2023 Highlights and Reflections

Hello! Happy New Year 2024! 明けまして、おめでとう ございます. 良いお年を. 

You might think this is faster compared to my previous reflection post, but jeez, I just can’t believe I posted only 3 times in 2023!!! It was so disappointing of me! I know I’m done with making resolutions and such, but I’m hoping to post more often and regularly this year. And since I re-start work tomorrow, I guess this is a good chance to make a good start?^^

I wrote a chapter in this book^^

But alright, let’s learn to get more straight to the point and talk about the sections I usually review. Without further ado, here we go.

Academic/Study: I know I said that perhaps it’s better to skip this, but the chapter I wrote for a book co-edited by one of my lovely supervisors was finally published, so I guess I should record it here? The article I’m co-authoring with my colleague-friend is also undergoing a revision process, so while I don’t want to expect too much, I guess it’s too early to give up on that? Perhaps when it’s published, I’ll find some motivation to try to send another article to publish. Who knows? I can’t lie that I’m giving up on Academia, though. I love sharing my experience and my knowledge with others, but I guess I should be realistic? Being in academia is not the only way I can do it. And especially if I don’t feel appreciated, I guess I shouldn’t get too stuck on it? I don’t want to be too naive thinking it’s the best I can do or it’s what I should actually do when it doesn’t actually let me live a decent and happy life. Though I feel sorry every now and then, I guess I’ve made peace with it…

Once a nakama, always a nakama^^

Travel: Amazing! Remember I went to Vietnam at the beginning of 2023? Mid year I managed to do my dream travel to Japan!!! It was a “pilgrimage” for me: I got to visit ALL One Piece statues in July! I was actually planning to write an exclusive piece of writing about it, but I guess I couldn’t manage to do it, so now I’m not sure if I should write in detail here or if I should save it for later. But gosh, it was epic! I’d been dreaming of visiting the One Piece statues since it was still an idea, when the construction had just begun, when even Jimbei had not joined the Straw Hats, when the construction was still incomplete and pending due to the pandemic, and somehow now I managed to go when ALL of them were complete! I felt so lucky. I got to meet my amazing online Japanese friend too. A friend said Japanese people were not so open to foreigners, but my Japanese friend was truly kind; she invited me over to her house and even introduced me to her family and parents. She was the one taking me to ALL One Piece status with her family. I felt – and feel – so very blessed!  And truthfully, I thought this was going to be my best travel of the year, ’cause I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to go anywhere else after this. But holy, God “called” me to do the real pilgrimage nearing the end of the year, and it was such a last-minute decision but I was so happy I decided to do it ’cause this was my chance to travel with my parents to their dream place 💖🔥👍 But let me talk more about it in the next section 😉

The visa was separate, not attached to the passport 🙁

Family: Like I said in the previous section, I got to do “umrah” with my parents. It’s an Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca. My parents have always wanted to go Hajj, another religious Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca, and thank God I’ve managed to register them for it, but the wait is so long. It takes forever! I thought that by the time they go Hajj, they’ll perhaps be very old, so I was thinking that maybe I could go Umrah with them first so I can at least accompany and guide them there, so later when they go Hajj at least they can learn and remember one thing or two from their Umrah experience. I can’t go Umrah by myself either because I’m not married yet. And when I’m married (who knows, right?^^), I’m afraid I won’t be able to accompany them, so I guess it was the perfect chance for me to kill two birds with one stone: I got to perform the Islamic pilgrimage myself while accompanying and guiding my parents and I got to visit a new country too, my 24th country: Saudi Arabia!!!

And it was really fast. Perhaps I decided around a month before the departure? And it was such an emotional rollercoaster taking care of the administrative stuff regarding my parents’ passport. At some point, I was breaking down and feeling so upset with the world, with the govt, with myself. Why was everything so messy and why should I be the one cleaning up the mess I didn’t make? I was worried that we would not be able to go too because it was such short notice. I feared that perhaps the visa application would get rejected because usually I had to apply for a visa sometime before the departure plan, right? So I was haunted by my own worries and “blames”: Why didn’t I plan it way before? Why should I decide only at the last minute? Etc. But I guess if God wants us to go, then He’ll make us go? ^^ I was – and am – so thankful that I did go Umrah with my parents. Perhaps this was one of my best decisions in life. My parents looked so happy too, so I was truly blissful 😊

Finding a postcard is a must albeit unable to stamp it 🙁

By the way, I knew I was supposed to focus on praying during Umrah, but I just couldn’t help thinking about my postcards. LoL It’s a bit hard to get one, but thankfully I managed to secure 3 postcards for 10 Saudi Riyal. I didn’t get to send it via post, though. ‘Cause when I went to their post office, they didn’t really speak English and just asked me to go online and register? I didn’t get it. They said I’d get something in my email? But I really didn’t get it. All I wanted was a physical post stamp to send the postcard but gosh it sounded so complicated, so I just kept the postcards and took them home with me. It’s kinda unsatisfactory but I didn’t want to risk missing it too, if it didn’t get delivered. LoL So yeah, I guess I should be happy that at least I got the postcards^^

Finance: I guess I don’t need to write anything here? The fact that I could travel to Japan and Saudi Arabia with my parents should say it all? True that it took me a long time to save up, but InsyAllah it doesn’t disrupt my regular cash flow or other expenses, so I feel really thankful that I’ve never had to resort to taking loans or such. I think it suffices to say that while I don’t earn that much, I gain enough. And I can’t be more grateful…

A must-take pic if you go to Nabawi, I guess^^

Romance: I seriously don’t know what to write in this section! LoL I’ve never blamed people for not falling in love with me. I’ve never blamed God for not sending someone to me. Never. If anything, I always ask, “Am I still not good enough? Do I still not deserve the kind I want?” I know fully well that I can be stubborn and hot-headed especially when I know I’m right. In short, I’m “annoying” and I understand if people don’t want to be with me. And that’s alright. I don’t want to depreciate myself thinking I’m so bad that no one likes me, because, even though I’m “not romantically attractive,” I’m confident that I’m not a bad person. E.g. I’m not the type who will lure people with sweet words or such to cheat them out of their money. I’m not going to step up the ladder by making you slip and fall. I’m not going to badmouth or slander you with made-up stories to make people hate you and make them love me. If anything, I’ll try my best to not talk about your flaws even when they are facts. I won’t try to make myself look good by making you look bad. (If I have to mention the deeds, though, sorry, but I’ll try to not mention your name). I’ve never had a romantic partner, but I know I’ll be faithful and won’t cheat or break someone else’s relationship just so I can stay with someone. Etc. And if all of these make me “romantically unattractive” — apparently too serious, that’s alright; at least I know the problem doesn’t lie with me. What I know is that, in my romantic relationship, I don’t want to be the only one happy. I want my partner to be happy too… And if my present self still isn’t possible for that, then it’s okay, at least I don’t have to waste their time or hurt them. Yeah, my romantic section is not so romantic ’cause my romantic mind lies in my fiction. LoL

Friendship: I think we agreed to skip this? But let me just say something for more emphasis: For me, all relationships should be reciprocal and mutual.  If I am going to be the only one passionate about the friendship, then, yeah, I’ll learn to let it die and not care anymore. Looking back, I’ve always tried to do things for and help my friends. I don’t regret it. I believe what goes around comes around. If they don’t return the favor, God will return it some other way. Plus, being able to help and do the good things is a blessing in itself. However, I don’t want to invalidate my feelings either. If at some point I really feel it’s one-sided, then I can leave and go without feeling burdened, ’cause at least I know I’m not the one “in debt.” And, if this writing makes you question my sincerity in friendships, well, I guess I’m done with people taking it for granted. You do you, though.

What do you think of this set-up?^^

Health: Nothing new here. Physically healthy, mentally crazy, emotionally struggling, psychologically and logically trying to keep things in balance and rational.

Work: I love my jobs. Yes, jobs: I don’t settle with one, and I guess I love this arrangement. And I actually tried to join UT, the Indonesian Open University, just as a “tutor tuton,” though. They said I passed the tests and the training sections^^ I am not expecting much about the salary, though. I just want to have a chance to help Indonesian students in some way I can, a way that I can do without sacrificing my life too much… But, anyway, I’m so happy with and thankful for all of these opportunities and arrangements, though I’m still hoping it can get better. Hhe But anyway, if I can be honest, it still saddens me how I get paid more working fewer hours than working full hours as a teacher at Indonesian schools or universities… I know I get paid as much as I do now because I’ve now got a Ph.D. along with all the experiences coming with obtaining it, still, I believe teachers should be compensated, rewarded, paid, and appreciated better…

Ok, I know they are all sections that I usually review, but this time I’d also like to share something that makes me happy: I renovated my room! I love my new decoration. I got myself new bookshelf, new printed photos, etc. My books are neatly shelved, and they’re so nice to see^^ I customized my own calendar too. I really love my current room, I feel like I can stay there forever if only I didn’t need to shower, do laundry, fetch some food, etc. LoL But yeah, I think it’s important to feel comfortable in our own room? And I’m happy that I could do all that with my own money. It’s so satisfying 😉 Again, I’m feeling so blissful and blessed I couldn’t be more grateful. Thank you 🙂

Thank you for 2023. Please take care of me in 2024 too 😊🙏🧡

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