The sound of rustling leaves and humming cicadas filled the night atmosphere last November 30, 2020, a day before the last month of 2020 kicks in. I put on my sleeping socks to lessen the chills brought by the cool amihan and turned the lights off. The full moon’s light peeked through the little gaps of the cottage’s bamboo wall. It was my first night at home, undergoing the necessary isolation period, after being away for almost a year. An overwhelming feeling of peace engulfed me – the kind of peace I was yearning for a long time. I could not help but look back and contemplate on how the past eleven months went by.
I used to work outside my home province when I graduated in 2017 and since my brother is a seafarer, welcoming 2020 was particularly special for me and my family. We were given the rare chance of celebrating the holidays together. My heart was full of anticipation and hope for the newly unveiled chapter that I even bought a planner for the very first time – a big leap for a spontaneous person like me. I was so committed to the thought of putting my life together this year, to which my close friends can attest. Everything was going smoothly at first. I went back to work after a fulfilling vacation and got regularized on the last week of January.
It was not later until the world seemed to stop without any warning. The next time I saw myself, I was panicking as stores ran out of face masks and alcohol. I feared being in a crowd. People’s smiles were no longer visible. Waking up to bad news after bad news, fear took the place of excitement that was burning inside me. Just like that, I was in a mental and emotional topsy-turvy. I was so afraid not just for myself but for my family back home, for my friends, and for humankind that I exhibited COVID-like symptoms out of anxiety. I did not expect for things to get even worse until the next few months were bombarded with various natural disasters, political turmoil and bickering.
The turn of events this year was a rude awakening to the fact that things will not always go as planned. It made me realize that a day may come when we can no longer go to places we used to hang out a lot, we must maintain a safe distance from people we used to hug, and a simple act of carelessness can be detrimental to others’ lives. It also made me become more conscious of the societal issues that divide us during the time when unity was more important than ever. Most importantly, 2020 opened my eyes to check my own privileges and be sensitive to other people’s needs. Moreover, it was not only our individual resiliency that was put to the test; the strength of our relationships was measured as well. It was a time when we felt the need to hold on to each other more. I was lucky enough to have my constants whose virtual presence and support were enough to get me through each day.
As my consciousness kicked in, I thought of the empty planner I left lying on the shelf. I cannot help but think if I have just thrown away eleven months of my life without achieving something profound. I shrugged the thought off as I realized how the seemingly wasted time actually prepared me for the unknown future. Months of isolation gave me the opportunity to know myself better. I learned how to give myself the pep talk I need whenever I felt inadequate. I discovered new hobbies that sparked me up and got me out of bed in the morning. I learned to appreciate the things and people I was blessed with and let go of those that are not helping me grow. I realized that there will be days when all you need to do is survive and that is okay.
We may have gone through a lot this year but we emerged stronger. Our plans may have been put on hold but that does not mean they were cancelled. As 2020 is nearing its end, let us not give up hope for better days. May the coming holidays still spark excitement within us. We may not clearly see the end of this cold winter but may we continue to believe that a spring day is waiting. As BTS puts it across in a song: “Like an echo in the forest, the day will come back around as if nothing happened. Yeah, life goes on.”
Jojie Esponilla is a payroll specialist of the Business Process Solutions Division of P&A Grant Thornton Cebu Branch. P&A Grant Thornton is one of the leading audit, tax, advisory and outsourcing firms in the Philippines with 24 partners and more than 900 staff members. We’d like to hear from you! Tweet us: @GrantThorntonPH; “like” us on Facebook: P&A Grant Thornton; and email your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. For more information, visit www.grantthornton.com.ph.
As published in Mindanao Times, dated 14 December 2020