by Nicol David
Hello from my little writing desk where I’m enjoying the first few weeks of the new year at home. Perhaps because 2020 seems to have just passed us in a flash, 2021 was welcomed with a lot less fanfare than before. As I sit down to make my new year resolutions, I can’t help but look back on the past year and what it has taught me.
What a year 2020 was! It was a hard year – and the pandemic affected so many lives all around the world. With each passing wave, it shook apart families, businesses and countries, leaving spaces in its wake for us to fill, learn and grow from this experience. 2020 taught me so much, especially on how to find peace when everything around me seemed to be in chaos.
All of the initial goals we set for ourselves last January flew out the window in March because the pandemic halted each and every plan! With everything being so uncertain, I soon realised that I needed to find ways to regain my balance emotionally and mentally.
The first thing I did was to cut out the negative noise, so I intentionally stopped watching the news every single day because it felt like everything was going from bad to worse. Once the world around me had quietened down, I was able to focus on myself more and have a sense of normality.
I started by continuing my healthy habits, such as working out or cooking at home, to establish a normal routine. I kept to a good training regime that incorporated both cardio and weight sessions to stay strong and fit and slept the necessary hours so that my body and mind would not feel agitated.
After weeks of maintaining this routine, I was not only healthier, more well-rested, and happier, but I was also able to create a new normal for myself and started embracing things I’ve never tried before, like cooking (before, you wouldn’t catch me anywhere near the kitchen!).
Without something to look forward to, be it a trip or an appointment in a day, it is easy to feel disheartened and unmotivated. Which is why I had set a goal for myself and decided to use the extra time to study. I became a university student for the first time in my life and took on a course in Specialisation in Positive Psychology. I had thought to myself: it’s now or never!
Trying new things may have seemed crazy and daunting during the pandemic, but it gave me hope and a goal to work towards. I believe that having a goal in life helps us focus so that we don’t get distracted as easily by our surroundings.
On another note on self-improvement, I’ve been obsessed with becoming a fluent Spanish speaker which is why I dove headfirst into taking classes that were held three times a week, in hopes that I can one day talk like a local and order paella like a pro. To be honest, language is not my strongest suit, but instead of feeling bad about it, I quite enjoy the process and challenge.
If anything, being apart from other people has also taught me how connected we are! I would never have imagined I would use Zoom so much in my life, but it has been a great platform for me to share my motivational talks with corporations and NGOs back in Malaysia. Even thousands of kilometres apart, I could still connect with people from all over the world and share my story and experiences from what I’ve learnt from my squash career.
And one unique, yet exciting, experience for me was being able to kick start my role as an ambassador for AIA during the pandemic, while being based in Colombia. Thanks to the power of technology and the AIA team, we held campaigns and live sessions to empower more Malaysians to adopt a healthier lifestyle. I even had the chance to do some challenges related to cooking, dancing, and boxing, and meet David Beckham. All of these exciting activities were done online – imagine that!
Finally, I discovered the importance of being more compassionate, to those closest to me and also those around me. I made more time to connect with my family back home and friends all around the world, as we all did our part and bunkered down at our respective homes together.
I believe that 2020 threw us a challenge to face head-on, to rediscover and regroup ourselves, let go what we do not need and appreciate what we have. Despite feeling like time has stopped in 2020, it has also been a year where we grew as individuals and as a community and become a better version of ourselves in 2021 – it certainly was for me. As a difficult year ends, we have emerged stronger and more prepared for any challenges that come our way in 2021 and the years that follow.
Wishing everyone a very Happy New Year and stay safe, wherever you may be.
Nicol David – AIA Malaysia Ambassador
Nicol David is AIA Malaysia’s Ambassador. Nicol has an impressive 19-year squash career under her belt, where she dominated global rankings by winning eight World Titles and held the World Number 1 position for a total of 109 consecutive months.
Nicol retired in 2019 and currently focuses on empowering a younger generation of Malaysians to stay fit and active through various initiatives.