Lessons in Lockdown #1: Struggle Builds Strength

This is how my family and I have coped with challenges in the age of corona.

By Dulce Zamora

Tuesday, April 7, 2020 — This is the first full day of Singapore’s “Circuit Breaker.” That’s what officials are calling the country’s lockdown due to our second wave of COVID-19 infections. Everyone has to stay home except for those providing essential services. We can go out only to buy food and to exercise, as long as we practice social distancing. From past experience, I know challenging times have brought forth a bounty of lessons. Here’s my first attempt to unearth the hidden gems in this month-long lockdown.

I woke up at 5 a.m. to order groceries online since I had no luck getting delivery slots last night. When the Prime Minister of Singapore announced the circuit breaker on Friday, my family and I avoided going to the store, because of the long lines, even though we needed produce. The insane crowds also discouraged us from shopping over the weekend. Yesterday, we managed to physically go to the supermarket and pick up many items. However, several things were out of stock. So, when we got home, I checked a couple of online shops. None had any delivery windows available. I kept trying every few minutes until, finally, a slot opened up at the Fairprice. Yes! I went through the checkout, only to discover that the button to finalize my order did nothing, no matter how many times I clicked it. The system was probably overloaded.

It was frustrating, but, by 7 a.m., I was able to secure an Amazon Prime Now delivery. I might not have been able to get yogurt, russet potatoes, or onions, but at least I scored toilet paper! Luckily, I’ve become master of substitutions, given that our family has a history of food allergies and restrictions due to various medical conditions. At different periods of time, we’ve been on diets free of dairy, soy, gluten, egg, peanuts, sesame seeds, sugar, onions, and tomatoes. So, we’re prepared for this. We’ve got the mental and emotional muscle to deal with it.

No Yogurt? No problem. We’ve got coconut milk or almond milk as an alternative. No eggs? Egg replacer it is. No onions? We learned to live without them when my daughter had a severe bout of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Onions can cause a lot of gas.

It may seem weird to say that we’re prepared for a pandemic, but, actually, every struggle we’ve had in the past has armed us with a set of skills to help us get through difficult times. While we don’t seek problems, we have faith that we can survive them. And, if something is particularly challenging, we try really hard to be patient, waiting for the lessons that will surely materialize.

” … every struggle we’ve had in the past has armed us with a set of skills to help us get through difficult times.”

When I lived in New York, I lost my dot-com media job just before September 11. After the terrorist attacks, it was practically impossible to get full-time work for months. I had savings and freelance gigs, but not enough to keep up with the sky-high rents, bills, and groceries. So, I had to swallow my pride and ask my parents for a loan, even though they had always disapproved of my living in the big city. Mom and Dad lent me the money, because they loved me and cared for my wellbeing.

The experience taught me to be humble and grateful. Before 9/11, I had prided myself in being independent. I reached my goal of living in New York City, despite my parents’ objection. When I could no longer afford to live there, my parents — who were once my biggest critics — were the first ones to help. I might not have had cash, but I had their love and support. That made all the difference.

Today, I apply the lesson that I learned almost two decades ago. For now, I am grateful for what I have. It may be a hassle to get food that we’re used to getting, but that’s okay. We have enough to live. We also have some mental and emotional tools under our belt. So, we can live with disappointment. Most of all, we love each other. That makes a huge difference since we have to be with each other 24/7!

Lessons in Lockdown #1: Every struggle we’ve had in the past has prepared us for the present moment. If we don’t have the skills we need yet, perhaps we’re still be working on developing those muscles. Perhaps they could help us with future challenges. In the meantime, we can be grateful for what we do have.

How have you dealt with the challenges in the age of corona? Please share your experiences in the comments. We can learn to be resilient together.

© 2020 Windswept Wildflower

I look tired from being up at 5 a.m., but we’re still okay, so my heart is happy.

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