What I’ve Learned From Being Single

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:

 

  1. 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.

 

  1. 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.

 

  1. 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.

 

  1. 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.

photo-1436891678271-9c672565d8f6
Picture’s taken from here 
  1. 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.

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Belajar Ikhlas

Bukan, gue bukan mau sok-sok alim edisi Ramadhan. Bukan juga ngeclaim kalo hati gue sekarang udah bersih banget. No. Gue cuma mau nulis aja, ga lebih dan ga kurang.

(Btw, yeay for, finally, a post in Bahasa! Although I’m using everyday language, but still :P)

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Alhamdulillah kita masih bisa ketemu bulan suci Ramadhan lagi. Setelah ngalamin kecelakaan yang hampir fatal setahun lalu, gue jadi sadar kalo…. idup tuh pendek. Lo gak akan pernah tau kapan lo ninggalin dunia ini, jadi savor the moment sebaik dan sebisa mungkin.

Gue gatau kapan tepatnya, yang jelas rasa itu muncul di awal bulan Ramadhan 1436 H ini. Munculnya tiba-tiba. Rasanya…. sejuk, that’s the word. Kayak nyelusup masuk ke relung-relung hati, dan menyiram semua bagian hati gue yang tersakiti ini (haha). Gue senang bisa ngerasain perasaan ini, it’s like it glows inside me. Kayak pengharum ruangan yang ga abis-abis.

Sebelumnya gue mau cerita kalo di tahun ini, gue putus sama mantan pacar gue. Di saat yang sama, gue juga memulai hidup baru dengan pekerjaan baru yang alhamdulillah lebih enjoy dilakuin. So it’s like a battle of contrasting feelings. Kadang gue seneng apalagi tiap abis liat slip gaji (hehe), tapi juga kesedihan yang gue rasain kok kayak gak ilang-ilang. Mungkin karena gue putus baik-baik. Gue dan mantan gue cocok dalam banyak hal, tapi orang tuanya emang ga suka sama gue, for some illogical reasons. Beneran illogical. Ya lo kata aja dah nama lo beserta tanggal lahir dan hari lahir dibawa ke kiai-kiai entah darimana terus semua bermimpi kalo lo dan orang itu “jika bersatu akan menimbulkan perpecahan”. Semua mimpinya seragam. Emangnya film layar tancep apa. Dan alasannya cuma karena itu, walaupun gue yakin sih ada alasan-alasan lain yang lebih materialistis. Yaudalah ya.

Terutama tiap abis pulang dari rig, gue suka sedih. Ketika lo capek abis berkutat dengan matahari 38C dan jalanan hutan sawit yang harus dilewatin dengan 4WD, normal kan kalo lo pengen disayang. Jablay ye. Di saat-saat kayak gitu gue suka nyalahin Yang Maha Kuasa kenapa mempertemukan gue dengan orang yang baik tapi dipisahin lagi. Like, apa sih salah gue, berapa kali ketemu orang bisanya cuma jadi “mantan” (baik mantan kekasih maupun mantan cem-ceman, hahaha!).

Terus soal kerjaan.

Dalam beberapa hal, ada aja yang ga sesuai sama ekspektasi gue. Gue ga bisa bohong kalo kerjaan kayak gini itu butuh mental yang lebih kuat daripada gue yang kemaren-kemaren, yang bisanya menye-menye dodol nyusu sama emak. Tapi yang bikin gue kesel sebenernya bukan itu. Gue sebel karena gue ga bisa menjawab pertanyaan,

Quo vadis?

Mau kemana?

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Gue tuh selalu punya rencana. Selalu. Dan rencana gue selalu konkret, ga pernah abstrak. Gue anti banget sama yang namanya, “Yaudah jalanin aja”/ “Go with the flow”/ “Biarkan air mengalir”. Zzzzz. Gue ga suka jalan-jalan random, nyobain menu baru yang tampak aneh, beli tiket pesawat go show, apalagi gambling sama yang namanya takdir. Hidup gue tuh harus berjalan sesuai plan A. Untuk mencegah segala deviasi, gue bikin plan B, C, D, E, F, sejauh mungkin kemungkinan yang gue bisa pikirkan.

Ketika lulus kuliah, semuanya terbentang di depan mata gue.

Pas SD, gue tau harus masuk SMP 5. Abis itu gue tau harus ngejer SMA 3. Abis itu gue harus masuk ITB. Abis itu gue harus masuk Tekim. Abis itu gue harus dapet G*n*s*a P*ize (alay nulisnya haha!). Abis itu gue harus masuk oil&gas sesuai amanah nyokap gue. Terus?

Sumvah ya, kalo ada satu hal yang harus gue pelajarin, itu adalah career planning. 

Makanya gue bete. Karena saat ini ga ada yang bisa direncanain. Your career changes everyday, apalagi di industri serba dinamis ini. Dan gue juga harus inget, sekarang gue gak cuma bawa diri gue sendiri kalo mau membuat keputusan. Ada keluarga inti, extended family, dan nantinya suami-anak.

Di sini nya sendiri, gue juga gatau ke depannya gimana. Karena gue cewek, pasti ga bakal lama di lapangan. Terus gue jadi engineer di kantor. Terus?

Pertanyaan-pertanyaan seperti, kapan ya bisa S2. Aduh tapi siapa yang mau rekomendasiin, siapa yang mau biayain, abis S2 gimana caranya cari kerja lagi, kan gue masih cupu pengalamannya? Kapan ya bisa nikah. Aduh tapi siapa yang mau gue nikahin, jodoh aja entah dimana. Kapan ya punya anak. Aduh gimana ngurusnya kalo gue kerja.

Jiiirrr, ga ada banget nih yang bisa di planning?

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Kembali ke cerita gue di awal tadi, tentang si rasa sejuk.

Karena segala macem pikiran ini, gue jadi ribet. Suka mumet. Suka bete. Kalo shalat maunya cepet-cepet. Dan suka nyalahin keadaan. Sampe di suatu hari, gue udah nyiapin suatu presentasi, terus dibatalin, padahal gue udah bela-belain ga ke rig seminggu demi itu presentasi.

Gue bete sepanjang weekend. Terus gue nangisin hubungan gue yang putus lagi (karena rasanya pas lagi kayak gitu pengen cerita sama orang yang bisa gue hubungin kapan aja, yaitu supposed to be pacar). Puasa, niatnya sekenanya. Shalat, pokoknya I murmured some words from my mouth. Gue nangis-nangis and I didn’t answer calls from my worried mom.

Tapi di suatu titik, gue ngerasa energized. Ngerasain si rasa sejuk itu. Rasanya kayak…………

I don’t know man, it’s peaceful.

 

Sejak hari itu sampai detik ini, gue lebih banyak ketawa daripada nangis. Gue bilang sama nyokap, “Mulai sekarang aku mau ikhlas aja. Capek udah. Ada yang udah ngatur takdir yang terbaik buat aku. Yang penting aku berusaha sebaik-baiknya sama yang aku punya sekarang, sisanya aku banyakin berdo’a aja”. Nyokap gue lega banget.

Sekarang, setiap gue sedih karena putus, gue challenge balik. Emangnya gue bakal bahagia kalo diterusin hubungan kayak gitu? Emangnya gue bakal bisa berumah tangga adem ayem kalo camernya hesitate begitu? Emangnya cowoknya bakal fight buat gue? Jawabannya, big big no. Jadi mending diikhlasin aja. Belum jodoh. Tetap menyambung silaturahmi. Cari orang lain yang lebih baik.

Ketika balik di rig capek ga punya pacar, gue tetep sedih, tapi abis itu gue ngingetin diri sendiri. Dia yang sebenarnya tidak akan pernah ragu. Belum datang, masih di jalan. Cara ketemunya, ya gue perbaiki diri. Tambal sana-sini. Aktif usaha juga nyari. Jadi calon istri dan ibu yang baik. So great sampe ga ada yang bisa nolak, hahaha! Dan juga, kata temen gue ketika gue ngeluh ga ada tempat ngadu,

“Ngadu ke Allah aja, selalu bakal ada buat kamu” :’)

Ketika gue ngerasa ga puas sama kerjaan, gue nginget masa-masa gue capek kerja di company lama. Sakitnya dicampakkan Belanda. Impian yang gue raih dengan susah payah dan hancur begitu aja. Di titik dimana udah ga bisa ngapa-ngapain selain pasrah, se helpless itu. Sekarang gue udah kerja di oil&gas, bisa bantu orang tua, banyak ilmu yang gue dapet, banyak temen yang baik. Walaupun gue ga bisa jawab abis ini mau kemana, tapi ada baiknya ikhlas aja terima apa yang ada, sambil mengusahakan yang terbaik dengan apa yang gue punya.

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Alhamdulillah.

 

Gue gatau ini perasaan bakal bertahan sampe kapan. Tapi saat ini gue cuma bisa bersyukur. Alhamdulillah. I’m so damn lucky compared to banyak orang di luar sana. Kalo gue cuma liat ke atas terus, ga akan pernah selesai masalah gue seumur hidup. Gue harus belajar ikhlas. Belajar mensyukuri nikmat. Dan belajar untuk menjadi manusia yang lebih baik. 

 

Have a great day, everyone! Selamat menjalankan ibadah puasa. 🙂

 

 

Love,

M

“Find Your Nest Before You Fly”, Disencouragement, and Other Dilemmas

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:

  1. 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?
  2. 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:

  1. 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?”
  2. 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….?
  3. 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?
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

Why, why is that too much to ask………..

What Suffering Teaches Me

If I have to describe myself in just one simple, meaningful sentence, I’ll say, “I’m a person that has been broken”.

Because that’s just who I am. 

People always expect you to do more than what you think you’ve had enough. In this first steps to the real world, that becomes more obvious. Something’s always missing. There’s always a crack that you try so hard to cover up, but that will always be found out. You want to be seen as flawlessly unbroken, but in this already messed up world, who doesn’t have issues?

I was once a totally innocent kid, like anybody did. I started playing in the neighborhood, started going to schools and socialized with a lot of people, and I began to see things differently. In my eyes, I saw destruction. I saw imperfections. I saw the faded beauty of the world I once saw as totally unblemished.

I was, in one way or another, broken.

The cracks began to add up as I was broken to the inner part of myself. The only part I knew would be too fragile to be released to this merciless reality. So I let it go, and it was broken, bashed, bruised, injured, damaged, in any way I would never have forgiven myself with.

But what I didn’t realize was that I truly needed myself to be broken.

Life, they say, is like a battlefield. Of course there would be bruises. Of course there would be pain that you cannot just simply tarnish. But experience counts. The more you understand your battlefields, the more you are able to devise excellent strategy.

The experience of suffering is really what makes my iron-fenced heart works.

I cursed my teenage years for being manipulated by hollow dreams I trapped myself in. For waiting for someone for years, without having the guts to do anything except lamenting over the sad facts that the head would never turn to the direction I was facing. I moved on to another journeys, was broken by menacingly cruel people who just would not understand what I was giving them. Even until my early adulthood years, when it comes to love, I still feel like a lost soul whose search for her half go in a cycle of treachery.

But the sufferings I went through, the people I was romantically involved with, the miscalculations that made me question my ability as an engineer, the forlorn tales which endings were determined to be tragic from the very first beginnings………….. all of them teaches me to stand up and know myself better.

Looking back at my years of loving and being loved, I realized that they had made me much stronger. Strong enough to understand that things don’t always go the way I want them to go. Strong enough to put rationality ahead of any illogical fallacy. And if loving someone completely requires you to love yourself completely too, I can proudly say out loud that I am now ready. I’ve known my self worth and how much portion of my heart I will allow someone other than me to have. I’ll still open myself up for any possibilities, but the hopes will not be as high, the fantasies will not be as wild, the expectations will not be as heavenly as before. The days of cotton candies have been over, and now I focus on optimization, life-long goals, diminished lust and having control over various variables. I know the dreamer in me will always go vividly romantic, but the slaps out to the reality makes disturbance even more possible to be minimized.

The experience of suffering is what really makes me who I am now.

I’ve always wanted to be a high achiever. It was a default chip that was implanted long before I was born. But if anyone sees me now and comment on how lucky I am, I can humbly say that they have the wrong idea. Things I’ve gone through, all the trophies and certificates and titles of ‘champion’ are the things I earn. Things I earned with literally bloodsweat and tears. And if anybody asks, how can I do that? How can I do that? How else can I do that?

Because I know how it feels to suffer from failures. Because I know how it feels to be broken, to be torn up from the inside, to be told that you were not capable enough, to be accused for being weak, to be compared with someone you love to the bone; to be told that your best — the best version of yourself that you created so delicately hard — was not good enough.

When you’ve suffered through your lowest points, you can always keep your head on the ground when your heart goes to the cloud.

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I make this writing in one of my life’s lowest points. Where I barely know where I should go. Where my biggest fear comes true – to be unable to know what I want. Where I can’t see the big picture. Where my days of being a strategic planner seems to have no concern.

But I make this writing in the hope that I will remember the struggles I’ve gone through. The worst sufferings of my life that I have survived. This writing is intended to tame my ego down and to understand that I am still, and will always be, on my way to an eternal fixation of myself. Because happiness, by any means, is something that always needs to be chased. As Elizabeth Gilbert in Eat, Pray, Love states, I have to participate relentlessly in the manifestation of my own blessings.

This is my battlefield. Knowing the worst should make me able to cope with changes of plans. This is the thrill of living, where unprecedented results may occur. And I should always be prepared.

Everything in this world are made for a purpose and should just makes sense. And only when you’ve been in the dark can you truly appreciate how grateful you should be to be able to see the light.

Perkiraan

Angin itu meniup satu perahu ke arah barat, dan satu perahu ke arah timur.

Karena, mungkin, ada kata sepakat yang akan terasa lebih sakit daripada ucapan perpisahan. Ada keyakinan semu bahwa dunia memang berjalan semestinya, dan mungkin, di suatu titik yang jauh, ada jawaban atas pertanyaan-pertanyaan retoris nan fana.

Ada takdir yang telah ditulis oleh Sang Sutradara kehidupan. Ada garis yang harus diikuti, orbit-orbit tertentu yang harus dilalui satelit mini. Dan mungkin, Ia berpikir, memang belum saatnya.

Belumlah hadir. Apa gunanya mengulang semua proses dari awal? Ia berkata, belum tentu kau keluar hidup-hidup dan kembali pulih sepenuhnya. Bahkan saat ini pun ada lubang-lubang kecil yang belum tertutup, yang kadangkala masih terasa pedih dan sedikit bernanah.

Ada luka dalam jiwa yang tidak bisa disembuhkan. Ada pedih yang tidak lekang oleh waktu. Tapi ada pula manusia yang keluar dari pergumulan peluh penuh lumpur. Mencoba mencari kembali mentari, walaupun bayangan bulan tidak sepenuhnya terhapus dari pelupuk.

Ia selalu berkata ada saatnya. Janji-Nya. Dan Ia, sampai kini, sampai nanti, tidak pernah khianat.

Silhouette

The moment when you finally know that it’s not a myth. That this life is not yours to control.

Separation has never been easy. In engineering realm, it’s even one of the most important course in Chemical Engineering. We’re no stranger to heartache and pain, but letting go of something that you’ve so got used to is surely a daunting task.

It’s been two weeks. I haven’t been sad for a while. Every time I went out, there they were. Just like the good old days when we spent our nights with shitty calculations and tiny cheat sheets. I knew I had always known where I could barely go with my puffy eyes or nonsense stories. There were always the ears that would stay listening to whatever I blurted out.

Ever since last year I’ve been hypnotizing myself that this is all just a myth. A nightmare that I refused to be drown in. Look, they are always here. Their presence can never evolve into past tense. I just simply couldn’t put down this fear of grief I knew would soon follow the hollow. But no matter how hard I try to deny, the time eventually comes. The last visits. When they packed things up and said goodbye. When I hugged them for the last time. When I came to their dorms feeling like the walls resonated in the same sadness, echoing every story and memory that were once made in its territory. When I saw teary eyes that were tried to be hidden. When I felt the same feeling of heavy hearts, the hearts that have been attached to the same soil of this beautiful city, where youth was once celebrated. Where everybody was free to be what they wished to be. Where judgments were based on meritocracy. Where dreaming has always been allowed, no matter how wild and uncontrolled.

There’s just a binding sense of belonging that you can never let go. Like a silhouette that possesses.

I’m a silhouette asking every now and then
“Is it over yet? Will I ever smile again?”
I’m a silhouette chasing rainbows on my own
But the more I try to move on, the more I feel alone

Owl City – Silhouette

21 Lessons Learned In My 21st Year

  1. Make peace with your past. No matter how much effort you’re ready to exert, it won’t change. Ever.
     
  2. Family is the most important gift you can ever have. Don’t waste time staying away from them, they’re the ones who would always be there whatever it takes. And home, indeed, is the sweetest place on earth. Define your ‘home’ and your ‘family’. I’ve seen that it may not be the same standard for everyone. I’m lucky enough to have been raised in a loving, caring, and compassionate family, but not everyone has that fortune. Still… love them. After last year’s internship, I pledged not to take for granted the ones that will eventually perish. I love them to the bone, and will continue to do so.
     
  3. Love is rough. Sometimes you need to strive really hard for it. Don’t dwell in touchy-feely cheesy fantasies you may have been introduced to in your teenage years. I was a fairy tale supporter but once you’re in your twenties, it gets obvious: they are all fake cotton candies. Love hurts, but ironically, there’s no better antidote to love than love itself.
     
  4. After all the rants people post on social media –twitter, facebook, wordpress, path, pinterest, etc. – at their core, people just simply want to be noticed. A silent approval that they exist.
     
  5. Forgive yourself and forgive others, even when they don’t forgive you. Take time before planning on reconciliation. Not everyone is so kind-hearted even if you’ve admitted that you have done wrong. They may not greet you anymore or pretend that they don’t know you, for now and forever. But even so… be the one who loves instead of hates.
     
  6. Sometimes, people can hurt others permanently just by the fact that they live. Can you believe it? It’s like Spike in Plants vs Zombies.
     
  7. Your parents age faster than you. Don’t be afraid to show them love, affection, and appreciation, even just in form of ‘thank you for making this dinner’. There may not be tomorrow to express your gratitude towards what they’ve done.
     
  8. People change – for better or worse. Accept it. You never have the complete story of what they’ve been through. Cherish the moments you had with them, but understand that your paths can be separated and you may never see them the same way again – and vice versa. It doesn’t erase the sadness of losing them, but what else can you do? I learned it a hard way.
     
  9. This world has been too harsh already without some sprinkles of smiles.
     
  10. There are certain conditions that cannot be changed, that are simply beyond your control. Don’t force them. Don’t be afraid of failure. I’ve failed a lot of times I’ve lost counts, but everytime I feel like it’s the dead end, someone or something always reminds me that there’s no point of surrender. No surrender should exist if there’s still a possibility that you can thrive. Most of the times, the possibilities are there.
     
  11. It must be hard for you, but when you must wait, you must wait. Time brings the answers to almost every problem, including the thick, foggy future you cannot lay sights on. And although the belief is decreasing and increasing like a sinusoidal curve, what I believe is that God knows the best way. Trust God. “What time cannot solve, you have to solve it yourself” – Murakami
     
  12. Financial independence is the key to a more sustainable life, but not necessarily a happier one. Whoever says, “No, look at people in jetski! In beautiful villas! The happiness in shopping!”. It’s all temporary. But we’re in our twenties anyway. That’d be very naive to say that money doesn’t matter. Strive for that independence, I do, for instance – maybe that way you can access happiness easier. Do financial planning. You’ll never know when and how your money will run out, so prepare for the future.
    Pretty much sums up everything, eh? Image’s taken from here.

     

  13. Give back to others in any form you feel comfortable. “Happiness is only real when it’s shared”, said Buddha. So nurture young ones if you feel like you’re successful. Share, and keep only what you need to keep from others. Don’t be afraid that they will surpass or outsmart you, people have their own portion and their own ways to be successful. Tell them what you’ve learned, make them able to dodge the regret or the things you wish you never did.
     
  14. College life is the prime time of your short life, the beautiful cherry on top. Make the most out of it. Make friends, expand networks, achieve more than your limit, don’t do stupid things like being lazy or consumed by drugs. You’re gonna miss it more when it’s gone. Take advantage of ‘being understood for your younger years’.
     
  15. Find a steady partner. I haven’t found mine and it’s rather depressing. Not to settle down too early, but to have passport to social security. Especially when you’re a girl and live in Asian culture.
     
  16. Diverse choices come up and making choices has never been an easy thing in life. Weigh all the possibilities, list down pros and cons, consult with the people you trust. Remember that what you do now echoes through eternity, you’re forever the bearer of your own consequences. So make ’em right.
     
  17. Even though they say “Do the things you want to do”, I believe that the output is somewhere along the mix of: a) what you really want to do or really want for yourself; b) social (read: your culture’s) expectation; c) family values that have been imposed on you; d) general rules and norms applicable in your country; e) wild dreams.
     
  18. In your twenties, heartbreaks become more easily manageable. No more teary eyes after rejections. After series of broken hearts and non-reciprocal feelings, magically I can still believe in love. Affection deprivation is real – perhaps we need love much like we need air to breath, no matter how may times it’s been slipping away from our grip. Don’t take everything as ‘signs’. If someone wants you, he/she will show it. My mother said, “Don’t chase someone who doesn’t chase you back”. My friend Elsa said, “Don’t invest your feelings on someone who will not give you the expected return”. Noted, eh?
     
  19. The only way to overcome loneliness is by layering work on top of work. Less work? Void. Except if you have someone to share. If only. So the next time you see someone overdo his/her works, check on him/her. Maybe they need some special attentions. In most cases, they have even forgotten how it feels to have a relationship, despite the secret fact that they crave for it.
     
  20. A woman’s success comes with a price. Face it, men still hold on to the principles that they have to be superior over the XX chromosome. I don’t know if men secretly want their significant others to be emotionally detached. But this is what I feel: the more successful, higher level you are -with the exception of prettier ones, magical encounters, and those who have found someone before they soar high- the less likely you’ll find someone who wants to understand that you’re still the same little girl who needs protection. I’m there. The situation is more complicated because time is ticking for women, and not vice versa. A senior HR manager, very charming, cute, the one you can easily relate to and fun to be with – but very successful, hasn’t married yet, once told me, “We women are like cheese you know, we deteriorate. Men are like fine wine, they get more attractive as they age. So go, find someone before it’s too late, before you reach my age and your choices are not so available anymore”.
    So yeah. The pressure’s there. The dilemma’s there.
     
  21. Well finally, as Taylor Swift put it, we’re happy, free, confused, and lonely at the same time. Can’t make it more obvious than that. I’d have to end this by saying that Quarter Life Crisis is real, but whatever. Twenties should be the pinnacle of your life. But as absorbance curve generated by spectrophotometer has already shown it – peaks can occur more than once.

                                                                Long live the twenties. 🙂