It’s always been there

IMG_1176I was arranging my bookshelves when I stumbled upon my old notebooks and binders. I realised that I used to always keep two kinds of journals; diary and inspiration books. When I wanted to write about my feelings and experience, I poured in my diaries. Inspiration books are where I collaged everything that I liked from printed media, whether it’s quotes, articles, illustration, language learning, and fashion styles.

These are some inspiration books I kept since 2006. At that time internet was expensive and there’s no Pinterest, I couldn’t just pin-and-save all the inspiration I like. I was a magazine addict, I hunted old English teenage magazines because I wanted to learn English (later I found out, English teenage magazines’ content was too ‘mature’ and ‘experienced’ for an ordinary nerdy Indonesian teen like me, seriously they talked about sex and sexual identity at that age, I was like, “Ouch!! Is it porn?”)

I didn’t keep inspiration books anymore since I befriended more intensely with internet. Also after highschool I was distracted with so many silly things. Also, we often listen more to what other people say than to our selves. Now at this age, 10 years later, re-reading those books makes me realized there are some parts of me that’s always been there and haven’t changed. Yet, at some stage, I didn’t know it :

  1. I’ve always been fond of fashion; about 60% of the content is fashion collage. I cut all the looks that I like, they all have similarity, that explains my style. After learning fashion at 27 y.o, I knew that method is called Mood-boarding, that’s what fashion students and designers have to do to design a collection and to find what their styles are. Meaning I have had done it before I even know that’s a part of a curriculum in fashion design study. No wonder now I go back to what I dreamed at 16-17, to be a fashion designer.
  2. I love languages; I collected vocabs and idioms from books and movies. I always watched English movies with notebook and dictionary in my hands. I watched a movie more than once, first to follow the story, second to check the new vocabularies, third time to re-play with new knowledge I got. And not only English, I taught myself Japanese and Spanish ( I still can understand a little Japanese, but Spanish has been gone forever from my brain and muscle memory, haha!). Now, I am a big fan of illegal movie streaming, too many movies and videos to watch, I can’t waste my 6 hours for just one movie!
  3. I like writing; I created fiction, short stories and sometimes poems. But majority of my short stories dont have endings yet, I dont think it’s because I didnt know how to end them, I just hopped to other stories/ things that caught my attention.

I see I made progress in my drawing and writing, language as well. I think these fashion moodboards by far have given me more inspiration than other resources I have now, because it’s already filtered by the old me to define the future me. The present me is stealing from myself in the past. Like Austin Kleon said, “We steal from ourselves; from dreams and memories.”

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I drew this when I was a Japanese Manga-lover 16 y.o kid.

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Those on the right are from 9 years ago. The green one is the most recent, a month ago.

How about you, what have you stolen from your dreams and memories?

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Now it’s funny

Living in Indonesia means you have to be accustomed to natural disasters and mysterious parking men whom we have to pay money to for their unavailing assistance. Western part of Sumatra island is prone to earthquake, that is where I had most of my earthquake experience when I stayed there for five years since my senior year in high school until I finished college.

I hate earthquake not only because it scares the hell out of me but also because it forces me to make ultra super quick decisions about my life. I am very bad at being spontaneous, even when I navigate a journey with a GPS, if the driver asks me suddenly which way to go, I often say the wrong direction. My brain could not synchronize under pressure.

My first earthquake experience in West Sumatra happened to me in the worst situation anyone would want to be during an earthquake, which is when I was totally naked. I was enjoying my bath like a princess, shampooing my hair like Pantene commercials, life was perfect. Until then all of a sudden I felt my boarding house was moving like waves, I thought my shampoo had caused me drunk, but it’s not possible because I used the shampoo on my hair, not in my mouth. It was the bloody earthquake! OMG, can’t you just wait until I get dressed, earthquake??!!

That’s the first time in my life I had to choose between my self-esteem and my safety. What if I ran out naked and the earthquake stopped after I threw away my dignity–that I actually questioned if I had one. But if I chose to at least get dressed first, what if the earthquake got worse and torn the house apart? Then I could have died while locking my bra, which is not the dead position I want to die in. I waited for some seconds, still naked, but the shaking kept getting harder so I just got out of the bathroom and found something to cover my body with. No bra, underwear nor pants needed, a very simple and cover-it-all clothing, which was a mukena (RED–a praying cloth for muslim women) that was not even mine!

I managed to escape out of the house with my emergency-dignity-saving cloth, my flatmates and landlords were already outside, frightened. Not because of seeing me coming out of the house, but because of the earthquake of course. I saw some of the neighbors were also wearing mukenas, I wondered if they were also naked underneath.

Then my landlord decided to take us all to safer place heading to higher area in the city because we were afraid it had tsunami potentials, so we should move from the downtown area to a more hilly place. So my landlord commanded us to hurrily pack our belongings and valuables. We entered the house with anxiety and fear of following earthquakes. The first thing I did was of course getting dressed, then another earthquake hit when I just finished clothing my self, but again and again I had to make a quick decisions about the things I had to bring for my survival, what are the things I couldnt live without that I had to pack in my pink backpack. I didn’t think much, I just grabbed anything I saw and ran downstairs.

In the car, my flatmates and I were still shocked by our experience. Since now I had more laxness to think and breathe normally, I wanted to check what I had packed inside my backpack, because it felt heavy. And what I found inside made my eyes out!! I just put my school textbooks into my survival kit! WTH was I thinking?? Ironically the textbooks I brought were Math and History. Seriously, of all subjects that Indonesian kids are forced to learn, why did I choose to save my Math book, a subject that I am most allergic to!! History book was still okay, just in case I couldn’t sleep if we had to stay in evacuation place, the book would be useful for my bedtime story. But Math??? It’s the first thing that I said “I hate you” to in my life, I felt haunted by it, like it forced to stay in my life. To make it worse, that goddamn math textbook was fricking thick like 300 pages, meanwhile my history book was only 200 something. For real?? As I can remember math books were just filled with numbers, spaces, brackets, and Xs and Ys, how could it be thicker than my history book?? Whose idea was this?? I needed to kill him/ her.

I looked at my friend’s next to me, I realised that the t-shirt she chose to wear on that scary day had this writing : “Oh, what a wonderful experience!” along with drawings of sunflower, rainbow and butterfly. Really?? Of all her clothes she chose that reality-contradictory tee?? I wondered if what she had in her bag was worse than my choice or not.

From that first experience, I learned that I had to always prepare my survival backpack so that I could easily directly grabbed if earthquake happened again. I promised my self to directly prepare my survival and pack my valuables as soon as we got back.

It’s almost midnight that we reached back home and chose to sleep in our boarding house as the condition was getting calmer. With a strong determination, I walked to my room, ready to pack my valuables. Then I just realised, I was a high school student and hadn’t started earning money, the question was not even “What valuable things in my life that I have to CHOOSE to save?” but “Do I even have anything worth-saving??” What I treated like gold and diamond at that time was my Naruto DVDs collection, that wouldn’t help me if Armageddon came to me. I didn’t have laptop or netbook, just a very old computer inherited from my brother that I would have been so thankful if anything destroyed it. It’s a kind of mixed feelings knowing that everything I had in my life was worthless, but at the same time relieved that I didn’t need to worry about anything but my own life.

I knocked on my flatmate’s door, she was also packing. I saw a teddy bear doll in her survival bag, I asked why she needed a doll for an emergency situation, she said it was from her boyfriend, she’s taking all the gifts from her BF inside her bag, maybe she thought that would be a romantic way to die. That’s a proof that love makes us stupid sometimes. I looked at myself in the mirror, I didn’t need to save any stupid dolls because I didn’t have any BF to give me any silly furry things, I hadn’t even dated at that age as I was a late blossom. My nothingness was complete. I felt free.

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Life illustrated, Doodling my life

I love thinking about life and laugh at it, whether it’s the past, present or the future expectation. Simple little things that are sometimes silly and we’re shy to talk about to people while actually others are doing the same silly things. We can feel connected to others when one can open up through many mediums, it can be words, songs, videos, drawings, etc. I’ve tried some of them, now I’m trying a new one for my own amusement to laugh about my life, maybe people can feel related to it.

Since in school, I’ve been always the type of student who draws anything that happens in her head about the class–and sometimes the teachers–in her friends’ books (not in my books, i liked to keep my own books clean and free from evidence just in case unexpected bad things happened).

My skill in drawing is just so-so or maybe below average, but I have the ability to express myself well, or at least to me my drawings are still understandable. Using my Samsung tablet, I like to draw random things from silly, good, somewhat inspirational, and naughty (wink!) things and send them to people I am close to. A bit out of topic, it’s why I decided to buy my Samsung Tablet that comes with a stylus pen instead of an overpriced Apple Ipad. Though the real reason was because I was too poor to afford one.

I’ve been posting some of them on my Instagram and made it one of the regular contents in my account (beside my self-obsessed selfies). I even tried to manage the display of my account to make my doodles ordered in one line because I am somewhat OCD, but it means have to regularly post one doodle every after 2 posts, otherwise it will hurt those pedantic eyes. I use black background and white ink color only to be my trademark, few times I put more colors, but the black background is a fixed one.

Here are some of my doodles, will be posting more of it here later. Visit and follow my IG for more. Cheers!

 

#Forever25

One day before my 27th birthday

Yesterday I turned 27, two years passed my favorite age and hopefully still far from death.

For me in my own world, my age has stopped counting since two years ago. I want to believe and feel–and look–like I’m forever 25 even though I haven’t been bitten (nor kissed) by a vampire.

25 for me was the best age. People said life begins at 30 or 40, I haven’t been both, for me that couldnt be true unless you’re George Clooney, who still looked like 27 in his 40s. Everybody has different favorite age, for me it’s 25 because during teenage years, even though we have the fitness vitality, we’re still emotionally unstable compared to the mid 20s.

My wake-up call in life occurred at 25, where I totally stop being socially dependent on friends or guys and have become more money-wise compared to when I first started making money. Every year, I always try to do new things in life and improve my self, I am happy that none of my 20s so far has been boring, there’s always new things that I did. But my 25 is special for me. I’ve tried many things at 25 and was not even afraid to fail as for me it’s better to fail at young age than feeling dissatisfied in old age. Also, because I was (and still am) not married yet, I had total freedom and financial asset to try and do things I wanted in order to really discover who I am and what I really want in life, I didn’t need to care nor to share, only when I wanted to (luckily, my parents and family don’t need me to help to support them). At my 25, I’ve stopped caring about others’ opinions towards me and stopped following trends. I’ve become more immune to people’s disagreements as I am the one who’s gonna live my life anyway.

By the way, I found this chart on ages we peak at everything throughout life. According to this chart, I’ve passed the peak age for female attractiveness. This hurts, haha, but hopefully it doesn’t apply to me like it doesnt apply to Taylor Swift and Avril Lavigne, seriously those women still look like the first time they appeared in show business!

And after this age, I will be supposedly in the best age for running a marathon! Haha, really? TV series marathon I think… Anyway, I’m still so excited about turning 27, because of my turning-point in my 25, 27 doesn’t feel old at all. Especially because many people still ask whether I am still in college if they first meet me. Lol! I don’t know whether I really look younger or they were just being nice. But if I do, maybe that’s because I keep believing and feeling that I’m 25. Like it or not, I’m forever 25!

25 y.o me

The Most Interesting People

Don’t we all want to be interesting or at least to look interesting?

Well, the definition of ‘interesting’ is subjective. Beauty is in the eyes of the be(er)holder for sure. Some may call other people ‘interesting’ if only either they’re famous, successful, rich, or good looking. For me, what can keep me amazed with a person–who doesn’t need to be famous, could be my friend, or people I just met–is when I can see how much she/ he believes in what she/ he does.

Because, for me personally, if success or wealth is what makes people fascinating, well there are a lot of successful, wealthy people, but still some of them look boring to me. I also don’t think it’s about the kind of job one’s having. Two people can have the same job but one may look more fascinating than the other. Or in other case, a person can have the most boring job, but really, they’ve touched me in some ways.

I see the similarity that these people have, from artists, accountants, writers, pilots, teachers, even a supermarket customer service. They all believe in what the do, a musician like John Lennon who believed in what he sang and created. You can compare the sparks in his eyes when he sang or talked about his music to any other singers who sing just to sing because that’s what they have to do to be famous, who only sing what other people wrote for them. Compare writers who write because and what they believe than writers who write just to make money. Lecturers who teach because they love teaching than lecturers who are doing their job only to support their lives. These fascinating people put their souls into their works, and it shows, then touches others.

I think that’s what interests me most about other people. I love knowing people but I get bored easily if I see he/ she has no interests/ obsessions/ passions in anything. I was amazed with my colleagues in my previous job when I listened to them discussing about types of frogs for one hour. Seriously, I’ve never met people who could talk that long only about frogs and who cares about frogs that much. The topic was not my taste of course but I was amazed that I just kept listening to them. I want to be able to talk like that about something. If I cant talk that passionately about my job, then maybe what I am doing is not the right thing. If I cant talk about what I am doing that long and passionately, means my works won’t be good. Because in the end, the works won’t lie about the artist.

From Break-ups to Break-ups

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I’ve experienced several break-ups so far, still can be counted with one hand but no one knows whether my number will increase or close for the last. Break-up sucks no matter if we had been waiting for it before it happened, still it leaves us a feeling of lost, failure, and ugliness of reality; how come someone that used to be so close, that I always talked to everyday, someone that I (thought I) knew like the back of my hand now becomes so strange and we avoid each other.

I started dating a bit late, not only because I was a late bloomer and awkward geek (maybe I still am), but also because I thought I could plan when and whom I would marry. I thought someone who I dated first would be my husband, I thought I’d played safe to wait until certain age, not like my friends who started dating since middle school. After my first relationship failure, I really didn’t want to have more break-ups, but I still got some. I hated those failures, looking at my friends who already tied the knots, meanwhile I was (or am) still wondering where I would land. It took several break-ups and years until I can see them not as failures, but blessings in disguise. I am grateful for those break-ups, even if they’re painful and ugly and cost three boxes of tissue papers for each, sometimes not only tissue but also unnecessary expensive getaways and impulsive spendings. I am thankful I am not married yet, I am not saying this to make other people who are already married feel bad, things happen differently for us, I am happy if you’re happy, but this what I learned FOR ME. Without those failed relationships, I wouldn’t have been in this state of mind and able to see things as clearly as I am now. Some may have found it early, some are just like me who are in the latter group.

I learned many things from the failures about my self and life. Being in a relationship is not merely learning about other people, it’s mostly about learning our selves, what we lack, what we need to work on, finding out what we really want and need in life and another person, how strong and decisive we could/ should be and many more.

  1. You complete yourself

The most valuable thing I’ve learned after several break-ups and accumulated seven years of failed relationship is that setting marriage as the only main goal in life is the most dangerous and stupid thing a girl can do, she is slowly killing her self. She trades herself for something uncertain. For several years and in some relationships, my decisions were based on the relationship goals I was in. Different partner, different path. I quit things I was enjoying because they could hamper our relationship goals, I started things I was not really sure for the man I was with. I became someone I was not just to show them I was the perfect obedient wife candidate as they said they wanted to have. And when the relationship ended, what did I get? What was I left with? I was always left with NOTHING to hold on nor to be proud of. I wanted to be mad at the guys, but more I was mad with my self, why did I let other people make decisions for me? Why did I base my decisions about my future on other people’s assessments? And why didn’t I directly realize? Why did it take some failures and up to seven years for me to eventually learn??

Only I can give my dreams to me. Being dependent on others to realize your dreams is the best way to ruin your life. You can’t love other people if you can’t love your self first. You cant find other person if you cant find your self. You will never be ready to understand other people if you haven’t understood yourself.

To be honest, I really dislike hearing girls who only want to get married, have kids, and don’t have other goals in life. But sadly I used to be one of them. If one of my past relationships had succeeded to marriage, and I had been married before I really understood why I wanted to get married and what a marriage is, I would have been lost for a longer time without really knowing who I really was and being dependent on other people to give me happiness and I’m sure I wouldn’t have been happy. Those were forced happiness. The best scenario was to have kids, raise them, but then when they’re old enough for school, I would have been still back to the feeling of emptiness in my soul, because I hadn’t finished with my self-discovery. What if he cheated and left me after that? What if he died all of a sudden? Then I would have been left with nothing again beside the stereotypes of widowed woman in this somewhat cruelly judgemental country. I believe that if one cant be happy with his/ her self, he/she cant find happiness in that relationship either.

I want to be able to stand on my own feet. When I get married, I don’t want to only be proud of partner’s success, I want to be proud of my self too. Seriously, people should stop telling young girls to just find a successful man to marry and spend his money. Start teaching girls to be successful on herself and shop with her own money.

  1. If it’s not meant to be, it’s not meant to be.

Break-ups taught me that no matter how it seemed to be right in the beginning, how much we believed the person would be our soul mate, if it’s not meant to be, it’s still not going to happen no matter how hard you tried to make it work. Most of the times, we don’t end up with the person we thought was our soulmate, and that’s okay.

  1. You’re not irreplaceable, he is either

The ugly reality about break-up doesn’t end when you or he said to break up. It’s what happens after the break-up that’s slowly hurting you to the bones. You will have to accept the fact that somebody else is gonna take your place, got his attention that you used to have, smell his perfume that you used to know, live your broken dreams of being together with him, and it’s not your hair anymore that he’s gonna play with during conversation. His phone lock screen will be filled with other woman’s photo. You cannot expect him to be mourning all the time while you yourself are trying to move on. You’ll start over with someone new (only if you give yourself the chance) as well. You’re going to replace his place too with someone else. In the end it’s just life, people move on.

  1. Being single is better than being in a miserable relationship

The pictures of being alone and lonely sometimes scare us. We’re always haunted by thoughts that we could not find somebody else that would love us more than him/ her. Hence, we tend to hold things or person for too long when we’re supposed to let them go. Actually we can only see if the box is not fit only after we get out of the box.

 

Believing in Talent is a Trap

I used to believe in talent, now I’ve stopped. Believing that we’re born better (in some specific fields) than others is as dangerous as believing that we’re less gifted than others.

It is very human that we like to hear only what we want to hear and what we want to hear is that we’re special and other people are ordinary. One might deny it in words, but believes it in hearts.

In my childhood, I was always compared to my brother’s academic achievements, especially in math. I was actually doing fine, I always got good scores and got into top schools and, but my brother always got the best. He represented the province in national championship in elementary school. Hence I believed that I was less gifted in academics. I wanted to move to different school so that I didn’t have to keep up with teachers’ expectation.

As my revenge, I believed I was more gifted than him in other fields. Besides, actually among my classmates, I did well. I felt that I got lucky many times because I rarely studied but always passed the exams safely and sometimes better than others. It started a coincidence then I kept it as a habit. I didn’t like to work hard, I would be as lazy and laid-back as possible just to see how I could still nail it smoothly without even trying, I was proud of it. I teased my friends who were trying to study. I laughed at my friends who were working hard for their goals. I was not alone. I noticed some of the top students in schools had this similar syndrome; taking everything for granted.

But now at this age, in any fields, it’s not my friends whom I thought were talented that are successful today, it’s they who didn’t stop doing and working hard are. They didn’t start with a mile, they started with small steps. Who’d known that their small steps have almost reached the top? But people who I envy most are people who are living my dream; working in creative fields, growing their names in it. I felt betrayed. Not by other people, but by myself.

I felt like, “It’s supposed to happen to me, not to them! How could this happen? What did I miss?”

And you know what I missed?? I missed thousands of days and nights of practice, learning and working on making it to reality. Days and nights which were supposed to use to focus on things I called passion, I wasted for distractions, I wasted on following what other people told me my life should be. I thought that my dreams would still be handed to me without me chasing it. But the world doesn’t work that way.

I looked at my friend who has published some books. Others represented the country in theater. A colleague that used to be ‘invisible’ now can produce wedding gowns.

I won’t be able to be a fashion designer like I’ve always wanted to be unless I start learning how to sew and fashion design. It can’t happen overnight.

Far too often, we believe that our abilities are innate. In other case, we give up many opportunities just because we believe we don’t have the talent for it. “I wasn’t born with the gift of drawing.” Or “I’m not a born leader. Or “I can’t be a writer, I can’t write.”

Without we realize, it’s the ‘myth’ that holds us back, not our ability. People think that the skills in art are based on talent, if you’re not born an artist, you cant be an artist. If that is true, then why drawing techniques and methods exist? Why Mariah Carey still keeps her singing practice until now?

Talent is overrated. Artists are made, not born.