I graduated in 2019 with a hospitality business degree and was grateful to secure a full-time job in a travel agency.
However, when COVID-19 hit Singapore and the circuit breaker was implemented, I was faced with a huge pay cut.
I was uncertain about the future, and this worried me greatly.
With plenty of time on hand but little in my pockets, I spent 2020 working from home and was forced to take no-pay leave, where I ended up working only 10 days a month!
The situation was so bad that it seemed like there was going to be no end, especially for the tourism industry.
Not knowing how to progress, I felt stuck, anxious and lost. This led to a quarter-life crisis because I struggled to picture what my life was going to be like a few years down the road.
You know that you’re at a prime age when you should be hustling hard to build up your career and climb the ladder of success. But time is flying by and you’re accomplishing little.
All these emotions gripped me and the feelings stung. Fear began to cripple me, as my perfect idea of career stability crumbled and COVID-19 appeared to be unbeatable.
WHEN I FELT HOPELESS
However, in those moments of hopelessness God began to work within me.
With the luxury of time on hand, I was able to have more intentional conversations with God through prayer.
His peace calmed the storm inside of me, almost like how Jesus rebuked the wind and said to the waves “Quiet, be still!” when his disciples were so afraid of the storm (Mark 4:39).
Not letting my circumstances define me, I decided to step out of my comfort zone and take up some ad hoc jobs for additional income to support myself and my family.
Thankfully during that time, our family car was left untouched, so there was an opportunity to venture out and try a transport-related part-time job.
I did island-wide deliveries and became a GrabHitch driver. I even went to the extent of buying a bicycle, but gave up shortly as it was physically taxing!
In the early months of 2021, I continued to work in my travel agency while making short delivery trips during my lunch breaks. Though it was physically demanding, deep inside I felt that I could still stretch my capacity.
I surrendered my concerns to God, while looking out for ad hoc jobs that could fit within my 10 days of unpaid leave a month, so that I wouldn’t have to compromise on my full-time job.
By God’s grace, I came across the job opening of a Safe Distancing Ambassador (SDA) that allowed me to work on weekends and offered stability as a part-time job. I applied online and got accepted!
During this pandemic, SDAs are not only crucial to Singapore, but also essential. I wanted to experience what that would be like.
People often look down and have a bad impression of SDAs as they think the work is only something done by the jobless, or that SDAs have an easy task of just walking around.
However, the job requires us to patrol the malls for eight hours a day, clocking about 20,000 steps daily.
We submit reports of the crowd situations at malls and supermarkets, and we diligently ensure that Safe Management Measures are in place for all the tenants and queues within the malls.
We show up for work despite knowing there are hundreds of cases in the mall, not because we must but because we want to.
Yet we often face criticism when reminding members of public to wear their masks properly. We get stared at or scolded when we give gentle reminders to observe a safe distance.
Despite that, it was a really fulfilling experience for me to do what I can to help Singapore return to our pre-COVID days.
It’s heartwarming when people come up to us and appreciate us for what we do. I’ve also met so many kind-hearted people from different walks of life whom I might not have the chance to cross paths with otherwise.
WHAT I’VE LEARNT IN MY JOURNEY
If I could summarise my lessons from being in the tourism industry during COVID-19, my ad hod jobs and my SDA experience, it would be these three things:
1. Pray without ceasing
Many times, as I prayed and sought God for clarity, I felt that God was saying it was a season of slowing down and trusting Him even when everything seemed bleak. So instead of rushing to get my life figured out, I decided to surrender and took the time to rest and realign my perspective.
Everyone has a certain idea of how we want our lives to be – to get married at a certain age, to settle down in a stable job by a certain time, etc. However, 2020 was like a blank page to me.
It was challenging, yet it was filled with His peace knowing that He was still in control. Despite the uncertainties, He assured me that my future is not unknown to Him, and He has got it all planned out for me.
“So why would I fear the future? Only goodness and tender love pursue me all the days of my life…” (Psalm 23:6 TPT)
2. My identity and worth is in Him (and not my success)
I was also reminded that my enoughness is not found in how successful I am in my career, not how much I have achieved in life, and not what others say about me, but who I belong to.
Because I am a child of God, I will always be enough.
The whole COVID-19 situation also allowed me to see clearly that nothing is more important than being healthy. Life is a gift.
Everything doesn’t have to make sense, but the fact that we are alive and breathing is all that matters. Everything will eventually work out — not in my timing but His.
“He has made everything beautiful in its time.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11)
3. To trust God in His process
The first half of 2021 was very packed yet fulfilling for me. I worked seven days a week and did jobs that were not guaranteed to be there the next day, yet I felt His peace.
I knew that God would make a way in His ways and timing, and that it was okay if my growth meant slowing down in that season.
Of course, I had my low moments too. I did feel inadequate at times and wondered if I was wasting away the prime of my life while my peers were achieving their goals and settling down. But looking back, I was thankful for this time of rest.
I became more prayerful, I set aside time to connect with God, and I was certain of God despite the uncertainty around me.
It was a time of reflection and aligning my life with Him instead of relying on myself.
“Prayer can shift our focus from the worries of the world towards thankfulness to God.”– Denise Pass
I entered the second half of this year with the peace from God to search for jobs.
With His blessings and intervention, I got an offer shortly after for a meaningful job in a new environment I am very excited about. Despite being an unfamiliar industry, I know He is with me every step of the way.
One of my biggest takeaways this year is that when the circumstances around me seem hopeless, I can be hopeful that God is still in full control and everything will work out in His timing, according to His plan.
So instead of worrying, start praying! 😊
- Are you feeling lost in this season? How can you take time to be more intentional about speaking to God?
- Are you placing your hope in things other than God? How can you shift your security towards Him?
- What do you need to surrender to God and trust Him to work things out in His timing?