you were the year I quit my startup job back in San Francisco. I left a lot behind that January— my community, my family, and all stability. I vividly remember staring out that airplane window, watching the 7×7 city disappear into the thickening fog as we flew further and further away.
I remember exiting out of Changi airport, distinctly being hit by a wave of humidity as I pushed my luggage cart to the taxi and an uncle held the car door open for me. The air was thick and immediately a bead of sweat ran down the side of my face, but I had never been happier. I breathed it in.
You brought me new friendships in Singapore, some bridged by Facebook community groups, meetups, and random LinkedIn connections. You’ve led me to meet the many kind, highly entrepreneurial, and humorous humans of Singapore.
You disrupted major industries, from airline to food to logistics. It was an acceleration of the death and life of businesses — even major conglomerates had to make pivots in digitalisation because of Covid-19.
You’re the year where racism really reared its ugly head and crawled out from the gutters, and I read stories online of my brothers and sisters being attacked for being and looking Asian. Yet, it was the year we really rallied — Asian people, media, and communities coming out to denounce and address the racist attacks happening across the world. The community really came together and didn’t let one racist get by; our voices were loud, clear, and strong. That I was very proud of to see.
This was the year that the Black Lives Matter movement accelerated, from communities coming together to bring justice, healing, and freedom to Black people across the globe. George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor are names that won’t be forgotten. This is an ongoing battle, and we must continue to address it to bring equity to all people of color.
You’re the year that decided Trump’s presidency will end after these long four years, and where the people decided the healing of the US will begin.
You broke records for 11.11 Singles’ Day, exceeding $65 billion dollars in sales for Alibaba. You brought a surge of concern for sustainability and waste. You forced mental health into the center of conversation here in Asia, as many of us faced uncertainty at work, were socially disconnected, and left with our own thoughts.
You made me realize that I needed to just delete those dating apps and stop looking for love, and how funny it was that all the qualities I wanted in my partner were ones that I needed to also exude. You helped me get over my fear of putting myself out there, writing and producing content that had my personal thoughts and face into the digital world. You helped me find my own courage and slowly become the person I was looking for.
You brought new life into my family.
To sum it in words, you’re like a minor heart attack that has woken up the average salaryman and made him question the validity of his life, his work, and his relationships. Thanks for putting our heads back into clarity.
You reminded me of what was truly important, and what was at the core center of my life. It was family, and it took a pandemic for me to realize that. You put me in an interesting spot — with no travelling available to distract me from my own thoughts, and you forced me to face a few demons. You taught me how to sit alone in silence and be okay with being by myself and my thoughts. We learned how to enjoy being alone and even look forward to having solitude and peace.
You taught me how to say a hard “no,” making me realize how valuable my time is, and that I didn’t have to spend a minute on people that didn’t bring positivity or sapped my energy. You taught me how to identify toxic people, and to let them go.
For that, I am thankful.
2020, I could almost say you were a piece of shit, but instead, I swallowed my words. You were a piece of apple crumb pie at the dinner table I sat at on Thanksgiving this year, surrounded by a group of friends (some I knew well and some I just met), but you tasted like a piece of home. To be bathing in this type of warmth, huddled over a delicious meal, and playing card games on the table – you showed me that the feeling of home can live in different places. You are as bright as the Christmas lights adorned on all the trees in Orchard Road, twinkling above as I eat a Singaporean ice cream sandwich and laugh with my friends.
Emily Fang is a US expat currently living in Singapore to learn about the tech communities growing in Asia. She has worked 4+ years in dev relations, community management, and event marketing within the tech and travel industry in San Francisco. Her time at OmniSci, Google and Booking.com gave her cross-functional expertise. In her free time, she runs the volunteer community initiatives for Singapore Women’s Network.
If you’d like to contribute an article on Oasis, you can apply here.