LETTERS TO DUBAI: Lessons of 2021


Dear Dubai,

So, it’s December… and just like that, the year went like a breeze!

For discerning folks like me, we usually take it upon ourselves to spend some time reflecting on the year that was and use our learning to plan our lives for the year ahead.

Just when we thought that 2020 was hard, 2021 seemed even more daunting. Despite the odds, we weren’t fazed by catapulting life storms – instead, we stood firm in resilience and anchored strength in our own ground. While we may have unique stories about how we’ve turned the tide, the commonality lies on how we’re victoriously crossing this year’s finish line.

As we take a deep breath and look back to how far we’ve gone after 12 intense months, allow me to share the ‘lessons of 2021’ through my own lens – mirroring a broken yet pragmatic heart, ready to pick up the pieces and take flight to new heights.

#1 We lived through the pandemic – survived, coped, thrived.
Not complacent but realistic, we’ve embraced thoughtful realism and calculated risks as we chose to move on with our lives, slowly but surely… and safely. While uncertainties remained, we’ve drawn confidence in the effectiveness of vaccines, people’s compliance to protocols and the economic reality that we have bills to pay – hence, the need to find creative ways to make a living. While we haven’t fully achieved the same normalcy pre-COVID, we’ve adjusted and adapted to today’s normal knowing that it is here to stay.

#2 We are stronger than we thought we were – mentally, emotionally, financially, physically.
Accepting failure, embracing loss, dropping our egos, and leaving our pride behind made us better humans. As we were stripped off everything, we were left with our core and had to live appreciating the bare minimum. Indeed, the shift challenged our overall wellness, but losing a lot of what we’ve held on to in the past made us realize how some are truly just inessential clutter and toxicity resulting in unnecessary complexity. Mind clarity, emotional positivity, living within one’s means and prioritizing physical health should make our priorities.

#3 It’s never too late to start anew – purpose, passion, pivot.
Global unemployment reached its peak and million entrepreneurs succumbed to losses. This forced ‘clean slate’ allowed the majority to creatively revisit what they truly want to pursue in life. Beyond the practical need to have a job that pays the bills, we’ve relearned to listen to our inner voice that allows for redirection to what we’re truly passionate about. Best of all, we went deeper and reexamined our purpose and pursued routes that lead to making a difference to others – purposeful humanity came alive once more.

#4 Faith, hope and gratitude saves.
As we were all in a standstill due to the tragic equalizer, our earthly riches and material wealth failed us. Yet, we’ve bounced back by upholding valuable intangibles – faith in the universe or the higher being, hope in kind virtues and gratitude in what we still have which we’ve neglected in the past kept us alive. Thankfully, we’ve experienced how it is to be down and out, as we’ve given the chance for what truly matters to come to the rescue.

#5 There’s a ‘today’ that we’ve been blessed to live.
As life’s a series of multitudes ‘nows’, every time we wake up in the morning is an opportunity to start anew. Yesterday may have been far from perfect and tomorrow’s blinding with uncertainty, what matters is the present that we’re fortunate to have been given the chance to enjoy – it’s up to us how we’d decide to live it.

May we all make 2022 our best year ever – it’s in our hands, we can do this!

Always inspiring,

Photo by: Kelly Sikkema (Unsplash)

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