Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Another resolution

This year is an impactful year for me. I've grown a lot from a year ago, I think.

It was all started when I finished my final project, my undergraduate thesis, in January. The last thing that will determine my graduation, as well as my grades. During that moment, I was all sad and excited. I was afraid to leave the place, the atmosphere, and the people I love.

I was also afraid to leave everything behind, and to start over. To start anew. Yet weeks beforehand, I had already been busy sending my resume to a few schools. Even though I felt really insecure about leaving university, I was also very excited to explore a new world, and to find a new comfort zone, although I know it will not be easy.

I then fell in love with a new world. A world of teaching special need students. Something that had never come to my mind even a year ago, yet now it has become something that I really love. I love how challenging it is, and how rewarding and fulfilling it feels.

Last year, I was so sure to continue my master's degree in 2013, and this year, I've learned about "delaying gratification". It's okay to have your goal postponed, if by delaying it you can do something that matters and will help you to attain your goal - at least that is what I had been telling myself to help me sleep at night. It's for the greater good.

This year, I've also learned about how to work with varied colleagues. Some I respect so much, although some has characteristics that I'm not really fond of.

And that's how I learned about adjustment and tolerance.

I wrote three major-to-do-list on my 2013 journal: Graduate in 3.5 year with GPA higher than 3.5, get a job that I am passionate about and live independently (financially), and continue a master's degree in Child Clinical Psychology Professional Degree. I've only accomplished two out of three, but I hope it no longer matters, because I have learned A LOT about special needs students and how to treat them right, and I've jumped to a conclusion that my knowledge is still limited. I do want to explore more.

And that's why, I have to go back to school next year. I really hope I can do it overseas, but going back to the university that always feels like home to me is also okay.

Pursuing further degree is going to be my major 2014 resolution, among other things, like learning how to swim and how to drive a car. I do not know whether there will be any surprises later, but I do wish my plan will no longer be postponed. Unleash He really has a way better plan for me.

Oh! I also want to continue my diet plan, and read more by spending less time on games and TV series. If that's possible.

Thank you for the wonderful year.

I hope 2014 will be my year, which can brings me closer to my dreams. And hopefully yours, too.

Monday, November 25, 2013


When you are in your twenties and have graduated university, everyone around you suddenly talks about marriage and stuffs. Everybody starts asking the "when" questions, repeatedly. Everywhere.

It's not that I'm not interested with the topic. I am. Everyone in my circle probably know that I'm into young marriage. It's just.... Weird to have that conversation when you're in the phase when you feel lost and are not sure about your next move. It's a little weird and uncomfortable to always get questions that you can only answer with a smile or laugh upon your face, isn't it?

"Are you ready?" is even worse. Because it is a real question, unlike the "when?". I've received this question twice this week, both from people who are willing to take the next step if answer it with a yes. Two woman who got worried with my plan to get a master's degree abroad, while I'm still single.

And... I don't know. I thought it would be perfect to get married right after college, but somehow I don't want to get married with still having an "unfinished business". Who knows what will happen next? Who knows if I no longer have time to pursue my dream because I'm going to prioritize something else? 

On the ther hand, delaying marriage could make it even harder for me to meet the right guy. It's sad, but true. I'm a girl. I live in a conservative country, and I'm a girl.

And it's really hard to answer these kind of questions and to make a plan when everything is so blurry and, well, blank and empty.

I am twenty. I'm at the beginning of the "mate-selection" and "settling down" phase. I'm also in a point where I get enthusiastic to build a career and to pursue my dreams and education. Twenty-something is the age when we are gullible enough to think that we can rule the world and be anything that we want. 

I just want to be happy in whatever path I choose to go through first. And I still want to excell in both. Realistic or not, I guess it depends on how far will I go to make it true.

"Are you ready?"

"How can I be ready to start a family and to take care of someone else, when I'm still not finished with myself?"

Sunday, November 3, 2013

To Be Twenty

I never take birthdays as a big deal. So does my family. My parents told me and my siblings that birthdays are only reminders that we are getting older, and that we get less days to live. We got presents, kisses, and birthday wishes, but never a cake with candles to blow - let alone a party.

However, this year, although I didn't celebrate it, I felt relieved and thankful for finally being twenty. For finally leaving the teen age.

I've been acting like I'm in my twenties since one or two years ago, because that's just required for me to "survive". So really, age is actually just a number for me. But to not get the "how come you're still nineteen" anymore is absolutely a big deal for me. Despite of all the challenges, I always want to be an adult, and be seen as one.

Welcome to the beginning of your young adulthood, Ayas. Just fasten your seat belt, drive with the proper pace, and enjoy the ride. Don't forget to look at the signs from The Guide and aware of the traffic lights. There might be a lot of fascinating destinations that intrigues you along the way, and there might be plenty of things that you want to do. Just make sure you know which one to pick. Do not be lost, over and over again.

Things will definetely get rougher. Just be sure that you are way tougher.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Facing Failure

I thought I'm good at handling failure, but it turned out that I'm not. Not really. I can't even decide whether it's a "no" sign from Allah, or a sign for me to get up and try harder. I'm not even sure whether to exert myself or to choose the easier path instead. I know that every single thing that I have failed is a lesson for me not to be arrogant, though.

I don't know if I'm determined enough to keep going.

Dear Allah, I need guidance and more signs, whether to stop trying or to try even harder. Please?

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Jangan Jadi Guru

Jangan jadi guru kalau kamu bermimpi punya tabungan banyak, hidup mewah, dan bisa memenuhi segala kebutuhan tersier. Nyatanya, guru adalah salah satu profesi yang menurut saya underpaid - dibayar di bawah standar. Tapi, soal cukup-nggak-cukup sebenarnya adalah urusan subyektif. It's more about how you spend your money. Meskipun gajinya nggak besar, guru punya banyak waktu luang untuk mengerjakan pekerjaan-pekerjaan sambilan, yang tentu bisa memberikan penghasilan lebih. Selain itu, biaya gaya hidup guru tentu tidak sebesar biaya gaya hidup mereka yang bekerja di kantor-kantor. Biaya makan siang, biaya gaul, biaya outfit dan perhiasan, dan biaya-biaya lain yang menurut saya sebenarnya tidak esensial, tapi diperlukan untuk bisa 'bertahan hidup' di kantor.

Jangan jadi guru kalau terlalu memikirkan pendapat orang. Nyatanya, meskipun banyak orang yang berpikir kalau mengajar dan mendidik adalah pekerjaan mulia, banyak juga yang menganggap guru sebagai pekerjaan yang sepele. Perkataan macam "Ah, kalau mau jadi guru mah nggak usah kuliah di UI," "Ngapain cum laude kalo ujung-ujungnya cuma jadi guru," serta beberapa perkataan lain, ditambah dengan tatapan mata yang tidak mendukung sudah pernah saya terima dan rasakan. Percaya lah, ilmu kita pasti terpakai seutuhnya ketika mendidik murid. Memang benar, banyak guru yang pendidikannya tidak tinggi. Tapi, guru yang berkualitas tentu memerlukan ilmu pengetahuan dalam mendidik peserta didiknya. Untuk meredam hati, saya punya solusi: cari lah sekolah yang terdapat banyak guru dari almamater yang sama denganmu. Kalau begitu, kamu akan jadi lebih yakin kalau memilih profesi ini adalah sebuah pilihan yang membanggakan, sekaligus merasa bahwa kamu bahkan masih perlu banyak belajar untuk "hanya" menjadi guru. 

Jangan jadi guru kalau mau kerja santai. Nyatanya, kerja jadi guru itu nggak ada istirahatnya. Ketika waktu istirahat saja, saya dan rekan-rekan kerja masih harus mengontrol anak saat makan dan bermain, sambil mencuri-curi waktu untuk menyiapkan bahan ajar. Jangan harap bisa lunch di luar sambil lirik-lirik diskon - jangan harap.

Jangan jadi guru kalau hanya mau kerja sesuai jobdesc. Nyatanya, jadi guru itu butuh keikhlasan, karena banyak hal lain yang harus dikerjakan selain mengajar dan menyiapkan materi. Ada orang tua yang telfonnya harus selalu di angkat dengan antusiasme, yang kedatangannya harus selalu disambut dengan keramahan, dan kekhawatirannya yang meski terkadang berlebihan, harus tetap didengarkan. Ada anak yang juga harus terus diperhatikan bukan hanya dari segi akademisnya saja, tapi juga dari sisi sosial-emosionalnya.

Jangan jadi guru kalau tidak mau terus belajar dan tidak suka tantangan. Nyatanya, ada saja kasus yang harus dihadapi setiap hari, yang bisa saja tidak pernah diajarkan ketika kuliah dulu. Ada saja anak-anak yang menyimpang dari teori. Ada buku-buku yang harus kembali dibaca, strategi-strategi yang harus dipelajari, dan orang-orang yang harus ditanyai.

Jangan jadi guru kalau benci pekerjaan administratif. Nyatanya, menulis rancangan program ajaran dan rapor adalah pekerjaan administratif yang butuh ketelitian dan ketekunan - apalagi kalau keduanya harus ditulis dengan detil dan berbeda untuk setiap anak.

Jadilah guru kalau kamu tekagum-kagum dengan perilaku anak-anak, karena menjadi guru memungkinkanmu untuk melihat ragamnya perkembangan mereka. Menjadi guru bagi anak berkebutuhan khusus bahkan juga membuatmu menyadari hebatnya Tuhan yang menciptakan manusia dengan segala perbedaan dan keunikannya.

Jadilah guru kalau kamu ingin mendapatkan banyak hal untuk memperkaya diri. Belajar mendidik anak, belajar berhadapan dengan orang tua yang tidak terlalu kita sukai, dan lainnya. Mengobservasi keputusan-keputusan yang diambil orang tua terhadap anak, dan mempelajari akibatnya. Belajar sabar, belajar menerima orang lain apa adanya meskipun tetap mendorongnya agar bisa melampaui potensinya, dan belajar konsisten. 

To be frank, menjadi guru memang bukan cita-cita utama saya.  Saya masih tetap ingin menjadi psikolog, dan masih mantap untuk melanjutkan studi tahun depan. Tapi, guru adalah profesi yang saya pilih tahun ini, karena sesuai dengan minat dan kebutuhan saya untuk menggali ilmu dan pengalaman.

If being a teacher ever crossed your mind, go for it. Don't be afraid of all the apprehensions you have, because when you want to do something wholeheartedly and with compassion, God will help you find a way.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Reminisce, and Be Proud!

I just read some old posts I wrote in this blog during high school, which I changed into drafts a year ago to make it private. I realized how silly I was. Too blunt, too naive, too frank. Too hopeful, too expressive. Trying too hard to write in English, and ended up not doing it the right way. Treating the blog like a personal diary, with too much, way too much personal information written, and unnecessary things to be shared as well. Blabbing about the boy I like, although I know he is going to read it anyway. Too impulsive, too childish. Too high school. And whenever I read it, I feel ashamed that I used to think like that.

I wanted to delete all of them, but then I remembered how I regret tearing up my childhood/adolescence diary (after being so sure that my mom read it), because I cannot remember some details of my life afterwards. And after doing it a few times, I realize that learning about your old version is a good thing, because you will now how much you have changed. It feels so good to know that you have changed in the way that you always wanted to. It feels so nice to realize how passionate you were to be a person you are right now.

Give yourself a break. Sometimes, when we are heading to a place far, we also need to make sure how far have we left. Our goal might still be far, but maybe we have been through a long trip already. Look at your old journal, read some essays you wrote more than two years ago, find some notes you have written about what did you want for your future self. Reminisce the memory. Then compare and analyze. Some of them might not change and might not turn out the way that you wanted to be, but you will find out that you're heading the right way. And you will be so thankful that you are.

Give yourself a break. Don't be too hard on yourself. It might still be a long, winding road, but hopefully, a few years from now, your future self will be even better than your present self.

Take it easy. Stop saying that you're not doing things well enough. Stop giving the pressure to your self. Reminisce, and be proud of yourself.

Of course by now you know that it's myself that I'm talking talking to, right? But it could also relate to you, if you ever feel the same way.

Chase everything that's on your list, but be easy on yourself.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

A Felicity

Letting the butterflies in with no expectation. It's been a while!

Just enjoying the sensation after realizing that I have forgotten about it for quite a long time. How nice it feels, how it makes your days, how it turns you back into a child, how it cultivates your needs for stalking, how it drives you insecure, and how it makes you think about something you're not supposed to think - because keeping the expectation low is the best way to keep the happiness stayed.

"Good luck, don't you feel so bad.
Just don't get your hopes up," Sondre Lerche said.

Good luck, good night.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Frankly Speaking

"Lo mah enak ya Yas, tinggal minta jodohin sama nyokap."

"Ya gue kan pengennya juga yang nggak se-kayak-lo gitu Yas, ketinggian juga."

Frankly, I have doubts too. I have apprehension that things won't go as I planned. That I will end up doing something I always said I will never do. That I am just not good enough for those who I perceive as good enough for me. That I have unattainable expectations.

I have questions, too. The "what ifs" one. The "why is my life so easy - was He planned something all along" one. The "am doing the right thing" one.

Because, really, who knows if I'm just being too naive. I have faith that I'm doing the right thing so He will grant me my desires, but who knows?

"Laa hawla wa laa quwwata illaa billaah."

That's actually all I can say right now.

However, as my belief always keeps me going, I still believe that I will always get astounding things because no one knows me better than Him. That, in this case, someday I will meet someone I've been praying for. Not now, but in the right time.

Hopefully i'm still realistic and not being too naive.

Don't lose your faith just yet.

Friday, August 23, 2013

About Being A Special Education Teacher

It's tiring - exhausting. It requires a lot of patience. It demands creativity and flexibility. It somehow gets you confused, because it turns out that teaching four kids with different strengths and weaknesses are arduous. 

It's bewildering, because the strategy that works on the theory you learned might not work on some kids. It pretty much drains thought and energy.

Yet seeing that look on their face, listening something popped out of their mind, and spotting them doing something unpredictable, those are satisfying.

And seeing them progress and be better each day is priceless. It is worth every drops of sweat.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Just A Prattle

"Pick up three words to explain yourself!"
"Er.... Extroverted...."
"Really? I mean, I can't really see it right now."

That was a conversation between me and someone who interviewed me for a job, who later became my boss. At that moment, I realized that I don't even know three words to describe myself - and that I'm not even sure that I am an extrovert. That's just what those tests told me - the popular psychology tests I took during high school, when I know nothing about psychology yet. 

So, am I?

At this point, I realize that I do enjoy being in solitude, as well as spending hours to talk and laugh with friends. I love meeting new friends, but at the same time, I also find it intimidating. My coping strategy is both sharing my problems to my friends or family and having a me time. But do I enjoy being in crowd or in a party? Not as much as I do when I locked myself in my own room, frankly.

A few years ago, I took a test that analyzed my personality based on my handwriting. Again, back then I know nothing about psychology, let alone about validity and reliability in psychological testing, so I can't really say whether it's trustworthy or not. I was pretty satisfied with the result, though. It said that I am an ambivert - somewhere in the middle of extrovert and introvert. Learning in college that extroversion and introversion is a continuum - not a category, and knowing that every good test should distribute normally in a bell curve (meaning that most of the people took the test are in the middle), I think I might be in the middle of the continuum; an ambivert. From those tests that are based on Galen's theory of personality, I also found out that I am both sanguine and phlegmatic (they balance out each other).

I know it's silly, but I've been thinking a lot about it because it's bugging me lately. Being away from school (where I can meet a lot of people my age everyday), I only have regular meeting with friends I feel really close with. It even comes to a moment when my mom asked who am I going to hang out with, and all I have to say is "Of course you know with whom. Who else?" At that moment, I realized that I don't have a lot of friends. I don't even have a best friend I've known for more than ten years. I mean, I used to be best friends with them, but eventually time separates us. I'm not good with making a long-distance relationship with my friends, so I ended up being really close with those who I can meet every day.

Sometimes, I despise myself for that. It happens a lot when most of my friends posted on Path about their meeting with their best friends from primary school, or anything like that. I do enjoy being in a reunion, but I would prefer a long, warm, talk - and I don't think that it's something that I can do with my old friends, except one or two who still contacted me sometimes to share their problems.

But when I meet those best friends I met in college, I know that quality beats quantity. Having a few best friends who are all mature, intelligent, and good partners to discuss with is a blessing that not everyone could have. Having a few best friends who I can tell every detail of my life with is enough.

Anyways, I think I started to prattle again. As I said, it's just bothering me lately and writing helps me think rationally. And if anyone's reading, if we used to be so close but we're now acting like strangers, it's probably not you. Perhaps it's me. Let's sit and talk, and let's see if we can start over again.

And for those who I still take as my significant others, thank you for being in my life, and thank you for staying.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Tentang Itikaf

Itikaf adalah ibadah favorit saya di Bulan Ramadhan. Saya yang sok sibuk ini suka ngedahuluin urusan dunia daripada urusan akhirat, and so it feels really nice to get away from the worldly things for a night, and focusing to make the soul well-fed instead. Kalau sedang itikaf, saya nggak megang laptop dan jarang sekali megang handphone - sehingga saya yang udah kecanduan teknologi ini jadi 'dipaksa' untuk terus tilawah atau melakukan kegiatan-kegiatan lain yang mungkin tidak saya lakukan secara intens di hari-hari lain.

Tempat favorit keluarga saya untuk beritikaf adalah Masjid Agung Sunda Kelapa, mostly karena ceramah yang (biasanya) berbobot dan suara imam-imamnya yang luar biasa merdu dan bikin hati bergetar - di samping karena ruangannya yang ber-AC, sehingga nyaman untuk ditempati berjam-jam. Tapi, karena beberapa tahun belakangan Sunda Kelapa dipenuhi lebih dari 5000 jamaah setiap malam ganjil di sepuluh hari terakhir ramadhan, kenyamanannya jadi berkurang. Namun karena kami belum nemuin alternatif masjid yang sama nyamannya (dari segi imam, pemateri, aktivitas, dan kenyamanan lokasi), kami memutuskan untuk tetap pergi ke sana tahun ini.

Menurut saya, itikaf itu bisa mengobati rindu akan baitullah, karena suasananya yang nggak jauh berbeda dengan suasana di Mekkah dan Madinah. Ketika itikaf, saya bisa menemui suasana yang jaraaaaaang sekali bisa ditemui di Jakarta: Masjid penuh sesak, antrian wudhu panjang luar biasa, kebanyakan orang sibuk tilawah, semuanya langsung cepat-cepat wudhu dan shalat sunnah ketika mendengar azan, shalat berdempetan karena jamaah yang datang melebihi jumlah tempat tersedia, dan lain-lain. Suasana seperti itu menurut saya ngangenin dan bikin ibadah jadi semangat, because let's face it, lingkungan akan selalu memiliki pengaruh yang besar terhadap perilaku kita.

Untuk orang yang kualitas ibadahnya masih jauh dari sempurna seperti saya, itikaf merupakan momen yang tepat untuk kembali mendekatkan diri kepada Allah. Di Masjid Sunda Kelapa, saat kegiatan Qiyyamul Lail, lampu-lampu dimatikan, dan lantunan suara imam menjadi lebih lambat dibandingan dengan ketika waktu shalat lainnya. Buat saya, ini sangat menyenangkan, karena suasananya sangat mendukung untuk curhat sama Allah dan banyak meminta. Momen yang pas untuk melakukan kontemplasi - meskipun tanpa diiringi narasi, selain lantunan ayat suci al-Quran.

Intinya, itikaf adalah salah satu ibadah yang sangat menyenangkan untuk dilakukan, dan sangat efektif untuk mengejar ketertinggalan ibadah, karena ibadah saat itikaf sehari saja bagi saya bisa berkali-kali lebih baik daripada ibadah yang dilakukan di hari-hari lain, baik dari segi kualitas maupun kuantitas.

Sayangnya, belum banyak orang yang ngeh hal itu. Belum banyak orang yang ngeh pentingnya bermalam di masjid saat hari-hari terakhir Ramadhan, agar bisa terstimulasi untuk lebih banyak beribadah. Saya sedih melihat kebanyakan jamaah justru malah ibu-ibu berusia di atas lima puluh tahun, yang untuk shalat sambil berdiri atau duduk di lantai saja sudah sulit. Ke mana generasi saya yang katanya berada di usia produktif? Lalu saya makin sedih saat melihat timeline dan mendapati beberapa orang masih pergi ke bar dan semacamnya - di malam ke-27 di bulan Ramadhan! Bukannya sok soleh dan bermaksud menggurui, tapi miris sekali rasanya melihat kesempatan besar-sebesar-besarnya yang hanya datang beberapa hari dalam sehari tidak dimanfaatkan dengan baik. Entah karena tidak tahu, atau tidak mau tahu.

Lagi-lagi saya merasa sangat bersyukur, karena tumbuh di keluarga yang sangat mementingkan nilai religiusitas. Saya dibesarkan di keluarga yang sudah membiasakan saya untuk itikaf sejak masih SD. Lagi-lagi, saya harus mengakui, mungkin saja saya juga nggak kenal itikaf kalau saya lahir dari orang tua yang berbeda. Tapi, kita yang sudah dewasa mestinya juga bisa membuat kebiasaan baru, bahkan mengajak orang tua kita untuk mengikuti kebiasaan baru yang sangat baik untuk diikuti.

Percayalah, itikaf itu menyenangkan. Berada dekat sekali dengan Allah dan punya berjam-jam waktu mustajab sehingga bisa curhat dan meminta sebanyak-banyak-banyaknya itu luar biasa untuk orang yang banyak mau seperti saya. Karena kalau bukan kepada Allah, kepada siapa lagi dong kita bisa meminta bantuan untuk meraih sesuatu yang di luar jangkauan kita? Berada dekat dengan orang-orang yang begitu dekat dengan Allah juga luar biasa menenangkannya. It really is a good food for the soul. Beneran deh, ada kebahagiaan yang nggak bisa dijelaskan ketika selesai itikaf. Kebahagiaan yang mungkin bisa dicapai orang-orang kalau salat sendiri di rumah, tapi sayangnya biasanya sulit saya rasakan jika tidak di suasana yang tepat - mungkin karena tingkatan keimanan saya yang juga masih belum tinggi.

Tulisan ini saya buat karena rasa gemas yang makin menjadi-jadi. Syukur-syukur kalau ada yang baca, apalagi kalau nanti ada yang tergerak hatinya untuk belajar itikaf. Ramadhan bukan hanya tentang buka puasa bersama yang berujung pada obrolan ngalor-ngidul sampai malam hari. Ramadhan bukan hanya tentang sahur on the road yang entah dijalankan atas dalil apa. Ramadhan bukan hanya tentang menahan lapar dan sibuk memikirkan 'nanti buka pakai apa'. Ramadhan bukan hanya tentang bersenang-senang menanti lebaran tiba, itu pun karena THR dan liburan, atau jalanan Jakarta yang jadi lengang. Ramadhan bukan hanya tentang itu. Ramadhan itu adalah kesempatan yang diberikan Allah untuk kita, untuk mengembalikan kita ke jalan yang lurus, setelah 11 bulan terlarut dalam urusan dunia. Ramadhan adalah kesempatan untuk meminta maaf, mencoba lagi, dan menjadi pribadi yang lebih baik dalam segala hal yang baik. Ramadhan adalah kesempatan untuk meminta banyak hal yang kita inginkan, karena apapun yang kita minta pasti dikabulkan - saya sudah mengalaminya sendiri sejak kecil. Ramadhan adalah kesempatan untuk menabung kebaikan sebanyak-banyaknya. Dan dengan beritikaf, insya Allah ada banyak kebaikan dan keutamaan yang bisa didapatkan sekaligus.

Secara fisik, itikaf itu melelahkan memang, apalagi kalau masjidnya penuh sehingga jadi kurang nyaman atau kalau agenda di masjid padat, sehingga tidak ada waktu untuk tidur sama sekali. Tapi, sesuatu tentu tidak akan menjadi istimewa jika tidak harus diperjuangkan untuk mendapatkannya.

Apa artinya satu malam, dibandingkan kenikmatan yang diberikan Allah selama 365 hari?
Apa artinya waktu tidur yang berkurang, dibandingkan dengan rezeki yang telah Allah lipat gandakan untuk kita?

Yuk mulai itikaf! :)

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Anything, Not Everything

After graduating college, I go into the right place to both work and learn. With the atmosphere that I've told earlier, my workplace is comfortable yet still challenging. I work in a place where it seems like it's okay to stop. But a little voice told me that okay is not enough. To be okay means being ordinary, and it's just not enough.

I love my job, but I miss being a student. I know teaching children is something I'm good at and passionate about, but that's not the only thing I want to do in life, and I have to explore other things I also might be good at while I still can. Moreover, I miss doing research and being 'forced' to think critically, to analyze things and such. I miss reading about theories and recent discoveries. I miss having passionate dreams and making plans - both the impracticable and the well-thought-out one.

So I reassure myself: One year is enough. The happiness I felt from working might be abundant, but there is something else that I want to achieve. So I have to make the best of this year, and then stop being complacent, and start learning something else.

"I understand that you want to do a lot of things right now. It's like you're fasting for your whole life, and now you got an opportunity to only eat a plate of food that you chose," said someone who once interviewed me for a job, knowing that I must have wanted to do a lot of things in life, since I've just graduated.

Well, I do have a lot of things that I long so much. I want to be a psychologist. I want to be a professor who are admired and loved by her students. I want to be the only specialist in Islamic psychology in Indonesia, especially in Islamic parenting. I want to teach and educate people. I want to be the person who is respected because of the knowledge she has. I want to work with children and help them to make their future better. I want to make a family psychological clinic in a big mall. I want to make a school that teaches every thing I values in life. I want to be a loving wife who has time to support her husband. And more importantly, I want to be the perfect mother who will always be there to educate her children.

But you know what they said? 
You can be anything, but not everything. With hard work, I can achieve some of the things that I dream of, but not all of those.

For instance, being a good wife and a good mother contradicts with being the-bright-professor.
Some feminist might say that a woman should pursue her dream and never worry about her role as a 'woman'. Some say that don't worry to not get a man to spend your life with, because there will always be a man who is not afraid to stand beside you, not only in front of you. But for me, the most important role that I will have in the future is being a mother and a wife. And if I exert myself to succeed academically, such as by getting a PhD in psychology, I might not be able to be a good wife and an outstanding mother - in a conservative way.

I thought my dreams are specific enough. But no, I still have to narrow it down. Which one is going to be on the top of my priority? What kind of psychologist do I want to be? Will I be focusing on parenting and Islam, or change it a little since I'm also have a big interest in special kids? Which one should I prioritize, being a psychologist (which mean I have to continue my study here), or being a specialist in science first (so that I could find scholarship and study abroad)? How many more years of my life should I spend to reach my dreams? When do I have to stop and focusing on my family? I still got a lot of things to figure out.

I will be in my twenties in a few months, so I have to start making a (more) tactical plan, and things has to be more settled by then.

And I wish Allah's still willing to give me more and more blessings, because I can do nothing without them.

Good luck on chasing our dreams! :)

Monday, July 1, 2013

This Week

Besides working 8 to 5 in a company, I also tried something else during this holiday: working in a training company. I worked as an associate facilitator for a corporate leadership training, and I liked it. I realize something: My passion is actually in helping out people in order to make them a better person. It's in developing people; whether in clinical setting, educational / classroom setting, or even in corporation-training setting (as long as it's about self-improvement). It feels really good to help people realizing their potential and do better.

"Which one do you prefer, here (in training) or being a teacher?" My mom asked me.

I liked both, but since I'm a fresh graduate which means I don't have an expertise in anything yet, I prefer being a teacher, because I would get more role and more challenged. Moreover, I prefer working with kids, because then I don't have to be afraid of being judged. Being a facilitator in a training with inspiring, experienced, smart, famous trainers has its perks, though, and one of them is to get more chance to be reminded. Everything that are told to the client is also applicable for me. So listening to the trainers repeatedly, over and over, will always remind me to be a better person myself. For instance, during those two days, I got reminded to work compassionately - to work my best without demanding something in return. I also got reminded to not limit myself, and to not be complacent (satisfied with what I'm doing right now). Because we can, and we should, do more.

The point is, it feels good to know that there are options out there for me, and they're not so bad. I graduated from a major that provides options that are suitable and intriguing for me. And it feels good to get the chance to explore few of them.

By the way, I lost my phone in a bus. I'm a gadget nerd (an android nerd, to be precise), so losing a cellphone broke my heart and ruin my whole week, especially because a few days before, I worked all day to install a custom ROM and my phone has turned into a much cooler, faster phone. I also got sad because it's the most decent phone that I've had in my entire life, and also the first phone that I bought with my own money. And I don't have a lot of money to get a new one that is as good. But nothing I say or do will get it back, so I guess I just have to let go.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

To Work, Passionately

I got a whole month of free days since it's the end of school year holiday, and so I pretty much got nothing to do. I hate that feeling when I have spent too many days doing nothing. Therefore, when a friend of mine told me that a global management consulting firm need a few freelancer to help them out with their project, I'm interested to try. I knew I won't be doing things that makes me cognitively challenged, but I would like to do it anyway. I'm interested to learn how does it feel to be an employee (though a teacher is, in fact, also an employee).  How does it feel to work 9 hours in front of PC. How does it feel to go to Sudirman everyday, being in a train overloaded with commuters. How does it feel to work with hundreds of people in a big building. How does it feel to.... work, even only for a day or two (or maybe more, let's see).

My first day is actually a mess. I don't even have the guts to go inside the train, and wait for the next one instead (which is actually almost as chaotic as the first one). I hate the work, I don't feel good about myself while doing it, and I feel so tired when I got home. Nevertheless, I came back to spend another day, because I despised myself for giving up too easily. On the second day, I already know what to expect, so I told myself to be stronger. There are a lot of people who don't enjoy what they do for a living, but they can deal with it. So why can't you? 

When you lower your expectation and had been through something really bad, something good will happen, I assure you that. At the second day, I start observing around, and looking for the silver lining of  'working at a company'.

And I finally get it. I get why thousands of people are willing to get up early, go through pretty much the same morning hassle everyday, work all day, and got home late. It could be the money, or the pride. It could be the lifestyle. It could be the social life, which I found really appealing. It could be the rush. It could be the satisfying feeling when you got to do something more than targeted, get a bonus, be promoted, or else. Those are gratifying and self-fulfilling.

Nothing is ever a waste, including doing something I know I won't like doing. At least I learned to do and to finish what I'm responsible for, even when I don't feel like doing it. I learned how to be tough and independent, and how to cope with a nerve-racking morning and evening. I learned how to be flexible. And most of all, I learned how to be thankful for finding the right place where I never really feel like I'm working. 

After today (or, after working in a company for two days - and make a conclusion from it), I think working in a company, even by doing something administrative (which I disrelish doing) is actually bearable. I can mention a few things that I enjoyed. In other way, if I'm obligated to do it, I can still survive and won't be so distressed - as it's not as bad as what I thought previously. However, I won't be fallen in love with it. It's not something that I will tell people around passionately. It's not something that can make me woken up every morning with such excitement. It's not something that I will exceedingly miss doing during my holiday. It is not something that I am passionate about.

But here's the thing: Some people don't have (or don't use) the chance to go where their passion is. 
So when you do, and you're sure about it, don't ignore it. Just go through the right path (the one where your heart told you to take), and find a way to make it able to fulfill your need (financial need, esteem need, or anything else - you name it).

Keep doing something you're passionate about, and you will never work for the rest of your life.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Dream, Postponed

 It's official: I won't be a psychologist for (at least) another three years. I will continue being a special education teacher for another year or two, and continue getting my master degree after. To be honest, I still feel weird about not doing what I exactly planned to do, since I am a little rigid on that, but I am sure that this is for the best - that this is what I need the most. As I told everyone, working here gives me abundant things to learn. It also gives me joy (I'm pretty sure everyone that I have already told about my work to can 'read' it from the way I tell the story). I feel really comfortable working here. The teachers are all nice to me and not think of me as a 'new-kid' or treat me like an outsider, the kids are all amazing in their own way and got me in love with them at the first sight (or in this case, at the first observation), the school is not so far from my house and has great facilities, and so forth. I've adjusted myself, and for now, I can say that this is the workplace to work right after college that I've been dreaming of. I couldn't ask for more.

The teachers

The girls

Things will get more challenging starting from July, though, since I will be a teacher (not a teacher assistant anymore) and have my own class. I dare myself to be a great teacher even when I'm still new at this, so I know I must read some books on how to face a challenging child in the classroom, and how to transfer knowledge to those who have difficulties. From that moment, I have to be responsible for everything. I also have to be able to face parents with different values and personalities, and learn how to discuss their children with them. Next year will be both exciting and challenging for me. Hopefully, anything I'm going to go through can make me a better psychologist and even a better person in the future :)

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Tentang Sekolah dan Pendidikan

Setelah dulu magang selama satu bulan di Sekolah Cikal dan hampir tiga bulan bekerja di Sekolah Cita Buana, saya menarik satu kesimpulan: Pendidikan yang baik memang mahal, meskipun pendidikan yang mahal juga belum tentu baik.

Dulu, saya mencibir sekolah-sekolah yang terlalu mahal. Sekolah-sekolah berisi anak-anak orang kaya yang sejak kecil terbiasa untuk menjalani hidup dengan cara yang paling mudah. Sekolah-sekolah berisi anak-anak yang orang tuanya memiliki gengsi yang terlalu tinggi, sehingga tidak keberatan merogoh kocek dalam asal anaknya bisa masuk ke sekolah mahal yang terkenal. Sekolah-sekolah yang selalu bikin macet setiap pagi, dan yang lapangan parkirnya selalu dipenuhi mobil-mobil mewah. Sekolah yang nantinya akan membuat anak semakin borjuis.

Sekarang, saya tahu bahwa ada alasan di balik jutaan rupiah yang harus dibayar orang tua setiap bulan. Sekolah yang baik memerlukan sarana dan prasarana yang bisa menunjang pembelajaran (termasuk lahan yang luas agar anak-anak bebas bermain dan mengeksplorasi lingkungannya), guru-guru yang berkualitas (sehingga harus dibayar lebih mahal), serta kurikulum yang terintegrasi dari beberapa negara yang sistem pendidikannya sudah sangat baik. Semua memerlukan biaya yang besar, sehingga biaya bulanan yang harus dibayar orang tua pun pun bisa menjadi lebih besar daripada penghasilan freshgraduate di Jakarta. Sekolah yang baik memang tidak harus mahal, tapi sekolah yang mahal karena sistem pendidikan, pendidik, serta fasilitasnya (bukan karena pengelolanya terlalu mementingkan profit) will be worth every penny. You will definitely get what you paid.

Menurut saya, sekolah (terutama TK dan sekolah dasar) adalah investasi. Bukan hanya investasi dari segi finansial loh ya, tapi investasi dalam "membentuk" anak agar bisa sesuai dengan apa yang kita harapkan. Apa yang ditanamkan di sekolah dan di rumah, jika terinternalisasi dengan baik oleh anak, akan membentuk karakter seorang anak. Bagaimana cara berpikir, berperilaku, dan menilai sesuatu. Hingga saat ini, saya yang tadinya anti-sekolah-mahal jadi bimbang... Apakah nanti saya juga harus menyekolahkan anak-anak saya di sekolah yang mahal?

Bagaimana pun, layaknya semua hal di dunia ini, tidak ada sekolah yang sempurna. Itulah yang membuat saya kebingungan jika ada orang yang menanyakan rekomendasi SD swasta untuk anaknya. Memilih SD untuk anak menurut saya serupa dengan memilih pasangan hidup.. Pada akhirnya, harus ada yang lebih diprioritaskan. Beberapa orang lebih memperhatikan penampilan - bagaimana fasilitasnya, aksesnya, gengsinya. Buat saya, sekolah yang paling tepat adalah sekolah yang mengajarkan nilai-nilai yang sama (atau sejalan) dengan yang ingin diajarkan oleh orang tua kepada anaknya. Karenanya, sebelum menyekolahkan anak, orang tua harus tahu terlebih dahulu, nilai apa yang dianggap penting dan ingin diajarkan kepada anak. Agama kah? Kompetisi? Moral? Seni? Alam? Akademis? Toleransi antar budaya dan agama? Pengembangan potensi diri dengan maksimal?

Faktanya, setiap sekolah beserta unsur di dalamnya memiliki nilai yang berbeda-beda, yang nantinya akan diturunkan kepada setiap peserta didik di sekolah tersebut. Makanya, penting untuk menyesuaikan ekspektasi orang tua dengan apa yang ditawarkan oleh sekolah. Menurut saya, mendidik seorang anak harus dibarengi oleh konsistensi dari setiap aspek di lingkungan. Jangan sampai apa yang diajarkan oleh orang tua di rumah ternyata berbeda dengan kenyataan yang ditemui di sekolah, atau malah sebaliknya.

Buat saya pribadi, salah satu nilai yang paling penting yang harus ditanamkan oleh para pendidik di sekolah adalah nilai agama. Karenanya, sekolah anak saya nanti harus sekolah Islam. Itu dulu yang terpenting. Kenapa? Karena anak-anak belajar melalui meniru dan melalui pembiasaan. Bagaimana pun, ritual-ritual keagamaan harus dibiasakan sejak dini. Dan saya percaya, anak yang sudah dibekali dengan pendidikan agama yang baik (termasuk di dalamnya mengenai pendidikan akhlak), akan memiliki moral yang baik pula, sehingga pendidikan agama (di rumah dan di sekolah) adalah sebuah fondasi untuk menghasilkan generasi yang berkualitas. Belajar agama itu bukan hanya di ranah kognitif, tapi juga harus sampai ke ranah afektif. Bukan hanya dengan menghapal ayat dan fiqih, tapi juga melalui contoh tentang cara berperilaku yang baik.

Selanjutnya, saya sangat mengagumi sekolah-sekolah berkurikulum internasional (atau kurikulum yang dibuat sendiri oleh orang-orang yang paham tentang pendidikan) karena kurikulumnya membiasakan anak untuk berpikir kritis. Anak-anak ini tidak diajarkan untuk melalap buku dan menghapalkan apa yang ada di buku (beberapa sekolah internasional bahkan tidak punya buku pelajaran!). Instead, mereka diajak untuk membahas kejadian di sekitar mereka. Mereka dibiasakan untuk menggunakan logika mereka - mengapa bisa seperti itu, apa saja dampak negatif dan positif dari suatu kejadian, apa yang bisa dilakukan, dan lainnya. Mereka dibiasakan untuk menggunakan otak mereka yang luar biasa potensinya untuk menganalisis, bukan hanya untuk menghapal. Selain itu, anak-anak juga dibiasakan untuk melakukan presentasi sejak dini. Mereka dibiasakan untuk berani berbicara di depan umum, berani berpendapat, dan berani memberikan kritik dan saran. Saya percaya, pengajaran dengan metode seperti ini akan jauh lebih bermanfaat daripada pelajaran-pelajaran akademis yang diujikan oleh negara.

Taksonomi Bloom (yang telah direvisi). Sedih kan, begitu tahu kalau UAN hanya menguji satu atau dua tujuan pendidikan yang paling bawah?

Selain itu, saya sangat mengapresiasi kedua sekolah yang sudah pernah saya masuki tersebut karena mengajarkan seni dan olah raga dalam porsi yang sangat besar. Ada pelajaran musik, visual art, drama, dan PE (pendidikan jasmani). Menurut saya, hal ini menjadi sangat baik karena pelajaran yang seringkali dianggap tidak penting (bahkan oleh saya, ketika sekolah dulu) ini memberikan kesempatan lebih besar kepada anak untuk mengembangkan kreativitasnya, dan untuk menjadi diri mereka sendiri. Selain itu, porsi pelajaran nonakademis yang cukup besar menurut saya sangat baik karena membuat setiap anak memiliki kesempatan yang lebih besar untuk mengeksplorasi minat dan bakatnya. Ketika magang di Cikal dulu, saya bisa melihat potensi yang dimiliki setiap anak di kelas saya - karena terdapat kesempatan bagi mereka untuk menunjukkan kemampuannya. Hal ini sangat penting bagi self-esteem anak, karena ia akan dinilai orang lain (dan menilai diri sendiri karenanya) berdasarkan bakat dan kemampuan yang ia miliki, bukan hanya berdasarkan pelajaran-pelajaran yang dianggap penting oleh lingkungan.
Hal yang seringkali dilupakan oleh orang tua, guru, atau siapa saja: menilai anak hanya dari pelajaran-pelajaran yang dianggap penting (terutama pelajaran-pelajaran yang di UAN-kan)

Karena alasan ini juga, saya beranggapan bahwa sekolah yang baik tidak akan menerapkan sistem ranking untuk menentukan mana anak yang paling baik. Setiap anak itu istimewa, dan membandingkan mereka hanya berdasarkan beberapa aspek tertentu buat saya adalah keputusan yang tidak adil untuk mereka.

But then again, pendidikan yang sempurna di sekolah tidak akan berimbas besar bagi anak jika ia tidak mendapatkan stimulasi, perhatian dan kasih sayang, disiplin, serta contoh yang baik di rumah. Bagaimana pun, seperti kata seorang ulama yang saya kutip di latar belakang skripsi saya, "Al-ummu madrasatul uulaa." Ibu adalah sekolah pertama bagi anak-anaknya.

Intinya, saya harus kerja keras supaya anak saya bisa sekolah di sekolah yang bagus, meskipun saya tetap nggak mau nyekolahin anak di sekolah yang bener-bener mahal karena khawatir anak saya jadi borjuis dan terbiasa hidup serba mudah. Tapi, meskipun begitu, ada satu hal lagi yang harus saya catet: Saya tetep harus jadi sekolah yang pertama dan utama untuk anak-anak saya nanti. Di sekolah apa pun mereka nanti, harus ada nilai-nilai penting yang mereka pelajari di rumah. Harus ada banyak hal baik yang tertanam pada diri mereka, karena diajarkan oleh dan ditiru dari orang tuanya. Merealisasikannya nggak akan mudah, tapi semoga tulisan ini juga bisa menjadi pengingat untuk saya.

Oh iya, sejauh yang saya tahu, belum ada sekolah yang bener-bener sesuai dengan kriteria sekolah-idaman-untuk-anak-saya yang sudah saya tuliskan di atas. Karenanya, saya jadi punya satu mimpi besar lagi: membuat sekolah impian saya. Tapi nanti ya, kalau saya sudah jadi psikolog terkenal dan sudah punya klinik keluarga dan tumbuh kembang anak yang keren. It's still a long, long, loooong way to go. But everything is possible if Allah allows it, right?

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Tentang Mereka, Para Pendidik

“In learning you will teach, and in teaching you will learn.” - Phill Collins 
Salah satu hal yang saya syukuri dari pekerjaan saya sekarang adalah besarnya kesempatan untuk terus mempelajari hal baru. Di sekolah ini, meskipun saya menjadi guru, rasanya saya lebih banyak belajar daripada mengajar.

Selain mendapatkan insight dari anak-anak, saya juga banyak belajar dari tim guru di subdepartemen saya, Learning Centre. Selain saya, di LC saat ini terdapat lima orang guru (yep, untuk empat belas anak) beserta satu kepala divisi Special Need (the one that we call 'bu bos'). Dari kami bertujuh, enam di antaranya adalah lulusan Fakultas Psikologi Universitas Indonesia. Saya punya satu kebiasaan buruk, yaitu meremehkan orang lain yang berkecimpung di bidang yang dekat dengan psikologi (misalnya parenting, pendidikan, atau training) namun tidak memiliki pengetahuan yang mendalam tentang psikologi. Karena hampir semua guru yang bekerja dengan saya juga lulusan psikologi UI, kecongkakan saya jadi berkurang, karena mereka semua pernah mempelajari (hampir semua) hal yang telah saya pelajari. Bedanya, selain teori, mereka juga punya pengalaman yang kaya. Jelas lah, saya jadi anak bawang yang sibuk mendengar dan mengobservasi sambil mengagumi pendapat mereka dan mencatat dalam hati. Guru-guru ini adalah orang-orang yang berhasil menerapkan ilmunya untuk membuat segelintir anak menjadi lebih baik. Mereka bukan hanya mengajarkan materi-materi yang direncanakan dalam IEP (Individualized Education Plan) setiap anak, tapi juga mengajarkan mereka tentang bagaimana bersikap dan berperilaku. Teori tentang modifikasi perilaku yang berulang kali saya pelajari ketika kuliah dulu benar-benar mereka terapkan dengan konsisten, membuat saya terkagum-kagum.

Mereka yang mendidik, bukan hanya mengajar.

Guru-guru ini menjadi salah satu alasan dibalik kemantapan saya untuk menunda kuliah magister, setidaknya selama satu tahun. Saya tahu kalau saya perlu banyak belajar dari mereka, untuk menyeimbangi teori-teori dan berbagai hasil penelitian yang telah jadi makanan harian saya selama tiga setengah tahun belakangan, dan akan tetap menjadi santapan istimewa untuk dua tahun berikutnya. 

Selain melakukan pembelajaran dengan mengobservasi, saya juga kerap diberikan petuah-petuah yang berharga. Karena semuanya tahu kalau saya ingin segera melanjutkan studi untuk kemudian menjadi psikolog, saya sering diingatkan mengenai poin-poin penting yang kerap diabaikan oleh seorang psikolog. Berdasarkan pengalaman mereka, psikolog sekolah yang tidak pernah menjadi guru sebelumnya sering kali memberikan keputusan-keputusan yang kurang realistis. Mereka seringkali terlalu berpaku pada teori yang telah mereka pelajari; seharusnya begini, seharusnya bisa begitu. Biar bagaimana pun, setiap anak berbeda-beda; apalagi anak-anak yang memiliki kebutuhan khusus. They are wired differently from one another; they all have different strengths, weaknesses, threats, and opportunities. They are different, and therefore different approach is needed. Dengan semangatnya, guru-guru ini memberi tahu saya segala hal yang perlu saya perhatikan jika saya kelak menjadi psikolog. "Tuh, Yas, yang mau jadi psikolog, catet!" menjadi salah satu kalimat kesukaan saya.

Eventhough they all seem perfect, of course they're not. Ada kalanya saya tidak menyetujui tindakan yang mereka lakukan. Ada kalanya nilai-nilai yang mereka miliki berbeda dengan yang saya anut. Ada kalanya teori yang saya yakini berbeda dengan praktik yang dilakukan. Tapi buat saya, ada pembelajaran lain lagi yang saya dapatkan: bagaimana memilah informasi dan pembelajaran; bagaimana menorelansi perbedaan, dan bagaimana mengontrol diri untuk melakukan sesuatu karena pengetahuan, bukan karena kebiasaan. Biar bagaimana pun, mereka telah membuka mata saya bahwa di balik sistem pendidikan Indonesia yang carut-marut, masih ada guru-guru yang mendidik anak muridnya dengan hati. Masih ada guru-guru yang benar-benar peduli dengan muridnya. Masih ada orang-orang yang mementingkan kualitas pendidikan daripada profit yang bisa dihasilkan.

How grateful I am to have a workplace where I can do what I'm passionate about, and still having plentiful things to be learned about. It's like I'm spending another year in another college, learning by observing children, teachers, and parents' behavior, and by applying those prior knowledge that I have been taught in college. 

My life is grand! Thank you for always making it that way, dear Allah :)

Thursday, May 9, 2013

To Be Happy

What's going on in your life?

Me? I am happy. I got a lot of spare time to spend with my family. I even have more than sufficient time to spend with myself. I have best friends who I can share every single detail of my life with. I have a job I'm really passionate about. Every day, I'm surrounded by kids that are so interesting to be learned about, as well as colleagues who are all assertive and willing to teach me new things aplenty. And in spite of the fact that I have to modify my life-plan, I'm on my way to achieve my dream. 

There are times when my life has its downs, though. There are moments when I sob and hate the way some things happen in my life. There are phases when I feel like I should've done more. There are uncertainties, doubts, and apprehensions. 

Even so, I enjoy every single day of my life. I am blessed, and my life is blissful.

I am happy.

I hope you are, too.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Once In A While

I'm so grateful that I graduated 3 years earlier than I should, but sometimes I do wish that I have a normal junior high and high school so that I could really try abundant things to bring out my potential. Once in a while I wish I had more friends in junior high and high school like I did in college, so that I can have more friends to share my life with - or simply to share my afternoon with. 

But overall, I always know that Allah leads me to this way for some reason - some good reason. And I do enjoy every process of my life, as it gave me another things to learn.

As narrated by Muslim, Rasulullah SAW once said:
"... If you are afflicted in any way, do not say: 'If I had taken this or that step, it would have resulted into such and such' - but say only: 'Allah so determined and did as He willed."
So, no, it's not that I wish that I didn't join acceleration program - not that. It's just, you know, sometimes I want to be a little normal; a little more 'mainstream'. Sometimes I wish I could just hide the fact that I'm still 19 so I won't always get the look in people's eyes as if I'm such a genius (because I'm not, duh) or worse, because they prejudge me as a freak. 

But after all, this is my life that I've chosen myself, and I'm happy living it. I'm so grateful to have a life where Allah eases every path that I want to go through.

I just have to learn to accept every single consequences, right? :)

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Tentang Mengajar dan Belajar

Belum genap satu bulan saya mengajar di sekolah ini. Ketika pertama melangkahkan kaki ke bagian special education, perasaan saya berkecamuk. Ketika itu, saya adalah sarjana baru yang kepalanya dipenuhi teori-teori psikologi, termasuk teori-teori tentang anak dengan kebutuhan khusus. Tapi praktiknya? Berinteraksi dengan mereka saja saya belum pernah. Bagaimana kalau saya tidak sabar menghadapi mereka? Bagaimana kalau mereka semua mengacuhkan saya? Bagaimana kalau saya tidak bisa mendapatkan perhatian mereka? Bagaimana kalau mereka tidak menyukai saya? Duh.

Ketakutan saya mulai hilang ketika berhadapan langsung dengan mereka: empat belas anak yang merebut perhatian saya dengan segera. Ada yang ramah – bahkan terlalu ramah, ada yang terlihat kaku tapi diam-diam mendekati saya sambil membawa majalah tentang kereta dan menceritakan saya segala hal yang ia ketahui tentang kereta, ada juga yang menatap saya dengan tatapan jutek – meskipun minggu berikutnya saya mulai mengenal dia dan mengetahui kalau wajah dan gaya berbicaranya memang seperti itu, meskipun ia sebenarnya sangat baik dan penurut. Empat belas anak ini benar-benar berbeda satu sama lain. Mereka memiliki keunikannya sendiri-sendiri.

Meskipun di sekolah ini saya menjadi ‘ibu guru’, rupanya bukan hanya mereka yang mendapatkan pelajaran dari saya. Saya pun belajar banyak dari mereka. Dari anak-anak ini, saya belajar tentang persistensi dan resistensi – tentang perjuangan dan kegigihan. Sebagai sarjana baru, saya dan teman-teman saya kerap memperbincangkan dunia nyata yang kejam. Dunia nyata itu kejam, penuh tantangan, dan tidak semudah yang kami inginkan. Tetapi ketika melihat anak-anak ini sedang berjuang, saya tertegun. Kalau saya saja merasa dunia ini kejam dan penuh dengan tantangan, bagaimana dengan anak-anak ini?

Bayangkan saja, mereka bahkan harus belajar dan menahan diri mereka untuk tidak tertawa atau senyum-senyum sendiri jika tidak ada stimulus yang jelas, menatap mata lawan bicara, menjawab pertanyaan yang dilontarkan orang lain, bersabar saat menunggu giliran, tidak bergumam di tengah-tengah pelajaran, menyapa orang lain yang dikenal saat berpapasan, dan lain-lain. Mereka harus berusaha keras untuk melakukan hal-hal yang biasa kita lakukan secara otomatis.

Mereka juga harus berjuang keras untuk melakukan operasi matematika sederhana, seperti penjumlahan, pengurangan, serta mengenali dan memberikan nominal uang yang tepat. Di hari ketiga saya mengajar, saya sudah membuat seorang anak menangis karena saya melarang ia untuk keluar kelas sebelum berhasil menyelesaikan soal yang saya berikan. Anak ini sudah kelas empat SD, tapi masih kebingungan saat melakukan pengurangan dua digit dengan metode susun ke bawah. “It’s really hard, Bu, I can’t do it.” Melihat ia menangis, saya ikutan sedih, dan bahkan hampir meneteskan air mata. Saya hampir saja luluh dan mempersilakan dia untuk meninggalkan ruangan kelas bersama temannya yang lain, tapi guru-guru yang lain serta teori-teori yang saya pelajari ketika kuliah mengajarkan saya untuk tegas dan konsisten dalam menerapkan peraturan. Saya pun terus menambahkan soal karena dia belum juga berhasil, sambil menuntunnya agar berhasil menemukan jawaban yang benar. “Ayo, dicoba lagi!” “Sedikit lagi!” “Satu nomor lagi ya…” Sampai akhirnya, dia berhasil menjawab soal yang saya berikan, serta dua  soal tambahan yang saya berikan untuk memastikan bahwa ia benar-benar telah mengerti. Anak itu tersenyum bangga. “Susah atau gampang, Go?” tanya saya. “It’s easy, Bu!!!” katanya, seolah lupa kalau beberapa menit yang lalu ia baru saja menangis karena merasa tidak sanggup mengerjakan soal yang saya berikan.

Christopher Reeves pernah bilang,
“Anyone can give up, it’s the easiest thing in the world to do. But to hold it together when everyone else would understand if you fell apart, that’s true strength.”
Maka anak-anak hebat ini mencerminkan kekuatan yang sesungguhnya, karena mereka tidak pernah letih untuk mencoba – bahkan ketika guru mereka memaklumi kondisi mereka, karena mengerti bahwa kapasitas yang mereka miliki memang berbeda dengan anak-anak lain yang sebaya.

Dari anak-anak ini, saya juga belajar untuk bersyukur. Saya belajar untuk mensyukuri hal-hal yang Tuhan berikan untuk saya, yang selama ini saya abaikan – seperti kemampuan untuk memenuhi ekspektasi lingkungan tanpa harus mengerahkan usaha yang terlalu banyak. Saya juga belajar untuk mensyukuri hal-hal kecil yang ada di sekitar saya. Saya bersyukur karena Tuhan membuka jalan saya untuk bertemu dengan mereka: empat belas anak hebat, kesayangan saya. Saya bersyukur karena bisa menemukan kebahagiaan-kebahagiaan kecil setiap hari, seperti saat mendengar mereka melontarkan komentar-komentar lucu dengan wajah yang polos, atau kebahagiaan yang lebih luar biasa lagi: ketika melihat mereka berhasil dan ketika melihat mereka menunjukkan performa yang lebih baik daripada ekspektasi yang saya buat sebelumnya.

Suatu sore, setelah berhasil mengikuti semua perintah saya saat ekskul melukis, seorang anak bertanya kepada saya, “Ibu Ayas bangga?”

Anak itu mungkin tidak benar-benar mengerti apa arti kata ‘bangga’ dan seberapa dalam makna kata itu—setidaknya bagi saya, tapi saya tidak perlu berpikir panjang untuk mengangguk dengan yakin. Tentu saja Ibu Ayas bangga sama kalian semua!

 Belum genap satu bulan saya mengajar di sekolah ini. Tapi saya sudah jatuh cinta.

(Ditulis sebagai bagian dari proyek buku tentang pengalaman mengajar anak-anak dengan kebutuhan khusus yang ditulis oleh special education teachers di Sekolah Cita Buana, dalam rangka merayakan Autism Awareness Day 2013).

Thursday, March 7, 2013

About The Little Ambition

As I wrote before, being a special education teacher has taught me a lot, because I have to apply those theory I've studied for the past 3,5 years in real live. I've learned how to treat children with autistic spectrum disorder, how to be patient while working with children, how to discipline children and be consistent with every rule we've made, how to give the balanced amount of love and discipline, how to explain things based on the kid's cognitive level, and other how-tos.

I also enjoy observing the kids. My latest interest is asking the kids to draw a person, family, or house-tree-person. Yes, those are some of the drawing that are used as psychological tests, that, believe it or not, can actually determine someone's personality. I obviously can't make a proper interpretation yet, but I took a picture of their drawings and save it, so I might study about it later, after I become a psychologist and therefore able and am allowed to interpret it.

I also learned how family structure and involvement could really, really affect kids' development. The facility that the parents give is important, but not as important as the parents' willingness to help their kids and to always be there for them. I already knew it, but now I know that it matters that much - especially with the kids that have special needs who always need to be helped by adults. So here's my note for the future-me: always put your kids first - no matter what.

I know that being a teacher doesn't sound so fancy, and I know some people think that an-UI-graduate is way too good to be one, but I'm grateful to chose the job. Being a teacher means helping some kids be a better person. It also one of the job that can help me reach heaven, because my religion taught me that the beneficial knowledge that a person left in the world will still be counted as a good deed even if that person has passed away. And I know I know that the experience will give me a lot life lessons that I will need: how to be a good psychologist, how to be a good wife, how to be a good mother, and how to be a better person

I would gladly do this every day, but here's the thing: it might not be enough for me, because I have an ambition too, to be a child psychologist in 2015. I've made that plan since I was still a freshman. And here's the thing: I might be messy and unorganized, but when it comes to decide and do things, I always stick to my plan, and work my tail off to get what I planned to.

So yes, making a decision whether to try to stay for one more year or to stick to my plan is a one hell of a decision to make. I know that if I extend this for a year, I will get more new things to find and learn, but I don't know if I'm ready to do that. I'm not sure if I'm ready to postpone the dream, and to change the plan I've made. I won't be changing the dream, actually, but only putting a pause in the middle of it. But still, I'm not ready to do that.

I have no idea what to choose, and what would it affect me in the future. I love this job, but I hate not to complete my plan on time, that's all I know for now.


During my job interview, my boss, knowing that I'm still 19 and have finished my study faster than the normal period, asked me, "are you a high-achiever?"

I took a long pause, because I actually have no idea. And then I replied, though doubtfully, "I don't think so."

But right now, I guess that I am. If the idea of postponing a dream for just another year scared me this much, maybe I am. I always know that I'm a driven person, but I just realized that maybe I'm just a little too ambitious. I don't know if that's good or bad, though. But I sure know how to get past this: to find as many good things as I could that I would get if I chose to make a little change in the plan. 

Three years ago, God slapped me in the face and didn't let me to get what I want for the first time in my life. I was so sad and frustrated, realizing that it was unfair and that I deserved to get it, but then I try to get up and do something: I try to choose another path. Today, if I think about that moment in my life, I can say that I'm so grateful that He did that, because I know exactly what I'd miss if I stick to my old plan. I finally found out that the way I was walking through is better than the way that I once wanted to walk through. It also taught me to be resilient and to always look for the silver lining.

So please, yaa Rasyid, The Guide, please guide me to the right path. Please do show me which way is better for me and prove it to be a better one.

After all, You know me better than I know myself.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Those Special Kids

This week was my first week of working. I work as a teacher assistant at special education department in Sekolah Cita Buana. For now, it's only a temporary job - only for three months. After that, I will have to make a decision whether to continue my study (if I get accepted) or postpone it for a while and stay at least for another year (if I have the chance to).

I will write about it, based on some questions that was usually asked by my acquaintances.

What does 'special education' means?

Special education means education program for kids with special needs, or in another term, kids with disability that makes it hard for them to do some activities like any other kid, so they need to be treated differently. Each of them need an individualized learning plan - a tailor-made one, because even when they have the same disability, they are very different from each other. They need extra attention from their teachers, because to make a good tailor-made plan, the teachers have to know every single details about them.

There are a whole lot of type of them, but most of the kids in my department are dealing with ASD (Autistic Spectrum Disorder) or borderline (very mild) Intellectual Disability (the new term for Mental Retardation) -  also known as Slow Learner (because they really need time to process something, that's why most of the mean laymen will just call them as 'stupid').

What's so great about them?

Autistic kids have problem in their social skill, besides the problem in behavior and communication skill. It's really hard for them to empathize or to see things from other people's point of view. It's hard for them to observe the situation and adjust themselves to suit that. That's why, one of the most important thing that might be taught to them is how to be polite to other people. How to act normal around people, how to say something nice, how to know what to say in every particular situation, how to stare at people while talking, and other things like that. They are also told to greet people they meet. It makes it easier for me to mingle when I had a teaching demonstration (as part of the selection process), because some of the kids came to me and asked bluntly, "who are you?", or "what's your name?", or "ibu siapa?", or "are you a new teacher?". It made things easier for me, because all I had to do is answer them and continue the conversation. And I'm so touched to know that two week after the teaching-demo (and after I was told that I got the job), I came back for my first day, and most of them still remember my name. I mean, they only met me for a day, and they remember my name the next two weeks before? How cool is that!

But, of course, that's not all.
I love them because they always struggle in school. They always work so hard, and they never stop trying. They have limited capacity, but the environment is pushing them to be like any other people, so yes, they are struggling real hard. Most of the times, they fail at first. But then the teacher push them, they struggle, they do their best, they fail again, they cry, they try again, and then finally succeed, and feel proud of themselves because they can prove their teacher that they can meet their expectation. 

I love to help them do that. Helping them to perform to reach their potential level feels awesome. Beyond, awesome. Teaching an autistic kid about how to do subtraction or to count backward is more fun and challenging than teaching my sister about the most complicated math lesson for a student her grade. It is more challenging for them, because they have some problem with their mind - and more challenging for me (or any teacher), because I have to use the simplest word that I can find, and I have to be patient to wait and explain it to them all over again, until they can finally do it. But, once they can do it, the feeling of happiness I felt is just... priceless.

What is Sekolah Cita Buana?

It's a partial-inclusive school in Jakarta Selatan. It's a bilingual school (yet of course, english is used more often) with national plus curriculum, so the school is super-pricey and can only be afforded by those with filthy-rich parents. So yes, in our department, we deal with kids who come from a wealthy family, but has a disability. They were so lucky that they came from rich parents who can afford a school this good, yet this expensive.

The other school where I had my internship at, Sekolah Cikal, is also an inclusive school. But it's a full-inclusive one, so it has pretty different approach for the special needs kids. In my own opinion, Sekolah Cita Buana has a much better approach for the special needs kids. I really love the teaching techniques and tricks. Besides, most of the teachers in my department (Learning Center) were from faculty of psychology, Universitas Indonesia, too, so I trust them more, and I really like the fact that all of them are passionate about and crazy about the kids. These great teachers are not just teaching the kids, they're educating them.

Learning Center?

So, Sekolah Cita Buana has three sub departments of the special education department: Special Need (SN) for primary students with moderate (or below) disability, Learning Center (LC) for primary students with mild until moderate disability, and TEC for middle and high school special needs students. As I wrote before, I work in LC. 

So, how many kids are there? 

They are 14 kids in LC: Fikri the train-maniac who is really good at playing gamelan, Joey the handsome one who told me that his dad has a Ferrari, Nicole the cutest one who is very friendly and lovable, Shakira who has a sweet smile and is super pretty, Rizqi who is also friendly and was made crying by me on my fourth day during Math, Owen who asks a lot of questions and very talkative, Gio the nice kid who is extremely shy, Sylvanna with the 'drama'-tone voice who is so obedient, Jordan the talented swimmer who likes to sit on the corner or the back, Adit who keep saying 'Bu Ayas marah?' when I prohibit him to do something, Callie the 'bule' who can't stop giggling and is going through puberty, Kenan the childish one who is obsessed with The Smurfs and has the kind of cheek that you'd want to pinch all day, Wilbert with the javanese-accent who only came to LC once in a while, and Raffi, who is also a chatter and likes to joke (he said "I should've been in prison, Bu" after he told me his name - because it's like Raffi Ahmad's name). 

I will talk about them a lot for the last three months, that's for sure. But I think I won't write down their name when I wrote something detailed. 

So you teach all of the 14 kids?

No, of course not, because as I wrote before, they need to be taught one-by-one, so the teacher can really know their ability, their progress, and their potentials. In the classroom, a teacher only teaches two until five kids at once, with different education plan for each of them - different lesson, different level. So, yes, it's very challenging for the teacher. As a teacher assistant, one of my job is to help the teacher by helping the kids to do some worksheets, or by teaching them something when the main teacher's busy teaching other kids.

So how was it, working with them?

It's amazing. A-MA-ZING! I can't really describe it with words, but you'll know that I won't write this long if I wasn't this excited. It feels awesome to finally interact with those who I only read about before. They have their own limitation, but they are still cute, lovely angels.

This week gave me a lot of lesson and experiences already, and I'm thrilled to spend more weeks with them, helping them to study and studying about them at the same time.

It is the greatest feeling ever, knowing that you have a very cool job. It feels great to know that what you do is what you are so passionate about! 

It's been only a week, but I'm in love already.

I'm just in love with this job. I'm in love with those kids. Those special kids.


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