On being a good daughter…


It’s Monday. It’s not a slow day, but it seems like it.

I have been feeling unwell during the weekend, but I forced myself to go to work because I am going on a business trip to Medan on Wednesday and there’s just too much to do at the moment.

I just want to reflect on what happened to my life lately, there’s something that has bothered my mind in the past couple of weeks. My feelings were hurt so bad and I keep on saying to myself that I will be fine eventually.

Parents came to my house last month after I returned from a biztrip in Malang. I got home from the airport a little early that day, so parents came to check on me. I always had this weird feeling whenever they deliberately came to my house.

Mom started by telling me that her dentist sent her best regards to me. The dentist happened to be my senior in the high school. Years ago, I went to her office/home one time and met her mom as well. Her mom seemed to be impressed by me (don’t ask me why or how lol). At that exact moment she said that she has a younger son, implying that we could be a family if only the son was older and graduated from university already. I just smiled awkwardly.

Mom told me that the son is married already now, but the mother complained about her daughter-in-law. Pffttt. Later on, the mother contacted my parents saying that there’s an eligible bachelor (one of their relatives) to matchmake with me.

I was like “WTF?!”

We were off to get dinner. In the car, Mom and dad kept on rambling about this guy and then showed me his picture. I could see the phone screen that my dad sent some of my pictures (without my approval!) through whatsapp as well. I said “No, thanks”

Dad was asking why…

I couldn’t really tell them the reason why.

(Could I just say that men are jerks and currently I am not looking for one?!)

I finally said “Maybe marriage life isn’t for me. Maybe I am not destined to get married.”

Dad exploded right after he heard my words.

He lectured me about how important it is for a muslim to get married and make a family; that it is a sin for both the parents and I, if I don’t get married when I am financially and mentally able to get married (No, Dad, I am not mentally prepared for this!).

He kept on ranting about how disappointed he was when I took off my veil/hijab. He regret sending me to a public school, instead of a madrasah to study Islam. He said he should not be proud of sending me to pursue a higher degree because I turned out to be a daughter who does not respect Islam and does not follow the syariah.

He repeatedly said that he didn’t want anything from me except a marriage. He didn’t need me to send money or buy him gifts. I am his only daughter and he just wants to marry me off.

Dad said it was okay for me to get angry at him for what he said, but I should not get angry at mom. He was reminding me that heaven lies at the feet of a mother and that I should always respect my mom.

I owe them my life.

Dad threw some nasty comments and I chose to be the bigger person.

I remained silent for the rest of the conversation. Oddly, I sat calmly and even able to respond some urgent calls or messages on the phone.  I wish I could just walk away, but I was trapped there in the car (the traffic was awful!).

My heart sunk…

I was heartbroken…

I felt really awful. I put a brave face that evening, but I cried so much in W’s shoulder when I got home.

Last time, I had this kind of feeling was when my parents brought me some kind of flowery water from a religious shaman. They said the water would repel bad or negative energy off of me. Maybe by doing so, men will be attracted to me. I was really offended, but I didn’t really say anything. My face expressed how offended I was though. I didn’t even look at my mom’s eyes when she explained what I should do with the water.

My parents are religious people, never once they skipped daily prayers, dad always wake up in the middle of the night for Tahajud, walks to the mosque for Subuh prayers, mom recites Quran, they are the kind of people who will always help the others; good moslems. But I just don’t get how desperate they are to find me a spouse and marry me off that they asked some religious/islamic shaman to ‘magically’ level up my ‘attractiveness’ to men. I just can get my head around this mystic things. I don’t believe in such a thing, so it’s pointless, right?

I become more comfortable in my own skin after I returned from Japan. It was a lot of work tbh, and suddenly they crumble down my confidence and effort by doing so. I keep on telling myself that they were doing it out of love. They meant no harm, but what they did broke my heart in pieces. They don’t even realise it.

I kept on asking my close friends, “Is it okay for me to feel hurt and offended for what my parents did or said?

They said, “of course, you are allowed to feel.

I wish I could speak heart to heart about my situation to my parents. I wish I could let them see my perspective, my fear, my dream and my feelings, but I know they won’t understand.

If your parents really loved you, they would want you to be happy,” said a friend.

I don’t think my happiness matters more than their pride or the religion or the social pressure they feel for having an unmarried daughter :-(

Is leaving as far away as possible the only way out of this situation? I know I am a coward for unable to face the situation, but often time I just want to run away because I don’t want to hurt myself. I am way past that.

Deep down I never want to disappoint my parents. I always try my best to be the best daughter, to be the kind of people who will make them proud, but I guess sometimes I am not good enough. Am I not a good enough person or muslim if I am not married? As a women, am I just defined by my marital status?

I am not saying I don’t want to get married, but I just don’t want to be forced to do so. I want to meet someone and come to that decision together with the person when we feel it’s right.

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A work in progress


I have heard some positive comments from my colleagues about my new ‘look’ (or should I say transformation?). Ever since I returned from Japan, I lose weight and I feel more comfortable with myself. I also took off my head cover, change my clothes and hairstyle. Deep down I am still the same sensitive and overthinking person though, but I try to develop a thicker skin so I can shrug off all the negative comment and just live life the way I want it to be. It’s helpful to have some good friends and colleagues who encourage me to just be myself.

One of my seniors made his own assumption about my new look. He thought that I owe my transformation to a guy, so he kept on teasing me and wishing that I would tie the knot asap with this mysterious guy.

Little did people know that it was not the reason why I paid more attention to myself. I feel the need to change because I am not the same person anymore; a little (or big) part of Annisa has changed. I feel like I have discovered a new person; a happier person. I tend to my own needs. I put myself as a priority. Oh well, there were times when I got defeated though. My progress is slow, but it’s my own learning process. As long as I am not interested in looking back, I guess I am already in the right path. I am a work in progress and I am proud of myself.

Thank you for people who stand by my side through thick and thin; those who give me honest and salty comments; those who said “I will support you no matter what“; those who always be all ears whenever I feel down and share their lights when mine gone dim. I owe this transformation to you…

Insecurity Sucks!


It’s so difficult not to overthink about many things that happen in my life. When I start liking someone, I get so insecure that it’s bugging me so much. I know that I have to just let things go, but still I cannot not think about it. I feel like I just want to disappear or numb all this feelings, so I won’t have any expectations and just move on with life. I can’t believe I feel like crying from all this feelings I hide inside. I need to just let go of all the things I cannot control, but why is it so difficult? I hate having all this feelings. Found this quote on FB and thought it’s perfect. “Live for yourself and be happy on your own” #pure

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Life (Part 1)


Lately I have trouble sleeping. I am still trying to figure out what’s been disturbing my peace of mind. A lot of things are happening in my life; I moved in to my own place (there goes all my savings and salary). I have a new boss. I also have to deal with my parents who constantly bug me about potential love interest (read: matchmaking). I lost my iPhone on my way back from Japan (which was frustrating!). Some close friends of mine also had to deal with some tough time of their lives; Veetha’s brother suddenly passed away (and somehow we could feel how hard and difficult her life is) and Tamita had to undergo a back nerve surgery that will redefine her habit and lifestyle in the future.

Life is complicated right now. There are times when I feel that it’s a little difficult to overcome. I need some comfort. I want to go home and have someone embrace me and let me know that it will all be okay; that life goes on. I guess deep down I am dying to get physically connected with people. All those comfort I used to feel when I was in a relationship.

A couple of months ago, I wrote a blog post about my crazy desire of jumping into a relationship with someone. I still haven’t found that someone though, but I have someone in mind when I am writing this post down. How I wish things were simpler for the both of us, but it’s not.

(to be continued….)

I am too sleepy to continue writing lol

A Voice from Jakarta*


Hello!

It’s Annisa, the 56th IATSS Forum participant from Indonesia.

It’s been more than 100 days since I left Japan, but a little part of my heart will forever stay there. The post-IATSS Forum syndrome (or should I say shock?) was surely difficult to overcome, but I realize that I have ‘graduated’ from the training to finally go out to the real world and contribute -however small, to the community now.

The biggest change I feel after returning from Japan is my own way of thinking; of how I value my life and other people’s life. I started to realize how important it is to live a healthier life, both mentally and physically, in order to do bigger things in life.

I met amazing and inspiring friends, staffs, mentors, volunteers and people during my training in Japan and they have touched my life in their own ways. They are my new family because family is not always about blood; it is about people who accept me for who I am and share the same vision of how we want to change the world and leave it better for the next generation. This treasure of social capital is something that I will never get from somewhere else and because of that I just want to pay forward whatever I get from the training to the next people.

On the 25th of November 2016, I helped IIFA (Indonesia IATSS Forum Alumni) conducted a public lecture about Community Resilience on Disaster Management in Bandung, West Java. This program received a full support from the IATSS Forum Japan and the Magister of Social Science of Parahyangan University. We were delighted to have Professor Tsutomu Mizota of Nagasaki University and Mr. Siswanto B Prasodjo of the National Board for Disaster Management shared their knowledge and experience about the discussed theme.

Last December 2016, I also had a chance to join the first cross-country learning and leadership development in Thailand. This program was initiated by the TIFA (Thailand IATSS Forum Alumni) with the support of IATSS Forum Japan. During the program, I had a chance to see how the communities in Thailand implement sustainable community designs. I also met more amazing and inspiring alumni of IATSS Forum from ASEAN countries who continuously work hard to contribute in their own fields long after they have completed the training in Japan.

To the future participants of IATSS Forum, welcome to the family! We are lucky to be among the selected few of people who get a chance to join the training. This will be a challenging yet rewarding experience in your life, so make the best of it.

  • Be careful of getting too attached to the amazing, kawaii and lovable IATSS Forum staffs
  • Just skip some breakfasts at the boring-yet-excellent all-you-can-eat buffet at Sora Tabeyo Restaurant when you cannot wake up early because you sleep late trying to finish a report. Maybe by doing so, you will not miss having breakfast at that restaurant when you finally return to your own country.
  • Do not fall in love with the people, the culture, the custom, the city, the language or the amazing country! It will be difficult to move on. Trust me, I am still struggling to move on.
  • Be ready to get shocked once you return home because you will have a love-hate relationship with your ‘oh-so-organized’ life in Japan and all the busy day-to-day routine (I love the 2-week schedule!)

On a serious note,

  • What you read and heard about the Japanese being really strict about time is true. So don’t be late and respect the time.
  • Be honest and be patient with the learning process.
  • Be part of the group and be open-minded with all the differences.
  • Be active and committed to create a safe, meaningful and happy learning environment for yourself and fellow participants.
  • It’s okay to have a different opinion, you don’t have to always agree.
  • Invest your time to get to know people better.
  • Find a personal time to do a self-reflection.

Consider yourself warned!

With love,

Annisa

Annisa @Sanjusangendo.JPG

*This letter is written as an article for the participant’s voice section on IATSS Forum official website (as requested by Mie-san on Feb 17, 2017)

Thank you, Andy! 


“Some people come in our life as blessings. Others come in our life as lessons.” Mother Teresa 

I am grateful that I had a chance to meet Andy. It was too soon to call it love, but there’s just something about her that makes me attracted to her. Somehow I got the courage to be more of myself after our short interaction. 

Some people are just not meant to be in our life, that’s something I need to accept. Sadly, Andy won’t be in my life. However, her short presence was to give me a valuable lesson. 

Because of her I had the courage to tell my best friends about my struggle. I was worried that they won’t accept me, but to my surprise, they understand me and they accept me with open arms. They are also sympathetic to my situation and concern about my wellbeing. 

All this time I was worried that I’d lose their friendships, but knowing that they’ll support me and still think of me as their best friends makes me realize that I have found my true friends. 

I no longer have to look somewhere else for comfort and encouragement. Apparently they are always around and waiting for me to come out of my shell. I should have trusted them and given them the benefit of the doubt. 

I won’t live an easy life, but I know I’ll have my support system and I will be fine. Even one of my colleagues and friends told me that it’s okay to be selfish. It’s okay to think about my happiness instead of thinking about what people say about me. 

What happened between Andy and I have led me to this precious discovery of true friendship. So, thanks, Andy! And goodbye to you….

#NotGonnaGiveUp


I was about to have lunch with my colleagues when I saw many people standing in front of a house next to the RM Padang I went to. Abang RM Padang told us that there was an incident happened; someone committed suicide in the house and they have just found the body. He said that the victim was a loner and was not married yet, he lived with his dad and his mother passed away already. That’s all the info I could hear.

I felt so sad when I found out what happened. What happened today was a reminder to cherish life no matter how difficult and hard it might seem. There were times when I got so depressed and I could not contain my sadness. I always overthink everything and it’s killing me.  I know it’s not healthy, but I keep on doing it. There are things I cannot control and when I am ready to let it go, I will feel happier. I just need to remind myself that it’s okay to feel this deep feeling; that it’s part of who I am. I need to love this part of me. This huge heart feels so deeply of everything and right now I am overwhelmed with all the emotions.

I do not want to do anything stupid anymore, I promised myself and closed people of mine not to do anything stupid. That I will not give up with life.

Songs of the week (still having too strong feeling for しるく right now):
Namie Amuro – Baby Don’t Cry
Yura Yunita – Intuisi
Maera – Benak
Sara Bareilles – Goodbye Yellow Brick Road

“Upon my return home” Report


Dear Silk and Midori,
This is Annisa, the 56th Batch IF participant from Jakarta, Indonesia. Thank you so much for your replies. 

Life in Jakarta has been surreal. When I left Suzuka that Monday morning, I kept on denying the fact that I’m leaving Japan for good. 

I thought it was only for a field trip (in Kansai area or Tokyo). In a week, I’d be returning to Suzuka and see you all again :-(

The first time I landed in Soekarno-Hatta airport and went into the toilet, I was slapped by reality; I have returned to a familiar smell of this city. 

I have adjusted myself well to life in Japan, that’s why many things shocked me upon my return.

When we queued to claim our luggage, I was overwhelmed by the aggressiveness of Jakartans and their impatience to queue. I decided to just sit and wait until most of them leave before I look for mine.

When my dad drove me back to our home, I was so stressed out because everyone was in a hurry, they’d speed up and drive carelessly. No one seemed to have the ‘safety first’ attitude and I kept on complaining about it. We were also greeted by traffic jam! It’s so stressful. 

Rainy season is coming. In the afternoon and at night, it’s been raining constantly. It reminded me so much of our first weeks in Suzuka. The difference is that, none of my friends and IF staffs are here with me. It’s been a little lonely. 

I have always missed Indonesian food when I was in Japan, but when I tasted the food here, everything tastes too salty, too spicy, too much MSG, too not healthy. Even my tastebuds is overwhelmed! 

I miss Sora Tabeyo and cafeteria food, I miss having dinner and lunch with y’all. I miss all the random talks we had during and after the meal. 

My colleagues complained because I kept on sitting in my desk and looked at my laptop instead of interacting with them. 

I have to put on an ‘auto-mode’ here. I am still not ready to return back to life before IF. They don’t know I struggle so much to have a sense of normalcy in this place. 

Right now nothing is normal, everything is new to me. I forgot my official working hour, I forgot which days should I wear the office uniform, I even forgot where I put my ID Card. I had to ask my colleagues and they were laughing. They thought I was joking!

You are always in our mind and heart. I keep on replying all the videos and seeing all the pictures I have on my phone. There’s just too many memories. The good thing is that, the participants keep on talking and sharing their daily life through Whatsapp and Facebook group. I feel a little less lonely. 

We are glad to hear that you are missing us as well. I guess the Goodbye video really got to you. All the quietness eventually make you miss us even more. 

Have a good day at work. 

I love and miss you with every fiber of my being <3
xoxo,

Annisa

2,5 hrs in Nagoya


My best friend introduced me to the 48G and now I become one of their wota :) They were also one of the reasons I got so interested in learning and getting to know about Japan, but being a wota is not always bad though. I was motivated to go to Japan and now here I am :) I also learn some 48G songs (japanese version) and able to sing some of them now. Oh well, there was a time when I only listen to their songs, so no wonder I can hum and sing their songs :P

It’s the second self-development day. In the morning I went to Yokaicchi Pollution and Environmental Museum for Future Awareness and eventually left for Nagoya in the afternoon. It was only a short 35min train ride to get there (¥620 from Yokaicchi station to Nagoya). Nagoya is quite big and they have different train ride; kintetsu , meitetsu, subway, etc. They key is to ask the right person when you’re confused lol I usually ask a younger people because some of them speak English well. I got so many help today. So grateful, my solo trip to Nagoya was all fine.


My only destination in Nagoya is Sunshine Sakae where SKE48 theater is located. Unfortunately no show in the afternoon. It’s still good to see it though.
I wish I could explore more though. I still wanna go to Nagoya Castle. But the time isn’t enough and the bus schedule back to Suzuka Circuit is limited, so it’s gonna be more costly to take taxi from Shiroko Station back to the hotel (¥2,500). Even the bus (single) fare from Shiroko station to Suzuka Circuit is rather expensive for me (¥400 or IDR52,000). Won’t complain about it though, living in Japan is obviously more expensive if I compare it to Indonesia, so just enjoy it :) Overall, I AM HAPPY! 

 

Goodbye, Clauss


I was so eager to find someone to settle down with, I tried to conform to what the society believe as the portrayal of a ‘good woman’. I was trying so hard to be accepted, to be liked, to be loved, to be considered a ‘wifey material’ that I lost myself in the process. 

I want to tell stories of me meeting different people in pursuit of finding a partner to settle down with. The society makes me think that it’s a shame for a woman my age to be single. The pressure is so strong that it makes me want to change who I am and to lower the ‘standards’ of the kind of person I want to settle down with. 

I dread sitting in a car with my colleagues or bosses because that’d be a perfect time for people to start poking into each other’s personal business. Topics about spouse, children, marriage, family, and other private issues come up. It’s all just a lip service though. I can sense that they aren’t genuinely care or interested in the other people’s stories. They just want to kill time or avoid the awkward silence. That’s when people started asking questions. As for me, I hate small talks and I love the silence. 

Most time I got so defensive that I found myself preparing for answers for when they direct the personal questions to me. When I reflect of what happened, I realize that the answers that I prepared aren’t smart answers. They are just products of my frustration on my current situation; the frustration that comes from the widely accepted conception of what ‘a perfect life’ should be like; the perfect life that I have yet to discover. 

#StoryAboutClauss

So I went out with Clauss two times already. The first meeting was okay. I know I didn’t feel like he’s the one for me, but I try my best not to judge a person from the first meeting, so we kept texting each other and then we finally met for the second time a couple of days ago. After the first date I was still confused whether we’ll work out as a couple or not. The chemistry wasn’t there but I was pretty comfortable opening myself up. That’s why I agreed on the second date. I feel like I need to confirm my first instinct about Clauss. Right after talking to him and observing his gesture, also his way of thinking, I suddenly found the courage to cut him off. 

When I reflect on what happened in our date, I realized that I lost myself in the process of getting to know him. I couldn’t speak up my mind because he didn’t give me enough space to speak comfortably about different issues. I also noticed that what he said wasn’t consistent with his action. And then when I got home I hate myself so much for putting up with him. And that’s when I realize that he’s not the person I want to be with.

Here’s a note I made for myself. When we really look deep inside of us and try to understand what’s the most important thing we need, we’ll see what’s good and bad for us. We have instincts and in my case, my instincts are often right. It’s like our subconscious reaction that will protect us from things that will harm us. When we got that kind of red flag on people, our heart might put us in a denial mode, but if we really look deeper, we’ll know what we want and what we need to decide for ourselves. Is it really important to sacrifice ourselves for something that might be a threat for our happiness and comfort?

I said goodbye to Clauss.