2020 was a strange year. Many have called it the “cancelled year”; some even say it doesn’t count as a year since a chunk of it was lost to the Circuit Breaker. The world became much larger once again as countries closed their borders to non-citizens, and many in Singapore suffered cabin fever – not just from the quarantine, but also from the lack of travel. While I don’t ever need to go through another lockdown (this extrovert panicked and broke down; tears were shed – but more on that later), I am thankful for a huge lesson that I’ve learnt from this strange year: to look FOMO in the face and say no.

The Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) is real. I used to say yes to everything I could squeeze in time for, sometimes ending up having to rush from place to place in the process. “The opportunity/ experience/activity/meet-up would never again happen in the same way!”, “I can sleep when I am dead” – these are just some of the justifications for my decision to never say no. I was determined to live life to the fullest, and that often translated to a packed schedule.

Then, the Circuit Breaker happened. I suddenly had all this time to myself, with no parties, no meet-ups, and no team sports to attend. The despair I felt in the first week was real. I felt lonely, displaced and not myself. The tears I shed were real.

But then, after hitting my lowest, I was determined to pick myself up and use this given time productively. I made time to read again. I meditated daily. I cleared clutter from my home, and found simple joy in the most mundane of things, like keeping my place looking nice.

When we finally came out of the lockdown, this extrovert was undoubtedly ecstatic. I could meet loved ones again! I could go out for a meal with friends again!

But something changed, and it took me the last few months of 2020 to realise it. My FOMO is different now. It’s kept in check. I am more careful, deliberate and selfish with my time. I have learnt to say no when I know that a yes would mean rushing around like crazy, or if it’s an unwise choice of quantity over quality. I have learnt to be OK with missing a party here or a meet-up there as a result of this.

I’ll definitely be taking this attitude into 2021. I am looking forward to expanding my perspective in all areas in life, and to more personal growth – plus a contentment of mind and heart – in the year ahead.