A Baby Step to Find My Real Peace

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​It has been a month and two days since my 23rd birthday. And since then I keep thinking of buying a small Quran for myself. Probably that’s gonna be the first thing I will buy next month as a late birthday present for myself.

By the way, lately, my Instagram explore is filled with tons of engagement and wedding photos. From my chairmate in high school to those selebgrams I don’t really know, they started to settle down with their special someone. Don’t get me wrong, even though I’m still as skeptical of marriage as I was in a few wordpress posts ago, I’m more than happy for everyone who chose getting married as the next thing they’d do in their life among other exciting options, because to be very honest I’m still an ocean away from thinking of marriage. My first baby step to think of it is probably following The Bride Dept Instagram account because I don’t want to miss out on their cool post and….to get motivated to think of marriage.

When you’re on Instagram the whole time and see how good everyone else’s doing, it’s hard not to compare your life with theirs. It happens automatically. Your life feels like a mess and you see perfection in everyone else’s life. Like what people always say, the grass always seems greener on the other side, right? But well, I’m not here to compare my love life, or life in general with anyone else’s. Less because getting married is not on my top three to do list, and more because I’m tired of comparing my life with others. When my life is falling apart, I tell myself that everyone has problems, that I’m not the only who’s struggling. People have their own path, and do things at their own pace. No need to rush and just do the best things that we can. Well, sometimes it works, sometimes I have to find another way to pull myself together again. And instead of focusing on how everyone has their lives figured out, I try to focus on my life and only look at other people’s success as a motivation to improve myself.

Along the way of trying to improve my life, I found myself thinking about my religion, something that has been long forgotten from my life, something that I didn’t care much and never took into consideration before. And for the first time, I became scared of the fact that I’ve been far from God. I’ve never been a religious person. I only wear headscarf to school because my parents told me to, or my friends wear it too, or because I was too lazy to wash my hair. There were time where I missed prayers because of oversleeping and I didn’t even feel guilty for it. I do fasting in Ramadhan but rarely do the voluntary fast. Basically I only do a few out of many obligations as a muslim, and not all my intention is because of Allah. Whereas, in a hadiths it is clearly stated that actions are judged by motives.

I still remember back then when my boyfriend and I discussed an issue, he always talked about the consequences in the Hereafer, while I never thought of it. Not because I didn’t know it, but more because I hate to be reminded that I’m full of sins, that eventually I have to hold responsible for all my actions in Judgement Day. I kept bending the rules, I only agreed on what’s suitable with my way of thinking. And the worst part is I used to *kind of* hate his way of thinking when actually it can save me from many errors and bad decisions making. I used to stay away or even scared of that kind of people who…you know..always think and behave in such an Islamic way. I used to think that they’re so boring, weird, judgemental, narrow-minded, and whatnot when actually they’re the ones whom I have to approach and be friends with. The ones I need to stay away from are those who make me forget Allah, not the ones who brings me closer to good things and makes me remember Allah in everything I do. Astagfirullah.

Now I kind of understand how it felt like to be him a year ago. When he finally made a decision to leave me. That’s the thing that he had to do if he wanted to change. I was a bad influence, I guess. Well, we were a bad influence for each other, back then.

But Allah works in mysterious ways. He doesn’t give you what you want when you want it, but gives you what He knows you need at the right time. And then God sent him again to my life. To remind me that I have to change, that I have to learn more about my religion, that I have to start practicing sunnah, and that I must leave all the bad habits I used to do in the past. I believe that if you truly want to change for good, Allah will send the good people to help you. To this very day, I’m still figuring out what I’m supposed to do first. It’s not because I’m nowhere near ready, but more because there are too many things that I need to change. The way I pray, the way I think and behave, and the way I dress up. Well, pretty much everything in me, I guess.

Pray for a stronger heart. The road to change is a bumpy one. I know my journey just began (or maybe it hasn’t been started yet?) and I still have so many things to learn. I’m still afraid that I’ll probably lose some of my friends along the process, or that some people will belittle my intention. But if I keep letting this fear pulling me down then I’ll never change. But I know that Allah is the Most Merciful, the Most Forgiving, and I believe that even if you only utter “I want to change” Allah will make it easy for you.

Open Up as The First Step to Get The Support That I Need

As a woman who seems so open about many things included the very embarrassing experiences in her life, I’m actually not THAT open. I hide some stories inside my chest and bury them in every abandoned corner of my heart, hoping it’d soon be forgotten. And there is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you. You understand that part, right?

People have told me to be more open about what I feel, but it’s hard when you already see me as one thing, and then I have to reveal the opposite of what you see. It’s hard when whatever you see in the surface doesn’t even represent half of what remains underneath.

As much as I seem to talk a lot and be honest about things I see in my surrounding, I actually spend more time talking with myself and lie about my feeling. My entire life suddenly consists of me playing one role to another. Being me that is always happy, talkative, enjoy hanging out with friends, and being me that is depressed, anxious, and sometimes scared to interact with people. I’ve already lost count of how many times I mentioned that I’ve been dealing with anxiety and depression. Someone recently asked me if I was planning to tell my boyfriend about it. It’s something I have never been itching to do, and honestly, it kind of caught me off guard.

I’ve never been great at stringing words to perfectly narrate my condition as mannerly and clearly as possible to someone who actually sort of aggravated this already existing illness. It’s difficult to do all that when everything I really wanted to do was raging non stop like a crazy monster about how he treated me like crap and how I didn’t deserve to be treated this way at all. It’s hard to talk when you’re in so much pain. But it’s a different kind of pain, not like flu, or high fever. But a few days ago, I finally managed to tell him about my mental health condition.

Another reason why I’m afraid to open up: I’m afraid that instead of getting the support, I get judged by them, they stay away from me because they think I’m weird and crazy. I’m afraid they don’t take my story seriously. Because sometimes they still see completely functioning like those non depressed people. I’m a high functioning depressive, obscuring its symptoms with a mix of meds and talking to my doctor. 

Talking to my closest ones could provide a sense of relief and be the first step to get the support that I need all this time. How will they help you if you don’t let them know what you’re going through? So I told him eventually by sending a long ass messages and talking on the phone whilst trying not to shed a tear. I’m glad that he understands. And to my surprise, he’s quite supportive, considering he used to be such an asshole. Maybe I should’ve told him earlier so it could lessen the damage. He said so, but then again, it’s hard to talk about it. However, I’m glad I finally did.

I know it’s weird how I wrote everything on my blog and he didn’t even know about it until that night. I didn’t tell many people about this blog, though. I used to think it’s embarrassing to let a lot of people take a peek at all this mess, to read what I truly feel inside because the reason I write is just to get all burden off my chest, not because I want people to read it. But now I don’t think I have to hide it because my friends need to know why sometimes I seem so distant from them. They need to know why I often disappear for a few days or weeks and then pop back out of nowhere. Maybe it can help those who feel the same thing to open up, and to get the support they need. No need to feel shame, you’re not the only one tripping down into the rabbit hole of depression and anxiety. Let’s open up and get the support that we need.

You’re Different From Other Women vs. You’re Just Like Other Women

Sometimes I wonder how quick someone could go from saying “you’re different from other women” to “you’re just like other women” while in reality you don’t even change anything of yourself, not even one bit from the last time he said it as a way to compliment you.

Wait, is that even a legit compliment? And I’m still confused with why being told “you’re just like other women” is threatening and heart-wrenching for some of us women?

Years ago when someone told me I was different or better than other women, I used to put a smile, I felt superior, and I took that as a compliment. I was so excited about this validation, so ready to succumb to the internalized sexism that made me compare myself to other women in the first place. But that was before I realized that the person who told me this was basically holding the stereotypes of how women should/shouldn’t be and things they believe women could/couldn’t be. It made me feel as though I was in the middle of competition with other women to win man’s approval. “kamu beda ya, anteng, engga kayak cewek lain yang cerewet dan bikin pusing” “kamu terbuka banget ya pola pikirnya, ga jaim, ga malu ngomongin hal kaya gini, gak kayak perempuan lain yang sok-sok polos padahal kelakuannya ancur”. I do love compliments. I admit it. I don’t want to be naive, though. But keep in mind that you don’t have to disparage other women just to make me feel better than them.

“Different from other women” creates entitlement for women to judge other women’s decisions. It means he doesn’t see her as an individual person but rather as a representative of her gender, who must somehow prove that she is above all the stereotypes he buys into. It is used as a way for all genders to make themselves feel like they are above all others, and that women must compete with each other for male attention and approval. Well, I know this is a tricky situation, so context very matters and well plays into this a lot.

It’s not just about gender, though. “you’re so funny” is a compliment, but when you’re saying it out of surprise because a woman could be so funny, you’re just saying you think women aren’t funny. “you’re so beautiful” is a compliment, until you’re saying it to a lesbian because you’re surprised to find out that a lesbian could be so pretty. Saying “you’re so handsome” alone is a compliment, but saying “you’re too handsome to be a gay” is not a compliment. It’s pretty much dismissing their entire group. It’s pretty much saying that gay are supposed to be everything but handsome. It’s fine for you to think someone is great in a special way, as long as it doesn’t entail dismissing the value of an entire identity of group that they belong to. Next time you think “wow, you’re so [insert nice things here] for a [insert marginalized identity here]” – keep it to yourself.

Back then, when someone told me “you’re so different”, I had this weird yet familiar fear that as soon as I showed vulnerability or break out of the norm, you’d devalue me like all the other women out there you’ve dismissed as “the same”. But then I thought, apa makna kata “perempuan lain” dalam kalimat “kamu beda dari perempuan lain” ataupun dalam kalimat “kamu sama aja kaya perempuan lain” sehingga itu jadi pujian ataupun celaan/hinaan? Kalau kamu percaya bahwa disebut “kamu tuh sama aja kaya perempuan lain” adalah sebuah hinaan, berarti secara tidak langsung kamu juga mengiyakan penilaian buruk laki-laki tentang wanita. Ladies and gentlement ini udah tahun 2017, women should have each other’s back instead of compete with one another just for the sake of men’s approval. Oh god, we’re great with or without anyone’s approval.

All I know to be true is that other women are some of the bravest, most inspiring, amazing, and stunning people I know, and I want to be like them. Don’t compliment me by demeaning other woman, and I don’t mind to be like other women. I’m happy and even very proud of that. I’m proud of whatever makes me, me. Even if means I’m not different from other woman. I’m proud of how full of anxiety, insecurity, awkward, loud, ugly, beautiful, funny, boring, smart, confident, open-minded, sok polos, shy, depressed, multi-dimensional, and just-like-other-women I am.

You Might Want To Read This Before Throwing Yourself Into Casual Dating

I’ve read so many articles about hook-up culture. I even downloaded some reviews and thesis (I’m not kidding) related to it. Many say that we need to kill hook-up culture and some say go for it.

Why should our glorious culture of casual sex be eradicated?

According to one article, hook-up culture is destroying intimacy and making it difficult for us to fall in love, since many people view sex as an intimate connection with the person you love. But on the other hand, there are also a group of people who want to enjoy themselves without the emotional burden coming with relationships, no?

I admit that sometimes we get feelings for our partner after kissing, hugging, let alone having sex. But for the most part that’s just hormonal thing. Women release more oxytocin aka the bonding hormone while men release more dopamine aka the pleasure hormone; that’s why it makes women fall in love more and makes men want sex more. You ever read that stuff, right? That feeling more often than not is not love. There are countless things people confuse for love: dependency, hormones, attraction, lust, expectation, an idea rather than a reality. Many people are buying into the idea that women are prone to mix emotions and fucking, but NO, we’re not, we’re just like men, we can separate the two, I promise. Ladies, let’s make a promise.

Blaming the hook-up culture for a lack of commitment is unfair. There are people who want relationships, and there are people who don’t. The people want to hook-up or keep it casual are not the problem; the lack of communication between the individual is the problem. Instead of fighting to end the hook-up culture, we should work on figuring out what we want from our own interactions. Do you want a relationship? Wait for it. Do you want to have sex without the intention of dating? Go for it. You have every right to do what you think suits you better.

Figuring out what you want from your interactions with someone is important. Ask yourself, why do you want to have sex with someone? Are you trying to have a little fun, or feel lonely? You need to know what you want because it will affect how attached you get with someone. Be honest with yourself to prevent confusion in the aftermath of the hook-up. Hooking-up without developing feeling is easier if you just want to have some fun and to fulfill your sexual needs. Hooking-up because you’re lonely, heartbroken, or hurting will bring you to unwanted attraction and attachment.

People have always screwed people over from time to time when it comes to sex. The difference between then and now is that it’s no longer taboo to talk about sex and to have sex with someone. Nowadays, some women are tend to be more sexually liberated, which means that we’re willing to respect different sexual behaviors of people.

And I have no problem too with people finding casual sex unattractive. But thinking it means something unsavory about a person’s character is not okay. The assumption that it means something bad about that person, their personality, their views on relationships without knowing those things is shit.

Many people jump into this casual relationship thing without any preparations whether they can handle this kind of messy, fucked-up relationship-but-not-really-a-relationship relationship. Some people think that after several hook-ups they can change their partner’s mind and you two will be like Justin Timberlake and Milla Kunis from the Friends with Benefits movie at the end of the day. Goddamn stop it! Friends-with-benefits are the kind of relationship where you don’t want to expect anything. Don’t expect them to offer you to spend the night with them, or a ‘good morning! Did you have your breakfast already?’ kind of text. They have no obligations to make you feel special on your birthday or comfort you on your down moments as they are not your romantic partner. They’re not obliged to fix you nor they are the missing puzzle in your life. 

The thing you need to know about casual relationships is that you can’t force anyone to feel something they don’t. You can’t force anyone into a relationship when they clearly don’t want to be in one. It’s not their fault if you fall for them. It’s not their fault you want a relationship when they told you up front that they didn’t want to be serious. Don’t be naive to think you could change their mind. Don’t be ignorant to think that you could be the one to change the course of casual relationships. The person you’re hooking-up with might be a really good kisser, or really funny. But he’s also the same person who agreed to keep it casual. The one who suggests “keeping it casual” is probably not going to be the one to fall in love with you a month from now. There’s 50:50 chance that one or both of you might fall for another in the end but just don’t expect it to happen. Remember the ground rule.

Like what I said, casual relationship isn’t for everyone and you have to think twice about it. If you can’t imagine yourself doing it, that’s okay. If in the middle of it you want to stop, let them know. Your partner and you have to be on the same page. That’s the rule. It’s also important to make sure that both parties agree to not expect more out of it. Don’t agree to things in hope you can change his or her mind in the future or under the assumption that casual is just a stepping stone to boyfriend or girlfriend status.

If you want a real relationship but the feeling isn’t mutual because he wants to keep it casual, just learn to walk away if they aren’t going to give you what you need. Don’t expect him to change his mind by hooking-up with him. Don’t accuse him of using you. You use each other. Don’t feel bad for not being loved in return. 

Getting Married: Sometimes I Want It, Sometimes I Don’t

It’s only six days away from 2017 and it seems like everybody has made new year’s resolution. And since I’m too busy dealing with this crippling anxiety, my only resolution is to be mentally healthy again.

Lately I noticed that some of my friends are getting engaged, married, or just into serious relationships. A catch up with my friends over coffee turned into a bet on who will get married first. Like every girl, I would swoon for my friends who found her Mr. Right. Like when one of my friend got engaged a few weeks ago. Her Instagram was filled with the engagement pictures. I was torn between feelings “aww, finally, I’m so happy for them, I can’t wait to get married too!” and “eww! Why are people getting married? You make my skin crawl.”

Why am I so bipolar when it comes to marriage?

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To begin with, I don’t know how to keep my relationship, let alone bring myself into whatever more serious than just being in a relationship. When it comes to committing to someone in marriage, however, I feel a deep knot of anxiety in my stomach. Marriage is for life, man! I get crippling anxiety over what I’m about to order in Starbucks, let alone whom I’m going to be stuck with for the rest of my life.

Marriage is a scary concept. It’s never really knowing what is going to happen in your life, but still you trust someone so much that you want them to be around for many years to come, or as they said, forever. It’s knowing there is a chance of feelings fade and love lost, but you’re saying you won’t give up. Among the “I do’s” and wedding cakes, among the decorations and the gown, among the smiles on everyone’s faces, there is more. There is forever. How long is forever? I could feel my skin crawling as I imagined forever.

Every time I told someone that I didn’t see myself ever getting married, the response would always be the same: “What? Don’t say that! You’ll get married someday. You just haven’t found the right man yet.” Oh man, thanks for the reassurance. I know you’re trying to boost my self-esteem, but I never gave any indication that it needed boosting. I didn’t say I was incapable of finding a partner. It’s just…I’m not sure whether I’ll ever be ready and worthy to get to that phase of life. You know, I am not good at being in a relationship, let alone in marriage.

People think that I’ve been hurt really badly and that’s why I’m afraid of getting married. But that’s not the case. I admit that my breakup has shattered the only dream of marriage I ever made in my life, but I know I could make another dream with someone new. I could build my life again and create another dream. In fact, I’ve met someone nice. I’ve met dozens of nice people after I broke up. It’s just I have to go through at least a dozen more life changes and improvements before I could consider myself ready for that kind of thing. I have to learn so many things to be considered as wife material.