South Africans share valuable lessons learned from 2020 and its challenges

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While many have bemoaned about the strict conditions of the global lockdown, some South Africans say the experience of being confined and living with less has taught them valuable lessons that will alter life in 2021. From learning how to live simply to repairing broken relationships, COVID-19 has certainly changed the outlook of day-to-day life.

Manic mornings in peak traffic, on-the-go lunches, rushed dinners, vague telephone check ins with family and constant trips to the supermarket. Sound familiar?

This hysterical routine used to be the fast-pace life of many South Africans.

Fast forward to 2020 and it would seem, the world shifted to a black and white, slow motion film. The lockdown as a result of COVID-19, essentially forced human beings to live a more secluded, self-sustaining, tranquil life.

Now, as the year 2021 starts, how will the lessons we learnt in 2020 shape people’s goals and hopes for the year ahead?

For 40-year-old Shaldon Govender from Johannesburg, 2021 will be the year he chooses to learn new skills.

“I learnt to be agile and adaptable in both my personal life and career. Above all, the greatest lessons I learnt is that there is no second chances and to seize the moment with people that really matter to you. I realised that I worry too much and that is a recipe for internal turmoil. In 2021, I am committed to learning a new language, playing a new instrument and above all, traveling and definitely to hit the gym, even though it’s been my resolution for the last ten years.”

Hopes to leave behind dark, tumultuous year of 2020:

The lockdown forced many people to isolate and learn to exist alone. 35- year-old Rizwana Sheik says she has learnt to express gratitude.

“The biggest thing for me is that we are only human. Nature shows us who is boss and brought the world to its knees. We were all forced to adjust to a new norm. But we had to search within ourselves to find out who we are. The biggest take away for me is one of self-awareness and extreme gratitude for the things and the people that I have in my life.”

Take a second to think about the positive changes in your life. For 38-year-old media professional from Durban Terrisha Pillay, the lockdown has taught her to appreciate close ties, a lessons she intends implementing in her life in 2021.

“Lockdown has enhanced a lot of positives in my life. For instance, staying in touch with family and friends in a more genuine, authentic way. Appreciating the simple things in life; instead of going to a yoga studio, I did yoga at home. We are enjoying cooking outdoors in our home more, spending more time with the people I love and engaging with them at the end of the day. Lockdown has really enhanced how I save money. I would like to take this forward to the other side of lockdown. It has forced us to re-engineer and be really creative with how we work from home. I don’t see why it needs to change after lockdown.”

For Johannesburg realtor Karien van der Merve, a traumatising loss during the lockdown has taught her that patience is not the ability to wait but to rather keep a good attitude while waiting.

“While on level 5 lockdown, my 92-year-old dad had a serious stroke. He was on hospital for two weeks and none of us could see him. We were frantic, we had no idea what was going on. I had to be patient and not to argue with the nurses who were only doing their job. After two weeks, they sent my father home who died three days later. Through my grief and my father’s suffering, I had to learn patience and finally acceptance of a situation that was beyond anyone’s control.”

As the country battles to contain its second wave of coronavirus infections, many are hoping the 2021 will bring less pain and heartache, especially for those families that have already suffered immense loss.