This is such a long overdue post, but this Sunday is a beautiful summer afternoon and I’ve just come back from (possibly) the last place listed on my where-to-go list and I just can’t find any other excuse not to pour my overwhelming feelings into writings.
Never in my wildest dreams I’ve ever thought of being an expat at this very young age of 25. And when everyone in my program is supposed to go to Atlanta, Boston was the least expected city to go to. I admit it didn’t go very well in terms of the assignment itself, bumps here and there, but I couldn’t be more thankful that out of so many cities and countries I could possibly go to, God just purposefully placed me in Boston, Massachusetts.
For me, Boston has been a city of firsts. This is the first foreign city I stepped my feet into, back in 2011 (interestingly, it was also mid-February). The city where I first saw snow, my first exposure to international atmosphere, my first flight abroad, and the first time my heart broke so bad until I turned it into a sweet, personally-enriching revenge. And now my feelings can only grow deeper towards this city that has hosted me gracefully for the past 6 months.
I feel like God has pressed a “pause” button in my life from February to August 2017.
This is the period where I could really be me and focus all the attention to myself.
I’ve had a lot of soul-searching and soul-crushing moments before, but these past 6 months have definitely awaken my long-lost spirit. Exploration. Child-like glee of venturing into the unknown. Thirst for knowledge. Appreciation. Self-awareness. Saying yes. Unafraid of uncertainty. Free to be me. Forgive myself for everything that I cannot be. Discovery. Redefining who I am and what I want. Ignore other people’s expectations. Surrender into the darkness and lightness of time. Understanding my weaknesses. Allow myself to feel raw emotions. See the best in people. Excited, instead of being anxious, of what the future holds. Be grateful for all the blessings bestowed upon me. And lastly, telling myself that I am enough. That although I can be better,
I am good.
Here, at this very moment of time, I am as good as I can be.
Thank you, Boston.
I promised myself back in 2011 that I would see you again someday. It never crossed my mind that I would’ve returned so soon. Thank you for letting me learn from you a lot more. I wish I could share my happiness with the people I love the most next time. I’ve touched John Harvard’s statue for the second time around now, and I hope you are as hopeful as I am that it will not be my last.
2016 was a risky year. It was always in the verge of missteps and miscalculations, resulting in one of the most dynamic and unpredictable years that modern human beings have ever seen. True to the global trend, my 2016 was also very risky: it once again threw me out of the safe haven.
Today, at the edge of December, I want to reflect back on the huge risk I dared myself to plunge into, and how taking the road less traveled (literally and figuratively), has made all the difference.
By the way, I always create an annual blog post, but I forgot to make one for 2015. I think more or less it’s because 2015 was so flat. I lived my 2015 in an autopilot mode. Turns out that in crafting a career, you need something else that makes you feel fulfilled, even if you have a fantastic paycheck. I kinda had it at the back of my head, but I didn’t dare to do anything about it…. until it was done to me.
Ironically, the suicide spot of a Chinese emperor in Jingshan Hill became a witness for a change of direction.
In a sense, I actually took a calculated risk. A well-calculated one. It wasn’t like the decision to give up everything for Netherlands 2 years ago. This time, it involved opinions from a wide range of people, which produced a sound judgement.
2016 witnessed the decision to leave my coveralls with a heavy heart.
I cherished everyone I met and life lessons learned. Field life changes someone, in one way or another. It taught me to be a better decision makers, to remain calm in high-pressure situation, to foster teamwork with blue collar workers, to prioritize safety, to be a leader in a man’s world, to manage financial issues, and not to mess with integrity. It was a very enriching experience, one that can make you become much, much wiser.
And the friendships made are indispensable.
In the aftermath of this event, I started a new habit – meditation. I joined some yoga classes, and they always had this 5-10 minutes of sitting still. I didn’t know whether I did it right, but there was this one particular session of 30 minutes meditation (I followed videos online) where I was totally absorbed. Then I heard my own inner voice saying,
You are never a failure. You are never a failure.
It touched me so deep until I burst into tears.
From that day on, I revamped my CV, and had this one strong prayer: to be guided into one, only one, right path. I began to question what I would do if I weren’t afraid; what I would choose if I only had myself to satisfy. I had secured some offers that I was still reluctant to accept, but learning from past confusions, I wasn’t good at being given choices. I’d rather being given a choice by God, rather than deciding for myself. Alhamdulillah, Allah heard my prayers.
There are so many things that you will feel once you’re in the track of being a corporate worker. Sometimes things are tough at the office. Sometimes you wonder what it feels like to work in another company. Sometimes you think the work load is too intense. Sometimes you think it’s better if you work somewhere which gives you much more compensation and benefit.
But now, in my 3rd job out of college, having been in worse situation makes it difficult for me to just give up whenever the work load gets tough. At least I’m not alone here in this position, unlike my 1st job. I don’t measure work satisfaction based on money as the sole criteria anymore, because I’ve been in a situation where I can get money easily with half the effort, and still feel like there’s something missing. I also realize that I LOVE international atmosphere, even with late night (or early morning) conference calls. Plus, I enjoy business trips. :p I think all these lessons extracted from my previous job experiences contribute a lot in making me a happier person, professionally.
2016 was also a year packed with travel times, be it for business or for pleasure. I’m so thankful to be able to step my feet in so many cities this year: Kuala Lumpur, Xi’an, Beijing, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Seminyak + Ubud (Bali), Dubai, Budapest, Seoul, Surabaya, Sabang, and Banda Aceh. I love the stories through the air, friendships made, bucket lists checked, local food tasted, and that feeling of being a tiny-tiny-tiny dot in this huge universe whenever I travel somewhere I’ve never been before. I will let these pictures do the talk 😀
My favorite trip? Tough question, but I think I’ll pick China. It’s my first backpacker-style trip, and being able to go to a country without any guide, where you literally have to figure everything out by yourself, is amazing. My twin brother is my best travel mate for sure, and I’m really looking forward to travel together with him somewhere in the near future!
The Love Department is the only underperforming part of 2016, which is understandable because you can never have it all at the same time 🙂 But it doesn’t mean that this year hasn’t brought much improvement: it is, after all, a year when I learned the important fact that I don’t have to be sorry for who I am. There are always people who just don’t want to be with you, and it’s not because you are too much of a good thing. Likewise, I learned that empowerment is also about accepting the fact that you have to let go of someone, or something, who doesn’t give you added value anymore. I am so depressed by being a single 24 years old girl, I am so longing to find someone to make me believe that not every man has the intention of hurting people they love, but I finally realize that my happiness is not dictated by someone else who fills a void in me. Allah knows that I will never love someone halfheartedly… that I need to be my whole self before I’m ready to live a life with someone who is destined for me. I’m too fragile – as I’ve always been – and perhaps having the time and space reserved for myself is the only way to restore the faith that is lost towards the opposite gender.
At the end of the day, 2016 is that one year where you’re finally be able to see the big picture, look back through the rearview mirror and understand that everything happens for a reason… and everything that happened actually makes sense. Subhanallah.
2017 is already peeking through my Inbox *wink 😉 and I have high hopes that it will turn into an even more fantastic year for all of us.
The last time I ever felt that deep, soothing, embarrassing, red feeling of non-quantifiable warmth seeping, like from afar, yet it inhumed every doubt I ever had in the past 548 days before. It was extremely delicate and light that seemed too perfect to be readily available by my very eyes. I thought that perhaps, the odds were finally in my favor… but what was ethereal, I learned, should be treated cautiously. If it was surreal, it was probably never real.
Of course it wouldn’t end in an Eden filled with blooming flowers and colorful leaves. Of course it was doomed. Of course someone ate the forbidden fruit.
Of course I was wrong.
Grief that was carefully concealed, moved to the land of possibilities. The entire performance was imbued with sparkle and elan, until finally someone needed a fresh air to breath. To think. To realize that the malefic seed was gnawing every last drop of confidence that was seriously crafted.
You can put faces outside, soaked in a beautiful blue lagoon, sip the finest cocktails, enjoy the most luxurious box of chocolates. But the hollow, the cavity, that concave little hole of shit, is not to be treated with a drugstore receipt. A profound understanding of why and how it happened, the consequences, the possible treatment, the alternatives, are to be considered in a well, thoughtful manner.
You could be ruined beyond repair.
Until the point that what was once nifty piece of work seems to be dull and outdated. The idea is obsolete. The people are assholes. And everything associated with this beautiful grace is in no way more than cock-and-bull story. It was magical, it is still supposed to be magical, but your senses are telling you that it is all unreal.
Roots of bitterness clasp you hard enough to break your conviction. That at the end of the day, the world is nourishing human loneliness. Just what is the point of it all? Millions of people in this world, all in the pilgrimage of soul-searching, tumbled across roses filled with thorns.
Someone will be at the end of this tunnel, waiting to restore the belief that is lost, to show another person that love and compassion are still alive, and very much relevant. Everyone else is enjoying this sweet delicacy — it is not a privilege.
It truly should not be a privilege. It’s supposed to be a basic human right that is not too difficult to access.
Only wish for one thing: no more pyrrhic tales. Please. Make real-life halcyon days a reality.
Rest well, lovely souls. If I can, I will put you in my prayers. Good night.
These days, I got so fed up with these noises in my daily life:
Why don’t you have a boyfriend?
Guys are intimidated by you. (or some variations of you’re too smart/too accomplished/too irritating/too outspoken/too blah blah blah)
You need to get married really, really soon.
You’re going to have a tough time raising kids if you’re not pregnant by the time you’re 24/25/26.
You’re too picky. Way too picky. You have an unattainable standard.
Don’t be a workaholic/Don’t be career woman. Women are meant to settle down.
[Somebody’s mom] has a son and he’s ready to get married, let me introduce you…
[A random, out of nowhere someone] is single, [matchmaking begins]
You know what? I’m sick of this. It makes me feel like I’m a total failure just because I have no boyfriend, no solid plan of getting married in the near future, have no idea or time or money to invest in meeting someone, and basically not adhering to society’s standard.
I’m sick of failed relationships because I’ve had my fair share of broken hearts and I’m traumatized by that. I’m sorry, but that happens. Love is basically an unwanted byproduct. I know I have to settle down someday and I have to accept anyone who comes into my life when it has reached its own “cut-off”, but not right now, no?
I mean, come on, people. I’m 24. It’s not like I have my life stops here — my life has just begun. And I just want to live it in my own pace, peacefully.
Alas, society’s expectations always affect me profoundly.
But now, it’s time to take charge. It’s time to take into account the things that I can control. After all, I can do so much and let go of the rest. Love is uncontrollable, because it’s never logical. Somebody just pops out from somewhere, and I seriously cannot plan when and how and with whom I do fall in love with. So after a series of depressing deliberations, I finally set my mind, body, and soul into this one thing:
My objective is to make 2016 – 2018 my new 2011 – 2013.
The timing and circumstance is just strikingly similar: international atmosphere, a painful recovery from a broken heart, single as fuck, pumped up with ambitions, and generally happy and content with myself. The last time I did this, I had one of my best revenges. Heartbreaks have always been my start of something amazing.
Because I want to show the people who hurt me that they were wrong… that I wasn’t just a waste of space.
I know I will always have this soft side where I know I can never be enough by being with myself, but at least I’ll have it right:
Aren’t you supposed to be with the best person when you have transformed into the best version of yourself?
It’s my 16th month of being single and I’ve just finished reading a novel titled “How To Be Single”, so it’s easy to imagine where I might have drawn the inspiration of this post from. But really, I think I’ve had these thoughts fleeting in my mind for a couple of months now, after I’ve recovered from all the bad dramas of a broken relationship and endless, sleepless nights where tears stained my pillows almost permanently every night.
After all the crazy break ups with the people I could picture a life with, you would think that I would go crazy and believe that all this hype of love and being loved is just a pure lie, or more accurately, a freaking bullshit.
Well, I did think about it that way.
But then I changed my mind.
So here are some of my thoughts on what I’ve learned from being single:
You are not entitled to have the obligation to live your life alone
A girl can dream. And one of her biggest dream is to have someone who loves her and who stays by her side in going through this whirlwind of life’s mischief, together. Yes, it’s cheesy. Yes, it takes a shamanic magic to make that come true – what with all the beautiful girls out there that our possible prince charming could choose – but it’s a pathetic idea to live a life alone. REALLY. So even though my heart is broken, and my former man has flown away with his own choice to leave me, and my soul is writhing by picturing another possible failed dates, I promise myself that I will love again, and someone will love me back, again. How will that happen? I don’t know. I guess it’s time to believe in miracles.
How will that happen? Treat your love life as seriously as you would treat your professional life
Because things are simply getting a bit serious.
I think that at some points, it just dawns on you that you need to settle down. Especially in this Indonesian (or Asian) culture in general, it’s hard to dodge the sad, earth-shattering fact that women are STILL treated differently when they are unmarried. No matter how successful you are in your career, no matter how financially stable, full of achievements, gorgeous looking, I-have-it-all you are, this sick society is still going to pity you. That’s the word. But they don’t do so to men, not as often and as intense.
(And they’re going to suddenly do awkward things to hide their judgments when you tell them you’re single, but your instinct works, thank you very much)
I don’t want to be pitied for the rest of my life, so I at least have made a plan. When I’ve reached a point where my professional life is stable enough, which means I have a satisfying job with at least a clear career development plan for the next five years and it pays all my bills and my needs, I will hunt for a man. No kidding. Hunt for a man. I will be in charge of my own happiness and be a high achiever in my love life as well. I will improve my appearances, search everywhere, ask my friends to set me up on dates, enlarge my circle of acquaintances, do religious rituals, and I even think of online dating. I’m not pathetic, I’m just increasing the odds of getting married and having children and being free to soar high in my own professional life without “being feared by men who are attracted to you”, and finally letting the society shut up. It’s a goddamn free country and I’m allowed to make a personal project.
Well, not now, but not too far from now. Maybe in less than five years.
Even so, you still deserve someone who loves you back the way you want them to
That’s why I find it odd that some of my girl friends are still in a relationship where they are constantly hurting. What’s the point of being in a relationship where there is a constant need to explain yourself over and over again to someone who just don’t understand? What I learned from all of my failed romances, if I can learn anything, is that communication is key. Be brave and tell them you’re disappointed, angry, and unsatisfied. Explain the logic behind your statements. The wrong ones will shrug it off and tell that you’ve been overthinking it or you’re being too pushy but if they really love you, they are going to compromise for the better. Especially if it’s about fundamental concerns. If they aren’t, you may be settling for less than what you deserve.
Don’t expect men to understand or read between the lines. It never happens.
Do not, do not, take your partner for granted
When I was in a relationship, a partner’s presence was appreciated, expected, and then taken for granted. But when I’m single, it’s just I’ve been reminded of how convenient it was to have someone ready to hear all your stories, offer consolation and assurance that everything’s gonna be okay, and simply be there to give emotional support. Sometimes, we’ve got so used to having someone spare their time, money, and energy to be with us. We complain about the inability to go to some fancy cafes, the long distance, the “very rare phone calls this week!”, less gifts and romantic gestures. Finally, when your partner has flown away to spend 2 days with you, thousand of kilometers away from their workplace, and you complain about not being able to spend the whole week of his days off together, think again.
Think of how sometimes, your partner is underappreciated. When you’re single, this is something you’re going to miss.
And finally, as they say, miracles happen every day
I recall that I could be in a relationship with a new, exciting guy, always at the time when I felt content with myself.
I have always been a desperate romantic, and my everyday state is being mildly desperate about my lousy love life. But there have been times when I got so desperate I even went on being depressed. Then I realized that no one, no one in this world would love me if I hadn’t been able to love myself. So I did, and I am still trying to. Because people are drawn to somebody who is enjoying what life has to offer. Somebody who is happy, and has a positive outlook on life. Someone like this evokes a radiant, irresistible glow, and who doesn’t want to be with someone like that?
I think I’m perfectly okay and qualified to meet the one. It’s just that for now, I haven’t been finished with my own life, and somehow that has created a barrier to let someone else’s life mixes in with mine. Perhaps I need to let go of my fears, and my unhappiness, and my constant worry and negativity. Only then can I let someone get into this hidden shell.
Only then can I let myself find the love I’ve always dreamed of.
We don’t always get what we want or how we want it.
Everybody tells us to think positively, to keep thehopes and dreams alive. Whenever we encounter any failure, we are told that there is a reason behind every unfortunate event. A better way ahead. A better life to live. A bigger plan than what we’ve had for ourselves. All the more reasons to keep moving forward.
Rarely in these occasions that we have the sad, hard truth shoved down our face. We naturally do not want to accept defeat. We are born to be brave warriors who bring home the news of victorious battles. It is even a challenge to, at times, not be impervious to losses and compromises. Because we are never born to be the losing ones, we are never born to accept the duality and double sides of a struggle.
But what if hopes and dreams are, in reality, the deadliest weapon of Pandora’s Box?
There are sadness, grievance, inequality, unfairness, and cruelty everywhere we look. But all these things don’t matter. Hopes and dreams can keep us alive. We succumb to this lovely idea that we are destined to be alright, and everything is taken care of beautifully at the end of the day. We need not to worry.
I’d like to think that sometimes we have no other logical choice but to retreat and surrender. Sometimes it is just so.freaking.tiring to push through. And sometimes, it is best to acknowledge that yes, I am a failure. I am not as smart as I previously thought I was. That I am a grieving soul that need not to be pitied, and I am forever alone in my own journey of self-sacrificing. This is me, bare and vulnerable and acknowledging my loss, my heartache, my inability to cope with the vengeance that life offers, disguised as a deadly poison in a sparkling red crystal.
Sometimes it is best to understand that love, hopes, and dreams cannot hold a candle to overshadow pain.
It is indeed a pathetic and otherworldly idea. But as a human being, we cannot always live in this halo of positivity. We cannot fool ourselves into thinking that these evils can just be swept under the rug. Negativity is there to keep us grounded, to keep our expectations properly managed, and to show us that yes, this world is not at all kind and compassionate. In a sense, it helps us create sound decisions that are not affected by the promises of fake hopes.
In the end, one will always end up believing. No matter how many times their hearts had been broken, no matter how little of its pieces still left after being menacingly bruised, no matter how each scar irks with endless savagery, no matter how many lonely nights they have spent with tears of grievance.
One will always end up believing, that someday, this will be worth it all. That there will be no more sad story, but likewise no cotton candy of happy endings.
And that is where the story serves its justifications right.
Anyone who has carved their names in your heart can never stop being your someone special. There will always be something that reminds you of them. The particular way of how that person smiles. Their styles of writing. Their angles, habits, and behaviors. They change and morph over time, but there is always something that instantly piques your interest, whether or not they are the people you used to know.
Love is a powerful feeling.
So powerful until one dares to say that moving on is a myth. Or more precisely, there is no moving on from somebody. They live on in your life, more so in your memories. Affecting future decisions, emotional stability, and the way someone perceives the world around ’em. These particular people who have left our lives are the ones who leave their presence eternal — the ones who leave us with their everglow.
Let them go, you may.
Cherish the new people coming into your life. The ones who will stay and the ones who will leave. Time ticks and no one has got eternity for their sorrows at night. No one wants to dwell in the sea of torture for the rest of their lives.