The Hardest Puzzle Ever

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Isn’t it funny that sometimes life is just like a mystery puzzle set?

Sometimes you think you need to have every piece, sometimes people can just feel complete without needing to have all of them. Sometimes you think you have everything but still you feel there’s a missing piece that you don’t know what it is.

Sometimes you just wanna barter the pieces you have with other pieces which there’s no guarantee they will fit better.

Sometimes you have 9 out of 9, sometimes you can only find 2 out of 9. Sometimes the number of pieces you have change in every phase of your life, today you have 8, two days later you lose 3.

Sometimes someone becomes the one that completes the missing piece, sometimes that person leaves and costs you more missing pieces. Sometimes you become that piece to another person’s puzzle set.

Sometimes you think how to put every piece in order, which one has to be placed first, or you can just do them randomly. And you think, “Did I take the wrong step if I put this piece first?”

Sometimes you keep looking for the missing piece while in fact it’s been sitting next to your hand for so long and you were just not looking.

Sometimes you steal the piece from others, sometimes you achieve it by yourself, sometimes you’re just tired to think about the puzzle and create another imaginary puzzle set, sometimes you just wanna restart the game and don’t wanna mess up again. Sometimes you just have no choice. What does happiness really mean?

I realized I haven’t talked about my feelings in this blog lately, I mostly talk about my travels and other things that I find interesting and informative as they bring more traffic to my blog. Of course who wants to read about sentimental crap. And yeah I’ve been lucky enough that so far throughout this year I’ve had great journeys and relatively in happy and positive mood. But of course I am not always happy. In every year, there must be gloomy moments. I think it’s the first time this year I have it.

No matter how many times life gives you lemons, you’ll never be as prepared as you thought you will be. I understand it very much that in the end, everything depends on how we react to it. But it’s not always easy. Sometimes I wish I could be an ignorant person, sometimes I don’t wanna understand things that I understand, so that I’ll stop feeling worried, so that I’ll stop feeling sad.

Sometimes I just want to forgive myself to feel like this and make it an excuse to not do anything beside being sad. Then I regret the time I spent being sad, because only the time you enjoy wasting is not a wasted time, they say. And eventually, stumbled upon the quotes that I always come back to, “If you do nothing, nothing happens.” And here I am pouring my feelings through drawing and words. Not a big thing, not even matter to other people’s lives. But life is still a mystery. We’ll never know, we’ll never know.

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28 Things in 28 Years

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Yesterday I just turned 28, so, HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME..!

My 27 was so great, and some checklists were accomplished but the journey is still long. I feel fulfilled most of it because I started doing what I love, less stress, met interesting people and had new experiences. I am establishing my fashion brand, RAYU, which I’ve never thought I could be as I didn’t have a good support system in my closest surrounding when I was growing up.

Here are the 28 things I’ve learned in my 28 years wandering in this planet. Doesn’t mean they should be applied to other people’s lives, I’m just sharing these values and principles I hold.

  1. Everything happens for a reason.

There’s nothing such as coincidence, there must be reasons for everything. There are reasons why I wrote this, why you’re reading this, why we met and haven’t met somebody, etc. Most of the time we don’t find the reason right away, it takes time, sometimes an hour, a week, a year, 10 years. But whatever happened, they happened for the best.

2. I can’t control everything.

As much as I want everything to be under my control, I can’t and will never be able to do it. Especially when it involves other people’s feeling, but I am in control of my own feeling and how I should react to everything. And I should not worry over things I know I can’t control, for some things, I have no choice but just letting they go with the flow. If it’s meant to be, it’s meant to be.

3. Nothing is permanent, everything is temporary.

Whether it’s good or bad, things are not gonna last forever. So, when good things happen, enjoy while they last. When bad things happen, don’t worry, they shall pass.

4. Life is short.

I saw people I know passed away or dying or being depressed. I realized how short life is and in this one short life I don’t wanna do and be something I don’t like. Life is too short to be spent in one place, to be someone I am not, to read only one book, to have only one dream.

5. Invest on yourself and experience.

I guess many of us made mistakes in the first time we start earning money, we spent it on luxury. Now I’d rather invest on developing myself, improving skills and gaining experience. Because when I am old and my hair is grey, I will not remember the specification of iphone or gadgets I bought, I’m gonna remember moment. Memory is what we’ll have in the end. And my skills are can take me places.

6. Take a good care of yourself.

Like it or not, we cant expect much from people no matter how close we are to them. I am in my 20s is gonna be the one who takes care of me in my 50s, not my husband, not my kids.

7. Don’t hold grudges.

Life is too short to be mad at others and at yourself. I need to have the ability to forgive or at least forget, because I only have one heart. I should not make grudge a drive to do something. For example, trying to prove to parents because of what they did/ didn’t do. That means I am doing something out of grudges, instead of love. The only reason why I wanna do something must be love and should not be any other drives. Because when you do something because you love it, you don’t need to prove to anyone.

8. People can’t really change.

One’s personality can’t really change permanently. Maybe they change for a temporary, but not forever. So I don’t want to waste my time with people whose characters are soo in contrast to mine. I only have two choices, either to leave or to accept them as they are. If I choose to leave, I should not regret. If I choose to stay, I should not complain.

9. If I do nothing, nothing happens.

The truth is that everything worth having doesn’t come easily, even if you’re born as Paris Hilton. If I say I want to have something but I don’t do anything related to achieving it, I shouldn’t expect it’s gonna be served on my plate because life doesn’t work that way. If I say I wanna be a writer, then I have to at least write a paragraph daily. And I have to react fast to change my own situation. If bad things happen, do something to fix it. If good things happen, do something to maintain and improve it. If nothing happens, do something to make it happen.

10. In life, we need mentors.

Most of the questions we ask have been asked and answered by people before us, so I have to reduce my ego and learn from as many as possible. I was so stubborn before to do everything self-taught, which is not totally bad, but it would have been more time-efficient if I had had mentors, time is soo expensive that no stores sell it once you wasted it.

11. Don’t mind other people’s opinion.

Sometimes being stubborn is good. I can’t please everyone, there’s always gonna be people who disagree or simply don’t understand my choices. But that’s okay, I don’t owe explanation nor happiness to anyone but myself.

12. Stop depending happiness on other people.

I’ve had felt down and really sad many times and I got tired of it, I always evaluated from each failure to find why I could feel that sad. I thought the answer was because of other people who did me wrong. Maybe they did, but it’s not 100% their fault, it’s mine too who had depended my happiness 100% on them, so when they left or broke my heart, I ended up feeling worthless. Until in a meditation class, the teacher told us that most of the people choose to create and rely on unstable happiness, which means the happiness from outside the mind. We feel happy or sad because of what others did to us, that’s why it’s unstable. It’s called ‘outsourcing’ happiness. Meanwhile happiness is the state of mind, so everything that makes the mind happy should come from the mind itself. Hence, the ability to manage how we react to things is very important. I’m learning and meditation helps a lot.

13. Everybody has a different clock.

When we’re still in school, almost everyone go through similar stage at the same time. But after school, everything changes. We go our ways, the roads we are on to some destinations may be in different length compared to our friends’. I shall not compare myself to others. Happiness and success are not a competition anyway.

14. I can’t do everything by myself, I still need other people.

Being independent is good, but knowing how to work smart is better. I sometimes push myself too much and try to do everything by myself. Just because I can do it by myself doesn’t mean that I have to do it by myself. I have to learn how to either drop it, add value to it or delegate it to other people.

15. Look for myself first before I start looking for others.

In life, especially for women, we’ve been taught by fears of not getting something. Therefore, we’re always told to find jobs, or husband/wife instead of discovering who we are first. Seriously, this is so wrong and the consequence is high because you risk your TIME. If being in a wrong job or a relationship just risk money, it still can be repaid. But if I lose time, where should I go to get it back?

16. The opposite of love is fear, not hate.

Money is not the root of all evils, it’s fear. Fears that transform to other names, it becomes jealousy, hate, greediness, grudge, etc. And we fear to admit that it’s fear.

17. Hard work never betrays.

I don’t know how many times I feel down during learning process. I get bored and not rarely I fail. Slowly I see things getting together as long as I do things consistently. Sacrifice needs to be made, but someday this will pay off. Work until I know better, and when I know better, do better.

18. There’s no shortcut to success.

Patience is not one of my best capabilities, I always wanted to get things fast when I want it. That’s why I always tried to find shortcuts, in the end they cost me more in price, time, and energy. From this I learned to be more patient and love the process. Like it or not, not everyone is born a superman, so we need to go through process in order to achieve success.

19. My vibe attracts my tribe

I should not complain about the people in my circumstance because the reason why my circumstance doesn’t change is because I haven’t change myself into the energy I want to attract. So if I want to be surrounded or approached by positive people, I have to reflect it first.

20. Accept change and make friends with it.

Changes are not always scary. Comfort zone is not always good just because it’s familiar.

21. Everything has consequences.

Every decision I make today will result in my tomorrow.

22. What I tolerate makes me worried.

Sometimes being selfish is good, meaning I have to put myself first and learn to dare to say ‘NO’ to people or things that actually make me feel uncomfortable before they mount up. Be brave to leave things or people if it means for the better. It may sound heartless, but we only live once.

23. Niche down. 

Took me years to learn that small circle is better than big one that’s loose and shallow. Growing up, I tried to attract as many people as possible to like me, but that limited who I wanted myself to be. Now my circle has been smaller and smaller and I’m loving it. It also can be applied in business, that I should find my niche rather than targeting everyone into my market.

24. Don’t stop questioning.

Always stay a beginner.

25. Growing up doesn’t mean I have to stop having fun.

I’m not gonna be a boring person. Every child is born creative, I choose to remain creative. I don’t wanna see life as burden, I wanna see it as a playground or a blank canvas a painter would play with colors on. I wanna paint a picture I want to remember, because my name, Citra Ayu, means ‘a beautiful picture’.

26. There’s no such a thing like a ‘collective destiny’.

Just because I was born a female then I have to be and behave certain ways that an area believes in. Just because something didn’t happen to other people, it doesn’t mean it’s not gonna happen to me either.

27. Happiness and beauty are not competition.

I used to think that being an employee for years is lame, but it’s actually not. Just because something is not my cup of tea, it doesn’t mean it should be the same for other people. Just because I wanna be an entrepreneur, it doesnt mean that those who work in institution or housewives have boring lives, they have their own concept of happiness, so do I. And I am happy for other’s happiness.

28. Age is just a number!

I don’t grow old, I choose to grow gOLDen!

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taken on the day I officially turn 28

#CADAS2018 Day 2: My first day in Adelaide

I arrived in Adelaide on May 15th 2018 morning after a 7.5 hour long flights in total (via Singapore). At that time, it’s autumn already in Adelaide while just two weeks before I came, the weather was perfectly warm (that’s what people said).

This is my first travel to a western country which has more than two seasons. In Indonesia, I don’t need to really concern about clothes when travelling, because every where and every season, it’s relatively similar temperature. What can affect how one should dress when travelling in Indonesia is not the temperature, but the religions and beliefs of the people in the area.

For me as a tropical human, I get cold easily, even if I turn on the AC to 25 Celcius, imagine how Adelaide’s 13 C – 17 C temperature was torturing me at that first time. I admit that it was also my fault to underestimate the temperature and prioritized which clothes would make me look good in photos instead of ones that can comfort and secure me from cold. 70% of my luggage is knee-length dresses which I thought would look good with old European-influenced buildings in Adelaide, this decision turned out to be a big fail.

Lucky I brought some stockings and yoga pants (yes I thought of trying yoga classes or even morning jogging, but the cold made me step back –..–” ), so I wore yoga pants underneath my stockings. Phew!

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The real reason why I crossed my legs was because I was freezing.

The first day I arrived, we went to my bro’s university for a reception party (a small party for the graduates’ families), but it started in the late afternoon, I felt that I should not just waste time waiting, so we decided to go early to look around the city. And I decided to challenge myself with this outfit (in photo), I wanted to adjust my body to the cold fast so that I would be able to enjoy the city instead of hiding under layers of blanket at home.

The first time we landed at the airport, there’s a funny feeling I felt that may be unusual to hear if you’re white. In my country, white people call their selves expats–just like everywhere–, and they’re mostly treated a level higher than others. In Bali–I lived in Bali for half a year–there are so many foreigners (mostly white), whether they’re only tourists or work/ have business there. Even if they’re working in Indonesia, most of them have descent jobs or higher class, or if they work as, say, teachers, they’re paid four times higher than local teachers in international schools. So, visiting a dominantly-white country and seeing white people doing blue-collar jobs, it felt different for me, especially when I saw white homeless people on the street (yes, there are still people living on the street in Aussie too!), I mean that’s just not common to see for me, even though I know that people are just the same everywhere, we do what we gotta do, we gotta work even it means a job that people don’t really appreciate. It felt different–I don’t know which word can describe it best–when a white cleaning lady cleaned my table in a cafe, I imagined if she’s not in that uniform and not holding broom, and she’s in Bali, she would be treated with the so-called expats service, she would suddenly be a princess. It’s unusual for my eyes, because usually it’s the other way around in Indonesia.

The people I saw in the airport were the ones that gave me the first impression about a country and my first impressions about Australians were they’re very nice and friendly. They always say “Thank you” and “Sorry”, even for minor things and sometimes it’s my fault, it made me feel that I’d been impolite all my life because I didn’t say those words as much, LOL. The airport officers, even though they’re strict in doing their jobs (which I am not used to see people in uniforms being string doing their jobs in Indonesia), they’re very friendly and helpful. Even the immigration officer made a small talk with me and my mom asking whether we’re excited about our holiday in Aussie. It may be just a little thing, but it made us felt welcome. This experience made me feel that maybe Indonesia needs to review/ evaluate our airport staffs.

As soon as I stepped out of the airport building and saw Adelaide’s sky, I was amazed to see how blue the blue sky in Adelaide. I saw sky that blue in Indonesia only when I was sent to remote areas when I was still working for WWF and in Gili Air (Lombok) during a holiday, that’s because in those areas, there are not many motor vehicles (especially in Gili Air, motor vehicles are prohibited). Adelaide’s sky is not polluted, it’s bright, maybe even brighter than my future. LOL. But how come we live under the same sky but the sky can look different?

Another thing that wowed me was the fact it’s sooo clean. My eyes couldn’t find any trash on the street! If this is the impression that I first got coming to their country, I wonder what they think when coming to my country and see our streets. Ouch!!

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In Indonesia, people run away from the sun (afraid of getting dark skin), in Adelaide I just wanted to get under the sun because it’s warm.

 

**For more stories in Adelaide by me, click here.

Youtube Milestones: Hitting 1K Subscribers!

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A blessed May this year started by my youtube channel hitting 1000 subscribers after 1 year and 3 months old and 16 videos!

In end of Jan this year, I celebrated my 500th subs and three months later I hit 1000 subs! This feels good and I’m very happy about it, maybe this is not a big number for many, but I always celebrated every milestone, since just 10 followers, 100 and 500. It’s also not easy like the youtube pioneers’ era, they gained the first-mover’s advantage when the competition was different due to less competitors. Now almost everybody has youtube channel, among tons of choices, not easy to get one loyal sub.

That’s why I learned the importance to niche down to one-two streams only when you’re just starting. I am now focusing on tutorials and I niche down to only use Bahasa Indonesia instead of English, because I target Indonesian audience and we have a big population number. If I try to grab as many audience, there are already too many English craft channels with good quality, meanwhile in Indonesia’s market, there are still very few craft and DIY channels that have good recording quality and brief tutorials. This also helps my craft blog‘s audience and views to grow!

The advantage of tutorial videos is that people watch them over and over for the step by steps so my views grow fast. Now that I hit 1k, I can apply to monetize my vids due to Youtube’s changed policy in the beginning of 2018, one of them is to have at least 1000 subs.

However monetization is not my main goal, I just want to share and be useful for others because life is too short to keep everything I’ve known just for myself. Furthermore I feel flattered by people who reached out to my soc-med accounts, asked questions, etc. Better to be surrounded with people who like me for who I am than just a big numbers of followers who don’t really care about what else I can offer to the world.

To celebrate my milestone, I plan to add one more variety of content; still about tutorials, but instead of DIY tutorials, this time I will make workout tutorials because fitness is one of my main interests in life. This also is based on the same reasons like my craft stream; because less competition in Indonesian audience. I also think that more people can relate more to workout vids, because not everyone has the need or interest in making DIYs. Every time I posted my workout vids on IG stories, I always got more views. So why not give it a try, we’ll see! But it’s gonna be more challenging than craft videos because I know people will then attack or comment on my physical appearance, I will be more body-conscious than before!

Thank you so much for people who’ve supported or even doubted me this far, those helped me to this. If you haven’t subbed yet, please visit and see if you like my channel 😀

The Truth about Living Your Passion

I’ve passed the phase when I questioned what I want to do to in life, whether I was doing my dreams or somebody else’s which is called the passion searching. That phase was filled with trials and errors and pivoting is common. In the beginning, the picture of what I wanna do in life was blurry, like solving a puzzle. At that time I was not sure what I wanted to do, but I’ve always been sure all the time about what I don’t like and don’t wanna be since I was younger. Along the way it gets clearer, I’ve never been this sure. It’s true that passion searching is important; to believe in it, chase it and live it. But after you find your passion and are sure about pursuing it, what happens next is not less important as the journey to find it.

You can find sooo many motivational speakers on Youtube to help to convince and motivate you to be true to yourself and find your passion. But in the process of chasing it (before you can enjoy your life from it), that job to convince and motivate yourself is on you only. Not many of them will tell you how hard, chaotic, mental, physical and emotional-wrecking it can be.

Unfortunately for most of us, our passions don’t typically fall right into our laps. We have to get out there and take action, often with a little uncertainty, in order to discover them. Hence oftentimes passion changes.

I will say that just because you’ve found your passion, not every body should chase it and risk the comfortable life and career path they’ve had before. Because it’s only for the strong, patient, resilient, and hardworking ones. Especially if you have decided to give up your stable 9-to-5 job and focus on your passion that could be in creative or anti-mainstream field. Be ready for the misery that it will bring too, because love doesn’t always come with joy. I’m still in the striving process too, but it’s been better than months ago. Slowly but surely, the seed that you plant will blossom as long as you do it consistently.

4484This is the phase when you’ll realize that it’s much harder than you thought it would be. That you  will question yourself, compare yourself to others, blame yourself for the things you haven’t achieved yet. Things will not go as smooth as you planned, there will be a lot of errors that test your determination, little things yet can be fatal and make you just wanna give up and go back to the normal life like other people.

You know what, every time I wanted to take my game to another level, there’s always obstacles, my phone got stolen, tablet suddenly got broken, DSLR camera couldn’t turn on, sewing machine didn’t do its job, everything happened in a row in just four months. These devices are my main production and marketing capitals which without them I can’t do much. Furthermore, I’ve been let down by the people I worked with, when they didn’t give the effort and quality they promised. There’s always things that happened to make me quit, for many times I seriously thought about quitting. But then I remind myself, this is only the beginning, too early to quit.

When you work a 9-to-5 job, there is already guidance, what you should do and how you will do it, you’ll risk other people money if you make mistakes, not yours. To make it worse, I always felt that I dont have as much time because I found my passion late, unlike other people who’ve done and got the opportunity to learn it earlier by picking the right major in uni as their passion. Meanwhile I couldn’t and I will never be able to. Even if I had been sure about my passion in creating fashion since high school, I would never have been able to go to fashion school or any design major because it’s so fricking expensive, my family can’t afford it.

And even when I’ve chosen my passion, there’s always parts of it that I don’t enjoy doing or I can’t do well. Don’t think that just because you do something love then you will enjoy every process of it. No, totally not.

Not to forget that it also means less money in the beginning, the duration may take months or years to eventually take off. This can cause another frustration when you’re used to be able to predict what you will get every month and then changed to you don’t even have idea how to survive tomorrow.

I’ve read somewhere a quote that says, the mid process of making a masterpiece always looks like a chaotic and almost-doomed ship. Which is true, every project/ design I’ve done that turned out to be good always made me had doubts in the mid process because it didn’t seem like it would. Meanwhile everything that I did smoothly turned out to be just a so-so result. So maybe that can also apply in life that if your life seems like a mess now, maybe you’re going to a great life in the future. They say, the enemy of a great life is a good life.

The graphic below from Austen Kleon’s book, “Steal Like an Artist”, perfectly describes the phase of executing ideas, where do you think you are now??

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“Kenapa Harus Bule”: When Indonesian Woman Dating Bule

“Kenapa harus bule?” (means “Why Bule?”) is one of the most-asked questions people give to me lately ( in the first place is question about how I can stay skinny –..–” ). The term ‘bule’ (read: boo -lé) means non-Indonesians, mostly referred to white people. If they’re not white but non-Indonesians, they are still referred as bule, added with the name of country they’re from, for instance; bule Arab, bule Korea, etc. Historically, it was a derogatory towards white people, but it’s changed a lot, maybe because most Asians adore fair skin or it’s the dollar effects.

This post is inspired by a newly released Indonesian movie with the same title, “Kenapa Harus Bule”, that tells about a brown-skinned, black-haired Indonesian woman in her early 30s who’s looking for a man to be with but she’s been told many times that her look is not up to Indonesian standard of beauty and only bules find her beautiful. Anyway, this post is not a movie review, because I haven’t watched it yet. It’s my own opinions as an Indonesian woman who hasn’t dated Indonesians for years and because of that, people like me, can easily got labelled as a Bule Hunter. Bule Hunter is such a phenomenon that I don’t deny it exists, especially in touristy areas and has negative connotations because they’re mostly only after the dollars, or other prestige or any other silly reasons. Of course there are also people like me who just happen to have/ have had non-Indonesian partners because we really fall in love with the persons they are, not because they’re bules, it just happened to be a part of their identities. I mean, come on, me?? hunt?? I’m the fox, baby! LOL.

In Indonesia, it’s common to give stereotypes to Indonesian who’s dating or married to a bule, especially if the bule is Caucasian. These stereotypes are more easily thrown to Indonesian women who date bule than Indonesian men who date bule. Why?? Because that’s just the world of patriarchy works, so sad but it’s still the world we live in.

I’ve dated (and flirted with) both locals and bules, from my experience, I can say that we’re all the same in many ways regardless the country, race, religions, etc, there’s only one race which is human race. You can find douchebags Indonesian guys, you can find douchebags bule guys. There are good, open-minded bule guys, there are also good open-minded Indonesian guys. But yeah, I do admit that there are some traits that can be easily found in westerners, there are some traits that can be easily found in Indonesian guys, it depends on what you’re looking for. I mean, I’m 27 y.o and just like most 27 y.o, we’ve known our selves well, we already know which person will go along well with us, we know which one will make us feel comfortable without being someone we’re not. And in my case, local guys who have that are either in relationship with other people or don’t find me attractive. Hiks!

Of course in dating we’re trying to find someone we feel most comfortable with who has the same values and points of views. I think it’s kinda obvious for people who know me, I don’t think like many Indonesians especially from the ways I look at gender roles. Well probably it’s because in Indonesia (especially in small towns) and many Asian countries, at home parents really give samples of gender roles, home chores are mostly given to girls and young girls are told about how important marriage is since we’re 16, how to be a good wife, how to find husband, etc. I’m too rebel for that. For a small example, I witness a lot how wives are exhausted taking care of the house and kids all day and when the husbands come home, they asked the wives to make coffee for them. I mean, are you serious?? You have legs, hands, and brain, why don’t you do your sh*t by yourself? And if I speak my mind about it, I will be called ‘a challenge’ or ‘disturbed’ or whatever that sounds like I got wrong education. Meanwhile in bule’s culture and countries, maybe it’s not easy to afford a housemaid, so they’re accustomed to take care of their selves and don’t feel right to ask somebody to do small basic stuffs for them, like making coffee. Some bule guys I was seeing earlier complained because I always gave drink to the guys first before I gave for myself, they asked why I was doing that and they wanted us to be equal.

In Indonesian relationship, women are expected to sacrifice once they get in relationship or marriage. That women are the ones who more likely to give up their career and dreams in the relationship. I disagree with this, why can’t we both grow together? In a broken family with a working mom in Indonesia, woman will be the first to be judged for her husband cheating on her, that’s crazy, if she’s not the one who cheats how could that be her faults? Raising kids and saving a relationships are the responsibilities of everyone in the relationship, not only one side which is determined by gender.

Other thing that I find very obvious is the way of expressing love. I don’t know why in Indonesia it’s so common to believe that if you love someone you need to forbid him/ her from many stuffs to show that you love and care about them. I’ve been told many times by local guys (event though in friendly situations) about how to think, how to dress, which to befriend with and what I think the worst is how and what to dream. Every time I give them signals of interest, they always start to show this symptom. Meanwhile with bule, I feel they’re more free, they may disagree with what I do, but they will not just forbid me right away. I feel more loved when I am given trust rather than limitations without logical explanation.

Also I don’t think I belong to the attractive category in Indonesian standards which prefer lighter skin. I admit that this ever affected me when I was a teenager that I tried so badly to whiten my skin. But deep down I’ve always found sun-kissed skin very sexy, I was just afraid people didn’t find me attractive because I didn’t match the standards. I went out with some locals who told me that they liked me because I was fair and if I was darker, they wouldn’t even try to approach me. Well it’s fine for me and I respect their honesty, we all have taste. What bothers me is when they try to control and make fun of me when my skin got darker after an outdoor activity. One day I posted a photo on my soc-med of my hand holding my then BF’s hand, you know what response I got from my local friends (guys and girls)? “Cihud why is your hand darker than your BF’s hand? He has a more beautiful hand than yours.”, seriously as if I didn’t deserve him because of my shade. I know it was joking, but still didn’t find it funny. So I feel more appreciated by bules that find me physically exotic (that’s what they say). Not only physically, but also intellectually that these guys who I hanged out with always said that the most attractive asset I have is not my skin, face, hair or look, but my mindset and passion. If I was just an exotic brown-skinned but didn’t think like this, didn’t have any other drives in life and only accepted what guys give to me, they wouldn’t fall for me. While many local guys tend to see this as a threat that needs to be shut down.

Also Indonesian guys tend to be more in a hurry when it comes to relationship, they like to plan about marriage at very early stage of relationship for many reasons (not all, but so common), most common reason is age. I kinda see it dangerous to only want things without really knowing why you want it, and I don’t want to be married with someone just because of his fears; fears of age, fears of time, family, etc.

For most Indonesian guys, age is an important consideration. Woman closing to 30 y.o is closing to her game-over. You can be smart, good looking and successful woman, but if you’re over 25, it’s like you’re over 52. Meanwhile, age has never been an issue with bule.

The way we see concept of success also influences how people behave in the relationship and how he/she expects the other to behave. I personally feel that local guys prefer their women to be more needy to them. While for me that is not cute. I always got complaints from local guys for being not needy. One very little example is shown by so many Indo girls speaking in baby voice, like literally baby voice, when they’re with the BFs. Every time I tried this with bule, I successfully got cringe in their eyes, like, “Babe, did you hit your head in a car accident?”

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Or maybe I’ll end up with a swan. We already have a pre-wedding photo.

So, based on the points above, I think my point is that everyone has his/her own ‘market’. Your market may be different from mine. There are billions of billions people in the world, there are so many places. To limit based on specific area is like wasting opportunities, nobody can guarantee that the person who was destined for you was born in the same city, district or country. Maybe he/she was born somewhere in other parts of the world, maybe he/she was born right in the same neighbourhood with you, who knows. So we can’t judge other people’s path that’s different from ours. For many people, they find it easier to understand partners who are from the same city, country or customs. Unfortunately, it doesn’t apply to me, I find understanding Indonesians harder, or maybe it was just bad luck for me to meet only the difficult ones. Nobody can know whether I will end up with a bule or local, nobody knows. Also, to generalize all bules based on race and countries of origins is wrong, they may look similar in our eyes, but they have different passports, different habits, different many things. There were locals who treated me bad, there were bules who treated me bad. I will share about the common misconceptions about dating with bules in different writing later. The more we meet people from different backgrounds, the more we feel that we’re all the same, that we want to be loved, understood and appreciated. We just want to find which one does us more.

Bye Bye, My Friends!

After months of being away from home and travelling here and there, end of last month I finally reached my parent’s home again where all of my stuffs are. First time I opened my room, I looked around that pinky room that I left for half a year and whispered to my self, “Sh*t, I’ve got too many stuffs all this time that I don’t need nor use anymore.”

One of them is my book collections, among them are hundreds of my comic books. Unlike other kids who just borrow comic books from friends or comic book rental, I always push myself to own things I like since I was a kid. Many of these books had been moving places to places as I brought them with me, I wanted to be close to my books just in case I suddenly miss reading them. But this side of me has been bothering me as a person who moves often, they take space and cost money to transport them to new place. Also, in the era where you can get many books and information so easily from the internet, it’s impossible for me to choose to read these comic books again amid all the downloaded books I plan to read. So what’s the point of keeping them anymore, I don’t want to be trapped in dependence on nostalgic feelings. Furthermore, who knows where I would be and live in the future? One thing I know, I will not live in West Sumatra for a long time, maybe in other cities, maybe other countries, who knows. Hence I decided to donate them.

I’d never thought that I would ever give away my books just like that. I bought them with my pocket allowance saving when I was in elementary school. I remember how I starved myself during breaks and watched my friends enjoying their snacks. I always thought I’d have a library in my future house where I would put my books and my kids would read them. If my friends borrowed my comic books, I nagged them (sometimes terror them) to return the books immediately. Because these books mean more than books to me, they’re dreams, memory and friends. They were medicines when I felt sad when I was a kid, I grew up with them. The early role models I had in my life were not from real life, they’re from these stories instead. I didn’t like reading books without pictures, because I like drawing and adoring other people’s drawings.

But let them be those good old days, I don’t prefer purchasing real books anymore because of my nomad life. I want to keep less things in life. Also, I don’t think my kids would be interested to read them, they will have other new heroes, even I don’t want to read comic books from my parents’ era.

So finally after 20 years (I started buying books since I was 6 y.o), I posted on my soc-meds that I was looking for a new home for my comic books, my childhood friends. I don’t want them to stay unread in my quiet bed room anymore. Better they give dreams to other little kids like what they gave to me, before other new heroes come and fade their charms away.

A friend suggested me a non-profit library in Padang, West Sumatra called Shelter Utara. There, people can read and borrow books, they don’t need to pay if they want to borrow books, but they have to put books in exchange. The books I found there are very interesting, if I stay in Padang, I will absolutely rent books there. Shelter Utara also regularly holds event and discussions on arts, literary works and social phenomenons. I was amazed that this organization has established since three years ago and managed by collective young people whose vision and mission is to share knowledge. They even held free classes for kids in the neighborhood and they said kids like to come every afternoon after they play soccer. Doing this makes me feel happy, knowing that my books will cherish other people’s lives.

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I may not have them in my bookshelves anymore, but I will always have them in my memory.