It goes without saying that this year has been tough on everybody, without exception. No one could have predicted this virus, and how it would have rocked the global economy the way it did. Industries were shut down, major companies went bankrupt – and that’s not the worst of it. More than a million deaths worldwide, and physical distancing and wearing masks has become the new norm.

With vaccines making a promising entry, there is hope for improvement, although next year doesn’t look like it will get exceptionally better so quickly. However, with the turn of the year, everyone is usually insanely positive. It is as if somehow, the imaginary change of numbers that were made up to mark a complete orbital period a hunk of rock makes around a flaming ball of gas, could magically bring about a change of fortune.

And yes, I am one of those too.

WARNING: This post is quite personal.

I had started this year with a list of goals ~ and achieved almost none of them.

So, let’s start off this post with the list of things that I did NOT achieve…

Goals I did not achieve

  1. Anniversary dance party
  2. Latin Solo dance program
  3. Latin Solo graduation ceremony
  4. Latin Solo dance competition

I had visions of building a Latin Solo community ~ building a Latin Solo dance program, working with more Latin Solo dance teachers, having more Latin Solo dance classes, organising Latin Solo dance parties and competitions, and more! I had managed to build my classes over the second half of 2019, growing from 1-2 classes in May/June to 10 classes in November. I even managed to host my first ever dance party for my students in December, featuring a student performance!

It got me so motivated that I planned a first year anniversary party (to mark my first year as a full-time freelance dance teacher), with a graduation ceremony for students who had completed the Latin Solo Level 1 program, and where each class group will put on a dance performance! There were discussions of collaboration with various companies to feature their products and services. I had already booked the party venue, chosen the music and costumes, and planned the agenda.

Of course… that didn’t happen.

Big plans… all had to be cancelled!

When the Covid-19 pandemic hit us, Malaysia went into partial lockdown from 18th March onwards, under various names with continuously prolonged deadlines (“Movement Controlled Order”, “Extended Movement Control Order”, “Restricted Movement Control Order”, “Conditional Movement Control Order”). Dance classes were forced to be on hold, as were many other classes and industries.

Almost overnight, my dance classes dropped to zero. I did attempt to teach online, but anyone who has ever learnt dance knows that it is almost impossible to learn dance properly via online means. Nothing beats having class in person, with the teacher able to demonstrate properly and watch the students and spot/correct mistakes immediately.

So, just like that, I had to close all my classes down and cancel all my plans.

No, I did not know how to pivot. I did not know how to hustle and build another side business to earn an income. I did not know how to take advantage of the situation to make money.

It came to a point where I had zero income, that I actually signed up to be a Grab food delivery partner.

Yes, I even went on a couple of Grab rounds!

Things were not all bad though. Some things did turn around for me this year.

Six Things I’m Grateful for in 2020

1. I have a job!

Someone must have been looking out for me, because things took a turn for the better at precisely the right time. Right when I was down to the last month of my savings, the school I used to work with contacted me and asked me to fill in an urgent vacancy. Yes, I was going back to the same position in the same company. But having been on my own in the last four years, working with companies that either paid salary late or didn’t pay at all, having a steady income with medical benefits is severely underrated! And the best part of it is that I’m in a school that is not only an excellent paymaster, but also appreciates me and what I do.

Teaching Physics was something that I was really good at, but I never appreciated; because I thought it was not an uncommon skill. Physics is my most favourite Science subject, and it was something I had struggled with in school, and managed to turn it around to a fantastic distinction. Because of my struggles, I know how to connect to students and enable them to understand the subject.

Dancing, on the other hand, was something that I was passionate about, but it was not a natural thing for me. I had to work really hard at.

This pandemic and economic crisis has shown me that, for me at least, my skill in teaching Physics was far more valuable than teaching dance.

Caught in action by a student in class! No photos with students this year due to social distancing while at school, and then school was closed due to CMCO.

2. I have my Masters!

I managed to complete my Masters of Education right on time! I started it in early 2019, and finished it right on time in September this year, with a high CGPA of 3.94 (out of 4.00).

I haven’t tested to see how many doors it can open for me yet, but I can tell you that it was TOUGH to do it online and all on my own.

I have now just started on the PhD programme. Wish me luck!

I attended my convocation virtually!

3. I have a TEFL qualification!

Since downtime is the best time to upskill, I got myself a certification to teach English. Since English is in higher demand than Physics… why not just get myself a qualification that can open more doors, right?

By the way, it is NOT easy to teach English. I have already known this all along, and completing the course confirmed it for me.

In case any of you doubt me… here is my certificate!!!

4. I organised a dance party

I organised my second dance party in my short-lived dance teacher career, and my first of 2020. It was on a significant date – Leap Day 2020 – and it was a success! I even managed to get more students to sign up for my classes (although the classes had to be closed down barely two week later).

Thank you everyone for making the Leap Day Party a success!
Doing a chacha solo demonstration for the benefit of newbies!

5. I did not open a dance studio

When I was on a roll at the end of 2019, I considered opening my own dance studio to create more space for my plans to take flight. I had even looked at and shortlisted a few commercial units.

After a lot of consideration, weighing the pros and cons and my financial situation, I decided it was not the right time and to delay the plans further.

In the light of what has happened this year… I am so glad I didn’t.

Instead, I decided to look for more existing studios to work with to create a win/win situation.

This isn’t meant to pour salt on other people’s wounds; I know many dance studios and gyms that are struggling, or were forced to close down. Trust me, I feel for them.

6. I have not gotten Covid-19.

Well, it’s not confirmed, since I never took a swab test. But I have never been in a position where I needed to take a swab test. And yes, I’m grateful for the small things.

Here’s to 2021!

Do I have plans for 2021? Yes, I do. But that’s for another post!

May 2021 be better for us all!!!

Out with 2020, in with 2021! Image credit: freepik.com

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