This too shall pass

Life before COVID-19 was fantastic. As a foreigner on Employment Pass in Singapore, there was never a dull weekend for us. With the current global health crisis, I am thankful that there have been no health concerns for my family. Unfortunately, my company is facing cost pressures and having to look for a new job during these trying times may be a bigger challenge than usual.

People who know me will say that I’m an eternal optimist and I’ve traversed huge challenges in my life to get to where I am. So I’m not very anxious or bitter that COVID-19 has led to my redundancy. It’s just an unfortunate situation and I’m sure no one intended for this outbreak. If we start blaming someone for this, there are countless other situations to be looked into. My dad always said don’t dwell on the past, but keep looking to the future. And that’s what I’m doing now. We also planned to go back home for a major family function in July, but that’s been cancelled as well. To sum it up, a lot of disruption, but like everything else, this too shall pass.

The only challenge I face now is with the job situation and my visa. I go back to the job part, because that’s really the only negative for me at the moment. That’s a testament to how wonderfully Singapore has managed all other aspects of the circuit breaker. However, there isn’t much help for foreigners on Employment Passes. I’ve reached out to some contacts and some recruiters for positions, but they’ve all said to wait until this COVID-19 situation blows over. But I’ve started to study new skills in cyber security to gear up for the open market. 

With the circuit breaker being extended, I feel that it is absolutely necessary to break the chain of transmission. A couple of months of a slowdown is better than many months or years of risking an infection. However, I don’t think there’s anyone who loves being confined to home. 

The mental health perspective is often spoken about, but little attention paid to, because it’s hard to detect and hard to talk about. Being cooped up inside brings out anxiety and loneliness, which is exacerbated by the lack of sun exposure, which boosts Vitamin-D which in turn uplifts the mood.

My worry is the COVID-19 situation lasting longer than we think it will. I cannot find a job in this market situation, but I need to find one soon. If I don’t, we will look at going back to Australia, which we don’t want to do because we love Singapore.

Right now, I’m ramping up my skills in IT services, focusing on my startup and waiting to have a coffee sitting outdoors at Vivocity looking at Sentosa. I try to help out with volunteer organisations as much as I can and helping people has really kept me going.

I want to help out physically but I’m wary about going out as I risk my visa. If the authorities deem I shouldn’t have been out, my visa will be cancelled and I’ll be barred from Singapore permanently. But i do help out people through online connections - if someone doesn’t know how to use a particular app or tool or, helping seniors set up a piece of technology or smart home device. I also lend a patient ear to those who’ve lost their job or are nervous about losing their job. I recount my past experiences and help provide them a positive outlook. That alone has proven to be very beneficial to the people I’ve spoken with.

Through these past few months, I’ve come to understand that we don’t need many of the materialistic stuff that we deemed important. I can actually survive without that take away coffee or movie theatres or mindless shopping. I’ve learnt that people are resilient and we can overcome anything as a group. I also have seen that violence and negative news is almost zero and I hope it’s because everyone is focused on beating a single enemy, the virus.

I like to believe that there is inherent goodness in people, which is being brought out in this pandemic. There are so many examples of kindness and selflessness going around. Another positive is that I’ve been able to catch up with so much of my friends & family, as they have no excuses to give. And that’s bitten me back as well.

Humankind is powerless in the face of nature and we have far less control that we believed. This situation has taught me to not take anything for granted, health is the most important and I am much stronger than I thought I was.