2020: Expectations vs. Reality
It was a cold night. Navvin and I stood hand in hand in front of our house in Germany together with my parents and his brother to welcome the new year. We wanted to watch the fireworks that our neighbours would traditionally release but it was so foggy that we could barely see what’s in front of us. So we wished ourselves a “Happy New Year”, drank our champagne and quickly went back inside.
We were excited. 2020 was supposed to be our year. As we counted down 10, 9, 8, 7 … we thought of all the things we wanted to do and achieve this year. We were ready to get started on planning our wedding, I was looking for a new job back in Malaysia and we wanted to travel a lot, like really a lot.
But then ...
... well you know what happened. The Covid-19 pandemic happened and brought the whole world to a standstill and basically made it impossible for us to realise any of our goals.
(Expectations) 2020 Goals
Get married to a crazy Chindian (Chinese-Indian)
Have not 1 but 2 wedding celebrations - Because we can and have to lah.
Continue travelling the world (Mexico, USA! USA! USA!, Maybe India - why not and I don’t know maybe Uganda or Kenya
Find a good job in Malaysia that would later help us to move to another country
Looking for opportunities to shift our entire life and cats to another part of the world
It begun in February when we were supposed to travel to Tulum in Mexico where friends of us got married. The pandemic was just getting started and the U.S was considering to close down its borders to prevent the virus from reaching its shores. We were worried Malaysia would soon follow. While the idea of getting stuck in a paradise-like pice of earth was intriguing, we decided that the risk was too high. So we cancelled our flights.
Little did we know that this was just the beginning and that planning and subsequently cancelling plans, trips and meetings would become sort a regular thing that year.
Our wedding was the next victim of the pandemic. 08.08.2020 was supposed to be our wedding date. In April, however, when the travel restrictions stopped almost all international travel and countries tightened restrictions around gatherings in larger groups, it became clear that we had to postpone it.
After sending out that notification to all our guests and suppliers for our East-meets-West/ Asia-meets-Germany countryside wedding with American Bbq, I felt pretty sad for a while. After all, my family and I had invested a lot of time planning it and we were looking forward to celebrate together with our friends from around the world.
To top it all off, I had also gotten several rejections from companies, all citing a hiring stop due to Covid-19 as the reason. It seemed like no matter how hard I tried, the pandemic and its socio-economic impacts on the entire world made it impossible for me to get anywhere with my life this year.
It was so damn frustrating!
Negative feelings started to dominate my mood . I felt everything from anxiety, sadness, lack of self-esteem and listlessness. After all what was I really doing this year that was significant and worth mentioning. NOTHING! Really? Nothing? The glass always seemed to be half empty as opposed to half full and I did not feel worthy of anything, despite the fact that I had a loving and caring partner, family and friends who all love me.
I started thinking. Why was that? Well, because complaining is easier than actively doing something to change my mindset from a negative to a positive one. Also, I wrongfully defined myself over the job that I had and the countries it brought me to. I ignored everything else - including the fact that this year was simply NUUUTS and that the circumstances in which I was in, made it very hard to find a job in another country, not married and in an economy struggling to stay afloat.
Going from overdrive to no drive was also difficult for me. I used to work long hours, many times until late into the night and often also during weekends. Suddenly I had all this time at hand.
(Reality) 2020 Achievements
Learned language Nr. 4 (Bahasa Melayu)
Cooked myself around the world
Started my own website
Read books, lots of books*
Discovered sport types that I actually can see myself doing for more than just the first 10 days of a new year (Climbing & Yoga)
Did our PADI Open Water Diving Course (Almost done!)
Learned to teach children a new language
Bought and renovated a house ( Well Navvin bought, I renovated.)
What should I fill my time with?
Wait, wasn't there a list of things that I was dying to do but never had time for while I was working in agencies? And, didn't that list got longer and longer over the years as opposed to shorter, because I NEVER had time to do any of the things on the list?
For example, I finally set up to achieving one of my goals that I set myself when I was 10 years old - being able to speak 4 languages. For almost a year now I am learning Bahasa Melayu.
I also started this blog, which I hope you like and will grow further in popularity. Other than that, I finally let my artistic side loose and painted to my heart's content. Some of the paintings turned out to be pretteyyyyy good.
To compensate for all the lost travel opportunities, I started cooking myself around the world and discovered new dishes from Cuba, Mexico, Greece, Italy and more.
Going beyond setting up the new years resolution of doing more sports and then dropping it 10 days into the new year, I actually found new sport activities that I like. I started doing yoga and climbing. I am happy to report that I am still passionate about both. In between lockdowns, I even went on a few outdoor climbing adventures in Malaysia.
Most importantly, we bought our first apartment. With Navvin working, I oversaw the renovations. Although not quite finished yet, we love our new place. It feels like home as every piece of furniture, plant and painting was being handpicked by us. We managed to do most of the renovation and decorating in between two lockdowns. Considering the tight window we had, we did a great job.
Finally, I had some time to listen to myself - take a deep breathe, calm down, relax and sleep a lot. After years of work being a priority above almost everything, it was more difficult than I thought.
Not too shabby for one year, don't you think?
Now that we have finally left this year full of sitting at home, binge-watching Netflix and becoming a Wanna-Be-Master-Chef behind, I was hoping to be able to move on. But, nothing really has changed.
Malaysia continues to jump in and out of lockdowns and restrictions. So is the rest of the world. We decided to push our wedding yet another year and travelling far may or may not be possible either this year.
What is changing, however, is my perspective on my situation. Whenever I feel depressed, I try to remind myself of the few valuable lessons that I drew from last year.
I am making an active effort to be positive and appreciative of the people and things around me, as well as the things that I was able to do during 2020.
Lessons of 2020
1. Postponed does mean cancelled
2. Adapt: Just do other things first and revisit your original plans and goals later.
3. Be and stay positive
4. The grass is always greener on the other side: Always put things into perspective. You are not suffering. That makes you a fortunate one.
5. As you think, so shall you be. Meaning: You have to believe in it first, before it can become reality.
* Some of the books, I would like to recommend because they helped me to put things into perspective are:
Mindset - Changing the way you think to fulfil your potential (Dr. Carol S. Dweck)