#Opinion

5 Life Lessons I Learnt from COVID-19

After two years living through the pandemic, I’ve learnt some interesting things about living in a society facing a pandemic.

Dah nak 2022 dah 😭 It feels like we’ve been dealing with this pandemic forever! And then the floods and now it’s aftermath. Tapi even when the year was not so weird, it was so heartwarming to see korang ramai band together to help each other. Betul-betul la macam one family! So what has this pandemic taught me? Here are 5 life lessons from COVID-19, read on!

Lesson 1: We Can’t Take Our Health for Granted, including our Mental Health

Mental Health Love GIF by Mat Voyce - Find & Share on GIPHY

I don’t think I’ve ever talked about my own health so much with my friends and family before. Cayalah, sikit-sikit nak bersin ke apa Amal risau doh!

Lots of topics shared about how to stay healthy and safe! Sekarang bila time order makanan, memang mintak sayur tu lebih haha! Another thing I appreciate are the voices of young people like me coming together and emphasising how important it is for people like us to stand up for our health rights and the right to be protected! You go gais!

One of the life lessons from COVID-19 was about mental health. Bila kitorang dah kena stay kat rumah lama-lama I understand why so many young people like myself began talking about this topic. In Malaysia, it’s still a difficult subject, but it really made me smile seeing conversations about anxiety and depression flow freely on places like TikTok and Twitter. Amal pun rasa lega sikit bila ikut tips-tips mental health dari abang akak tu! I finally understand when people say things like “mental health is health”, as stress and adversity can affect us! Talking about how we feel helped us (and myself) feel less alone and more hopeful.

READ: Coping with our Mental Health Di Musim Coronavirus

Lesson 2: The Importance of Working Together

Korang tau tak when I heard about how Malaysians were coming together, I was so moved! From the #BenderaPutih movement to various hashtags meant to support the nation like #KitaJagaKita. Aside from thoughtful ways to support frontline workers, a lot of Malaysians came together to share tips untuk tolong other essential workers like retail staff and delivery drivers. Terharu dengan emosi la gais. 😭💕

Another major takeaway was how the Malaysian public were quick to come together and protect each other. Many were eager to get their vaccinations. They did their best to show up for their appointments and proudly showed off their selfies after kena cucuk! And it’s nothing to (ahem) sneeze at: just look at our current vaccination rates!

Graph of Malaysia's vaccination rates as of 23 December 2021

Lesson 3: Family & Friends Are More Important Than Ever, And It Goes Beyond Vaccinations

Black Ink  Crew Family GIF by VH1 - Find & Share on GIPHY

Another one of the most important life lessons from COVID-19 is that family and friends sangat penting la. The reason why we have such high vaccination rates is because korang galakkan family-family, member-member dapatkan vaksin. The positive influence helped convince older parents and family members to take the vaccine in order to protect each other.

It always made me smile bila gi PPV and seeing groups of friends like mine get together at the PPVs and proudly show they got vaccinated too!

Even bila ada family-family yang still teragak-agak pasal vaksin ni, there’s no doubt there’s plenty of reasons why a strong, positive influence can turn the tide in something like the COVID-19 pandemic.

A girl in a wheelchair surrounded by 3 friends celebrating being vaccinated as one of their lessons from COVID-19When I was learning from home, I realised how I didn’t get to spend much time with family before. Now I’ve a newfound appreciation for Abah’s jokes, and how much fun it’s to hang out with my siblings. And… it was nice to be able to connect with my mom. She has so much great advice 😭💕

I also thought it was going to be weird not seeing my other friends again too, but Li Shang, Deshan and Dharma have stayed connected with me through places like discord! We can still play games together and watch movies, while still keeping safe! It’s also nice still being able to rely on each other even when we’re apart, we even planned a virtual birthday party for Deshan …. And it was awesome! 🥳

Lesson 4: How Dangerous Misinformation Really Can Be

Misinformation GIF by United Nations - Find & Share on GIPHY

Sebelum ni, Amal pun rasa pelik bila ada orang share bende-bende yang fake tau. Tapi this is one of the life lessons from COVID-19 yang paling important. Sebab it’s because how quickly misinformation spreads, and also how it can stick, even to people who we think won’t ever fall for stuff like this!

Bagi Amal, it’s important that we learn to be more media literate (maknanya, pandai-pandai cari info yang sah), and it was especially important mula pandemik. Some people spread really funny ideas that not only hurt people, but also convinced many to not get vaccinated. Aduh… 😭

Remember gais: kalau tak pasti, jangan share. Make sure your information comes from reliable sources like the World Health Organisation and UNICEF! Don’t rely on social media algorithms for your news, they can very easily be bought and manipulated! Trust health officials, our Ministry of Health or even the Vaccine Safety Net!

Lesson 5: People Can Adapt! Yes we can!

I’ll be honest. When the pandemic started, I was pretty worried if my parents could WFH, and if my siblings and I could manage catch up with our studies. But as I’ve learnt from COVID-19, Malaysians have proven time and time again to be amazing people all around 💞.  My dad turned a part of our living room into his office, it’s so cool seeing what he does everyday!

Work From Home Reaction GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

And there were several initiatives that provided laptops and mobile devices to students for online learning. Similar groups joined together to start up food banks and donation drives to help families affected by the pandemic. And many of us even found the benefits of having remote work and classes together with a more flexible schedule.

The great thing about this is that it makes education and work much more accessible for some of us. Macam Amal yang pakai wheelchair ni, it’s hard to get around sometimes! Tapi thanks to remote classes, it’s a lot easier for me to stay in a safe place, while still keeping on top of my studies! Plus hari-hari dapat rasa makanan mama! 😋

I’ve learnt that we Malaysians are resilient. We can and will adapt. We all took up wearing masks and sanitising our hands pretty seriously too! Lagi-lagi we all clowned on people who risked their (and others) health, macam Karen Dior tu la. Which says to me that Malaysians are still taking public safety seriously!

We’re In This Together, And We Can Overcome This!

Camni la gais. As we end the year and begin to welcome 2022, we’ve still got a long road ahead of us. It’s hard to say how this pandemic will go. We should use the life lessons learnt from COVID-19 to further understand and strategise ways to beat this pandemic once and for all. But that means we’ve got to keep working together, keep each other safe, and of course, make sure we can all get our vaccinations and boosters!

Amal also nak cite sikit pasal vaccine equity. Apa tu eh? The simple answer is this: making sure every nation has access to vaccines in the first place, which ensures all of us are safe and healthy. Bukan nak takutkan ke apa, but this is how new variants like Omicron happens, when there are gaps in our protection.

It’s hard to fight COVID-19 if we don’t have the means to do so. And allowing nations to produce their own vaccines would not only lower costs, but also make it more accessible to people all over the world. We talked about it here regarding vaccine patents. “Kenapa Amal cite pasal ni?” Well, if anything, one of the biggest lessons learnt from COVID-19 is that nobody is safe until everyone is safe. We need to ensure that everyone, everywhere has access to vaccinations, booster shots and other means to protect themselves from the virus.

Already, the Malaysian government has made moves to donate any extra doses to countries in need, and UNICEF pun ada program-program to encourage rich nations to donate doses! Check out the UNICEF Donate Doses programme here~

Remember, there’s still a lot we don’t know about COVID-19, so as we go into 2022, make sure that we keep staying safe by protecting ourselves, and each other. Tu je la Amal nak share, korang jaga-jaga tau!

We’re a VaksinNation gais.

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Amal

Champion for vaccination! Two-wheels, a big heart and not enough books.
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