I was 10 years old when I played a role as a busy employee with files in hand, alone in my bedroom. Wore mom’s high heel, hair in pigtails, answered calls from imaginary clients and talked nonsense. How nice it is to be an adult, I thought. The innocent little me did think that working is cool, so that we can buy decent clothes, house, car, and give some pennies to our loved ones.
The little me didn’t expect that when we were adulting we would experience mental crises and sudden responsibilities, not to mention the transition, which was hard and confusing. Life hits you with a curve ball. Some of them were because of our bad decisions, others because of our pure mistakes. When reality bites you constantly, you just can’t take pessimism out of your life again. Meaning that makes you always aware, there’s no such thing as a hundred percent rosy-road-happy-go-lucky in life. And open with both good and bad possibilities that may happen.
I went through a series of problems a few years ago, until I was so done with my life there. I needed an escape. So I thought, Jakarta is the answer. I wanted to know what it is like living and surviving in this capital. No matter how ruthless its image on the news, I still wanted to move here, to learn trust, strength, and ownership of my life. I expected to gain a new perspective on myself and the work that needs to go into finding my path.
The funny part is, my naivety overshadowed all the considerations—you know I brought myself without a college degree—I was pretty intuitive. “Just move and I’ll see,” I said
I won’t deny there were days when I was happy. Days when I could see clearly what I wanted and then planned something, in hope that I could tick these certain boxes I define as ‘success’. I always ask myself, “what would you do to make yourself a little more happier today?” every day. Still, there’s always reasons why I wasn’t satisfied. I wanted to dump what wasn’t perfect . Pushed it under the rug and wanted to be just the new me.
But the efforts I did in this reinventing journey made me realize one thing. To bury all those reckless actions you did—things that you regret over—is useless. Regrets in my definition here are things that I realize I should’ve done better. A state when I tried something, it sent me to another fact that I still lack in something .
Growing up, I learned that I have to let go of what I can’t control and being ok that in fact, I am a flawed human being, who just want to grow. There would always be things I couldn’t change and have to live with it.
Weeks ago, on September 11th, I turned 29. These questions came up. Are you getting better? Then, better at what? Career-wise, education-wise, family-wise, friends-wise, and romance-wise? Some aspects of your life need improvement, right? As if it is the debts that you need to pay back immediately. Hello, especially 29 is close to 30, I know. There’s a pressure. But who is pressuring actually? Is it yourself or society? Which one actually makes you sad?
I felt sad being left by one of my best friends. Sad when my boyfriend didn’t text me back, left me confused, and it just happened to be our break up too, four days before my birthday. I was sad when I struggled to reconnect and communicate with my parents. There’s a big gap—language-wise, values, level of open mindedness—between you and your parents, and that’s why you all can’t understand—often hurting—each other all this time, and remain silent.
I felt sad when I realised my public speaking skill wasn’t good enough as a leader of the team. The moment I had no idea what I have to do next, as a manager. The moment I was so confused why the tendency of me being anxious didn’t completely vanish, and it causes me to do the same effort to overcome it again and again.
The moment you realise that the work you do, not being put in a good use or actually does not have a significant impact in the context of contribution to society.
The list can go on. And maybe you’ll think that I am wailing right now or pity party time. No, I’m not.
Recently, a friend told me to shift my outlook on this ‘shortcoming’ into perspective that… it is actually ‘challenging’. I thank her—immensely so—but it’s still a dissonance that occupies my mind. I was in the state between feeling grateful and undeserving. And she saw it as ‘complaining’. But I saw it as an attempt to self-audit, to regulate and put some thoughts into perspective. Because I need to gather these perspectives in order to find a way. To solve a problem, first we need to identify the problem, right? If it happened to be much sadness, I think that is just a part of being an adult. Another kind of pain that comes with adulthood.
Like Ayu F. Utami once said in this podcast, when you enter your late twenties, especially, you’ll always be sad about something. You’ll always have that state of spiraling into any level of anxiety. Because you already have that baggage, you already have some regrets or whatever it is, that’s OK. And I subscribe to that idea that we have to make peace with those regrets.
In this 29, I just wish to finally find a way to make peace with permanent sadness. Learn how to live with it. I wish to finally find a way to be both a good daughter and a woman with ambition for myself. But just don’t strive for perfection. There’s no such thing as ‘the new you’. There is only ‘the growing you’.
Jakarta, 27 September 2020