»Daily Prompt: Sweet Sixteen When you were 16, what did you think your life would look like? Does it look like that? Is that a good thing?
My sixteenth year was the best year of my life so far (read my blogspot here). It was 2008, I was in the 2nd year of high school. Full of energy, high-achiever, always grabbed the first rank in class. My motto was “Life, Love, and Debate”. Yes, I was a debate freak back then 🙂 For the first time in my debating career, I finally succeeded in snatching a trophy, beaten by Gladys’ team in the final. I had the best teammates ever (yay Trio Macan!), had the best mommy coach in the world (hello Uphie!), and eventually became national best speaker and 3rd winner in Indonesia’s most acclaimed high school debating competition.
When I was 16, I had my first boyfriend. He was kind of charming back then, very funny and intelligent. We could talk for hours on Yahoo! Messenger (I know, I know, it was 2008, remember?). I would post ‘inviting’ status, he would always respond (or we did in reverse), and there the talks. At one point it got pretty obvious that we were into each other, and eventually he confessed. We had smooth and steady relationship for a while. It was consuming, both were madly in love…. but then we broke up. The break up was hard for both of us, but even at that time I knew I couldn’t stay with him forever, and we’d eventually had to let go of each other.
Half of the year was the pinnacle of happiness, the other half was a lot of struggle. My best teammate went to USA for one-year exchange program. I was placed in a horrible senior year class with noisy kids that I didn’t even like. I had to heal my broken heart in the midst of nonstop anxiety about national examination and college entrance test. It was one of the hardest time for me in high school after my lowest point in 2007.
But in my 16th year of life, I was a big dreamer with lots of ambition and tonnes of motivations. I was a solid rock, nothing could stop me from pursuing what I wanted.
I wanted to go to Institut Teknologi Bandung. I spent almost all of my entire high school life practicing debate in this campus, I’ve been visiting this campus ever since I was 10. I liked chemistry but I thought I’d want to follow mom as an industrial engineer, so I chose Faculty of Industrial Technology. I had a complete faith in myself, in my ability, in my track record as teachers’ golden kid. When people were busy applying for college A, B, C, I only applied once and only put FTI in my list of faculty choice. Only one. That’s just how confident I was.
I succeeded in reaching that dream.
I’m 20 almost 21 now, 16 was almost 5 years ago. Here I am studying in one of the best universities in Indonesia. I didn’t choose Industrial Engineering, I went to Chemical Engineering instead. I regretted this decision at first, but in this verge of graduation, I found out that I was never wrong.
As a 16 year old, I was a very bright student. As time went by, I interacted with even brighter students in this campus. Everyone was extraordinary, all of my close friends in first year were frequent 1st rank in their high schools. I learned to crush that bit of arrogance little by little. As a 20 going on 21, I learn to accept that light doesn’t shine on you each and every time you live. You must participate relentlessly in the manifestation of your own blessings.
When I was 16, I thought I couldn’t let go of my first ex.
I had a long time blaming myself for not fighting for our relationship. I still went out with him and we stroke up some nice conversations. One week before the national exam, he said he had confessed to other girl. I was hurt, but I eventually did let go. I was then involved with a lot of great guys, and all of them left special marks. Now when I’m twenties, disappointments and mismatched expectations seem to be more easily manageable. I begin to stop overanalyzing tiniest little glimmers of hope. I learn to say “He’s just not that into you” to myself instead of clinging to blurry visions. I learn that sometimes, some men are just plain jerks who want to play with girls’ heart. Some of them are good, tho. It just takes practice and experience to distinguish the two types. I learn how men work in love. I learn not to dramatize, to understand that men are forever young eagles who want to soar, and I tell myself not to be the kind of girl who steals that independence from them.
Nevertheless, I’m still the kind of girl who moved on only as near as Secondhand Serenade to The Script, but I evolved from a silly drama queen into a person who has had her bite of the big chunk. I disappointed some men, I was also disappointed by some of them. I started by being friends, strayed aside to being lovers, and went back to being friends. I’ve had misread signals, unreturned phone calls, unreplied text messages, rejections and broken hearts, but I never give up hope.
When I was 16, I was young and had a perfect life.
I was brave enough to sacrifice a lot of my youth for debating. That was probably one of the best rebellious decision I’ve ever made. And now I find myself doing something I never thought I could do when I was 16: I quitted. Perhaps this was the twist of life that I’d never truly understand, but I know there was no way I would stop if the way wasn’t that harsh. And if I wanted to have something bigger in life, I knew sooner or later that I had to quit. I was forced to, but I did.
Sometimes I miss that feeling of living young, wild, and free. As twenties, I have bigger responsibilities. I should aim for bigger plans than what I have for myself. Soon I’m going to be the breadwinner of my family. I never thought of marriage when I was 16, but now there’s this whirlwind of engagements and marriages everywhere I look. I used to fancy hot guys with wonder abs but now I’m looking for a guy who has “husband materials” attached to his forehead. I could have crazy love story with a guy and wondered about interfaith marriage with him, but now I don’t even dare to imagine.
When I was 16, I dared to dream.
I wanted to have a doctoral degree, I wanted to be a CEO, I wanted to travel around the world, I wanted to go somewhere far from my family. When graduation comes up in a matter of months, I realize that I have to choose between starting my career path or put aside the temptation of money, prevent my ass from slacking off and go to graduate school. In the end, I know I don’t even have any choice to begin with. I’ll soon find myself in the world of corporate slaves.
I did see the other sides of the world, tho.
I had the happiest 3 weeks of my life in USA with 17 fantastic people. I could step my feet on and smell the air of Harvard and MIT. I saw snow for the very first time. I enjoyed the streets of Bangkok, stayed in Hanoi’s 5 stars hotel, cruised in Ha Long Bay, and almost went to Kuala Lumpur, all free of charge. I didn’t see this coming when I was 16.
As teenagers, we were always rebels in varying degrees. I wanted to make my own destiny, to be far from my family, to be far from mother’s influence. I don’t want those things anymore. I know I’ll miss my family like crazy it’ll hurt me badly. I hold on to the hour glass that shows how much time I do really have before I leave. I want to freeze its motion and live under this roof of home forever. Because now I know, I’m afraid to live on my own.
Comparing my life when I was 16 and now, I can conclude that if it has ever gone the wrong way, it never went too far.
I know I’ll never be ready to face the consequence of unplanned decisions, so I guess being a strategic planner has always been my nature. And I thank Allah SWT for that. For everything. For this 20 years 10 months of life that He has given me.
I’m eager to learn more. God, please show me the way. Please don’t let me be a sinner. Please don’t leave me without Your guidance. I’m entrusting my life into Your hands, and I have a complete faith that You won’t let it slip away.