March marks the one-year anniversary where the world as we knew it came to a standstill. The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted our norm, shook the frames of what we knew, and exposed the cracks of our society which we have been turning a blind eye to for some time.
While the bombardment of statistics of the rising infection rate and unemployment rate which now sits at 32.5%, as well as the financial instability that many South Africans have to face, the pandemic has exposed that our 'norm' was not so normal after all.
We may be facing unprecedented times, but there are positive aspects that COVID-19 has revealed that can help us pave the way moving forward. This is how the pandemic came, saw, and exposed.
Impact of the pandemic on an individual level
We are caught in a time where what we are experiencing is known as a collective trauma which is how we live, our mental health, and how we work. It has caused us to question our worth and what type of legacy we are working towards leaving.
This can be a lot to take in. However, it is crucial now more than ever to take the time to create meaning for ourselves to pave a way forward. We may not be able to control what happens next but being active participants in the now can help us change our futures.
The pandemic has revealed that we need to change our perspectives on what we deem as the norm in our personal lives; the goals we want to reach, protecting ourselves, and a future that benefits everyone.
The economic impacts
The 21st century has seen a drastic shift where being productive and our economic contribution to society and our personal lives plays a major factor in our worth and value.
However, it is not business as usual as the pandemic has stripped down and exposed faults in many economies. Furthermore, it has exposed how many South Africans were not financially prepared. According to Stats SA, as many as 84.3% of businesses had a financial turnover that was below the normal range. As many as 20.2% of businesses had to temporarily close businesses since the start of the pandemic and 25.8% had to lay off staff.
With many South African's not having funds to last them beyond a month, many people found themselves in a dire financial situation. The lack of investing in policies such as income protection, life insurance, and funeral policies meant that unexpected financial expenses brought on by the pandemic and being unemployed left many financially exposed.
It may take a while for the country as a whole to recover from the pandemic as we plunge deeper into debt to help keep us afloat, but one thing we can take from it is that something needs to change. It cannot be business as usual. There needs to be a better way in which we plan and protect our financial futures.
There is a silver lining
While putting on a mask has helped remove the mask on the unpleasant reality we find ourselves in, it has also presented us with an opportunity to make decisions that can help impact our futures for the better. In some respects, it has shown that we share the same experiences as humans.
As a collective, we are all impacted by a virus that does not care about your social status, age or gender and we must work together to see this through. It has caused us to shift our focus on how we define our worth and what type of legacy we want to create that we will be proud of.
As we work our way around staying afloat and keeping a positive outlook, let us not forget the lessons that the pandemic has rudely awoken in us to create a better future for all.