Like millions, if not billions, of people globally, Covid-19 has directly impacted my life in more ways than one. I still remember when my university emailed everyone that the campus was closed the day after commencing the first day of the semester. For the rest of that semester, I self-isolated at home and only went out to grab groceries. I did not expect that I would spend my final semester in Australia that way.
Since my return to my home country mid of last year, things are not any better. While other countries are on the road to recovery, the Covid-19 crisis in Malaysia remains unchanged. The original plan was to find a job in Australia upon graduation, but I was forced to return to my home country because no one was interested in hiring in the middle of a health crisis. Soon after returning home, I was fortunate to land a job, but I resigned less than a year later because I was not happy with the role, and it pulled mental health down.
Simply put, almost every aspect of my life, from career aspirations to personal goals, have been affected by Covid-19. However, even as I look back on all of the ways my life has transformed due to this pandemic, I still keep an optimistic eye and value all the good that has emerged from it. Covid-19 has changed the way I perceive life in the following ways:
1. Good health is life’s actual and most precious luxury, and I am grateful to have it.
Before the emergence of the pandemic, lots of people took for granted their green bill of health. Even organisations were downplaying the importance of their employees’ health by pushing them to work towards unrealistic boundaries.
Observing the millions of lives lost to this virus in slightly more than a year has reinforced one of my beliefs on health: being in good health is life’s greatest asset. Unfortunately, the majority of the population seem to not take notice of this. They are so busy chasing after a high-paying job in order to buy a big house and a sporty car. However, in the process, they burn themselves out. When things become unbearable, they would resort to drugs and alcohol to temporarily numb their agony before diving right back into the world of pain. I am so fortunate that right now, I am a young, healthy individual without a single underlying medication condition. Could you imagine if someone has a pre-existing health condition that would put him or her at a greater risk of succumbing to the effects of the coronavirus?
Do not be mistaken here; I am not by any means showing off my good state of health. Instead, I acknowledge this aspect of life that many people pray to have, and I am not taking this matter light-heartedly. I am doing community service by staying at home to fatten the curve so that I do not unwittingly spread the virus to anyone I meet. For all I know, I could be asymptomatic (many of us are). Again, I am not taking my community service to stay at home for granted because I do not want to be responsible for someone’s death.
2. If you have a social life, hold on to it at all costs.
Since self-isolating at home, I have been more alone than ever before. When the pandemic rears its ugly head, I was staying in a one-bedroom apartment by myself. Social activities such as sports and road trips were put on hold indefinitely. I had a few close friends when I was in Australia, but we lived quite a distance from each other. My partner? She was a continent away. Hence, I have more time to myself than ever before, and it was a challenge to keep myself occupied daily.
Reading, writing, working on my university assignments and binge-watching TV shows on Netflix can only fill so many hours daily. I am looking forward to the day when everyone can finally come together again and have a good time, be it at the bar or holiday resort. I really want to be better about making time for friends and socialising with others. However, only time can tell when this country of mine will recover enough to permit the reopening of social and entertainment venues.
3. Buying just enough essentials is the way to go.
When the pandemic started to hit home, everyone flocked to the supermarket in panic to grab as many rolls of toilet paper, bottles of antibacterial soaps and other household detergents as they can. “This is such a #firstworldproblem,” I said to myself when I observed this consumer behaviour firsthand. Witnessing scenes of panic buying around the world online proved that human beings are irrational creatures by default.
When I was in Australia, I did stock up on dried and canned goods in the event things went south quick, but fortunately (or unfortunately), the authorities managed to keep the health crisis under control a few months later. As the panic buying spree subsided, supermarkets caught up with the demand and were able to stock their shelves daily. During the last few weeks of my stay in Australia, there were always more than enough products to go around (even toilet paper, can you believe that?).
I believe that everyone needs to get into the habit of buying only what they need. For example, none of us need to buy 10 stacks of toilet paper worth more than 150 rolls at one time and thus not allowing others to grab even one stack of it. So, grab one box of cereal, one carton of milk, one bottle of antibacterial soap and so on. The point being made here is to take only what you need so there is enough to go around for everyone else. We are all in this together, and each of us has a role to play to make sure that everyone can still go on with their lives as smoothly as possible.
4. Keeping a high hygiene standard will always be important.
I see myself as a germaphobe. I take my hygiene seriously and always advocate for cleanliness, regardless of where I go. However, I am touching on best practices aside from the ones we commonly recognise, such as washing your hair and showering.
Germs are everywhere, even on your toilet seat. Understanding how effortless this virus spread has really opened my eyes. I am now so conscious of washing my hands so frequently throughout the day that I had to apply moisturiser on my dry hands before I go to sleep.
It is crucial to be vigilant where hygiene is concerned. Limit your contact with every surface, keep your hands away from your face, and ensure your hands are kept clean. These are hygiene practices everyone should know and adopt, no matter whether there is a global pandemic raging or not. So when you travel, when you touch things at the supermarket or when you are about to eat French fries with your bare hands, be sure to keep these hygiene practices in mind. The seriousness of how contagious this virus is has proven that we collectively must ensure that we do not let our guard down when it comes to hygiene.
Final 2¢: Some Things Are Here To Stay.
There is no question that Covid-19 has affected our lives in numerous ways. Some of the effects left behind by the pandemic are here to stay in the long run or permanently. I can only hope that once we officially put this pandemic behind us, we do not lose visual of what is vital in life. Our health, relationships, and livelihoods are essential pieces of our lives. Still, we should also not overlook or downplay the significance of other life aspects, such as being a good global citizen and a supportive neighbour.