantly cracked my head on how I was going to land a job which provided a decent income to pay the bills and ensure I could put food on the table.


Thanks to staying in so much this year, I managed to reduce my expenses significantly. PHOTO CREDIT: CHARLES DELUVIO VIA UNSPLASH


As the thought of taking up ad-hoc jobs like safe distancing ambassadors crossed my mind, I was grateful for the help which came in the form of financial aid from the government, which helped myself and many other Singaporeans tide through the crisis.

The job application process continued to be tedious and I grew weary with every passing day. While I was confident my applications would be successful eventually, it was a mental torture to soldier on as I coped with rejection after rejection.  

Thankfully, all the uncertainty came to an end after I managed to land a full-time role with Youthopia in early November. Seeing how badly the job market was hit by the pandemic, it came as a relief to me.   

Of course, the transition into full-time work was not exactly smooth-sailing. I had to adapt to work from home arrangements, which made it difficult to have proper work-life balance at times.

Even until today, it is something I am still trying to get used to. The good news is that we could be allowed to return to office in Phase 3 and it is something I am looking forward to.         

The pandemic also allowed me to reflect on many aspects in life. It allowed me time to do things I wouldn’t normally do, including clocking runs which totalled 100km during the eight-week circuit breaker. 

As someone who played football regularly before the pandemic, running became an alternative to maintain my fitness levels and helped me beat cabin fever too. Running alone also had its benefits and allowed me to have some me-time away from the confines of my home.

Looking back, it is an achievement that I am proud to say I accomplished. 


Exercising regularly took my mind off things and helped me battle cabin fever at the same time. PHOTO CREDIT: YOUTHOPIA/PHOON JIA HUI


Staying home during the circuit breaker meant that I got to spend more time with my family members. We had meals together, which was something we wouldn’t be able to do much in a pre-COVID-19 world due to our busy schedules.

I also enrolled myself into a part-time digital marketing diploma to further upskill myself, which is  important in the current time and age. These were small wins I celebrated from 2020. 

As cliche as it may sound, I am simply hoping that 2021 will be a better year for all. With the promising developments in COVID-19 vaccines, there is hope of normalcy returning and us going back to doing what we love. 

If there was a personal goal I hope to achieve, it is to have more time for self-care. This includes getting back to my usual fitness routine, something I admittedly failed to follow up as I got busier after the circuit breaker ended.

2020 might have been such a tough year for most, but I suppose the most important thing is for everyone to stay strong and keep going no matter the circumstance.

Other stories in this MY 2020 series:

My toughest year yet, but I’m grateful for it

This year taught me to be less hard on myself

This year was a blessing in disguise for me

I wanted it to be my year, but it was anything but that

A year of social awakening

Coping with frustration and solitude

How my New Year’s resolution changed over the year

Wasn’t how I imagined it, but could have been worse

Learning to live life when it’s being kept on hold

Graduating from university this year forced me to embrace change

A year of adapting to the new normal

Rising above the challenges of living with a disability

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