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Di Dalam Diri

As featured in @kolomremaja on December 3rd, 2022.

Di dalam diri, anak kecil itu masih bernyawa. Ikut melanglang buana, mengelilingi dunia, dan memuaskan angannya. Sesekali ia memekik kesenangan atau pula tersedu sedan. Atau merasa asing dan seorang diri melihat semuanya sudah berganti.

Anak kecil itu lahir dari ketidakpastian dan tumbuh dengan segala yang familiar. Satu-satunya hal yang ia hendaki hanyalah untuk pulang. Kembali ke dekapan ayah dan ibunya. Kembali ke rangkulan rumah mungilnya. Tapi apa daya, kesempatan untuk pulang telah sirna oleh waktu. Digantikan dengan kesempatan untuk pergi dan tidak kembali.

Maka anak kecil itu semakin takut dan ragu. Ia terus merengek dan memohon. Dalam pintanya, ia bertanya, kapan pulang? Tapi tidak ada yang mampu menjawab. Hingga tangisnya memelan dan hilang. Hingga ia hanya bisa termangu dan terdiam. 

Namun luka-lukanya menyayat semakin dalam.

Maka gapailah anak kecil itu dan peluk ia erat-erat. Tidak ada yang abadi, termasuk luka-luka yang ia hadapi. Dan ketika badai telah usai, ia akan kembali riang menikmati pelangi yang hadir. Dan luka-lukanya, semoga, perlahan pulih dan tidak akan pedih lagi.

Dan anak kecil itu akan terus mengiringi langkah kaki ini.


Pause, Blink, and It’s 2023: The Distorted Time Perception During and After The Covid-19 Pandemic

Time paused in 2020, and ever since, someone has been pressing the fast-forward button for a bit too long to the extent that the last three years felt more like a blur. Isn’t it weird how three years have never felt so long while you were experiencing it, but now it all seems like it’s flying away so fast once it ended?

How we perceive and experience time, or time perception, is often mind-boggling. Even when the “duration” of time itself is the same for everyone (e.g. 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, etc), it was proved in the 2010 research by Sackett and Meyvis that some days may feel longer or shorter based on several factors, such as our emotions or the number of activities that differ from our routines, because time is subjective. Fear and happiness could make time goes faster, while boredom may slow it down. When we stick to a certain routine, after a while, time will go quicker without us noticing. But spruce things up a little, and at that moment, time wouldn’t go as hurriedly. 

However, the way these last three years went is more extreme than just an hour flying by or a day slipping away. Instead of flying by or slipping away, time was distorted, with it feeling both very fast and very slow simultaneously. In this case, our time perception during the pandemic could be more accurately defined by another keyword: Temporal disintegration. 


“Dedicated to everyone who wonders if I’m writing about them. I am.”

I feel called out by this anonymous quote I found one day on Pinterest. It is the truth, after all, I am constantly writing about them.

About the kids that I grew up with whose presence in my life now is nothing but a few Instagram notifications from time to time.

About the girl that I low-key looked up to in middle school.

About the old friends and the almost-friends and the ex-friends that I wished I talked more with.

About the strangers that I only met a couple of times and whose life stories are still etched in my memory.

And about so many others who I have met in my short 16 years of living.

Real-life mundane, often overlooked, stories always fascinate me. I believe that there is always beauty in every small interaction and conversation. In the way that our eyes lit up when hearing our friend’s stories. In the faint smile and subtle signs of contentment. Even in the knowledge that hundreds of people we meet every day each have their own lives to live, their own stories to tell.

Small moments always hold the most value, even if we don’t realize it at first.

And I always love to capture these stories and moments in my writings. I enjoy remembering overheard whispers and conversations while trying to guess or make up my version of what happened there. I like interpreting faces and gestures, attempting to figure out what kind of person they are. And I especially love to imagine alternative endings to real-life situations I experienced or heard of. This is why I started the Conversation series so that I could have a space where I could share these –hopefully somewhat relatable– semi-fictional stories. 

So, I guess, consider this post as an introduction to what kind of writing I’m going to publish more in this blog. Of course, there would still be book reviews here and there and occasional stories about some of my experiences. But also expect more of these semi-fiction pieces and personal reflections, where I will be writing stories inspired by people I know in real life (and yes, it might be about you :D). 


“Aftermath: Population Zero” Film Analysis

The documentary “Aftermath: Population Zero” ponders what the earth would be like if humans suddenly disappeared. It promotes the theme of the interconnectedness of human life and nature. Multiple times, the documentary emphasizes the fact that humans are so dependent on nature. To the point where we control the force of nature to serve our needs until it reaches the issue of global warming. But unlike humans, nature is not dependent on human life as it can sustain itself and go through positive changes without us. Thus, the purpose of this film is to remind us how disruptive our lifestyle could be toward other beings such as plants and animals.


Conversation #1: A Girl in Her Shadow

"Why do I still feel like I'm living in your shadow?"
She looked at me, "how? I'm not even there anymore."

Unsure of what to say, I just shrugged. 

I looked back at our pictures together. There were lots of them, I noticed, in the first few weeks of us meeting each other. There were lots of them before everything went awry. Before the two of us drifted apart from each other.

There is nothing special about the pictures. It was just us, with some other people, smiling at the camera. But despite our slight resemblance to one another; soft features, dimpled smiles, and calm gaze, there was always something more to hers.
Her smile, brighter.
Her gaze, steadier.
Her gesture, friendlier.

Or at least that's what I have convinced myself to believe.

Featured on Reflection School

It’s Okay Not to Be Okay

A feature article (Year 10 English Acquisition assignment) for Sekolah Cikal Surabaya Student Council‘s Bilik Ekspresi Program.

It was 11 pm when Sarah, who was already half-asleep, nearly jolted awake due to what she guessed were the 10th intrusive thoughts she had that night. From school-related anxiety to an existential crisis. The number of things her mind can worry about is endless. Yet she doesn’t know how to stop it either. Hence, sleep deprivation has somehow become a habit for her lately.

While others might not experience it as worse, Sarah’s story represents the lives of millions of teenagers during the pandemic. Even though they long to wander and explore the world, for over a year now, they are confined in their own house with a puzzle that seems unsolvable; their negative thoughts and emotions.

Before the pandemic, most teenagers are used to distracting themselves from facing these thoughts. So when the pandemic hits, they are forced to face all their negative emotions without any preparation beforehand. As a result, the pandemic worsens their conditions further. Lack of peer support, miscommunication in an online school, and other stressful situations have all contributed to the deterioration of teenagers’ mental health.

According to UNICEF, teenagers in half of all households in Indonesia showed signs of difficulty concentrating and sleeping. Behavioral and emotional problems have also gotten more severe as a necessary psychological intervention has not been done.

While recovering from these negative conditions might feel impossible, turns out it is still feasible to do. “Although I’m an extrovert, I have learned that some alone time gives me so much more time to do self-reflection, figure out what is the cause of the problems I’m facing, and then improve my well-being from there,” said Dea, Sarah’s friend, when they discussed mental health.

Teenagers’ coping mechanisms may vary, but the key to all of them is the ability to accept and reflect on each of their conditions. Some might apply it through writing their thoughts, some others through painting or art-related mediums. Whatever it is, validating their thoughts and emotions should be the first step for teenagers to cope and heal through this hard time.


To Grow Up is To Embrace Uncertainties

As I got older, birthdays that were once full of hope and dreams turned into a day full of anxieties that only reminded me more and more of the uncertainties of life. The hope and dreams were still there. But there were also lingering feelings of disappointment whenever I realized that my childhood birthday dreams would continue to be just that. A dream. A past expectation stuck in my memory. A reminder of how I wish everything could have been.

So for the past week, I have been asking myself. Am I going to let this disappointment wash over me on every future birthday I’m going to have? Am I going to let my future birthdays be ruined because of the anxieties I have about my uncertain future?


A Letter on Middle School Reminisce

Coming from an academic background that values grades and achievements more than anything, those were what I strived to accomplish when I was a new student in Cikal. Never have I thought that what I gain from being here has so much more value than just being a booksmart student.

When I first came to Cikal, like many of you, I was not used to being trusted in leading my own learning journey. And I think that is what makes Cikal so special. We have met teachers who would willingly ask us about our needs. Which brings us a sense of liberation, as we are able to explore our personal interests inside and outside of the classroom. 


“Malu Bertanya Sesat di Jalan”, Cukupkah Pepatah Ini?

Sejak kecil, satu kalimat yang selalu muncul dalam kertas ujian, dalam buku pelajaran bahasa, dan terus digaungkan oleh guru di masa TK dan SD adalah:

“Malu bertanya, sesat di jalan.”

Pepatah ini tentu baik artinya. Mengajarkan kita untuk tidak segan bertanya atau mencari bantuan orang lain ketika sedang menghadapi persoalan.

Tapi pepatah ini seharusnya tidak menyebabkan misinterpretasi yang akan berdampak tidak diinginkan pada murid, atau siapapun yang menggunakannya. Sebagai contoh, apakah melontarkan pertanyaan itu harus selalu didahulukan? Ataukah ada hal lain yang seharusnya bisa lebih dulu diupayakan untuk mendapat informasi?

Book Review

2020 Reading List

Throughout 2020, I have discovered a lot of books that I enjoyed reading and became my personal favorite. So, since the year is coming to an end, I thought it would be appropriate for me to share a list of all the books I have read as well as some of my thoughts about it, in case any of you need inspirations for your TBR list next year!