Netizen shares his family’s struggle amid pandemic, beseech others to open up about struggles on social media and not only “pretty things in life”

“My dad no longer goes to work. My brother struggles to find work. My sister switched careers. I’m at the crossroads."

The coronavirus wave has spread to almost every country on the world map with 213 countries and territories affected. The pandemic impacted all segments of the population, especially the low-income communities who are struggling to make ends meet.

One Singaporean netizen, Matthew Zachary Liu, opened up in a Facebook post on Tuesday (4 Aug) about the struggles that he and his family had to endure amid the COVID-19 pandemic, hoping to inspire others who are also facing difficulties in current times.

“My dad no longer goes to work. My brother struggles to find work. My sister switched careers. I’m at the crossroads,” he wrote.

Mr Liu, who works as a live host, claimed that his income has dropped more than 30 per cent over the last few months, while his father had just retired from the civil service after working for over 40 years.

In the post, he hinted that adulting has made him realised how much his father had “really slogged it out in silence” for years.

“He had to start working at a pretty young age because of circumstances so he didn’t exactly have the best education or opportunities. He signed on with the military but was a ‘farmer’; having to work even harder than the ‘scholars’ to prove himself, taking a much longer time to promote because of qualification differences,” said Mr Liu.

Despite all the hardships that his father had gone through, he noted that his father fulfilled his responsibility to provide for the family.

“His one wish as a father has always been to ensure he puts us, his three children, through university so we’ll have a better education and future. And he did,” the Facebook user remarked.

Noting that his father had retired a few weeks back, Mr Liu described it as a “pretty sad retirement” as there was no congratulatory farewell for his father with his former colleagues due to the pandemic.

“It was just going into an almost empty office, clearing out his things, a final handshake with the bosses.. and that was it. Retirement. Thank god it wasn’t retrenchment,” he added.

However, Mr Liu said that the pandemic has led to more “men-talk” between him and his father, which he described as “heart to heart” conversations that they never had when he was growing up. It was then he discovered that his father’s salary was lower than his earnings – before the pandemic happened – and wondered how his father managed to raise the family and send his three children to university.

“We never struggled financially or were ever lacking in anything but what really humbled me was when I realized all the silent sacrifices Dad made to give us a comfortable life, to put us through school and for us to eventually be able to live the better lives we have now.

“Dad never had the time or chance to further his education, knowledge in investments or pursue his own interests simply because he always placed the family first above all else. He made practical decisions and sacrifices so we didn’t have to struggle or suffer,” he explained.

Mr Liu asserted that his father should be able to enjoy his retirement plans with his mother, but the pandemic has disrupted his “ideal retired life”.

His brother, on the other hand, had just graduated from university not too long ago but is struggling to kick-start his career due to the pandemic and had to work as a food deliverer.

“Regardless of what mom thinks about ‘a graduate working as a rider’, he still goes out to deliver seven days a week, under the pouring rain or scorching hot sun because he says he ‘still needs to survive’. And he actually rakes in more than 3k a month doing all these deliveries,” he added.

Mr Liu finds his brother’s decision to work as a rider inspiring because his brother “doesn’t just mope and hope” for the COVID-19 crisis to be over, but instead chooses to work hard to build up his own capital for his next plan.

He went on to share about his sister who had left her “comfortable career path” to pursue a new career as a nurse.

“I’ve never been close to my sister but I know she’s always done well in school, had a pretty comfortable career path after college. Then one day, she decided to leave that all behind and now she’s back in school again studying.. to be a nurse,” Mr Liu explained.

The reason behind her decision, however, was unknown.

“Perhaps she was inspired, maybe she found and answered to her true calling.. I don’t really know the reasons for her decision but I’ve always admired people who choose something that serves a greater purpose over society’s perception of a ‘successful’ career and lifestyle,” he wrote.

Meanwhile, Mr Liu pointed out that people often see “success pictures” on social media or advertisements that only show a “richer life”, adding that reality may be different from what it seems, especially during the pandemic.

He opined that people should not only post about the “pretty things in life” on social media but also to open up about their struggles – be it publicly or privately.

“Because there are definitely a lot more people and stories out there to be hopeful about or inspired by,” Mr Liu added.

He ended his post saying, “So to you reading this, perhaps you or someone you know, is going through a hard time, getting stressed out by circumstances and pressured by expectations.. maybe right now, behind the smile, they’re actually struggling but it’s too painful or shameful to want to open up about it.

“We’re all going to have our different paths and pains in life. We’ll feel hopeless sometimes.. but whatever shit or new virus life throws at us, we’ve got to constantly dig deeper to find that courage to brave through it.. and even when we hit the point where we’re too weak to carry on by ourselves, there will always be people we can draw strength or help from.”

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August 2020