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Until the point that what was once nifty piece of work seems to be dull and outdated. The idea is obsolete.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.
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.
Airports fascinate me in a lot of unspoken ways. The feeling of watching airplanes taking off beside the thick wide glass of boarding room almost always make my heart jolts with excitement. There is a certain atmosphere that airports bring — they are home to some of the most sincere goodbyes, spectator of willingness to release someone dear into the unknown skies, and a theater of honest kisses blown to the air. Airports are about departure and arrival, the fast-paced shoes of businesspeople and the joy of a loving child. The beautiful mix of feelings in one single space. Much like the real life.
For me, airports resemble more than just a transportation facility where people come and go. As someone who was not raised in a particularly wealthy family, hopping to an airplane was indeed a luxury. During my childhood, I had to spend so much time going through road trips to get somewhere. I always asked my mom if our family could try travelling by airplane, but I knew she would say it was too expensive for all of us. Like every other luxury my family couldn’t afford, at that time I could hear mom’s voice resonating,
“Believe me, my child, your brain will take you anywhere you wish”
You know what?
She was right.
The first time I boarded a plane was in January 2011, going to Eastern part of Indonesia for a national varsity debating championship. I still remember that feeling of excitement mixed with I-think-I’m-gonna-puke inside a not-so-good airplane of the first flight in the morning. Kinda like being in a roller coaster while taking off, my heart was swelling with oh-my-gosh that I tried to hide from friends.
Ever since then, airplanes continued to take me into some of the best moments of my life. I could picture that clearly, vividly, the memory that goes up to the surface every time I see an Etihad plane parking on Terminal 2 of CGK airport. 4 pm flight to Abu Dhabi, that would carry my New York City dreams up to the air, my very first overseas flight, 32 hours in total.
I never boarded Etihad since then, but it remains one of my favorite airline. I remember the friendly stewardess greeted me, I was having cough, and she attentively offered me another cup of hot drink. We met again on the way when I was going to the toilet, and chatted on how people were not easily pleased even by various choices of menu available. I told her that people were always unsatisfied like that, and we laughed together 😀
It’s funny how you can associate a certain part of your life just by looking at an airplane.
I was rushing on catching a Garuda Indonesia flight when my eyes caught a glimpse of a Cathay Pacific being parked. As melancholic as I always am, the laughter of my mapres friends came to my ear like a jingle. Jakarta – Hong Kong – Nagoya. Then another flight back from Tokyo. The gleaming lights, the busy streets, the bullet trains, stranded on the super clean streets at 2 am after missing our last bus back to the hotel. Our Toyohashi friends, mixed with streams of Kit Kat Green Tea supplies…
Soekarno-Hatta International Airport is home to some of my most memorable departures and arrivals.
The fight with my ex-boyfriend before I boarded a Singapore Airlines flight to Manila. Two girls giggling with their extra-heavy luggages on Airport Transit Hotel, woke up super early while catching the first flight to Singapore that would take Team Indonesia to the city of Hanoi. Four nista youngsters boarding the cheapest AirAsia flight we could find from Jakarta to Bangkok. Every time I come to CGK, I can still picture the places precisely, every corner hides another story that I could recall from the back of my head.
From a homey kid who never boarded any plane since age zero, I turned into a frequent flyer with various destinations to go.
Times change and airplanes change. People morph over time — leaving their loved ones while pursuing their own dreams. I’ve moved from Bandung to Duri, where my limited stay at home makes the journey even more meaningful. What used to be rare international flights have changed to frequent domestic flights to hold the ones close to the heart. Garuda Indonesia and AirAsia have helped me in transporting to the people I care about the most, the people I would not trade for any gems.
Airplanes have witnessed my struggle of getting to be where I never thought I could be. My proud parents who could never make me go to another country by their own money. The altitude combines some of fondest memories, best friends, and most exciting journey into the take offs and landings that I will always be excited for.
Here’s hoping for more life stories through the air! 🙂
In my 2nd year of elementary school, I punched a boy in front of his mother because he mocked me. When I was criticized of my behavior as “not appropriate for girls”, my 8-year old’s words were clear and sharp:
“Emang kenapa kalau aku cewek?”
(“So what if I’m a girl?”)
To think about it, gender issues have always been something I constantly yearn to learn more and be aware of. As a little kid, I grew up alongside my twin brother. We competed hard ever since the square one. I’ve never felt that I should fall short behind him. I could be as good in school as any other boy could be. But as early as in my adolescence, I started to bombard mom with (the inevitable) question of balancing work and family. Recalling the 17 y.o. me, studying for college entrance test:
“Mom, suppose I can get into that top engineering school and be a CEO… (At that time, a woman just became National Oil Company’s CEO for the 1st time in history). How can I be a good mother while working around the clock?”
My family didn’t know the concept of female corporate mothers. All mothers resigned when they entered the having-kids stage, including mine, who was once top-performer in a shoes factory. When asked why she gave it up,
“I couldn’t stand having to silently took a bath in the morning so you and your twin would not wake up, scream, and beg me not to go. I wanted to see you two grow up in my own hands. Every day I came from work, exhausted, and asked myself why do I have to do this? While you were sleeping, I looked at your little faces and decided it was not worth it. So I quitted”
I was petrified by her predictable choice.
I had always known where I wanted to go. My destination was always clear. Top schools. Best scores. Highest achievement. It’s been hard-wired in my mind to be the competitive, type-A personality that I’ve become getting used to. As a kid, teenager, and college student, it didn’t matter. It was good. Until one day, my grandmother came up to me months before graduation,
“Don’t you think of searching for potential husbands? You’re surely a great young woman, but men are scared of you and your achievements. Don’t you think it’s time to slow down and get your friends match you up with someone? Find your nest before you fly, so you can always have a place to go back later on”
At that time, I was the university’s Valedictorian, had two unsuccessful romantic relationships, and a dozen “barely there” love stories with various men, one of whom said to a friend,
“She’s pretty and interesting. But it seems she’s just too smart for me?”
I gave up on finding any men worth dating. The lowest hope was Summer 2013, just in time when I met my last boyfriend. He was very supportive of whatever things I wanted to choose for my future, before the relationship crumbled because of some superstitious predictions by his conservative family.
“Will cause a disintegration. Will not be good for him. Their future may not be good enough.”
With God’s grace, translates clearly into
“She’s too smart, successful, beautiful, dominant, and have such strong power to overshine our man. Forget her. Find another woman who is modest enough to be your bride. This woman is going to cook for you, have babies with you, and would not burden your life”
(Because, hey, no other reasons speak louder than that)
Which moves me into these questions:
Why, are we women encouraged to reach high during our school years, if the end product will not be appreciated for any of her “superiority”? Why are “successful” women being socially punished?
How do we, as high-achieving young women, find a spouse who would be supportive of our plans for the future, who would not be overwhelmed by our personal success, whose ego wouldn’t be “hurt”, and who would treat us as equal partners?
The “Having It All”
The mixture of being socially punished and too-late realization of self-worth creates this halo that errodes women’s confidence. The external pressure fractures our strongly-built bricks of pride in our own achievements. It’s sad to be the one who is trapped between the constantly escalating, incoherent expectations. Men never have to regret being who they are.
I’m now working as a Site Manager in a multinational oil and gas company. Now how’s that sound? For me, let’s be realistic:
It heavily minimizes the possibility of being paired with a man who earns less than me, and not working in Oil&Gas/any comparable industry as well. Even if we’re compatible, the families would squeak. The woman’s would encourage to find another man who “can balance you out” and “We believe there’s better men out there”. The man, unless he also comes from a wealthy or super tolerable family, would not completely be delighted.
Unless for some lucky exceptions to the rule (which actually happens, once in a while), the man would not want to see her woman getting herself dirty in a drilling mud with old guys as her rig crew. Trust me.
Eventually, the pressure goes on into the woman’s internal considerations. I’ve heard myself asking, and doubting:
Why this heavily male-dominated industry? Why not a bright career in a big city, with malls just steps away and I can wear beautiful dresses and put on fancy make ups? “Because that’s what’s a woman’s supposed to do?”
Do I really want to be the corporate leader, ah, do I have to be? Isn’t it enough just to be a regular worker, stuck in a non-existing career ladder….?
I want kids, and I’m afraid they are not going to grow up as good as I expect them to be. When is the time to slow down? I know I’m ready to compromise if that’s what it takes, slow down my career for my gorgeous little precious, but when?
When is the right time to get married? If I get married, can I continue working? Do I really want working, at all, after marriage? Being a housewife doesn’t seem to be a bad idea, either. I know a lot of women who are happy with that, and I’m happy for them too.
Now, where do I find a man to get married with? I’m afraid of being single for the rest of my life. I’ve seen too many older women who haven’t been married, who are successful, who are lovely to be with. And I’m too afraid of how this society will perceive me if I am unmarried.
You may think I’m desperate by writing this.
I am, and I’m not afraid to admit that.
Because it’s too hard to be a woman in this 21st century, where you are expected to be too damn perfect in every aspect of your life. Those who have found her nest before she flies are so lucky, you should be grateful to have someone who wants to be your real partner. Those who can craft out their career plans clearly without having any doubt, ought to be thankful for their courage, because that’s what I’m lacking of right now. Those who cannot stop dreaming and reaching high because they are not afraid, are great, and I wish I could have that positivity.
But I’m inclined on the side that says this is not just me making up stories. These are real women’s issues that may have crossed their minds once in a while. I try hard to avoid saying this, but then again, we are just women. We want to be cared, loved, appreciated, and be heard for our own aspirations. We want to be free and be content with who we are.
Quite a few people have been curious as to where I go after the emotional breakdown of losing my cotton candy dream of working in The Netherlands. I mean, come on, it’s not that I earn it in a night with no blood sweat and tears!
But let’s save the rant for now…
Here I am, in the vast jungle of Sumatera Island! Back to the roots, although my Palembangnese is almost always eclipsed by my Sundanese tongue. People have mixed comments on this path I am walking in, from “Ooo it’s a great downturn…” to “Oh that’s super cool!”, but I say, F that! Nobody knows how HARD it is to be on your own, picking up shattered pieces while moving along, clinging only to Divine Intervention, being totally helpless WHEN EVEN YOUR PLAN F did not work. To realize that God gives me the exit way in the field I am still interested in, through a job in which I can support my family financially, be close to some of my best girls, is something I am really, really grateful for.
To be precise, I’m now living in Duri. Never heard of it? I know. It’s a town in Riau province, rather center part of Sumatera Island. It’s home to oilfield workers who mostly support Uncle Chev’s operations, where I work.
I live in a camp. And when I say ‘camp’, that does not mean hammocks and fire cracks, mind you.
It’s like a satellite city, in my opinion! 😀
Thank God my room is comfortable with easy access to bus stop and inside bathroom. I always, always, always believe in the strength of my mom’s prayers. God knows that no one can beat the time it takes for me to shower!!
Although it’s not really accessible (the nearest major city with airport, Pekanbaru, is around 3 hours drive from here), it decently provides all the basic needs, notably Hypermart! The camp also has Commissary which sells imported products (think Hershey’s, Kölln, Ortega…), and the ultimate Warung Masjid Agung Ushuluddin or WMAU, which sells everything from tennis racket to olive oil to swimsuit. It also has this small market that sells vegetables, meat, and spices in the mornings.
(Yes, I was once a supply chain girl, I do store checks :p)
So far this remote town is livable, the only thing missing is the HORRIBLE transportation: no taxi in camp (I’m pointing at you, Lean Sigma) and very limited bus schedule, be it from housing complex to dining hall or offices. I’m thinking of bringing a car from home once I have enough driving skills…
Some people are asking, “What do you do on weekends?”. Well, I admit that a small town does not exactly boast pretentious lifestyle, given the limited option of go-to places. But there are a lot of activities: jogging, swimming, sh’bam (zumba-style movements), being committee for local events…
In the last two weekends, I’ve been cooking with some of my friends here. I was SUPER SCARED of cooking when I was still in high school / university, but it changed when I had to live alone working in Jakarta last year. I wasn’t even sure of my cooking ability but I managed to cook tasty Chinese food, fruit punch, chocolate muffin, etc. Now the skill’s revived again! 😀
On the work itself?
More than a dozen people have expressed their disagreement on me working in the field or even in an oil company. They say that I’d better go to consulting. I know, I know, but…
I don’t have >3.5 cGPA, end of story.
I’ll keep the reasons (of choosing oil & gas career) personal, won’t spill the details here. I won’t say that I really enjoy working in the field, in fact, it takes a lot of guts and strengthened motivation and constant reminder of “I’m working for the things, the plans, the people bigger and greater than myself”. Being educated as a chemical/process engineer, petroleum engineering is surprisingly not that complicated. IMHO, it’s very practical, the hardest thing is to imagine the operations that happen thousands of feet underground. And to memorize all these new terms and tools, which is a lot!
Another challenging thing is human interaction. I’ve taken the E-Color test resulting in Green/Blue, a systematically sensitive person who loves planning, paying attention to details, and rather dislikes sudden changes/surprises. Not exactly in line with the dynamics of field operation and managing significantly older, more experienced blue collar workers… as I’m not that “tough” when dealing with people. I think I need to adjust that. Being a woman itself has been a challenge — seen as weaker and not as capable as men, especially here — now I have to also increase my pace and be this unbeatable manager on the field. I know it’s not easy so please do pray for me!!
Everybody knows that I’m a die-hard planner. I want everything to be managed smoothly and predictably, but at this point of time, it’s so hard to know exactly what will happen next. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from the drama of 2014, it’s accepting the fact that change is the only constant. I did surrender to total uncertainty back then when I chose NL, and it turned out to be negative. So what I do now is keep on making more and more back up plans. It’s crazy, but I don’t know what else I can do with so many things sprawling and sprouting.
And don’t ask me anything about marriage, please. I’m this single girl who has just broken up 3 months ago because of illogical, primordial reason that I still don’t understand. Urgh.
So, for now, au revoir! 🙂
p.s. I’m keen on improving my French, any recommended books to learn?
Spoil me with words that only lovers can say. Greet me good morning to assure that you’re safe and sound. Let me imagine the days and nights that you have to go through, so I can get a picture of how to be on your feet. I want to know how it feels to be you so I’ll know how to treat you well. Let me be the one who makes your day brighter, because I want to explore with you.
Count the days till you’re finally done with work. Cherish the time when both of us know that meeting someone in person is always better than just having phone calls. Turn on the video while we’re waiting for that day to come, exchange pictures of our habitats, and keep on updating each other, because only then do two hearts feel that loneliness may just be a myth. Make me feel the breeze of sea and let me guess the turbidity of a swamp. I’ll make you feel this chilly weather and pouring rain, because I want to explore with you.
Let us glide away on soapy hills. Face the uncertainty, and fight for what we think we deserve. Let us be the people we want to see, and let those personas break the already built walls. Tell me your fears and I’ll tell mine, but move cautiously through the closing doors, knowing that enough is never essentially enough. Understand that our paths may cross, but be prepared to defend the values we both hold so dear, because I want to explore with you.
Come ride on trains with me. Revisiting the past is a key to have a full understanding of the present. I want to know why and how you become the person I know, and I want you to understand why and how I’ve become the person you adore. Dissolve me into the people you knew, because then I can expect to be the person they think will be the best for you. Be a person so great that I can brag about, and you’ll see why I turn out to be competitive. Maybe I’m a fast train going on a mountain, but fear not, because I want to explore with you.
We drop the words on chatting lines, or you versus me in a night. Maybe you and I say things we shouldn’t say and we continue to fight. If no one surrenders then we’ll not be satisfied. Don’t let the mist cloud our judgment, so please be rational. Know that when words don’t come out as it should, it’s not the time to leave. I will miss you, and you will miss me too. Don’t leave if you just want to leave, because I want to explore with you.
Do good deeds and throw away a decent celebration, before this grace gets too far and too hard to swallow. But don’t do so before I settled myself well and had the time of my own life. I will notify if my heart can follow yours, as I am a firm believer of age that breeds wisdom. I want a passion that plays before anything is taken into being institutionalized. Maybe we still need to figure things out and be true to ourselves, but either way, we’ll find the perfect time for a perfect match, because I want to explore with you.
I want to wear the colour I cherish when I feel like myself. I want to wear a smile that shines better than you could ever tell. You should not shiver on your sneakers if you treat me well, as I shouldn’t be the one who’s been unwell. I may or may not return to you, but if I can be myself without a thought of change, then at that very moment of day, you’ll understand that I want to explore with you.
Karena hanya untuk sekali, aku ingin merasakan kebebasan yang sesungguhnya. Izinkan aku untuk berpikir, untuk mencerna, dan mengetahui apa yang ku inginkan. Tidak pernah ada waktu yang cukup untuk berkontemplasi dan memaknai tujuan yang kabur. Tidak ada kesempatan untuk melihat lebih jauh ke dalam. Selalu ada paksaan untuk mengekstrapolasi, tapi jika permintaan masih bisa diterima, berikanlah satu hal yang paling kuinginkan saat ini.
Mungkin aku hanya ingin lari dari semua ekspektasi yang harus selalu aku penuhi. Mungkin aku hanya ingin menemukan kebahagiaanku sendiri.
Karena itu, enyahlah, tolonglah.
Aku tidak minta dikasihani, aku tidak minta dipuji, aku juga tidak minta disakiti.
Aku hanya butuh waktu untuk diriku sendiri. Mungkin sekarang, mungkin nanti, mungkin kapan-kapan. Matikan lampu. Matikan musik. Matikan suara apa pun karena aku tidak ingin mendengarkan. Lapurkan pandangan secanggih mukjizat karena aku tidak butuh pertimbangan. Sesungguhnya aku tidak butuh kata-kata atau pemikiran yang lantang disuarakan…