How I learned English (I’m still learning until now though!)

Many people asked me about how I learned my English; both locals and foreigners. So I’ll write this post so that later I can just copy-paste the link to them. And I’m writing this not because I feel so confident about my English, in fact, on the contrary, I realize how imperfect my English is even though I’ve worked a lot for years since I was in middle school to master it, still I will never be close to native, not even advanced level. At first I hated it, I hated myself for not being good at something that I like. I hated the fact that my English is far from perfect, that I have a strong accent sometimes in speaking and you can feel it too in my writing that English is not my first language (even though my writing is better than my speaking).

Maybe for many Indonesians, they consider my English more than enough. Many people hope that they can speak English like I do. Many foreigners were also surprised with my English, but I think they’re not amazed with my English, they just didn’t think any Indonesians would be capable of communicating in English because we are from a poor country and our education is not our best quality.

Also, I’ve been made fun of and mocked because of my English, sometimes not in a friendly way, and even by a guy I was dating at that time (a foreigner). He said, “How pathetic that you are an English graduate but your English is sh*t.” , when we were having an argument (that’s not even related to my English, he just suddenly said that to hurt me).

I realize that when a westerner (especially those who like to call themselves “expats” instead of immigrants) speak broken non-English language like Bahasa Indonesia, it’s considered cute. But when non-native English speakers like me speak broken English, we’re considered less educated, less important, or have lower thinking ability. I realize how easy it is for someone to feel more exclusive than others just by a language, even if English–their mother tounge–is the only language they speak/ understand.

My story is just one of Indonesians’ stories about how hard we work for something that we dont easily have access to. Especially for people like me who don’t come from the upper class where they speak in English more than they speak in Bahasa Indonesia. Indonesians in big cities and the upper class minority speak English very very well, they study and travel overseas. One example of this class is the breakthrough young rapper, Rich Chigga/ Rich Bryan. People won’t think that he’s an Indonesian if you listen to his English and music.

My parents sent me and my brother to the best private school in the our city at that time, it’s quite expensive and far from where we lived, so my friends were from families who are richer than us, that every time I was invited to my friends’ birthday parties or just to play at their houses, I was amazed by how big their houses mostly were, felt like mine was the smallest and modest. Many of my friends already went to English courses since very early, kindergarten maybe. My parents, even though they understood the importance of English, they couldn’t afford that for me and my brother. So it’s like we started the marathon late, because we did not get any English courses until we’re in middle school. At that time, there’s no Youtube, there’s no internet and kids didn’t play 80% of their days with tablets/ phones. Even I had to go to my neighbor’s house every afternoon and Sunday morning to watch cartoons because he was the only one who had TV cable in our neighborhood.

I never realized I was good at learning languages until I was given the opportunity to learn other language, that’s when I was 13 y.o. My parents could not afford the expensive English course for us, so we went to the mid price, none of the teachers were native. That’s when I realized I fell in love with this subject, I didn’t know at that time if English is important, I didn’t know how it’s gonna help my life in the future, I just fell in love, I enjoyed it and I want to be able to speak it. I have no target nor expectation from my self-study. I think that’s the purest kind of love, when you love something/ someone with the least reasons.

I only got 4 hours of English lesson in a week from that course, two hours per meeting. I realized how little it is, that it’s not gonna be enough. I asked my parents whether I could get another English classes, like 4 times in a week or everyday, but my mom was angry. She said I have to learn math, YUCK!!

Mostly, I learned English from my self-study. In this case, movies and music helped a lot (remember, at that time internet was so rare). My interest in English turned me into a nerd. I skipped playing with friends just to have some hours to watch english movies or read books over and over again. I used to watch every movie three or four times. The first play was to enjoy the story, the second to take notes of the english, third is to repeat how they are used in conversation, forth to practice speaking it during the movie ( I dont think I can do that anymore, because we have abundance of options now that I even can’t play Youtube videos or podcasts in normal speed anymore because I’m afraid I dont have time to watch/ listen to others).

At that time, english books were not easy to find. So I went to my english course’s library almost every day just to read English books. No matter what book it was, I just needed something that’s written in English. I compiled my own grammar notebooks (those notebooks were even photocopied by my friends in college!).

I had no one to practice my English speaking. So after I watched english movies, I spoke by myself to repeat the conversation in the movies. Then a DVD rental just opened near my school and it had a promo of 6-month free DVD rental if we bought a DVD player from there. So my brother and I begged to our parents for that, and we finally bought a DVD from there. Literally EVERY DAY, we rented movies, we could only rented 2 movies max every day.

I knew about internet earlier than many Indonesians did at that time. I didnt really have much time to play with other kids, because I would rather  either watch movies or be in internet cafes. Internet cafes were very very rare, only 2 in my city at that time. If I could fly, I would fly to the cyber cafe as soon as my school finished, everyday. And the internet was very very slow, to load a page could take like 5 minutes (wow I just realize how patient I was before, now I can’t even stand a pop-up dialog box!). I signed in to mIRC (chat rooms) in order to chat with westerners. I thought that was the cheapest conversation class! Well I had to lie about my age, otherwise no one would talk to me. I had to keep a dictionary next to me every time I was in front of the computer, then I would write them down, whatever I learned from every day.

Then I started to write something in English everyday, at least for one page. Anything, it’s just for practice. I would not review my writings right away, because I would think it’s perfect. But if i give it time and just review it after 3-5 days, I will able to see my mistakes easily. Then I train myself to start to think in English rather than in Bahasa Indonesia. In 2009, started to write a blog. Unlike this one, my old blog was 85% in English, but I didn’t write as often as I do now.

Even though my English is still not perfect, I’ve been able to make money from it. Started from teaching, translation projects, and now it helps me A LOT in my job that I can make money in dollars. I can get my other skills valued more because I can bring it to international marketplaces. I’ve worked with foreigners since I graduated uni, and I’ve made friendships with non-Indonesians. Not only in my job, but also in love life, I havent dated Indonesians anymore for years (trust me, the cheapest, and most enjoyable way to learn conversational English is by dating. Haha!! But dont get me wrong, I didnt date them because they’re foreigners, I never planned to fall in love with them, it just happened.)

One day, I stumbled upon this video, and it made me feel like that’s probably what my future kids will feel about me. But I wont be the sad broken-english speaker parent, I dont care that much anymore if people wanna laugh at my English. At least from their laugh, I learn something. And my broken English means I’ve worked for something. I’m proud of myself even with those limitations I’ve had, I’ve made it this far. And my brother, he got scholarships from his university in Australia until Ph.D. Not perfect indeed, but like my lecturer ever told me, “It’s okay if your best is not good enough, but it’s not good when your good is not your best.”

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From Bridal to Technical

IMG_20181111_212953My achievement this year is that I managed to launched my first bridal collection and sold some of them as well as got custom-made order in my first year as a fashion designer. End of last year, I took patternmaking course, I had totally zero experience and knowledge in garment construction before.

I can’t afford fashion school, both the fee and the years. So, I made my own curriculum and research, where I can learn about fashion. I am so lucky that I live in this internet era that saves a lot of education money and bridges people from all over the world. I’m so grateful for people who share amazing free contents on platforms like youtube and online libraries or even cheap online courses like Udemy and Skillshare. Because of them, I can learn the theories and process that they learn in fashion schools as long as I’m willing to put in the dedication and commitment. But still, for some fields, I need professional training, especially when it comes to construction. Even the patternmaking course alone is already expensive for a regular person like me ( I was so lucky that at time I got my bitcoin money went five times higher).

In the beginning, I just wanted to be a designer, any kind of designer, it does not matter. I just wanted to get my designs out and I made it. I think, me not taking a 4-year fashion study is also a benefit for me in terms of getting the realization of how the fashion business works faster than those who do. Many people who had the opportunity to really go to fashion schools are more relaxed and not as ambitious because they enjoyed the status of being students and once they graduated, they didn’t really think it’s gonna be like that and what’s really needed and which one are more sustainable careers in fashion. That’s why fashion design major is much more favorited than product development major.

Unfortunately (and fortunately at the same time), I got to travel a lot this year, like every month, which I am thankful for it but at the same time, it slowed my progress down a lot. Eventhough I was only 2-3 weeks on holiday, it takes at leat 1-2 weeks to really get back in the mood to study and practice again, and then 1 week after that, I traveled again. Anyway, even with that travelling schedule, I still make progress.

I’ve begun to realize what kind of fashion designer that I wanna be and which parts of design jobs that I wanna do, at least for the next 15 years of my life. Being a designer and entrepreneur is indeed fancy, but it’s crazy, I have to admit that at this age, especially as a sarcastic introvert, it’s too hard for me to handle. This one-woman show thing is tougher than it seems, because I have to do the design, cutting, sewing, finishing, marketing, photography, fabrics shopping, etc etc. I ended up doing more non-design works than designing. I tried to employ someone before and it doesn’t fit me because I’m a perfectionist and at the same time I hate being a nagger and depending on others. One thing that bothers me as well is the fact that I had to be location-dependent. I love travelling, I wanna be able to work from anywhere as long as there’s internet.

One thing good about me is that I react to situation fast, if something doesnt work, I need to do something. If I only waited for my gowns to sell, I’m not gonna make it. I can’t wait until I’m famous.

There’s a case that is very common among Indonesian designers. Indonesian designers mostly dont have formal education (which is okay, just like me) but what is not good is that many of them dont have strong will to learn from the basic. Because it’s easier in Indonesia to be a boss and call yourself a designer because the labor cost is not as expensive as in other countries. So, many designers just take exactly the same models from Pinterest, modify a bit (sometimes not even bother to modify), and pay tailors to make it. Hence many designers don’t even have unity in their designs. And they survive by arse-kissing the socialites. They got fame eventually, but it’s temporary. Because if you let your clients dictate you, you wont survive when they have new favorites. I witness this right in front of my eyes especially since I was a runway model before I became a designer. The designers that I used to work for, they’ve disappeared now, outshone by new fashion designers who can get a long better with the new generation of the socialites. So these old folks, they ended up depressed and broke. They’re used to being bosses, their career jumped without learning basic skills, so once they’re out of orders, they have nothing to offer when applying for jobs in fashion companies. That’s why not a few of them turned into fugitive (taking people’s money, selling drugs, prostitution etc).

It’s so easy to be like that if I never evaluate my steps. I dont wanna be like them. I want a sustainable career, I want a skill that allows me to work from anywhere and needed in and by many countries. Just in case Indonesia someday turns into the next Syria, at least I’ve been preparing my escape, or if my future husband wants to move to other countries, one of us does not to worry about starting a new job anymore, because I’ve already started my career in remote freelancing. I may need to hustle more now maybe triple than what I’ve done, but I believe it’ll be worth it. I reached out to and consulted with some technical fashion designers that I found online (because they make content, like podcast etc), the career is really promising. But I have to struggle a lot in the beginning since I lack field (factory) experience.

It started with me learning computer drawing because I was looking for ways to make money beside waiting for my gowns to sell and I am interested in graphic design. So I started with Adobe Illustrator and made garment flats. Then I started to dig more, and it’s sooo challenging, drawing flats is like only 20% of the job of a technical designer. The whole tech packs is another new level. So I started selling my flat sketching online. My skill now is still limited in simple garment, not enough yet to draw flats for more complicated garments, but at least I’m making steps and I have to start somewhere.

Now also I just started my new job that’s not related with fashion at all. I realized that I need to keep a day job instead of just throwing myself to the unknown world of entrepreneurship. It keeps me sane because now at least I know I’m having a stable income every month. I keep the learning and freelancing on the side, so I work from 6 am to 2 pm, after that my day is full with study, practice and yoga until late at night. And repeat. I’m also happy that finally after 10 months of travelling every month, finally I have a peaceful month to work and be committed. I was supposed to travel to Bali this month (I already booked the tickets), but I cancelled because I got scared of flying with Lion Air after the tragic incident.

Next year, I plane to move to Bali. So I’m saving my money for that. I have plans to pitch to apparel manufacturers in Bali that’s managed by foreigners. I’ve stalked them already since last month, I’m gonna pitch for an internship opportunity, because I have to gain field experience if I want to increase my rate. This is gonna be a long process. It’s gonna take me another year probably (lol my boyfriend has to deal with my poverty for another more year! Be patient, hon. I’m working for us too! Hehe) But I have to learn how to crawl before I can jump. I have to start somewhere, and if it means doing small steps, being rejected many times and etc, I’ll take them.

Flying Under

Just this week, my country was shaken by a heartbreaking news of a plane crash that killed 189 people on the 29th of October 2018. Until now, we’re still mourning.

The news made to international news agencies. The plane JT610 was supposed to fly from Jakarta to Pangkal Pinang but never made it as it blew off in the air and fell down to 30 meter below the sea, just 10 minutes after take-off.  The airline, Lion Air, has made itself to top 5 for the worst airlines in the world for years. Yet, this low-cost airline has never got its license taken off despite the number of accidents, constant delays, lies to customers and enslaving its employees.

It’s very rare to find Indonesians who has never had bad experience with the airline in the plane and at the airports (by their management). Yet, it’s one of the most selling one in Indonesia because of its cheap price and it offers many schedules in a day (which turn out to be just lies, they will eventually just merge the flights into less flight schedule. By doing this, they make more profits with the ticket price difference). My rants about this company could fill up a book.

Before you start telling me, “Dont blame the airline, it can happen to any airlines, bla bla blah…”, well, do your own research first about this airline. It’s so easy to point fingers at them in this matter by looking at their track record of lacking both safety and sympathy.

But to say that I never flew with Lion Air would be a lie, especially in the last 2 years since I quit my job and hit my rock bottom. Before I quit my job in an international organization, I never ever flew with Lion Air. Especially if it’s paid by the office. Even if I paid by myself, I always booked either Batik/ Sriwijaya/ Garuda Indonesia. But then I slowly couldn’t afford them anymore, so I booked my first Lion Air flight.

I remember I was so nervous that I was sweating before and during the flight. It was full of turbulence. But then after one and two flights with this airline, I gave myself excuse to fly with shitty airlines all the time. In fact, just a day before the crash, I flew with Lion Air from the same airport and the same boarding lounge where the victims were last before their deaths.

The same plane flew from Bali to Jakarta the night before the fateful morning. Bali-Jakarta is one of the routes that I fly often. Thinking of the many possibilities just gives me thrills.

I am getting more skeptical about the airline since I’m dating a pilot who works in Indonesia. Every month, he needs to fly from different cities to his bases. My boyfriend himself says that he won’t ever choose Lion Air unless he doesnt have any choice anymore. I remember that whenever he booked me tickets, it’s never Lion Air, but I was the one who always asked for Lion Air because I didnt want to cost him a lot.

If non-pilots dislike Lion Air, I will think it’s not as worrying as when pilots dislike Lion Air, because I believe they know more than us about what’s going on with the turbulence, the hard landing and even whether it’s a good decision to fly or not considering the weather.

I actually already bought return tickets from West Sumatra to Bali with Lion Air, which means four flights of 2 hours each. That’s too scary to imagine, I’m not gonna risk my life in those eight hours of terrors. But it’s already too late now to book other flights, the price has already surged. In the end I decide to cancel my visit to Bali that I’ve been waiting for months.

It’s so heart-wrenching to watch about the victims’ story in the news, everyone of them had a story and loved ones waiting for them. Especially when the SAR team brought up baby shoes from the plane that has sinked down in to the sea, two babies were in the victims list.

I get worried sometimes with my boyfriend’s flying in and to remote areas with less facility in case something bad happens. One day I read a news about a small plane that crashed in the location of his work, my heart literally skipped a beat at that time to load the news in my phone, hoping it’s not his airline. Even though I knew he’s a good one (Well I dont know anything about flying but I can feel when someone makes you feel safe when his driving/ flying. Also his friends told me that he’s good) and I know how much he loves his job, it’s just still not easy to not worry about someone you love. I cant imagine what his parents feel when their son’s gonna live in a third-world country with poor healthcare and safety procedures. (But then told my self, “Why the hell are you acting like a white person from a developed nation? Look at yourself, you’ve survived 28 years living in this country! hehe)

Deepest condolence to all the victims, hope that justice will be served to whoever took responsibilities of this case because their lives matter.

Better Than Iphones

A month ago, I wrote about my tech wish list for 2019. This month, I just checked two of them; a new phone and a tripod. Both of them are for very cheap price and china products. My tripod is only USD 10, the quality is not outstanding, but enough to do the job. The other one, is a new phone. Finally after so long I can keep up with the mobile phone technology. I felt like someone who were raised in a cult then got amazed by the advances in the city.

Previously, I was always late to adopt new mobile phone technology because I only prefer to use Iphones, that mediocre overpriced brand. Because it’s always expensive, so I always waited until new series launched and the price dropped. In the end, I never knew the feeling of having a good mobile phone camera and a phone that can do everything, without me having to have another devices to do other things like ipod for listening to music and videos because those stupid Iphones only have 2GB RAM and small internal memory (of course to afford the 64 GB memory, I will have to sell my kidney). Also it’s just so stupid that they don’t have dual sim feature, it’s like other people are living in 2018 and Apple still lives in 2012. Dont forget about the camera, I’m not saying it’s bad, but they’re not outstanding for that price.

But I won’t lie that Apple has had successfully brainwashed me and many people in the world, especially the growing middle-class population like me. I felt the pressure to use Iphone only. I know that other brands can give so much for much cheaper price, but I thought I would feel embarrassed because other brands’ name and logo seemed cheap in my eyes. I dont know what magic that bitten fruit has, may be if it’s a bitten banana, it would have been different.

Luckily this time I’ve been wiser than before. Before, I didnt respect the value of money this much because my life went smoothly. Since now I’m slowly healing myself from my rock bottom, I’ve become more stingy about where and how to spend my money because I’ve collected it not easily. I ended up buying a Xiaomi phone as I’ve heard about how good it is a lot. And they’re true! This purchase is one my best deals in this year!

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The type that I bought is Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 Pro, it’s the upgrade of the previous series, Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 (however it’s not written on the box, you need to check the specs to see which one is. Otherwise you’ll pay a Pro price for a regular Note 5). You can read more about the specs here. I bought it for less than USD 200 which is still much cheaper than a secondhand Iphone 5s. It’s equipped with 4GB RAM and 64 internal memory.

And what else do I get for that price?? A lot! To be honest, first I was amazed by the casing, it doesnt look cheap at all because the back casing is not made of plastic (like most Samsung are). The size is a bit too big for pocket that makes it not handy, but it’s more comfortable for watching videos and reading ebooks, and the body is super thin. The screen color is amazing, the speaker is loud that I dont need to put on wireless speaker if I’m not on earphones. It allows me to split screen and do multi tasks, the charging is super duper fast and the battery lasts for the whole day even though being actively used for videos. The signal receiver is also strong and faster than other phones I’ve had before, it can also tether the wifi signal that I get to other device (which cant detect the wifi, this case often happens). What I love most is the camera! I will give it five stars!

Camera quality is the reason why I wanted to buy a new phone, I want a shortcut to do my things, I dont like bringing a big camera everywhere and having to transfer them to my laptop to upload on social medias.

My boyfriend bought a USD 900 Samsung with an excellent camera few months ago, I used to bring his phone everywhere (even when in an area with bad phone service) because I claimed that his phone was my Instagram camera. Now, I dont need it anymore coz I have mine (of course he’s happy about it coz he doesnt need to worry about his luxury phone’s wellbeing when it’s with me anymore), and I feel lucky because I bought mine (for almost the same quality as his) for less than USD 200 while he paid for USD 900, LOL. #competitivegirlfriend

I’m not sure yet about the durability of this phone, even though Iphone’s price is stupid but I must admit that they have the best durability (better than the classic Nokia). My Iphone 4S for example, has been used for 9 years and still working. But who would like to use the same phone for more than 5 years?? Only my mom’s generation I think, we, millenials, have commitment issue, even with phones. I predict that after 2 – 2.5 years, I will want a new phone already.

Here are some shots I took with my Xiaomi. I’m 100% sure that I’ve kissed Iphones good bye!

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Random old photos to laugh at

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When I was in Raja Ampat, Papua, Indonesia for a holiday a week ago, I barely had internet access because the place was so remote and untouched. Even though we stayed in a super nice resort, we only had internet from 4 pm to 12 am, the internet was soo poor. For other people who can swim and dive, of course it doesn’t matter. They mostly were in the water up to three times a day. But for me who still swim and snorkel with a floaty around my chest, I certainly had a lot of time being not in the water and reminiscing my life without internet. FYI, I’m an internet addict, though my addiction is still healthy and positive, a life without internet is like an Armageddon to me. To kill time waiting for 4 pm, I decided to clean my laptop files, delete all the junk files and photos I’d hoarded for years. My Gosh, I ended up deleting 10,000 photos from 2010 up to 2018!! No the zeros are not a typo. I literally had more than 10,000 photos, and that was after I lost my previous laptop and lost most of my photos, imagine how many photos I had in total.

large (4)There’s a phase in my life when I was so obsessed with experimenting styles in front of camera with self-timer. If you know me just recently, you’re lucky. Because if we had met 10 years ago, I probably could kill people with the number of cringe I produced. Of those 10,000 photos, they’re mostly from 2010 to early 2014. I was the girl who bought a lot of stupid props like dysfunctional cute analog camera, rabbit-head-shaped eye mask, hello kitty lunch box, etc which I never practically used beside taking pictures or what people call nowadays as “content creation”. I was a die-hard fan of Japanese’s lolita subculture. It’s a fashion in which we dress like living dolls, with a lot of pink, bows, unicorns, uncomfortable layers of clothes. And I wore hijab at that time, so I proclaimed myself as the hijab lolita, LOL!! But when I decided to take my hijab off and made it public, I withdrew myself from any social media, deleted thousands of my FB ‘friends’ and had a hiatus for months, also I deleted my IG account, and photos of me in hijab from all social media I had.

Even though I’ve tried to delete all the photos of me in hijab, I think many are still on the internet because of sites like Pinterest and alike but they’re not under my name nor from my real accounts. Some photos I admit are actually cool in its own weirdness, but I won’t put any hijab photos of me in any of my personal accounts (too bad coz there are tons of photos to laugh at from that phase of my life). Anyway, these photos can describe enough how the big picture was. Haha!

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The above photo explains a lot. It was still the era of Blackberry phones and as I was a fan of flip phones, I chose the one on the left because it was the only flip model of the brand. I was also obsessed with Motorola V3 that I bought another one after the first one I bought was broken. Until now I still keep my Motorola, it’s such an antique and it was the time when Gossip Girls TV series was the reference for fashion. And look at my Blackberry phone, seemingly I never kept anything I bought in its original look that I couldn’t help myself from Cihud-nizing everything.

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19 y.o Me showing off my cheap ring that I was so proud of

It was a decal stickers that I glued on the phone’s body. The rings in the photo are just two of my 50 crazy-looking ring collection. Everyday I wore different rings (sometimes on both hands). I loved gigantic rings, these ones were the normal ones compared to others which had crazy and colorful shapes like, cheesecake, a bowl of spaghetti, analog camera, cars, etc. At that time for me, university was like a joy because in Indonesia we have to wear uniforms since kindergarten to high school. So everyday of uni I enjoyed as a costume party and I had to take an OOTD photo before going to class to document my style. If you google “Cihud hijab” you can still find a few of my looks that’s not from my own accounts. I found some fake accounts using my name/ nickname that they even added me on Facebook.

These photos are from a Halloween party at my faculty, everyone was dressing up in costume, I was just dressing up as my self, that’s how I literally dressed up in uni. Look at those signature pink shoes that I custom ordered far away from Jakarta!

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largeMy bedrooms (in my house and every time I moved to different dorm rooms) were always like a kindergarten classroom. Every side of the wall had different theme because I used it as background for taking photos. All of my friends always set my bedroom as their photo studio too that I had friends used my room(s) to do photoshoot for their new FB profile pics. Not only walls, even inside of my wardrobe was also a photoshoot property that I ‘cihud-nized’. I literally had photos of me in such fashion inside my closet! My goal at that time was for my dorm room(s) to appear in Pinterest dorm room inspiration boards!

Even though I wore hijab at that time, I always kept my hair super long. I actually looked like a ghost rather than Princess Rapunzel. One bow was not enough, I had to wear at least two! In the photo on the right (below), I had a big bow hair clip on the back of my head. I wanted to look like a Christmas gift from every angle; front, back, and side. Haha!

If you’re not from Indonesia, you probably don’t know that contact lenses are a big thing in Indonesia. Young girls feel the pressure to have big eye pupils like you see in anime and preferably in contrast color from our original eye color, like blue, purple, grey, green. Too bad my eyes are so sensitive that I can’t handle wearing contact lenses for more than 2 hours and it takes me more that half an hour to put them into my eyes because I always have teary eyes easily. So I wore contact lenses only when I wanted to take pictures. Look at this photo below how hard I tried to widen my eyes as big as possible, yes I looked like a cartoon character, the Tweety bird.

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When I started working in an international conservation organization which is a men-dominated field, I suddenly brought something these guys had never seen in real life to the office. My office had only 6 women out of 70 employees and other women were older than me and tomboyish. And then I walked in with all my pinkish stationery to cihud-nize my work cubicle.

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I gave the office telephone and LCD monitor some pink bows using a double-tape.

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Then already started reduce the degree of my alien style when I went to office, I no longer wore cheap crazy-shaped rings. I started to buy real jewelries with my own money. This photo on the right was just me showing off my jewelries and the expensive Guess purse I just purchased. Since then I can’t lower my standard anymore, no more cheap accessories I want to be in my hands and on my whole body, I threw away all of my Harajuku-themed ring collection because they feel cheap! LOL, what a snob!! Even when I’m poor and broke, I still keep my standards! Haha!

There are still many photos that I actually already selected but they will make this post super long, so I’ll post them later someday in some other posts. It’s also good to not bombard my audience with too much cringe in one single post. Haha!

 

#ChangeTheRatio

Tech world has been stereotyped as the men-dominated world even though the chance is for every body. There are so many factors that force the imbalance ratio to take place, one of them is the mindset (whether from men AND from women themselves) that women are less capable than men to do tech-related stuffs. There have been some initiatives to fight against such notion and I found one of them in Bali, it’s called The Institute of Code. They’re giving opportunities (in the form of scholarships) for women to learn how to code AND how to make money out of your coding skill. I applied for it because I think I’ve witnessed a lot in the field that I’m working in right now and I have some experiences to share, how the myth is not true. Also, I see the opportunity will help me in the future to support my other skill to achieve the career and lifestyle of my dream in the future. So that later I can tell to my parents, “Mom, you should’ve given me the same opportunity as you gave to your son. But never mind, look at me now.”

As an Indonesian woman, I know for sure that the imbalance ratio stems from more than just a mindset of women. It stems back to the family–at least that’s what happened in my country and what I experienced. When I graduated high school and was going to college, I wanted to study design, whether it’s fashion or graphic design. But those fields–just like other tech-related degree–are so expensive and my parents already sent my brother to a prestigious private university of technology in Indonesia to study computer science. So my parent told me that I could not go to an expensive higher education because ‘WE’ have to focus on my brother because he is a MALE. A son will be the one who’s working for the family and daughter will marry and stop working so that’s why parents are more willing to prioritize their son’s education than the daughter’s. My parents said that being fair is not about giving the same amount, but giving what one deserves and needs, so they assumed that I deserved and needed less.

So I ended up going to a public uni which was 8 times cheaper than my brother’s and studied something else. And my parents, it’s not that they didnt have money for me, they actually had more than enough saving for my education if I chose tech-related major, but they said they kept it for my wedding someday (at that time I hadn’t even started dating!). They said they’d been saving their whole life to afford my brother’s education and my future wedding. I hoped that there would be a chance after my brother graduated that my parents would change their mind and gave a lil portion of chance for me to study what I liked. Unfortunately, then my father fell very ill and we had to spent a lot of money on his surgeries and medication. So no money left and bye-bye, dreams.

But don’t get me wrong, my parents are good parents, they love their kids very much. They tried hard to give us the best. The only problem was that they did it in the way they thought how it should be done, which was also the product of their environment.

And I see that happens often among Indonesian families, so another reason why we only have few women in Indonesian tech-o-sphere is not only because we associate it as a man’s thing (like cars, soccer, etc) but also because we’re not given the opportunity to even know it. How can we know how it feels like when we’re not even given the chance to dream of it?

And now I’m pursuing my creative dreams, first I studied fashion then graphic design, self-taught from books and internet. Both fields, even though they have the word ‘design’, have very different environment. My circumstance in the fashion design world is dominated by women, while in graphic design women is rare. Especially graphic designer that can do web development. In the community group chat/ FB page, they called me with “Mas” instead of “Mbak” (It’s like Mr & Ms in English) eventhough clearly my profile pic is of me and my name is a woman’s name, because they thought girls are not gonna be joining this field.

Motivational fitness illustration with female silhouette and letteringI actually don’t know why it’s always been associated with men’s world, as if Snapchat is for women and making webs/ apps are for men. In fact in my 28 years of life, I’ve always been the one doing the techie jobs in the communities/ organizations I’ve been. For example, I was the one who set up, designed and managed the website for my theatre club and had to train guys simple tasks like how to upload a post and resize photos in bulk (they didn’t even know how to do them, let alone wordpress design. I designed my craft blog by myself too. (Well I know it’s not impressive or such a big achievement, for someone with no background knowledge in IT, that counts, hehe).

I was inspired by an Indonesian woman figure in our startup scheme, Alamanda Shantika, who was the former vice president of Go-Jek, the biggest startup in Indonesia. She was the first programmer of the startup, not only that, she’s also a designer. She’s my role model in many things. I listen to her talks a lot, stalked her, and found out that she was raised by her family who gave all the children the same opportunities no matter what the gender is. So Alamanda Shantika is the example of how Indonesian women can be when we’re given the same opportunities and trust.

She encourages Indonesian women to be more involved in the startup scheme or at least start to learn tech-related stuff, hence I started my steps with the graphic design thing. I know I probably cant be like her who’s able to build apps from scratch, my goal is just as simple as being able to build simple websites, I kinda like making portofolio websites for different individuals/ companies, I like the design process of it. And I know there’s a demand for it, more and more businesses and people need personal websites. It is surely in my list, even though it’s kinda hard for me to find the environment that can help me to accelerate the learning process. I’ve taught myself several skills but I of course wish I had the opportunity to be in the environment of like-minded people instead of learning by myself in my room with mentors I hardly communicate with. I hope someday I can follow Alamanda’s steps to #changetheratio in my own ways.

Uke helps the imposter child in me

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Impostor Syndrome is a psychological phenomenon in which a person always feels and believes that she/ he is inadequate and an incompetent failure despite his/ her achievements. This syndrome is common in a high-achiever personality, even Maya Angelou and Albert Einstein had it. It can affect not only the talented and intelligent people, but anyone, anyone can have factors in their backgrounds why they have it, for example, what happened to them in their childhood, did the parents always doubt them, compare them to other kids, etc.

I think I am one of the imposters, I’ve known it for so long that I have the tendency to feel that I’m always not good enough and always far from what I want to become, and always feel that if I achieve something, it’s because of luck, not because I have the ability to deserve it. But I didn’t know that it has a psychological term.

This also stems from my childhood and by the way I was treated by people close to me (adults) at that time. For example, when I won some competitions (from English speech contest, drawing, scholarships, academic achievements, etc), I was always told to be grateful because all of them happened because of the help of other people or coincidence–whether it’s God’s help, or my brother’s help, or that I competed in a low-level competition, etc–instead of acknowledging my ability and hard work for it. My parents perhaps did this without negative intention, it’s because they didn’t want me to be an arrogant and cocky person. So they always told me to thank other parties for my achievements, because without them I would never be able to do that.

It may seem tricky from the surface because people wouldn’t guess people like me–who put herself out to the world in so many platforms–are actually doubting ourselves. If you’re doubtful of yourself, then why you’re so confident to put yourself out there?

Well, in my case,  this ‘confidence’ wall is myself fighting against myself. One part of me is the somewhat destructive imposter that always makes me want to hold back my ideas, works and creations, and just throw them away or hide them. This side of me is the one who’s always pushing the standards for me to achieve which sometimes can be good, but also harmful when I let it in total control. I remember when I was in school, I tended to avoid teachers’ attention by never speaking up about my opinions. I always told other kids first, and then others would claim that the ideas/ works were theirs. I was just the invisible student, people knew me just because I was funny, not because I could think or make something.

The other part of me is the one who realizes that this should not let to happen all the time, this part of me is the one who realizes that it was the reason why I felt unhappy about myself and she has to do something about it. The first part of me always waits for perfection, the second is the one who will just launch something without waiting for it to be perfect. Both sides have their own plus points for me.

The second always protects me from self-hating by asking me to do something different from what I always do. Especially when I really like something/ someone so much, I tend to feel I’m not good enough. So the second personality will take over and say, “Let’s take a break from it for a moment and do other stuff.” Blogging and other kinds of documentation of my life are examples of it.

That was the reason why I started blogging in 2009, it was not for other people’s amusement, it’s for myself to look back and to counter from the feeling of  haven’t achieved anything. This time it’s playing ukelele.

A few weeks ago I bought an ukelele, well I actually got it for free by redeeming my points on an online marketplace, I only paid for the shipping. I could have chosen something else among the options, but I thought that I dont have musical skills at all and my brain is very bad at multitasking (that’s why I found it very hard to play musical instrument), so I want to train my brain. And it’s not something that I’m obsessed with, if I fail, it doesnt matter because it’s not my passion. I have no goals to achieve in it. And if I can play it, then it’s good, it’s just a bonus from a side activity. No pressure to achieve anything.

So I was very happy the first time I was able to play the first song I learned, “Somewhere Over The Rainbow”. At first, I didnt even know which hand to play the chords and which one to strum the strings. Then I progress to develop a muscle memory to coordinate my hands but still couldn’t sing along while playing. Then I finally can sing along while I play. From one song, then I learned other songs to add to my library. (Watch me play ukulele in my IG‘s highlighted stories)

This maybe is just a simple little thing, but for me it has helped me to feel good because I’d never thought I would be able to play any instrument in my life. Maybe also because I set no expectation.

I know many people have impostor syndrome as well, and my advice is to take a break and have a getaway with something you set no expectation of. Just do it.