Saturday, October 29, 2016

To Grow A Little Older

You know you're getting older when you start focusing on things that matter. When you stop caring about things that look cool but you're not really keen on. When you care less about what people think. When you spend more time with people that you know are going to help you to be a better person. When you are no longer obsessed with being accepted by people who aren't. When you start accepting your flaws and embracing your strength. When you feel proud about who you are, regardless of who you're not.

So I know I'm getting older when I'm no longer the girl who worries about raising her hand in the class. The girl who has nothing to say. The girl who regrets not answering a question in the class when she turns out to be right. The girl who's afraid to be wrong. The girl who's afraid to be judged, to be looked down upon, to be laughed at, to be stared at. I've changed a little, and I think my maturity has something to do with that, along with the experience I've had in the real world.

You know you're getting older when you can't help but ruminating about your life and the future. Over and over again. It gets worse when you're an overthinker like I am. Even worse when it's only a few days away before you turn a year older.

I used to be a little obsessed with getting older, as I had always been the youngest-girl-in-the-room for the last 7 years. I thought and acted like a 23 even before I was 20. I grew up too fast, some might say. But surprisingly, when I finally (almost) become 23, I feel a little scared. I'm no longer excited to be older. It's no longer hypothetical now: I really am 23. Just two more years before 25 (though inside I feel like already am). I mean, where did all the time go?

The good thing is, I'm quite sure that I'm exactly where I want to be. Well, not quite there yet, but I need to give myself a break. It's still going to be a long, bumpy road, but at least the journey has been delightful. At least, compared to a few years ago, I'm making progress.

Some prayers are still unanswered, but I won't ever doubt His timing nor plans. He will always be with me, guiding and showing me the way. So why worry, indeed.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Tentang Kembali Pulang

Minggu ini, saya kembali ke kampus yang dulu pernah jadi tempat saya berkembang dan menemukan diri saya. Rasanya seperti kembali ke rumah setelah beberapa tahun pergi untuk mengembara. Kelas yang sama, meja dan kursi yang sama, dan dosen yang kurang lebih sama. I'm the only one who's changed. Or more precisely, grown.

Beberapa orang, bahkan dosen di kampus, mempertanyakan keputusan saya untuk mengambil program magister untuk kedua kalinya. Kan sudah punya gelar S2? Kan sudah pernah kuliah di Inggris? Kan sudah dapat pekerjaan yang strategis dan disukai? Kenapa harus kuliah lagi? Kenapa nggak PhD saja sekalian?

Pertanyaan-pertanyaan tersebut punya satu jawaban yang sederhana. Meskipun mungkin terdengar klise, menjadi psikolog adalah impian saya sejak saya masih berusia sepuluh tahun - bahkan sebelum saya tahu apa itu psikologi. Setelah lulus kuliah, segala hal yang saya lakukan (termasuk kuliah di Inggris) tidak lain dan tidak bukan adalah untuk mempersiapkan dan mematangkan diri saya agar dapat menjadi seorang psikolog yang dewasa dan siap menghadapi dunia luar dengan segala keberagamnnya, sambil mengeksplorasi opsi-opsi lain yang tersedia bagi saya. So I tried being a teacher, researcher, consultant, and employee. And while I love those jobs, my dream hasn't changed a bit. Being a psychologist is still what I aspire to do. And when I want something badly, I'll do whatever it takes to get it.

So here I am. Leaving Sudirman for Depok. Going back to the place I once called my second home. I grew up there, and I'll grow again. I learned so much about life and about myself there, and I'll learn again.

Dua setengah tahun ini akan jadi perjalanan yang berat. Minggu pertama ini saja sudah terasa sangat berat. Gelar terakhir saya kemarin pun justru tidak membuat saya jadi ongkang-ongkang kaki, tapi justru memacu saya untuk belajar lebih giat lagi karena ekspektasi orang lain terhadap saya tentu jadi puluhan kali lebih tinggi, begitu pula ekspektasi saya terhadap diri saya sendiri.

Whatever it is that I'm going to face for the next two, three years, I know it will be worth it. If things get bad (though I hope it won't), I just need to take a deep breath and remember why did I want to do this in the first place.

Saya harus terus ingat bahwa setelah ini, saya bisa melakukan lebih banyak hal daripada yang bisa saya lakukan sekarang. Saya bisa melakukan hal-hal yang saya sukai. Saya bisa memberikan diagnosis, memberikan terapi, dan membuat orang merasa lebih baik. Saya bisa membantu lebih banyak keluarga dan membuat diri saya jauh lebih bermanfaat. Saya bisa merealisasikan mimpi-mimpi saya satu persatu. Jadi, ketika nanti saya mulai jenuh menjalani kuliah yang berat di saat teman-teman saya yang lain sedang bersenang-senang, saya harus ingat, bahwa setelah ini, ada tujuan besar yang akan saya capai. Ada kesempatan besar yang akan terbuka lebar. I know I feel happiest when I do things that matter, so there's that. Something I definitely should hold on to when things get bad.

The latest picture I took in UI with my brother and cousins. I've conquered it, and I will again.

And hey, I've come this far. Farther than I thought I would ever be. So whatever it is that I'm going to face, I'll try to remember that nothing is ever beyond what I can bear. I won't be facing it alone anyway, since there's Someone who will always, always look out for me and make things easy.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

A Well-Deserved Getaway

I have been wanting to go to Singapore for months. There are a few countries that are on my go-to lists, but I need one that's close and affordable, because I realized how much money I spend for vacation last year (in my defense, I only lived in Europe for only a year so it would be stupid not to travel around). Singapore seems like a perfect destination, especially because I haven't been there for 10 years at least. Then I looked for a friend who wants to come along as traveling in twos is my favorite way to wander.

I'm glad I decided to go to Singapore. It's clean and extremely well-managed, embellished with highly modern buildings but also old, traditional ones (I always love the juxtaposition of that), and supported with reliable and comfortable transportation modes. It's a country that's too tiny to be compared with mine, obviously, but still, I'm amazed. The only thing I hated about Singapore is the hot, boiling, humid weather (even worse than mine). Singapore feels like Europe, only more homey.

The color of Singapore

Penang was our second destination. It felt even more like home there. Penang was laid-back and artsy. A nice town to walk around, despite the weather. Not only the atmosphere, the food was also awesome. The whole city reminded me of Jogjakarta, and a little of York.

The historic Georgetown, Penang

Kuala Lumpur was a lot more mediocre. I'm glad we only spent 26 hours there and spent them to explore two great museums (Islamic Art Museums and City Gallery), Central Market, and just walk around the downtown area. 

Malaysian Batik at Kuala Lumpur City Gallery.

The highlight of my trip, though, was the parts where I can reminisce my life in the UK. The weather was absolutely a lot nicer in the UK, but I could walk around a lot (65 kilometers to be exact), use reliable public transportation, immerse myself into hundreds of people who don't speak my language, observe different culture, rely on google maps to get around and get lost once in a while, talk with strangers, and visit tons of museum with great exhibitions. I felt so energized afterwards.

Traveling is not cheap, but I learned from the last three years that every penny I spend during the trip is going to be worthwhile. It's something you do only for a few days or weeks, yet will inspinre you for years and years. While I agree with people who encouraged Indonesian youths to explore the mother country, I think traveling abroad once in a while is also necessary. It's going to open your mind, challenge yourself, make you deal with the unexpected and try to roll with the punches, and in the end, appreciate your life and what you have at home. 

So save up, and go. Once in a few years. With a small group of people. Plan. Near, far, wherever you want. And relish all the experience and the details you'll see.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

About Leaving Another Comfort Zone

Last Friday was my last day at work. I still remembered how inferior I felt during the first few weeks of working in PASKA Kemdikbud, because I have to work with talented, bright, young people who have more experiences than I do.

It turns out, there's nothing to feel intimidated about. Yes, they are smart and ambitious, but they're not condescending, nor do they make me feel stupid and unheard. In fact, I became the most assertive version of myself in the last few months, and I just couldn't be prouder.

The beloved, extraordinary team.

From them, I learned about politics, economy, education, policy making, and everything else that's happening on the news, thanks to our diverse background & their broad knowledge. But further than that, they taught me about life, too. That Allah's plans won't ever be late nor wrong, that sometimes we don't get what we want and we need to be resilient, and that we have to fight for the things that are worth fighting for. They taught me to be more assertive, to not (always) take things personally, to be ambitious in pursuing what I aspire to be, to do something and not just whining about something we don't like, to always make other people (even our subordinates) feels heard and appreciated, and so much more. 

Before I got selected to be a part of the team, I did expect meeting talented, smart, hard working people that I can learn from; but never expected good friends who would listen and accept me for what I am. I never expected having another support system whom I can trust and be myself around. Never thought they would enter the circle I kept small. And yet they did! 

Because even when I become the geekiest, weirderst, most gullible, most idealistic, or most ambitious version of myself, I'd still feel heard and accepted. Even when I felt immature and emotional, they would still be there.

Just in case any of you read this, I want to say thank you for the last 6 months (that actually felt like forever, given the work burden). Thank you for making my first working-at-a-company experience bearable and memorable. And thank you for your kind words at the farewell dinner, which I will definitely hold on to when I'm having a bad day.

I usually hate saying goodbyes, but after saying it repeatedly for the last three years, I don't anymore. Leaving means entering a new world, exploring new things, and meeting new people. It means enlarging the circle even more, and finding another comfort zone. Because goodbye means hello, and that's something I should feel excited about. And it's not even goodbye, anyway, because I believe our paths will cross again someday soon.

As cliché as it sounds. (Source: weheartit)

So even though I have been in mellow mode since the last two weeks, I feel grateful and delighted that Allah had introduced me to them. His plans have and will never fail, so why should I worry about the future, again?

Friday, July 29, 2016

Tentang Pendidikan dan Politik

Rasanya seperti membaca buku atau menonton film dengan akhir yang twisted. Atau seperti patah hati, malah lebih buruk lagi. Kaget, sedih, kecewa. Bingung.

Memang jika urusannya politik, hati tidak boleh banyak bermain. "Ini sudah biasa," kata orang-orang. "Hak prerogatif," kata sebagian yang lain.

Dalam hati, saya malu sendiri. Entah terlalu polos atau idealis, tapi rasa sedih itu tak bisa disembunyikan. Apa yang sudah dikerjakan bersama selama enam bulan terakhir yang akan jadi taruhan. Terlalu polos kah saya jika sempat percaya bahwa pendidikan kita pelan-pelan akan membaik? Terlalu lugu kah saya jika sempat yakin bahwa apa yang kami kerjakan kemarin benar-benar akan bermanfaat bagi banyak orang? Terlalu naif kah saya jika menitikkan air mata hanya karena memikirkan kelanjutan hal-hal positif yang sudah dilakukan bersama?

Seumur-umur, rasanya saya tak pernah benar-benar peduli dengan reshuffle kabinet. Sampai kejadiannya berlangsung di depan mata saya sendiri. Reshuffle ternyata bukan hanya perihal mengganti satu menteri, tapi juga memecat puluhan orang hebat yang tidak punya salah apa-apa. Soal memutus perjuangan yang baru saja dimulai. Karena merubah pola pikir dan kebiasaan serta menamkan nilai-nilai baru tentu membutuhkan waktu lebih banyak dari dua puluh bulan.

Berat rasanya untuk menerima, tapi toh keputusan sudah diambil. Tidak ada yang bisa dilakukan selain berdoa bahwa hal-hal baik yang telah dirintis bisa berlanjut dan membawa perubahan besar, dan tetap melangkah untuk terus berkontribusi dengan jalan lain yang dikuasai.

Teman bekerja dan berdiskusi serta sumber belajar saya selama enam bulan terakhir.

Pak, terima kasih karena telah mempercayai kami, pemuda-pemudi bau kencur dengan minat dan semangat besar untuk memajukan pendidikan di Indonesia, untuk membantu mengawal isu-isu strategis Mendikbud. Terima kasih karena telah mendengarkan kami dan berdiskusi tanpa peduli dengan lapisan struktural, perbedaan usia, serta pengalaman. Terima kasih karena telah menjadi pribadi yang santun, bijak, hangat, menginspirasi, dan selalu berusaha mengingat nama orang lain meskipun harus dicatat.

Hari pertama berinteraksi dengan Pak Anies. Beliau yang minta berfoto bersama karena tahu kami masih malu-malu.

Terima kasih karena telah menunjukkan kemampuan bicara yang luar biasa, serta memberikan banyak ide dan terobosan yang menarik. Terima kasih karena telah memperjuangkan pendidikan dan tidak mereduksinya menjadi kartu senilai satu juta rupiah per tahun serta sekolah pencetak tenaga kerja. Terima kasih karena telah menunjukkan pentingnya peran keluarga, keterlibatan publik, disiplin positif, kemampuan berpikir kritis dan literasi abad-21, serta remunerasi dan jenjang karir yang sesuai dengan kompetensi dan kinerja. Terima kasih karena telah pelan-pelan mengajak para birokrat untuk berjalan ke arah yang lebih baik, untuk bekerja dengan lebih efektif dan menjadi pemimpin yang egaliter.

Enam bulan ini, saya belajar bahwa Bapak bukanlah sosok sempurna yang luput dari kesalahan, namun manusia yang berusaha semaksimal mungkin untuk melakukan yang terbaik. Saya percaya Bapak bisa terus menyalakan lilin dimanapun dan menggerakkan semangat jutaan pemuda untuk mulai memikirkan kelanjutan bangsanya.

Tangisan warga Kemdikbud melepas Pak Anies (diambil oleh Ade Chandra)

Sekali lagi, terima kasih untuk semuanya. Kementerian Pendidikan dan Kebudayaan bukan hanya kehilangan seorang Anies Baswedan, tapi juga sebagian besar timnya yang benar-benar peduli dengan kemajuan pendidikan dan mau bekerja keras untuk membuat perubahan.

Seperti kata Bapak, menteri boleh berganti, tapi ikhtiar kita semua untuk mendidik anak bangsa tak boleh terhenti.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

About Trust And Disappointment

This week I learned again that not everyone is a good person. There are people who couldn't put themselves in other people's shoes. People who only care about their own well-being, and simply don't care about anyone else's. People who could only see bad in other people, and good in themselves. These people do exist, whether I like it or not. Whether I could empathize with them or not. Hating them wouldn't do any good, but trusting them would only show how gullible I am.

There are also people who act like they're good and friendly. Like they're trustworthy. People who, in the end, would betray your trust and are actually not on your side, but too afraid to say it on to your face. People you'd put high expectation on, but then you realize you can't really rely on.

If you're lucky enough, though, most of the people you'll meet in your life would be good people. Some are even more special. The kind who's going to listen and be supportive. People who will love you no matter what. People who will help you grow and be a better person. People who matter, and hence worth spending time with and to listen to.

This week, I was reminded again that I will always be the victim if I expect too much from others. That being too nice to anyone won't do me any good.

However, I also learned that being all angry and aggressive wouldn't solve the problem. So would being submissive. Being assertive is the one that would work. Express what you feel with the relevant evidence, give the person a chance to justify their behavior and to give feedback to you as well (because we're not perfect either, obviously), and let them know why you want them to change their behavior. Use the "I-message" strategy, as I seconded its efficacy. So yes, the next time I felt like being mistreated by others, even in other contexts, I promise myself to always do that.

I'm grateful for having the opportunity to work with various types of people. The great one, the annoying one, the mature one, the one who couldn't stop whining, the aggressive one, and the one who goes all passive-aggressive. That way, I have a chance to learn about how to handle different kinds of people and to communicate better. 

It was such an intense week, and yet I learn so much about people and myself. 

Monday, June 27, 2016

About The Woman I Love

Let me tell you something about the woman I love. Someone strong, bold, and wise. Someone whom I respect and adore. Someone who has taught me to be the person that I am.

Let me tell you something about her. She used to be someone I kept fighting with, because it's unpleasant to grow up with so many rules. I used to think of her as someone controlling and annoying, but as I grew older, I understand that she really is just trying to protect me from a world so cruel.

She is exactly the kind of woman I aspire to be. She taught me to be assertive. She showed me that a woman should not only be a mother or wife, but also someone who can contribute to society, altough the former is absolutely the utmost priority.

The one thing I love the most about her, though, is her effort to listen to my opinion. She's a dominant person, but she understands that her know-it-all daughter wants to be heard. She won't be offended even when I criticize her parenting skills.

She's also a great public speaker. She knows how to inspire people. She knows how to talk to different kind of audiences. She can be really funny, too. She just know how to be an interesting speaker.

She's not perfect, clearly. But neither does everybody.

She is someone I'm blessed to have. Someone I'm striving to be. Someone I'm truly proud of. My mother, my teacher, and my best friend.

Happy birthday, Ummi. May Allah protect and bless you abundantly. 

Sunday, June 5, 2016

The Thing About Studying Psychology

"Sometimes I'm afraid that working here would change my personality."

"Change how?"

"Here, I'm taught to be cautious of people's intention. It's like, whenever I met new people, I'm expected to scrutinize their needs and motivation, as well as to be wary of what they could do that might harm me."

"And that's bad?"

"I don't know. It's certainly useful here, but I know that I can't think that way when I become a psychologist."

"How should you think of people, then?"

"In psychology, there's something called 'unconditional positive regard' - that we have to accept people (or clients) as they are, regardless of what they did. Studying psychology has encouraged me to put myself in other people's shoes. So it's really hard for me to hate anyone."

Empathy (Source)

"Really? How come?"

"We learned to analyze people's behaviors to understand why they did what they did. Chances are, there's a reason. There are bad people, for sure, but I believe that most humans are innately good."

"Even if they hurt you?"

"Even if they did hurt me. I often thought of the plausible explanations that might drive their actions. What they did could be wrong and hurtful, but most of the times I did something wrong, too."

"You're just being gullible."

"Yeah? I don't know, I just feel that most of the time, it's really hard to hate someone who did me wrong, as I'm not perfect either."

"But that could make you the victim. That could actually get you hurt."

"Yeah, I know."

Saturday, June 4, 2016

To Be Proud

There are times when I look down on myself. Times when I feel that I'm not good enough. Not smart enough, not kind enough, not working hard enough. Just not enough.

But today is not one of those days. Today, I feel proud of myself. For making it this far. For doing pretty well in the job I'd been so worried about. For being able to stay on track. For showing grit, even when it means going back to school once more. And even for being able to pay half of my tuition fee.

I know that the journey won't be all fun and easy. There will be times when I'm overwhelmed with all the assignments. Times when I feel frustrated and not good enough to be a psychologist. Times when I compare my worst day with other people's best. Times when I question myself and my decision. Just like whenever I tried something new and met a lot of talented people.

There will be times like that, and that's okay. I'm a ruminator, and I'll probably always be one. That's okay though, as I realize ruminating challenges myself to be better. I just need to remember that just like any other thing I've encountered in life, everything shall pass; for Allah won't ever burden me beyond what I can't bear.

I'm working on it. I'm learning to accept all of my flaws, because no one is perfect and I shouldn't expect myself to be. Because all the successful people I've met weren't always happy and successful and got everything figured out. I know what helps, though: asking feedbacks from people I look up to, to help assure me that I'm not as bad as I think I am. To help me become a better,  nicer, more objective judge to myself. Aside from that, keeping a list of things I do well and positive things about me also came in handy. It helps me remember that although I'm not perfect, there really are reasons for me to stop being so hard on myself, as I'm not that bad. Well, chances are, no ruminator is.

Today I feel blissful and blessed. A little sad to realize that I might leave the newly-discovered comfort zone soon, yet excited to find a new one. 

The road might not be that easy, but I think I'm ready. 


Hope you'll always find a reason to be proud of yourself, too. 

Saturday, April 30, 2016

About The One, Inevitable Question

I wrote a few years ago that people started asking the "when" questions after I graduated from college, despite my exceptionally young age. It turns out that the number of questions multiplied after I have had my master's degree. "What else are you looking for?", some asked. "You have everything now. Why aren't you married yet?"

I never took the "when" questions personally. Most of the times, I truly believe that people ask because they care about me, or they were just curious about my plan.

Sometimes, though, the question was asked in a more judgmental tone.

"You need to start thinking about getting married. A girl's biggest achievement is her family. A dad's greatest success is also to witness her daughter getting hitched. That's why it's important to know that life needs to be balanced between career, education, and marriage," lectured a condescending uncle and aunt of mine just a few weeks ago, although ironically, they also have a single daughter who is older than me.

I was quite annoyed, but then relieved. I was grateful when I realized that I have understanding parents who would never pressure me that way. Who understands perfectly that just because I am a high-achiever and very determined to catch my dreams, doesn't mean that I don't ever want to get married. 

While studying abroad, I met plenty of independent Indonesian women who have left the age of 25, the so-called "yellow-light" period for a single woman in Indonesia. I know from their story that unlike the typical alpha-women in the movie, they don't plan to stay single forever. Heck, most of them don't even choose to be single, and it's not like they're unattractive or bizarre in any way. They just haven't met the right person yet, and they won't stop catching their dreams only to ensure that they won't make men feel intimidated.

Some of the Indonesian girls I met in the UK even decided to go abroad to run away from their infuriating family who keep lecturing that the clock is ticking, as if they didn't know about it already! Pressuring someone to do something they actually want to do won't do them any good, that I can assure.

By contrast, I know a girl who decided to get married because she didn't like studying in college and didn't want to work afterward. It's pretty sad to know that nowadays, there are still girls who still think that way. Marriage is not something you choose because you don't know what else to do with your life. Marriage is something you choose when you are ready to be someone's wife and mom. And it's just as hard as work, as it is, work.

Of course, I also have some friends who got married because they have found someone they truly love and supportive of their dreams, and I couldn't be happier for them. Marrying young is a bold decision and I'm proud of my friends who are not afraid (of the worldly reasons) to get married. But not everyone is lucky enough to have that experience, I believe. Allah knows what's best for us, and sometimes He wants to give us more time to explore the world and to find ourselves.

So the next time someone lectures me about getting married, I would just nod and smile (hopefully not contemptuously). I would tell them that getting married is not as easy as buying a new pair of shoes, and that I obviously want to have a family of my own when I have found the right man to spend the rest of my life with. Next time someone tells me that I make men feel inferior (although seriously, I'm not even sure how), I'm going to tell them that I'm quite sure there is someone out there who is not afraid to stand beside me -- to be better together. And the next time someone told me to not even thinking about getting another postgraduate degree, I would tell them that everything I do is to prepare me to be a better wife and mother in the future. Because it takes a clever woman to raise clever children! And because I want to inspire my children; I want them to be motivated because if their mother can do it, they can do so much more.

And next time someone mentions that my parents will not be proud and happy until I got married, I would tell them that a dad's greatest success is not when seeing his daughter marry someone, but seeing her grow and bloom to be an intelligent, independent, happy woman. A mom's greatest success is when seeing her daughter becoming a woman who lives a fulfilling and contented life, who can contribute and be useful to the society, and who can also be a great mother when she had become one.

And in the meantime, I'll meet as many inspiring people as I can, and listen to their story. Then I'll be even more certain that each of us has different goals and timeline. That worrying about the future is unnecessary, because everything has been written down and will work out just fine; as long as we always put the best effort and leave the rest to Allah. That Allah is the best planner, and that He always knows what's best for us.

(Source: Tumblr)

To all the bright women out there who haven't found the right person, just keep going and remember: Allah has promised that good women are destined to be with good men. The right time will come. And in the meantime, enjoy your life and make the most of it. 

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Tentang Kritik dan Mengkritik

Banyak insight yang saya dapatkan selama 6 bulan menjadi konsultan di Kementerian Pendidikan, khususnya selama hampir 3 bulan terakhir, karena saya dan teman-teman membantu menangani isu-isu strategis pendidikan. Salah satu insight penting yang saya pelajari adalah pentingnya berhati-hati dalam mengajukan kritik.

Sure, kritik membantu memberikan tekanan kepada pihak tertentu untuk berubah menjadi lebih baik, apalagi kritik yang disampaikan berulang di media massa. Sayangnya, beberapa kritik yang saya baca belakangan tentang pendidikan cenderung tidak konstruktif dan kadang tidak tepat sasaran. Hal ini akan berdampak negatif, karena opini tersebut dapat mengarahkan sikap dan perilaku masyarakat.

Saya akhirnya juga belajar untuk tidak asal tunjuk ketika ada masalah. Bahwa tidak semua masalah di negeri ini disebabkan oleh Pemerintah. Bahwa Pemerintah sebenarnya juga mengetahui masalah-masalah yang ada dan berjuang keras untuk mencari solusinya, meskipun kadang langkah yang diambil masih kurang tepat atau hanya merefleksikan isomorphic mimicry - meniru best practice di negara lain namun tidak secara menyeluruh (hanya kulitnya saja), sehingga masalah pun tidak berkurang secara signifikan.

Saya pun belajar bahwa, jika suatu saat saya akan memberikan kritik, saya harus menganalisis dulu masalahnya secara obyektif dan mendalam. Siapa saja yang mungkin berperan, apa pokok permasalahannya, dan apa solusi yang paling feasible. Karena satu lagi yang saya pahami setelah menjadi bagian dari Pemerintah: It's not easy to please everyone in the country. Kebijakan dibuat dengan mempertimbangkan banyak hal; bukan hanya masalah idealisme atau purely berdasarkan teori dan hasil penelitian.

Negara kita luasnya bukan main, ragamnya juga. Maka tidak bijak ketika kita terus-terusan membandingkan kualitas pendidikan di Indonesia dengan di Singapura atau Finlandia tanpa mempertimbangkan faktor lain. Karena tahu kah kamu kalau warga negara Singapura banyaknya kurang lebih sama dengan jumlah guru di Indonesia? Tahu kah kamu bahwa sistem desentralisasi di Indonesia menyebabkan banyak aktor kunci berperan dalam menentukan pencapaian pendidikan, selain pemerintah pusat?

Sistem pendidikan kita memang masih jauh dari sempurna. Tapi sebelum berkoar-koar dan menyalahkan para pembuat kebijakan, tidak ada salahnya kan, untuk mempelajari dulu kebijakan apa yang rencananya akan diterapkan dalam beberapa tahun ke depan?

Sistem pendidikan kita memang masih jauh dari sempurna, tapi percaya lah, we're heading there. Kritik tentu tetap boleh ditayangkan, namun dengan tujuan yang baik, untuk mengingatkan para pembuat kebijakan untuk konsisten melakukan perubahan; bukan untuk menaikkan nama pribadi dan menjatuhkan orang lain. Berbaik sangka itu penting, disertai dengan dukungan nyata agar semua rencana baik bisa terlaksana.

(Source: Pinterest)

Karena satu hal lagi yang saya pelajari: Banyak orang yang sibuk mengkritik, tapi hanya sebagian yang benar-benar peduli dan mau membantu.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

About A Fish

There was a tiny fish who used to like to swim inside a tiny little bowl. Not long after, the bowl became too small for her, and she decided to move to a pond for a change.

Once she grew a little bigger, the fish felt tired of the pond. A river seems more interesting, she thought. And although it's a lot more challenging, she eventually learned how to swim through the river.

Until she gets even bigger and it no longer feels right. Why don't I move to the sea, she pondered. She was not the biggest fish in the river, but she was among the big ones.


She found a perfect sea to live in. She loves the fact that she gets to swim with the bigger fish. She also loves how spacious and interesting the sea is. All the other fish are colorful, too. It was so different!

Until she realized that she was one of the smallest fish there. Everyone else was just so gigantic. They all swam faster than her, too. She suddenly felt like a tiny little fish again. She grew bigger, for sure; but not as big as she thought she was.

The fish wondered if she needs to find a way to enlarge herself. Or maybe she needs to find a way to swim faster. She was perplexed. She just wanted to be as good as the big fish, that's all, but she didn't know how.

She then reminded herself that it's unfair to compare herself with the big fish as they have lived in the sea for years and years. She knew that there are also planktons in the sea, who are microscopic yet crucial to the large aquatic organisms. That she does not have to be the biggest ones, as long as she is still valuable to others.

The fish was a little disheartened and did not feel so good about herself, but she knew she should not. She should have felt so proud of herself for making it to the sea! And she should have known that if she can go to it, she definitely can go through it, too, if she believes in herself.

The not-so-tiny fish realized that she needed to always love herself unconditionally. The life at the sea won't be that serene and easy, she was aware of that. But she didn't have to overthink it. She just needed to learn how to persevere for a little while.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

About Time

If there is anything I've learned from the last few years, it's that "Not now" is not a bad thing. It actually means "Hold on, you're getting to the good part." Or "I have something even better planned for you." Or, "I promise you'll get there, but this is important for you to experience."

Just believe that when you look back in a few years, you'll understand why. You will fathom what's so important for you to learn, that your plan needed to wait. And you'll be thankful for it.

Just believe that you'll always get what's best for you. Because no matter how good you are at planning, Allah is still the best planner. Because even though you think you know what's good for you, Allah knows best.

Source: Tumblr

Even when you're getting tired of your life and Allah keeps saying, "Hold on," just keep going and enjoy everything that is bearable, if not good, about it. Try your best to find something that makes your life more exciting and meaningful.

So when He told you, "Not now", just wait for another door to be opened. Be prepared to be amazed. Because He is just that amazing.

So yes, whenever I feel lost, I just have to keep my head up and wait for His surprises. Because He never ceases to surprise me with all the blessings. Because He will always be there for me, as always.

I believe all of that, even though I have to keep reminding myself that I can't control all aspect of my life. And that's completely fine, as that is the job of the Higher-Order who never sleeps nor does his believer any harm.

Because everything is going to work out in the end. Why worry?

Saturday, March 5, 2016

About The New Job and The Work-Life Balance

I know I'm not a company kind of girl, so it never crossed my mind that I might work 9-to-5 (or more like 8 to 7) every day. Yet I have been for a month, and I don't dislike it.

This is a new experience for me. Working directly under the minister (as his delivery unit team) requires me to work fast and well, without any excuse. And the more I read and know about the issue I handle, the more I become even more baffled about how to make the education system in Indonesia better, because everything is just so intricate. 

The perks overcome the drawbacks, though. I learn so much from working for the prominent minister for a month. I learn through the way he treats his subordinates, the way he sets examples, the way he talks with such rhetorics, and the way he thinks outside of the box to solve problems. My family is so annoyed now because now I can't stop talking about him. I'm aware that he's also flawed; I'm just thrilled to know that the future of education is on the hand of someone with high values and integrity. And that I got to be a (small) part of it.

It's not just the minister that is delightful to work with. I have a great team consists of smart, ambitious people who are also passionate about education (or at least, about making Indonesia a better country). I love working with people whom I can learn in abundance from. Our background is so diverse, every discussion becomes fascinating. Through them, I learn a lot about policy making and beyond. I also learn that I need to be more assertive and decisive, especially when dealing with powerful people. And more importantly, that I need to always keep in mind that I cannot please everyone, and I shouldn't even try to.

Some of the people I work with.

The toughest part about this job is actually not the job itself, but the fact that I have to commute every day. The train is always so full of people, I can't even stand on both feet sometimes. Being stuck on a train and in a traffic jam on a daily basis make me a bit grumpy and both physically and mentally exhausted. But hey, if thousands of people can survive it, why can't I?

Despite the fact that I do enjoy working, this is not something that I want to do for the rest of my life. I enjoy working too much, I'm afraid I can't stop and balance my life. A doctor that I visited (yes, I went to the doctor for the first time in three years; within my first month of working) was shocked knowing that I had to go to the office on the day I visited her and on the weekend. That moment, I realized that I have been quite a workaholic - and that's not good if I want to have a balanced, content life.

I do love working at a company and I love myself when I work hard for a cause I care about, but I believe I can do that as a freelancer (in this case, as a psychologist) when I have a family of my own. Because prioritize is not about choosing something I like over something I don't; it's about choosing which one of the things I enjoy doing is more relevant to my aspiration. I admire working moms, though, especially if they have to do it to support the family. It's not easy to juggle between work and family, even as a sister and a daughter, let alone a wife and a mother. So, yeah, hats off to those supermoms who can find the work-family balance!

Still a few more months to go. I hope I have enough strength to survive, if not to thrive.

Don't forget to make time for yourself.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

The Thing About Life

Funny thing about life: you thought you knew everything about something, but as you learn a little more, you realize that you don't.

You thought you knew exactly what you're going to do, but as you explore a little more, you realize that you don't.

You thought you knew what you want, but as you grow up a little more, you realize that that you don't.

You thought you're so good at something, but as you meet a few more people, you realize that you're not. Not that good.

Because we are not perfect. Because we can't be good at everything. We cannot please everyone. And we don't have to conform and be like everyone else. And that's okay.

Because life can't be all about making a long list and putting a tick in each box. It can't be about drawing a map and hitting the gas to reach the destination. Life is not a race, although some people sure make it look like it is.

Because life, from what I see, is all about the uncertainties. It's all about the surprises. It's all about learning new things and expanding the horizon. It's about the journey, indeed.

And therefore, it is okay to doubt yourself sometimes. It is okay to ponder. It is okay to stumble.


It is okay, as long as you still acknowledge and appreciate all the good things about yourself afterwards. As long as you know that your presence matters. As long as you learn and keep going.

Because that, is how you grow.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

The Significant People

If I have to be thankful for just one thing in my life, I'd pick the people in a heartbeat. Yes, there are other things that make me feel utterly blessed, but nothing compares to the people in my life.

For starters, I have a wonderful family. A warm, loving, pious family. I couldn't leave the "pious" part because I think it's one of the reasons why our family becomes like we are. Religion is one of the things that glues us together, although sometimes it could also be one of the things that keep us apart (only for a few seconds, though). Religion is one of the reasons why my parents found and love each other (a preacher once told me that loving a person we marry is more important than marrying a person we love, and I couldn't agree more). It's the reason why they have been trying their best to raise their children well. And I really think they have been doing a great job.

So when I think about it, a loving family is not something that's given. Having a great family requires great work and compromise. It requires the parents to listen to their children's opinion, no matter how theoretical it sounds (especially when the oldest child is studying psychology). It requires the children to believe that the parents love them and have their best interests at heart, so the children will listen to everything they said, no matter how discrepant it is from their friends' parents' rules. 

I'm also blessed with my friends. I don't have an abundance of that, but I have my persons. I have people who could always lift me up when I'm not feeling so great about myself. People I could always trust and rely on. People I could always be myself with. People who have been helping me to grow - to be wiser and more mature. People I could spend hours and hours just to talk to. Some I met in the UK, but most of my significant friends are those I met in college. 

For now, it's enough. They are more than enough, and I wouldn't trade them for the world. They might not be enough for a few more years, but I have to keep believing that there's someone out there who can make my surrounding feels more complete. To make it feel even more perfect. 

And hopefully, all the people in my worldly life would also be my people in Jannah. That would be the ultimate contentment.

I watched a TED Talk about a study conducted for 75 years, which shows that a good quality of relationship is what makes people happiest and live longer. I guess I'm on the right track, then!


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