This letter was written during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 as part of Dear Covid-19. Though some of the events and details in this letter may have changed since then, we hope to remember those in our community who stepped up when it mattered most. Continue to keep up with them on their social pages at @mich.wong
Typing the date of this entry seems to hold a heavier significance than other dates, as it encapsulates a particular period of peculiarity. It is a time where many of us lost jobs, financial stability, and “freedom” of basic movement like meeting friends or hugging a loved one.
Some became stressed, fearful and even lost hope at one point or another, as we watched the news each day, counting the infection numbers and loss of lives. It is hard to imagine that as young Singaporeans, we have to live through a time such as this.
However, while there were many things lost, we also discovered new treasures – hope, creativity, tenacity and perseverance; things we did not know we had. I believe we found “courage through chaos”.
COVID-19, you have been a learning journey for me.
When our country first moved into DORSCON Orange, many projects were cancelled and work postponed to keep us safe. While it was important to safeguard our health, it was also a stressful period where I thought too much because I did too little.
But it was also in these moments of quiet solitude that I reflected upon my life as an actress, and how thankful I was for the encouragement and support I had been given by loved ones, colleagues and even strangers throughout my career. They gave me the strength to move past difficulties and evolve.
It was also at that moment when I realised that perhaps the privilege of having a platform also gives me the ability to share these same positive messages with a larger audience. Surely, like me, there were many who were anxious about their livelihood as they stayed at home.
Unexpectedly, my mindset shifted from one that worried about what was happening to me to what could be done through me. As an avid home baker who had been passing quarantine time in the kitchen, I had a spontaneous idea to stamp my thoughts onto cookies. Simple words of encouragement that had helped me from past till present could now be used to reach out and heal others. After all, what did I have to lose?
Thus, “Reminder Cookies @remindercookies” was born. It was a little passion project that kept me sane and connected. A new form of communication – from cookies to the soul. It was both ironic yet beautiful that in a time when projects were on the decline, a new purpose had emerged. It was a feeling of independence unlike any other.
Moving into Phase 2, I have the opportunity to wear two hats – as a performer and as an entrepreneur. It has been an awkward transition to be very honest. I am very much used to acting out other people’s lives and stories on-screen. Now, I am helming my own life story.
However, if there is one thing the entire COVID-19 experience has taught me, it is never to doubt the resilience of the human spirit.
The circuit breaker revealed to me that the strength within me is greater than what is happening outside. While the weight of financial stability and family responsibilities is very real and heavy, I will be able to overcome them, because I’d had a mental breakthrough.
Around me, I saw vivid examples of people who started new businesses, projects as alternatives to compensate for their lost income. I saw the anxiety in the graduating Class of 2020, as they faced the uncertainty of landing a job.
But I also saw sparks of hope. Creative solutions were emerging – not by blind positivity and naivety, but through intelligence, hard work and will power. That was so inspiring.
It is interesting to find that once you are stripped of everything you’ve held on to for security, you finally recognise that your character is actually the most important factor. All the solutions were within you all along.
My hopes and wishes for Singapore, moving forward, are that we never forget the lessons we learned today and continue to apply them in our daily lives. I count myself extremely blessed that the battle I fought was not one between life and death, but an internal one between anxiety and courage.
It would be a pity to forget all the experiences just because we are slowly moving back to a normal way of life. It would be a pity to behave as if the circuit breaker never happened at all. All of us were impacted in one way or another. Our priorities have shifted, mindsets broadened, and courage at its peak.
I hope that you, fellow Singaporeans, will be able to look back upon this time as one that built you up. As a country, we were handed lemons and we made lemonade. My well wishes are with you, your families, and your future.
We are so much stronger now because of what we have been through. For that, I am deeply grateful.