Dear Millennials, is this truly the prime of our lives?
For most of us right now, our twenties are not quite looking the way we envisioned. Instead, we are facing the most uncertain intersection of our lives.
Your twenties are the prime of your life, they said. Your best years, they said.
How is that true when life in the coronavirus era sees so many of our dreams diluted or put on hold?
I spoke to some of my peers to find out if the best years of our lives are truly being wasted away.
THAT’S IT? JUST LIKE THAT?
Hiu Li Yeng (21) had it all quite planned out. She was supposed to have her design graduation showcase before her graduation ceremony – a rite of passage for all fine art students.
She tells me that just like any graduating student, “it was something (she) looked forward to during the three years of polytechnic”.
But with the coronavirus outbreak and circuit breaker, her school’s showcase was moved online to an Instagram page.
Some life experiences just cannot be replicated or substituted online. That is why milestones that cannot be postponed seem to just pass by disappointingly.
Her Final Year Project that she worked tirelessly on for the past year ended up being condensed into an Instagram post, and her graduation ceremony was cancelled.
Similarly for Samantha Loh (25), her long-awaited graduation trip had to be cancelled. Even postponed plans like her university commencement ceremony still fell through.
“It was postponed to this year’s summer but with the dynamic situation, it was relegated to a virtual ceremony. A Certis CISCO officer delivered my graduation certificate to my doorstep.”
Four years of university, concluded just like that.
Meanwhile, Li Yeng received her graduation certificate in the mailbox. But that wasn’t even the biggest letdown.
She was scheduled to move overseas early this year to further her studies, but due to unrelenting international border restrictions, she found herself attending university lessons online instead.
The 21-year old believes some life experiences just cannot be replicated or substituted online. That is why milestones that cannot be postponed seem to just pass by disappointingly.
“Honestly, it sucks,” she says candidly. “Especially when I saw my juniors being able to have their graduation show and their graduation ceremony before we went back to Phase 2. Definitely, there’s the feeling of being robbed.”
More than a year later, Li Yeng has learnt to accept the unideal circumstances and to focus on the other joys in life.
“I still have a chance of having a graduation ceremony in university I guess, if things get better within the next two years,” she says with a smile.
“Since classes are online and I’m still in Singapore, I also get to plan out my daily schedule more flexibly. Once class is over, I can just shut my laptop and do my own thing. I’m not bound by a classroom or a geographical location.”
For Mandy Loo* (27), the next few years were meant to be crucial decision-making years.
She had originally planned to relocate to Japan when the pandemic happened, and to spend the remaining years of her twenties investing into mission work before settling down.
Since a few years ago, Mandy had begun learning Japanese and about the country and its culture in preparation for the eventual big move.
Now, these plans are unfortunately in limbo. She does not know if the opportunity for relocating to Japan still remains, or if she should just start planning for the next stage of life — applying for a BTO.
Mandy tells me that the process will now take at least five years due to construction delays caused by the pandemic.
“I’m realising that God’s definition of a good timing might look very different from what the world defines it,” she remarks.
Nevertheless, with the pandemic still ongoing with no end in sight, the meticulous planner in her is now learning to be flexible and adaptable — to be able to say “so be it”.
“It’s okay if our plans don’t pan out the way we imagined. Now I’m open to any kind of timeline from God. Whenever He decides is the right time for me, then so be it!”
Samantha also concurs with the need to learn to trust God’s timing, and to keep up with what He is doing: “I think something I realised recently is that God is never surprised.
“He has not been surprised by this pandemic, He is not surprised by the change and cancellations of plans. I feel very assured to know that God has got it all covered.”
MAYBE THIS IS IT
As I pondered over my friends’ responses, I was awfully aware of the uncertainty that hangs in the air today.
Even as my friends found assurance in God, there was still the inevitable disappointment of plans and dreams that they’ve had to lay aside, or give up completely.
Other peers have shared similar sentiments. Like the ones who planned to travel the world before they turned 30. Or those who wanted to quit their jobs and dive into entrepreneurship.
Or the ones who moved out to experience living alone but unintentionally ended up being isolated from family during lockdown.
Have you wounded up in a place that you never expected to be? Has God brought you on a path that you never would have chosen?
Everything we thought we were here to do and wanted to, we couldn’t do.
But what if this was God’s invitation?
What if this is the actual real deal, but we just don’t see it yet?
What if this was Him inviting us to stop completely, and relook at ourselves and the things around us?
What are the good works prepared in advance for us to do during such a time as this? Will we exchange our dreams for God’s plan?
It will not be easy, and it might not even feel good at all. But what if this is the better thing? What if God is calling us into the real prime of our lives?
What if this is the actual real deal, but we just don’t see it yet?
Now you might say, “Yes, but how?”
Honestly, as your fellow twenty-something, I don’t know full well either. But here’s what I do know: God will provide us with His grace and mercy, just enough for the day.
In Corrie Ten Boom’s The Hiding Place, she writes:
Father sat down on the edge of the narrow bed.
“Corrie,” he began gently, “when you and I go to Amsterdam – when do I give you your ticket?”
I sniffed a few times, considering this.
“Why, just before we get on the train.”
“Exactly. And our wise Father in heaven knows when we’re going to need things, too. Don’t run out ahead of Him, Corrie. When the time comes that some of us will have to die, you will look into your heart and find the strength you need – just in time.”
We only need the ticket for the train today, not tomorrow.
And God gives us only enough grace for today, not “advanced grace” for tomorrow.
Grace cannot be stored up like a prepaid card. It is like the manna that God supplied the Israelites in the wilderness. It has an expiration date on it. It has a shelf life of a day but there is a lifetime supply (Exodus 16:21).
And it is my prayer that in this grace, we will rediscover for ourselves the prime of our lives.
THINK + TALK
- What has been the biggest disappointment you’ve faced as a result of COVID-19?
- Speak to God. Take a moment to ask Him what His purpose might be (or might have been) in such a season.
- Know of someone else who’s facing a tough time as a result of the coronavirus? Be their silver lining this week by showing love to them.