These Four Walls

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

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A collection of photos from my personal stay-home experience during Singapore's version of a lockdown, termed a 'circuit breaker' from April to June this year; 

I baked, a lot. 




I baked way too much to feed my family, and decided to gift them to neighbours as well as friends. This little project kept me busy for the most part of the lockdown, and I'm thankful for delivery drivers who were able to safely transport my packages of baked goods to all those willing to be my guinea pigs. Also huge shoutout to all those who drove right to my doorstep to make sure none of my kitchen adventures went to waste. 



Some of my kitchen adventures were out of curiosity for what's trending... 



... While some completely experimental. 



It was also clear that neighbours were also hanging out in their kitchens a lot. We got gifted some delicious goodies, such as this homemade bubur-chacha. 


And I got sent a bunch of my favourite things, so thank you everyone who kept me in their thoughts. 




Apart from tangible acts of friendship, I particularly enjoyed the virtual ones that proved that distance knows no boundaries. 




Other than keeping in touch with people who knew me, technology also made musical and arts performances from all around the world accessible to me without needing to leave home. 


Stunning visual spectaculars were also available simply by peering out of my window. Sunrises are best caught from my kitchen window, and sunsets from the living room's—poignant reminders that there's so much more beyond these four walls, and that the world was still spinning despite how we'd perceived it to "stop". There's so much more, much bigger than ourselves. 




The windows also served to build a sense of community. We clapped, cheered, and sung songs together as a relatively young neighbourhood in Sengkang, to keep spirits going for both frontliners and probably (mostly) ourselves. 


And I officially graduated during the circuit breaker too! 


Not able to eat out? Not a problem. I attempted to recreate some of my favourite foods from a bunch of different cuisines. We have what I'd loosely term 'Western'...





... Some Korean inspired ones mostly because I started to watch way too many mukbangs during lockdown... 




... And of course, good ol' local favourites. 



Ending off this archive of memories from a once-in-a-lifetime moment with a selfie for good measure, which I actually took to support the local business which hand-made the pair of earrings I was wearing. Yes, one of the many local business that sprung up as a result of the lockdown, which was quite inspiring to see. 

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Stream of Consciousness: 2020

Saturday, December 26, 2020

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Well, it's been a good couple of months feebly attempting to act all "business-as-usual" as I experienced fleeting moments of feeling like I'm a protagonist in a dystopian sci-fi novel, and feeling broken when I realize that I'm in fact not in one.

I oscillated between caring about how I was going to get my next bubbletea or McDonald's fix (still can't quite believe there existed a moment in time where these comfort foods were not available to us), and thinking about how best I could help communities falling through the cracks especially during this pandemic (these thoughts typically result in me making a monetary donation, though that is undoubtedly the easiest, most low-involvement way to pacify my own guilt more than anything). Yet somehow, all these concerns seemed to take up equal headspace in my consciousness despite their supposed differences in relative importance, which was a tad unnervingbut I guess that happens when one is confined in their room and every situation is reduced to words at a corner of a newspaper. Your sense of prioritization gets all warped and everything's ends up being the next big thing that requires your attention. 

I reached a point where I could no longer care about the next headline. 

Of course, to have the biggest source of anxiety come from merely reading the text on a page describing a situation far removed from my own life, I'm privileged. I'm not severely impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, and I'm living in a country that is managing the situation in a reasonably controlled manner. Free vaccines for all would be unheard of in so many other places where basic healthcare rights is already a huge debate in itself. 

But I do want to acknowledge 2020 for it's rough patches. It's been a hella bumpy ride. This isn't meant to be a recap of all the terrible things that have happened, but neither do I want future me to look back upon this year with rose-tinted glasses. There'll come a point where the world gets pass this, when people look back and start sharing about how much they've "grown" from this monumental year. I forsee a bunch of advocates touting their new sustainable and mindful practices which they've made into habits throughout this year, which is honestly awesome, but it isn't always healthy to only have role models who emerge from this pandemic with a newfound skill or a "better" way of living. These are badges of honour given out to those who've somehow figured out how to be productive when the world was trying ot put out its multiple fires. 

It's OK to not have these things figured out, I know I haven't. 

Chasing productivity has been such a daunting task, particularly in a remote work setting. Starting a new job in the middle of a pandemic has made it challenging to behave how I would in a "business-as-usual" situation because I wasn't even sure what that entailed. In my first couple of weeks on the job, I recall attending an internal session conducted on managing 'work-from-home' stress and one of the ways which we could self-identify if we needed professional help was by comparing our current levels of work activity with that in a pre-Covid universe. Unfortunately, that didn't end up being useful for me since I didn't have that benchmark to start with—what now? This feeling of unease wasn't something I immediately resolved and I still don't know what my "normal" levels of function are supposed to be, but over time, I've come to terms with my work performance, and words of affirmation from my supportive team mates do help to soothe my jumpy state of mind.  

Above all, this year proved to me that academic or career achievements don't equate to emotional well-being at all. Professional accolades-wise, I'm on an all-time high for sureofficially becoming a graduate and starting a full-time job. Yet, this year also marked the lowest I've ever felt in my entire life from a mental-health perspective. It's been a year of transitions and not feeling in control, so I finally let my emotions get the better of me, something I've been conditioned to take pride in not doing. Despite the fear of sounding clich√©, it has really been an ongoing journey of discovering a side of myself that I usually suppress, and I'm grateful to also have avenues to seek help from. 

There are only four more sleeps till 2021 and as much as we're all hoping for the world to magically heal overnight as the clock strikes midnight, it's unrealistic. The impact of this pandemic is going to be far-reaching, affecting us deeply even in the year ahead and beyond, so here's wishing for the best and sending strength to anyone out there who might need it. 
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