Somebody finally asks the question! A question I have been dreading. I have been telling myself to be prepared of any awkward or inconvenient situation when someone is ‘brave’ or ‘nosey’ enough to question why I take off hijab now. This is something people do not understand; my personal issue or preferences are none of their business. Although the question may just be an innocent question without any intention to pry into my personal affairs, I still feel that I do not have to explain myself to people. I do not ask people to understand, but please just keep their disagreement and thoughts to themselves. Let me do things without having people questioning any reasons behind my actions. Oh well, who am I trying to fool though? Some people just cannot help it to point their fingers at others and to display how superior their moral compass is. I think it is human nature to meddle with others, so I really don’t want to argue about it. So here’s my answer, “I don’t feel like explaining. Thank for your concern though.” If you are smart enough, all I am saying is “Fuck off“.
Today is ‘R U Ok?’ Day, I found the day really interesting because I am coming from a country that does not pay attention to mental health issue, let alone acknowledge a special day to concern about this matter. Borderline personality, mood disorder, passive-aggressive personality disorder, suicidal tendency or bipolar disorder is rarely mentioned and considered taboo in my society. People are ashamed and afraid to acknowledge these issues so they pretend that they are okay.
Living and studying in Australia -where the campus provide more than just a counsellor for students who need mental health help, made me aware about this issue. I always feel I am different. Not sure if it has something to do with my mental health since I have never sought for professional help, but I always feel that there’s something going on inside my head that I cannot fully understand
Ironically, some people say I am a friendly person, but deep down inside I always feel like an outcast. Close friends and family might not realise how crazy my mind can be at times or how lonely and depressed I can be, but I don’t blame them. I never share what I really feel or think anyway. They are always supportive of my study and work though, but why can’t I share my deepest feeling and fear to them? I should not feel this lonely, sad, dissatisfied, unhappy, and depressed.
Back to when I was still working as a marker, I met a friend and somehow I felt connected to her because we shared some personal stories. We have only had a handful conversation but I felt a depth of connection in a level I have never felt before. I was so surprise of how extrovert I can be in a very short period of time. It’s probably because she shared some of stories I can relate to, but the most important thing is, she never judge me and it made me feel safe to share what I thought. She made me realise that mental health is a serious issue, but one can still feel ‘normal’ with medication and help from professional.
I am so scared to seek for any professional help, but the idea is always there. I think I am in a phase where I acknowledge that something is wrong with me, but I feel uncertain about moving to the next phase, which is to acknowledge that I ‘need to be fixed’ and get a help. There’s a difference between acknowledging that I have a mental issue and reacting to fix it. I am just not ready!
My friend told me that mental health problem can influence one’s future relationship. It doesn’t mean a person is incapable of having a relationship though, it just means that she will need a therapy and medication to reduce possible conflict and to navigate her feeling. As for myself, I always think: “How can I marry a person and then bring up a child when my head is so messed-up I can’t even understand it? Wouldn’t it make the situation worse?” I am sure not many of you who read this understand what I feel, but some people feel what I feel. Today is the right time to ask him or her ‘r u ok?’
If you asked me, I would say that I am not okay, I might have a mental health problem, and that I found people annoying to keep on asking if I have a boyfriend.
Wow, it’s been more than a year in Melbourne! Here’s the voice of the insecure side of me, I feel weird in the past few days. It is started two days before Eid, I was upset to my BFFs because they don’t really care about how important Eid is to me. I think this might be a common misunderstanding; friends from different part of the worlds, especially those who do not observe religious belief or practices in the same manner will be indifferent to the meaning of Eid. The more I think about it, I might be upset because of other things, but it is just easier to put the blame on others, especially to those who are close to me. I have been stressed out about my research project -I just got an email that Mark (my favourite lecturer will assist me in this project, I should be thankful because he is easy to speak to and I have a good impression about his last class I attended), I have mixed feeling about the field trip unit because I am not sure my company will cover the travel expanses to Sydney, so in the worst-case scenario, I have to pay for everything myself, which is sucks! However, I wish everything will run well, I am looking forward to visiting different media companies in Australia though. This can be a good opportunity to see how media companies operate here.
Back to my insecurity issues, right after Eid prayers and gathering, I went home directly. I was thinking of attending a halal-bihalal with Konjen, but I changed my mind at the last minute because I did not feel like traveling to Brighton. Ugh, my mind keeps changing all the time. I do not know if it is a girl thing or it is simply because I cannot follow through my initial decision. What came through my mind later that day is what inspired me to write this up.
Eid is supposedly a day where people mingle with family, friends and relatives. My grandmothers and grandfathers lived in Jakarta, so we did not have any particular hometown to visit or ‘mudik’. However, the tradition in my family is not much different from the others. When I was still young, my parents, my brothers and I were spending Eid out of town. Dad would have driven the car to Purbalingga, Kebumen, Yogyakarta or Bali to visit our relatives. He loves driving and visiting families or friends. My parents believe that it is important to keep in touch with people simply because they are very sociable and love the company of others (unlike me!). So even though I do not feel comfortable with all the visits we did, I could not express my disagreement. I know it is good though because I will be able to tell apart the family relation but I just do not have the ‘social genes’ my parents and brother have. Most time I do not want to be bothered with this stuffs and yes, I am a socially awkward person. As I get to know myself better, I accept my condition, but I can tell that my family ignore this fact and do whatever they want because they think it is the best thing for me. So all this time, I put up with all the things they want me to do. There were this one moment when I spoke up and had disagreement about coming to Yogyakarta with my family for a random trip. As a result, my brother and dad were giving me hard time. We did not speak for a couple of days and my brother was bad mouthing me on his social media account. I was so upset I blocked him.
Now that I am studying overseas, I have the freedom I have always wanted; a life of my own where I can decide anything for myself without considering people’s feeling. I can always change my mind about doing or not doing something and it is okay because I am on my own. After Eid prayers and gathering, I just went home and I slept. I do not have any obligation to visit anyone and no one is expecting me, so I can completely shut myself off from people when I do not feel like interacting with them. What an ideal world of mine! What is missing then? I miss not being all by myself, I want a person to snuggle with and be weird together. Now that I confessed that, this might be the root of my resentment and anger this past few days. Pfft, one last semester and then I am going back to Jakarta. I am feeling sad already. I want my study to finish, but I do not want to go back to Indonesia yet :-(
Another documentary that brings tears to my eyes. Zana Briski and Ross Kauffman are two inspiring people who tells the story of kids who live in a Calcutta red light district. It’s a 2004 documentary that wins an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature in 2005. Zana is an American/British photographer who believes that art can transform lives. She taught photography to the kids whose parents are prostitutes and she gave them camera so they can capture everything that are interesting. From their pictures, we can see how lives have been treating them. So many beautiful pictures taken by these talented kids. I love this documentary film. I wish everyone could watch it and see what’s life in the other side of the world. I ordered myself a companion book of this documentary; a compilation of pictures taken by the kids. I wish more people will be aware of the issue and will do something about it. It’s a must-watch! Here’s a Youtube link of the documentary.
“I think–I think when it’s all over, It just comes back in flashes, you know? It’s like a kaleidoscope of memories. It just all comes back. But she never does. I think part of me knew the second I saw her that this would happen. It’s not really anything she said or anything she did, It was the feeling that came along with it. And the crazy thing is I don’t know if I’m ever gonna feel that way again. But I don’t know if I should. I knew her world moved too fast and burned too bright. But I just thought, how can the devil be pulling you toward someone who looks so much like an angel when she smiles at you? Maybe she knew that when she saw me. I guess I just lost my balance. I think that the worst part of it all wasn’t losing her. It was losing me.”
“And the saddest fear comes creeping in that you never loved me or him, or anyone, or anything…”
“I don’t know if you know who you are until you lose who you are…”
Perfect theme song by Taylor Swift (with minor adjustment :p)
It’s another exhausting Tuesday, but it was really fun! The morning class discussed about theory of meetings and organizations. I remember hours of meetings during my ‘organizership’ in SEF. Oh, those annoying, silly, time-wasting, I-wanna-punch-your-face and my-opinion-is-the-best meetings. As much as I hate it, I cannot believe I survive it.
I have been feeling down lately. I cannot point out the reason behind all this gloomy feelings, but I know I just need to wake up everyday and embrace everything that’s coming my way.
This morning I read a blog posting from my associate professor, Mark Poole. It was intriguing and I couldn’t help but reflect his writing to my own case. He claims that social networking kill creative spirit. Somehow I agree with his opinion. We are too busy spending time online, seeking ‘fake’ acknowledgement’ to boost our ‘flawed’ self-esteem in the hope that we will love ourself more. Oh well, that might be my case. Point is, I am using social media to fulfill the empty space and distract myself from all the depressing thoughts. I have less time reading books and enjoying the real world. I am not sure I am ready to give up Twitter, Facebook, online games, Instagram, etc. But I am willing to evaluate my online social activities. I am starting to invest more time to write.
Today, I had a debate in the class. Having an experience as a debater during my uni year, I have this urge to speak, so I volunteer myself to be one of the speakers. It went pretty well. It’s not as competitive as I expected it to be, but I had a good time. I got help from Ryry related to the materials for the motion; TH believe that Social Media able to cause political revolution and bring new freedom. I was the third speaker of the opposition team. Here’s the highlight of the debate.
The affirmative team believe that social media’s characteristics (interactive, multi-platform, dynamic, fast pace) are the reasons why political revolution happened. Problem is, they are failed to explain how social media power able to drive a revolution. They mention cases in Egypt and Tunisia and how social media was used to disseminate information and gather people to throw down oppressive government, but we argue that revolutions happened because people have already fed up for years; economic imbalance, poverty, and political instability are among the main trigger. My other speaker supports the motion by explaining the fallacies of internet and how social media can be a double-edged sword depending on who use it. I develop the argument on the basis that the kind of social activism associated with social media is weak ties. The kind of relationship coming from social media is the one that is loose. In Twitter, most people follow (or being followed) by people they have never met, meanwhile Facebook is used to manage relationship with people we will not be able to stay in touch with. In order for a revolution to happen, it takes more than a ‘worldwide trending topic’ or hundreds of ‘like’ and ‘retweets’. It requires strong bonding among the people who have lived under the same situation, whom freedoms are taken away and who are willing to risk their life to support the cause. We cannot get this kind of bonding from the social media users.
Real revolution happens in the street, as what Malcolm Gladwell claims. Social media cannot provide strategy to change the status quo because social media are just tools to build network. We should address the difference between social media activism and traditional activism. What makes both activism different is the hierarchical organizations. Social media have no rules, regulation and leader who will formulate strategies. When transition time comes, they will not have any visible leader to sit and negotiate demands with the existing authority. Revolution is not just an idea that people share on the social networking sites, but it takes action to make it happen.
That is pretty much the summary of my debate. I see the hole in my own arguments but I won’t rebut my own case :p I am writing this down so I can practice english because my professor complained about ‘high rate error’ in my writings. Let’s not give up and do more practice!
I have been watching old series lately. One of the series is Ally McBeal. There are some things I can relate to from her characters and there’s something interesting about how crazy her work environment is. Watching old Ally McBeal makes me realize how some things have changed, especially when it comes to acknowledging minorities. There was this scene in the court where a transvestite, an obsessive compulsive disorder guy, a dorky and nerd-like people were marginalized from the society. They sued the company for firing them because their personalities and odd attitudes somehow damage company’s reputation. Somehow I think it’s not relevant anymore. Nowadays, we live in a place where differences are celebrated. People want to be different. Being different is not always connoted as being weird. Being “mainstream” is no longer the only life choice. It’s been 13 years since ‘The Oddball Parade’ episode was aired and some things have changed in how we view minorities.
I remember a teaching week about archives and how researchers are using archives to see social situation in a certain year. I believe that old movies can also be used as research material to see how political situation and social change take place in certain era. Television is widely acknowledged as a powerful tool to cultivate fear about the situation outside the living room. Gerbner spent more than 15 years of his life researching about this. He claims that heavy TV viewer are reluctant to believe that the world is a safe place. They become suspicious toward others and become paranoid to walk alone at night. Well, i won’t discuss much about his research. What I want to highlight is the power of TV to set agenda and influence people’s opinion about certain issues. In the old Ally McBeal episodes, I can also see how careful sensitive issues were portrayed in the television. LGBT issues was once a reluctant issue to air on national TV. Lately LGBT issue bombarded national TV. Even the US president addressed equality issue in his inauguration speech. Well, it’s in USA. Countries like Indonesia with strong religious culture might struggle and reject the issue for another 10 years or more. But I believe such liberation will follow. I cannot wait to be part of community where differences are embraced and acknowledged.
I remember a conversation with my best friend couple of years ago. Both of us dream of studying overseas. One of the silly reasons is because we want the school badges. Anggie is dreaming to continue her study in UK because she said the badges are cool. Well, she’s probably reading too much Harry Potter, that is why she wants to get accepted in university in UK. I have to agree with her opinion though, the badges looks awesome and they have this latin or greek motto which makes it ‘intellectually cool’. I was thinking what’s so important about badges, but then I realized the badge gives a unique ‘sense of belonging’. I keep all the badges from my previous schools, student organizations, events, and institution where I work. I am proud to be part of something.
A few days ago, I went to the city with my friend and I saw a girl using ‘University of Melbourne’ hoodie. I told my friend that I like UniMelb badge and motto. He gave me a surprise look and said that our university has a much cooler and meaningful badge and motto, ANCORA IMPARO. I heard and read the motto all the time, I found it everywhere in campus, but I never really understand the meaning. When I looked it up, Ancora Imparo is Italian and the meaning is ‘I am still learning‘. It is such a humble and honest motto and I LOVE IT. Now I understand why my friend is so proud of our motto and badge. In life, we face obstacles and challenges, meet new people, find new things, feel down at times, but we if we keep on learning, we will be smarter to tackle and overcome all the difficulties. ‘I am still learning’ also implicate willingness to hear and be open to information or anything.
I am proud to be part of it. I am proud to belong to this university. Most of all, I am grateful that my dream come true. My best friend is still struggling to get scholarship, but perseverance and determination are her best quality, so the time will come for her.
a person who feigns some desirable or publicly approved attitude, especially one whose private life, opinions, or statements belie his or her public statements.
Here I am, I feel like I am in the crossroads again. I am not even sure if I have to choose which path I should follow, but eventually I find myself too weak to be myself.
Last Monday (01/04), I went to my friend’s house near Chadstone. Her mom cooked us a special Pakistani style dinner. I was excited because I have been longing to spend time with friends and be social. Talking about being social, I have this funny story about me and my friend, JB. We both consider ourselves social idiot because we tend to get awkward in social situation. In my case, at times I find myself unable to keep up with conversation pace. I get too afraid I cannot respond to someone’s joke or even find myself throw a lame joke. I am anxious if I cannot find similar interest with my people, etc. So every time we share stories about our time spent with friends or colleagues, we will praise each other for crawling out from our comfortable shell and being social. Such encouragement I find very helpful.
Back to my social activities last Monday, we had a very delicious dinner; Chicken Biryani, Meatball with curry and soup. The dessert is out of this world! Love my friend’s homemade Fruit Custard. The night was really fun, I was introduced to a new friend who’s apparently an Indonesian. Too bad she cannot speak Bahasa Indonesia well because she spent most of her time in Taiwan. What’s funny was when our Vietnamese friend brought a bottle of wine to the dinner. He thought we can enjoy a cozy night and drink wine after the dinner, but then my friend who is the host and another Singaporean friend told him that Muslim does not drink any alcoholic beverages. So we were all laughing because he seemed like he didn’t have any clue about it, but he’s happy to bring back the wine. This is where I found myself pondering the situation.
Not long ago when I was invited to a BBQ party at my friend’s house, I enjoyed a glass of wine. I cannot say I am a social drinker. I only have a handful drinking experiences. I tried my first drink in 2011. It was when I was traveling to Manila and I met these great Filipino friends who understand how curious I was about alcohol drinks. They gave me first drinking experience. It was really funny because I felt dizzy afterwards. It wasn’t even a ‘real’ drink. It was only a mix drink, oh well, I also sipped my friend’s Tequila, just a little sip tho! I I hate how it taste, too strong! I still smile whenever I remember that.
I was raised in a very religious family. I went to islamic schools and I manage to follow the rules. Religion is very powerful. So many years of religious doctrine shape my decision and way of thinking. But as I get older, I feel like I miss out on so many things, for instance alcohol. I wanna be able to experience different things. That is when I find courage to do what I want. It’s really difficult tho, I still live with my parents and I feel like I am always under strict supervision. So when I travel somewhere I found my freedom. I got to be in a completely new place where people are just strangers who don’t know me and won’t give a sh*t about what I do. I feel like I can be myself. I really love the feeling.
Here comes the problem, no matter how great the feeling is, I still feel guilty. It’s like I am doing something that is forbidden. In my defence, I never get wasted tho. I don’t drink when I am upset (because my friends told me it won’t make me feel better) and so far my ‘extreme’ drinking experience was only two and a half white wine and red wine when I had a real fancy dinner in an Italian restaurant in Canberra. Every time I decide to drink, I always ask myself if I am doing it because I want to look ‘cool’, to try new things or simply because I enjoy a glass of good wine. To be completely honest, I found myself struggling to distinguish the major reason behind my action. I guess all those reasons compliment each other. There are fulfilment of curiosity, social acknowledgement and personal satisfaction.
My biggest concern is, I cannot stand up for myself, especially when I am confronted by people. The obvious case happened at that dinner, I cannot even admit that I am a casual drinker because my other muslim friends are being so persistent that alcohol is not allowed and they are proud of not having this urge to drink. I miserably found myself a hypocrite. Probably I was a afraid that if I am ‘being myself’, I will damage my reputation. I am worried that my friend will see me with a different look. So once again I feel like I cannot stand up for myself. It’s a shame for being 27 years old and not able to just be myself. It sucks to live with fear that people might not love me enough if they know who I really am. I just hope that as I grow older, I can be more honest about what I really want without having this fear.
I have been trying to put my thoughts in writing, but I never make it a priority. However, I am glad I post this now.
My goal this semester is trying to get more friends, but then I am intrigued with how the ‘social system’ works.
I am proud to say I have found some friends in Melbourne. All of them are Asians; Singaporean, Pakistani, Vietnamese and Chinese. But I don’t know why I don’t have the courage to start talking to non-Asian students. It’s too intimidating for me. Not that I don’t wanna know them better. I have this prejudice and it hampers my effort to further approach people. All I want is getting to know their way of thinking. I just wanna be a friend. But I don’t know why it’s so difficult.
Let me elaborate my prejudice:
1. Chinese students are making friend with other Chinese students.
The number of Chinese students in Monash is ridiculous. They are everywhere! 60-70 per cent of my classmates are Chinese. Sometimes I think I am not in Australia. I am not saying it’s bad, it’s just indicating how great this Chinese are doing. I am jealous they have so many opportunities to go to good school overseas. I wish more Indonesians could get the chance. They are very competitive and they are ready for the challenge. Imagine what will these people do in the next 5 or 10 years? They’ll probably be holding important positions in national or multinational companies and we need to be ready to compete with them.
My biggest problem with Chinese students are understanding their English accent. Sometimes I give up and just nod my head or smile because I TOTALLY DON’T get what they are saying. Most times they are speaking mandarin (or other different dialects I don’t understand) to fellow Chinese. I feel left out, but I do understand it’s easier to communicate in your own mother language. So why bother speaking English when you’re friends are all Chinese, right? People always gather with those they can relate to. So yeah, they make their own group of Chinese students in the class. Well, there is probably one or two Chinese students who are not joining the group, but I am pretty sure it is because this person is either born in Australia or have already pursued study in Australia for some years.
2. Non-Asian (Australian, New Zealander, European, American) are finding it easier to make friend with people whom official language is English.
I notice this situation in my class. When we have group assignment, they will try to get another non-Asian to be part of the group. Sometimes I think it’s unfair because I want to be chosen as part of their group. My reason is as simple as because I love the dynamic of working with people from different background and nationality. I want to know how it feels working with American/ European/ Australian! But I can’t get inside ‘their circle’. Sometimes I feel these people are actually the ones who are feeling intimidated with the ‘uprising’ and the domination of Asian people. That’s probably why they made this invisible line to keep their distance from the Asians.
3. I feel more comfortable not being in the same group of Indonesian.
I am kinda weird, I celebrate the fact that there is no Indonesian students in my class. I know some of Indonesians in the campus, but I am not really close to them (oh well, there’s an exception for my office mates who are also pursuing their master degree in Monash. They are the best! Guy friends are far from any drama and I love it!) So yeah, I don’t really have good Indonesian friends in my campus and I really don’t mind. I enjoy it :-)
4. It’s easier to make friend with Asian (Chinese not included)!
The fact that I am Asian gives a certain comfort to start a communication with other Asian students. They are friendly. Sometimes I don’t have to worry if they don’t understand my English, because we can always use sign language to understand each other. Sometimes we can only smile or laugh when we don’t understand each other. It’s not embarrassing. I don’t know how it started, but my ‘close’ friends are from Singapore and Pakistan. Well, we are probably not that close, but at least we hang out together. We went to cinema to celebrate our last assignment of the semester. We ‘liked’ each other’s Facebook pictures or updates. I believe it’s a stage of friendship.
5. Some people just simply love being ‘unaligned’ to anything.
Campus life is just like high school, you found different group of people with different interest. There are also people who prefer to be on their own. I cannot speak for them, there must be reasons. But I really don’t know how to survive campus life on my own. Whether I like it or not, there will be time when I should do group assignments. It will be better to work with a group of people I have known. Besides, killing time in campus will be boring when you only listen to your iPod :p
6. Most Asian students struggle with presentation.
English is not out first language so it requires special skill to do the presentation. I am not saying Asian are not smart, Asians are smart! Sometimes we’re just having difficulties to articulate ideas. Language barrier is not a simple thing. You cannot convince people when you don’t speak their language. My campus offers activities to accommodate those who want to improve their English, but in my opinion, the key to speak English fluently is having conversation to people who speak English! But then we are back to the first issue; Most Asians don’t really make friend with Non-Asians. I really hate this actually. I realised I probably the one who is making ‘the boundaries’. I am not confident and too shy to start talking to people. I realise I cloud my judgement with so many ‘unproven’ prejudice.
I won’t justify these prejudice for other people. So don’t make any conclusion from what I said :p I just love paying attention to what people do and what I wrote is based on my flawed observation :-) I don’t mean being a racist or anything.
“Choose your friends and mates, not by the money in their bank account, creed, ethnicity, or color; instead, choose character, actions, heart, and soul. When we bleed, we bleed the same color.”
― Ana Monnar