The lyrics of my favorite song

Gue baru sadar kenapa nangis itu bikin capek, soalnya banyak anggota tubuh yang kesakitan saat gue lagi nangis. My heart aches, my head hurts, my eyes burn as if there is some hot laser pointed at them, and all my body tremble. It is a traumatizing experience, so traumatizing that I’d do something else, mostly eating and watching funny TV shows, before I am about to cry – so I won’t cry.

While writing this very line, I went back and forth with my writing. Starting the paragraph with English, and then realized that I am better articulated in Indonesian, that I can express more feelings and emotions in my native language. And I realized that I am really not that good anymore at expressing myself in Indonesian – no matter how much Indonesian movies I watch during winter break and all those Pram’s book I read. But I am also no better in English, and most importantly, I have no emotional attachment to it.

That just describes exactly how I’ve felt the past few months – I don’t belong here in the land of the free, but the land I call home seems so far away and unreachable, literally and figuratively. And for the very reason, I can’t help the tears from falling despite the many bags of pita chips and pirouline I’ve eaten and the number of cheesy dramas I’ve watched – they can’t even be a good distraction for me anymore.

The past few months have been the loneliest days I have experienced in my life. Being a student in the US for almost two years now does not change the fact that I am not white, it does not change the fact that I am not wealthy, it does not change the fact that I am a Moslem and I can’t do most of the bonding or “fun” activities people like doing here, it does not make me feel connected when a classmate talked about delivering $600 pizza from Chicago for someone’s birthday. Being here for almost two years still does not make me feel like I belong here. I am still a quiet international student who observes and makes comment on the topics I know for sure – which mostly is not of most people’s interest here. I don’t belong here.

Being far away from home for almost two years still make me think of my family and friends at night. It still makes me think how nice it would be had they been here with me, to congratulate me when I got my first distinguished performer grade ever at school, to tell me “everything’s gonna be okay” when I got the lowest score for accounting class, to share my joy with when I became a finalist for an entrepreneurship competition, and to tell me “you did great and you’re a winner to me” when I did not win that competition.

At this point, there just have been too many times that I wanted to share my frustration with someone I trust and would be able to understand me other than my therapist, someone who knows me. But that person just don’t exist. They did exist, until two years ago.

The difference in culture is no joke. Difficulties connecting with locals is incredibly frustrating. But, distance, too, is no joke. It turned me into a stranger to people I’ve known for years – people I’ve been calling friends and best friends. Every time we talk, it seems like I irritated them most of the time. I felt like I irritated them so much that I just don’t want to ruin the friendship that way, that I’d just rather keep it all to myself. Cause too much negativity will ruin their feelings, their day, and our good relationship. What is a good relationship, btw? Maybe these days, in the days of my age, a good relationship is one just showcasing all the positive side of you, cause hey everyone’s got problems of their own. But no, I’ll just blame it to the distance. It’s not people, it’s distance and other circumstances in life. Or maybe it’s just me being an overthinker and drama queen.

Anyhow, I guess… somehow I’ve grown apart from one of the best things in life: a true relationship. I don’t know what a good relationship is, but I think a true relationship is a relationship where you can become your true self, expressing your true feeling, and still feel safe after that. I guess the absence of that is the one that made me feel lonely and made my heart ache pretty badly, and messed my brain quite seriously.

But then I think to myself, it must just have been one of those days, the days when you forgot the lyrics of your favorite songs – it frustrates you. But the lyrics will come back one day. The day that I hope is not too far in the future.



Current favorite on my playlist: Breathing – Ingrid Michaelson.

The storm is coming but I don’t mind.
People are dying, I close my blinds.
All that I know is I’m breathing now.

I want to change the world, instead I sleep.
I want to believe in more than you and me.
But all that I know is I’m breathing.
All I can do is keep breathing.



Shenandoah, Virginia, USA


Sunday, October 30th, 2016

Wondering how and why and what, but first: breath. Second: case studies. Oh I am full of self-loathing right now.


On changing (2)

Jadi saya memulai blog ini 8 tahun yang lalu. Sejak itu, sudah banyak yang berubah.

Berubah status. Dari mahasiswa, jadi pekerja, lalu sekarang jadi mahasiswa lagi. Dari punya pacar, enggak punya pacar, hampir punya pacar, dan sekarang ngarep punya pacar. Dari abege labil, jadi tante-nya ponakan-ponakan. Masih labil sih.

Berubah keinginan. Dari kepingin kerja di organisasi non-profit, jadi kerja buat perusahaan asing, lalu pindah perusahaan lokal, lalu sekarang kembali ingin kerja di organisasi non-profit. Dari kepingin nikah umur 25, jadi kepingin nikah sebelum umur 30 aja deh biar realistis. Yang ini lebih karena belum dikasih rejeki aja sih sama Yang Maha Kuasa, bukan karena saya-nya sengaja menunda – in case you start judging.

Berubah sifat. Dari anak manja yang minta diantar-jemput kemana-mana, lalu merantau dan pernah tinggal di kosan dengan sewa hanya tiga ratus ribu sebulan (ga pake AC dan kamar mandi di luar), lalu bisa naik transjakarta sendiri, lalu sekarang tinggal sendiri 16,422 km dari rumah – termasuk masak sendiri, beli perabot sendiri, dan benar-benar mengurus diri sendiri. Dari super-bubbly dan melihat segala sesuatu dengan mata berbinar-binar, jadi hmm…realistis cenderung pesimis, meski kadang di saat tertentu dan dengan orang-orang tertentu bubbly-nya masih muncul. Oh, lihat tulisan saya yang ini untuk tahu seberapa bubbly saya dulu. Senang juga melihat saya dulu yang sepertinya (hampir) selalu ceria dan sangat menikmati hidup.

Tapi, yang berubah bukan hanya saya. Belakangan ini banyak sekali perubahan-perubahan kecil dan besar di lingkungan terdekat saya di Indonesia. Adik saya yang akhirnya memutuskan untuk putus dari pacar yang sangat disayang, sahabat saya yang akan segera menjadi ibu, sahabat lain yang akan segera menjadi ayah, sahabat lain yang sedang mempersiapkan perhelatan akbar di akhir tahun, sahabat lain yang akhirnya menemukan wanita yang selama ini kami pikir tidak akan pernah ada di dunia nyata.

Lalu, malam ini saya melihat foto tangga di Galuh, sekretariat Indonesia Mengajar, dengan tagar #kemaskemaskenangan. Akan pindah kantor mungkin? Otomatis segala kenangan di tangga itu merayap dari belakang kepala saya. Saya menulis kalimat ini sambil tersenyum. Tersenyum mengingat kecanggungan saya ketika datang ke Galuh untuk pertama kalinya saat kumpul perdana panitia Kelas Inspirasi 2. Juga tersenyum mengingat satu masa seorang pria diam-diam memperhatikan saya dari tangga tersebut. Juga tersenyum mengingat entah berapa ratus foto dan video dengan latar belakang tangga tersebut. Juga tersenyum mengingat martabak manis yang disantap ketika duduk-duduk sambil ngobrol ngalor ngidul di tangga itu.

Saya tahu perubahan itu konstan. Namun, saking konstannya dan mungkin karena terjadinya dalam unit-unit kecil, jadi tidak terasa. Maka, hal-hal yang besar, hal-hal yang terlihat, seperti pindahnya kantor Indonesia Mengajar, seakan menjadi gong pengingat. Pengingat bahwa mungkin sudah saatnya untuk saya juga berefleksi, melongok perubahan-perubahan kecil apa saja yang sudah terjadi pada saya, mengulas keselarasan nilai-niat-tujuan hidup, dan memikirkan perubahan apa yang mesti saya lakukan dalam diri saya.

Bukan, saya bukan mau bikin resolusi. Sudah cukup sepertinya bikin resolusi yang tidak berubah setiap tahunnya: pacar (2 tahun terakhir ini berubah jadi nikah sih), iman & islam, 48kg, dan coklat. Sepertinya saya perlu sesuatu yang lebih mendasar dari hal-hal tersebut. Hal mendasar yang mungkin akan membawa saya kepada resolusi-resolusi tersebut atau mungkin mengubah resolusi-resolusi tersebut.

Current mood: Landslide, a Stacey Kent cover

I took my love and took it down
I climbed a mountain and I turned around
And I saw my reflection in the snow-covered hills
Till the landslide brought me down

Oh, mirror in the sky, what is love?
Can the child within my heart rise above?
Can I sail through the changing ocean tides?
Can I handle the seasons of my life?

Well, I’ve been afraid of changing
‘Cause I’ve built my life around you
But time makes you bolder
Even children get older
And I’m getting older too

Good poet, good song, is one that could be interpreted in different ways, I’ve heard. This Fleetwood Mac’s song is one of them. I could interpret the song at least in three ways.

It is about my biggest fear of not being able to go for an MBA cause of my silly past academic record (college students, work hard and prioritization begins since college, else your punishment is lifetime) and cause of the overwhelmingly expensive education cost. It is about my fear of being forever alone when friends and relatives are married or gone. It is about my fear of leaving (simply anything). It is about my fear of facing the (already) complicated and uncertain life that somehow lately is full of daunting intimidation and competition. And obviously…it is about my broken hearts.

But well.. Time makes you bolder, even children get older, and I’m getting older too.

Pending Thoughts.

Lists of things I’ve been meaning to write in this blog:

  • 2014 – strives & strains
  • In memoriam
  • 4.5 years in planning and strategy – should I go to the operational ground?
  • Recruiting – such a headache / Practical guide to get into interview (according to me)

Yeah, in addition to Astiarini and Could-have-done-better, my other middle name is Big-procrastinator.

Oh. Another pending thought: most couragous professional decision I have made (required essay for Darden School of Business).

Everyone’s getting married!

That’s what happened when you’re a 26-years-old Indonesian woman living in Indonesia. E-ve-ry-one is getting married. Your girl friends, your guy friends, your colleagues, all of them. You start failing to save money to buy a new laptop cause you have to buy air tickets to attend your bestfriends’ wedding in West Sumatra, spend extra money to turn the omygod-please-not-shiny-saten-again material into a beautiful bridesmaid gown, and let go some of that red-ish money for the wedding gifts. Trust me, when you see pics and beautiful words of wedding proposal & promises e-ve-ry-day in your Path timeline, your best reaction will be: not again.

I’m not jealous or anything. I don’t even feel competitive about this particular thingy. It’s not that looking at peole getting married makes me feel bad about myself. It is that most people stop connecting to the outside world when they’re married. It is that most people somehow stop caring about their used-to-be closest people. It is that some of my bestfriends just don’t have that much time to hang out with me or sometimes to even reply to my messages. I am not complaining about them (or maybe I am). I totally understand that behaviour. I would probably do the same had I been married. It’s just…everything’s just not the same anymore. It’s just…I start wondering if, soon enough, I wouldn’t have that many people to talk to anymore, what would I do?

Careful of what you wish for.

Last night, I wrote Doa hari ini here on my blog.

This morning, I woke up thinking I’ll spend my whole day at a coffee shop to revise my school application documents. While preparing myself, I built up an idea of spending the new year eve writing and reflecting 2014 at a bar – I promised no alcohol involved, just want to feel the cheerie spirit of a new year eve.

On my way to the coffee shop, I received a WhatsApp message from my dearly friend, Raissa. Informing me this NYE event at the mosque.


Just another way to reflect upon 2014. A much better way than what I had planned. A way that answered last night’s prayer.

Careful. God hears you. 🙂