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Hello, this is me!

Nur Imroatun Sholihat

Your friend in learning IT audit Digital transformation advocate a-pat-on-your-shoulder storyteller

About me

Hello

I'mNur Imroatun Sholihat

IT Auditor and Storyteller

So I heard you are curious about IT and/or auditing. I'm your go-to buddy in this exciting journey. My typical professional life consists of performing (and studying!) IT audit and managing the award-winning magazine, Auditoria. Armed with a Master of Commerce in Digital Transformation from UNSW Sydney, I'm currently wearing multiple hats—ambassador at IIA Indonesia's Young Leader Community, mentor at ISACA Global, Head of Public Relations at MoF-Cybersecurity Community, and trainer at IIA Indonesia. You'll also find me sharing insights on my YouTube channel, speaking at seminars, and crafting content on LinkedIn. Let's connect and dive into the world of IT and auditing together!

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Showing posts with label personal. Show all posts
Showing posts with label personal. Show all posts

Life is Slipping Through Me

Have you ever noticed when you’re tired, your fingers don’t grip things as tightly as they should? That things slip through them more often than you wish? I feel as though I am those fingers and life is slipping through me.” - Kelsey Danielle, Life and Other Things.

 

For the past 30 days, I've been battling a relentless headache and occasional nausea. This isn’t just a minor discomfort; it’s a constant, throbbing reminder that I’m not okay. Waking up each morning, I find myself already exhausted, worried, and feel uneasy. When I moved or walked, I noticed that I was somehow not adequately stable. This persistent pain and anxiety have seeped into every aspect of my life, making even breathing feel heavy.

 

It coincidentally happened when I was emotionally worn out. It added a chunk of sadness to my already sorrowful self. Now, it’s as if my heart is carrying an invisible huge burden that I can’t quite shake off. I've cried many times, even when I told myself that I was strong enough for this. There were moments where I said, “If I should be honest, I feel like it’s beyond my ability.” No matter how hard I tried to stay positive and grateful, this time I miserably failed. I simply couldn’t be collected enough for this.

 

The last time I felt this emotionally drained was six years ago when I was diagnosed with mild scoliosis.

 

Work, which used to be a source of fulfillment, now feels like an uphill battle. I’ve struggled to perform properly, and the guilt of letting my colleagues down weighs heavily on me. The pressure to meet expectations, both theirs and my own, is overwhelming. If I tell them, they would be understanding and supportive, but I can’t help but feel that I shouldn’t be a nuisance.

 

There were constant questions that played on repeat in my mind: How do I handle everything when it feels beyond my capacity? To whom should I rely? After all, I am just an ordinary person who needs consolation and help at times. I’ve always pulled myself to be strong and resilient (well, I don't have any other choice), but these days, that strength betrayed me. Most of the time, I am okay with facing everything by myself, but in this case, I was afraid to face it alone. This time around, my world crumbled down as I tried to keep everything intact by myself.

 

I feel like I have been abandoned. That life abandoned me and left me alone suffering. I wished I was stronger and braver. But truthfully, nobody is entirely strong and brave in facing life, I guess.

 

I'm typing this in the Jakarta Islamic Hospital while accumulating all the bravery left to face the reality I've avoided. Out of nowhere, I found renewed courage and calmness. A sudden profound sense of peace washes over me while tears stream down. I feel that as long as Allah is with me, I can be at peace. It’s the biggest comfort to realize that it’s okay even if nobody's around, I can always rely on Allah.

 

I walk through the hall while whispering to myself, “No, Iim, life isn’t slipping through you.”. In that quiet moment, I've come to realize that life could feel overwhelming at times. We are human, and it's natural to have moments of struggle. I remind myself that I am not alone in this journey. Allah is always with me, patting my shoulders and saying this isn't beyond what my soul can bear.

 

Allah didn’t abandon me, neither did He hate me (inspired by QS 93:3). His beautiful fate isn't slipping through my fingers. I will hold that belief with me tightly.  

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(I haven’t been able to respond to comments, DMs, and emails due to my condition. Thank you for your understanding and patience.)

image source: Sandy Torchon via Pexels

Even Simply Brushing Clothes with Someone Is Fate

There is a word in Korean, ‘in-yeon’. It means providence or fate… It’s an ‘in-yeon’ even if two strangers walk by each other in the street and their clothes accidentally brush,” – Past Lives (2023)

 

Recently, there were moments when my mind occasionally wondered about where fate would bring me. Then fatefully, I stumbled upon a movie that eloquently talks about fate namely “Past Lives”, written and directed by the talented Celine Song. In Korean, there exists an expression for providence particularly regarding human connection: “in-yeon”. The narration of the Korean proverb 옷깃만 스쳐도 인연 (“even simply brushing clothes with someone is fate") made me pause the movie and think deeper. It suggests that a seemingly insignificant encounter with someone on the street, when the edges of our clothes brush, is fate. That the presumably minuscule scenes in our lives carry within them the destiny.  And for 2 individuals to eventually marry each other, they have 8.000 layers of in-yeon between them. 

 

In Islam, we're taught of qadar (divine decree), where even the fall of every single leaf is governed by Allah’s will.

 

I can write a long essay on how beautiful the movie is—the storyline, cinematography, dialogues, performances, and everything. However, I am here today to specifically talk about my thoughts about fate after watching the award-winning movie. This isn't the first time the concept of “fate” in Korean culture has been discussed and caught my attention. In Reply 1997, the series also delves into its role in human relationships.

 

Some people believe they are born with an invisible red string tied around their little finger… The string is tied to a person they’re destined to be with. However, it’s hard to find out who is the person at the other end.” – Reply 1997


In Islam, too, we find the notion of predestined connections between individuals. It is said that who we will end up with was inscribed 50.000 years before the earth was created. 


So, my heart should be at ease, right?

 

Despite the comforting embrace of destiny, an unsettling unease grips my heart. Even within this framework of destiny, where I should find solace, there remains an element of uncertainty I couldn’t help but be worried about. Sometimes I sensed that my paths are not predetermined in their entirety, but rather shaped by the choices I make and the people I encounter along the way. It whispers to me that while fate may guide us, we are, to some degree, the authors of our own stories. 


Hence, I fear I may have avoided a fate that will eventually bring goodness.

 

What if, in my haste, I've overlooked the subtle signs that guide me toward him? What if that someone has crossed paths with me but I barely register? What if he slipped by, unnoticed? 

 

What if, in my hesitation, I forfeit the chance for a love?

 

What if my destined other half is forever beyond my reach?

 

I am haunted by the possibility of missed connections, of souls meant to intertwine and then destined to remain forever apart instead. 

 

But also I am afraid that I will give up too early.

 

Thus, I couldn’t help but think about it over and over while grappling with my own destinies. If there is someone on this earth who is destined for me, why does it feel so impossible to find him? Should I just give up on the idea that somewhere someone is also looking for me? Borrowing Past Lives' analogy: Is there someone out there who shares 8.000 layers of in-yeon with me? Truly, as mused in Reply 1997: If the red string of fate really exists, where will mine end?”.

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image source: Henry & Co. via Pexels

Woman My Age Shouldn’t Have Cried Because of SQL

  

If a woman my age cries, one can predict several possible reasons behind it but structured query language (SQL) is probably unthinkable.


Dear my teenage self, we hit a roadblock again. Our current job demanded proficiency in SQL, a language founded on the principles of logic. Don’t you remember how much you struggled with logic? During high school, you were so afraid of attending classes in logical subjects. You were so fixated on the thought that you weren’t built for logic, proven by your low marks on almost every assignment and test. Mathematics and physics seemed to dance just beyond your reach, leaving you feeling inadequate and frustrated. I can still taste the bitterness of embarrassment from those days when your math teacher distributed the results and said “Take the remedial test next week” to you.


Fast forward, the present you should learn SQL’s lines of code. I hid my confusion and fear as I confronted the daunting task. Try as I might, there were moments I couldn't wrap my head around the SQL queries. I felt so out of place again—feeling small as a familiar ache in my chest resurfacing. I once again realized that this journey would be far from easy as every function felt like a tangled web. Witnessing my friends study much faster than me, one even jokingly teased my turtle pace, I couldn’t stop tears from streaming down. It gave me all the years of “smart people are the ones proficient in math” where I don’t belong there.


As tears flowed down, I realized that the emotions weren't just about SQL anymore. It was about the years of feeling inadequate--the years of constant embarrassment coming from red marks in logical subjects. It was about the countless times I'd struggled to prove myself in a world that seemingly revolves around numbers and logic. It was about the weight of expectations and the fear of failure that threatened to consume me.


And guess what? Just like you back then, I allowed myself to feel the frustration and embarrassment again. I will face everything with my shaken bravery. I may not have been born with an innate understanding of logic, but I refuse to let that define me. For years, even when I was the weakest one in the room, I knew that persistence ran through my veins. I will walk slower than anyone, fail, be frustrated, and cry again many times but it’s okay.


Until then, let's keep pushing forward, one query at a time.


The “I might be the weakest but I can learn”,

Your present self

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image credit:  Zeeshaan Shabbir via pexels.com

EXPECTATION


It's been a while, hasn't it?

I found myself amidst an intense introspection--contemplating life and expectations. Navigating the labyrinth of human relationships has recently brought me face-to-face with poignant experiences--each a miniature heartbreak from those I hold dear. At this juncture, the weight of expectations and disappointments seems putting dark clouds above me. 

I've always believed in giving my utmost to those around me, investing my heart into every interaction, every relationship, and every connection. I know I have so many shortcomings but I have always tried my best. I put in great effort to be there for others, to support them, and to show them love. It's the way I've always lived my life, and I don't regret it for a second. 

Yet, along the way, in some settings, I can't help but discern a lack of reciprocity.

There have been moments when I couldn't help but wonder if I was receiving the same treatment I gave. Often, I was being left behind questioning if the consideration I extended was returned in kind. It's a bitter pill to swallow, which made me ponder whether I even deserve the care I long for. Again and again, it made me feel that I didn't deserve kind treatment in the first place. (T_T). 

Disappointments have become frequent in this chapter of my life. They often trace back to my expectations of people. I've learned that expecting too much can lead to heartache. Expectations, like delicate glass ornaments on the tree of relationships, are placed with care, hoping they'll enhance the beauty of the bonds I share. Yet, I've noticed that most of the time, I'm the one caring more and putting in more effort. Facing this, I couldn't help but feel down and, at times, even resentful.

Actually, throughout my journey, there have been times when I felt strong and resilient. I've faced life's challenges head-on, and I've overcome many of them. But there have also been those tiny, fragile moments when I yearned for a little extra kindness, understanding, or love and what happened made me think that sometimes I should even beg for people to treat me decently.

Truth is, there were tiny, tiny times when I hoped that I would be treated better.

The reality is that even the strongest among us are only human. We all have vulnerable moments.  Truly, I am just an ordinary human. My heart breaks, and I yearn for genuine treatment. 

To whoever reading this, if I may say something to you: please, please, I beg you, treat people kindly. 

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P.S.: While I recognized the aforementioned heart-breaking moments, it didn't necessarily mean that I failed to notice the kindness people did to me. I truly appreciate the people who treat others carefully and kindly. And I am happy to say that most of the people around me are thoughtful and kind people.

(I've learned to gradually diminish my expectations of people and shift them more towards Allah. I feel so much better.)

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image credit: Mat Reding via pexel.com

Amor Fati


Di saat rentan hati, ingin rasanya saya pergi mengasingkan diri. Pergi jauh ke sebuah pelukan dan berlabuh di bahu seseorang, tetapi pelukan siapa, bahu siapa?” (“When I was vulnerable, I want to go into exile. Go deep into an embrace and land on someone's shoulder, but whose embrace, whose shoulder?”) - Srimenanti, Joko Pinurbo

Several days ago, a close friend and I visited a place together with my motorcycle. As our outing came to an end, we made our way back to the parking area, only to discover it was packed with vehicles, making it challenging to retrieve mine. Determined, we both exerted considerable effort to navigate our way out while sharing jokes about how “independent” we are. I later uttered, “I remember a quite similar moment where I still get emotional when I think about it,”

“What happened?” She inquired

"One morning, while riding this exact motorcycle to work, I noticed smoke emanating from its front. Later, when it was time to head home, I approached a male colleague from my team, seeking reassurance about the safety of bringing the motorcycle to the repair shop in its current condition--hoping to convince myself that I would be alright," I narrated, the scene replaying vividly in my mind.

There was a brief pause as I took a deep breath, "Instead of offering me the assurance I sought, he said, 'Just ask a man for help. What's so impossible about it? You don't have to handle everything on your own.'"

The floodgates of mixed emotions surged within me. “I ended up seeking assistance while battling to hold back tears. Truthfully, I don’t want to be this ‘independent’, I just don’t have the luxury to rely on someone,” I noticed that the smile I offered was broken.

“Same as today. It’s not that we are inherently strong, just we don’t have options. That’s what you meant?” She tried to read the direction of my story.

I nodded. Truth is, there are times when I wish to rely on someone, putting down the burden of making difficult decisions or performing strenuous tasks. There have been days in my life when I yearned for a break from the constant need to engage my mind fully. There have been instances where I wanted to mindlessly follow someone else, trusting that he would lead me to the right path. I secretly longed for moments when I could surrender to a sense of ease, knowing that someone would take care of things for me.

As someone who always thought that nobody was willing to be her place to lean on, sometimes, I desired the freedom to be weak and vulnerable. There were also tiny moments when I hoped I could let go of the worries and responsibilities. Therefore, I would highly appreciate the moments when I am allowed to not have all the answers as someone else would be there to figure things out alongside me. Therefore, I just smiled when people said that I was a strong independent woman who didn't need help. Sorry to burst your bubble but that's not necessarily true.

Life has taught me resilience, nurturing independence born out of necessity. From time to time, I consoled myself with the knowledge that, despite the difficulties, I possessed the strength to navigate life. And perhaps, in an unexpected encounter, I may stumble upon someone’s shoulder. Until that, I will remain steadfast, honoring both my fragility and strength. Because, just as Joko Pinurbo also mentioned in Srimenanti: Namun, bagaimanapun saya mencintai hidup ini. (However, no matter how it is, I love this life). 

I will try to always love this fate.


Love,

iim

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(Amor Fati is translated as a love of fate.)

image source: John Nature Photos at Pixabay

I Am Too Soft for This City

Have I mentioned that one of my secret favorite things to do is blog walking? There’s something captivating about strolling through the depths of someone’s (even stranger’s) mind. A personal blog, in my opinion, offers a window into the intricate complexities of an individual’s train of thought. What a great thing it is to have access to someone’s mind by reading their posts.  

Recently, I revisited one blog that stuck in my mind even after years of reading it. I decided to delve into the posts that I hadn’t explored yet. After wandering around, one particular entry gripped me in its emotional embrace. I didn’t close the tab after I finished it as I was captivated by the poetic expressions that totally describe my feelings:

“As I willed myself not to cry, I realized I was probably too soft for this city. And that I should probably drink more water…. And, yet, I’m too hard for other cities. I can’t seem to find the right fit.” (I Am Too Soft for This City, Generation Meh)

For years, I found it difficult to express my confusion about the fit living space for me and then the author squeezed my struggle in just 4 sentences.  It was as if the post had eloquently captured my perplexity regarding finding a suitable place to call home. These sentiments mirrored the conversations I had with my friends, where I expressed the struggle in discovering a sense of comfort in my current residence, Jakarta.

Navigating the capital city, in my opinion, demand a high-level resilience and a strong-as-stone heart. Someone with delicate feelings like me often can only cry for what I and other people in this full-of-inequalities-and-unfairness city have to go through. I am aware of how overwhelmingly tiring it is to breathe in this bustling, fast-paced urban environment while being sensitive like me. It’s a metropolis with relentless demand and perpetual motion that will leave anyone behind unless they run. Yet, here is the land that offers the most opportunities and growth--stuff that I recognize as necessary.

“And that I should probably drink more water.”, the author wittily continued expressing their feeling towards the city. It’s a beautiful metaphor that in this kind of city, we need to take care of our well-being more. Indeed, I need to stop ignoring the importance of physical and mental well-being, even when I live in a stressful city.

On the other hand, some cities exude a gentler aura, embracing me with warmth. I find comfort in slow peaceful living but after months, I would find myself feeling out of place. I seemed can’t fully integrate my aspiration of having a meaningful impact with this softer lifestyle. There is a reluctant nod from me because turned out “Yet, I’m too hard for other cities” also fits my situation.

Then I remember an old piece of advice my dad said to my mom: “No matter where we go, there is always a neighbor we can’t genuinely get along well with or something that we couldn’t completely accept. The Prophet in the hadith had discussed this as well so let’s be grateful for where we live.”.   

While I acknowledged the truth in that advice, I still wish I can find the environment that fits me the most. I know this constant search for the right place leaves me disheartened at times. However, I hope that someday, I will stumble upon a city that balances growth and tenderness. I pray that one day I can find my rightful place in this vast world--the perfect equilibrium between my inner world and the external environment. Though the path may be uncertain, I believe that there is a city out there, a home out there, that provides me with the harmony I seek. I believe someday I will find it. 

Oh wait, perhaps I had found it...

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(For now, I will try to enjoy Jakarta.)

image source: Ahmad Basyar on Pixabay

Selesai

Aku kehilangan hitungan tentang berapa banyak tali yang kulepaskan bersama perpindahan raksasa baja ini antara dua bandar udara. Meminjam narasi Sapardi dalam novel Hujan Bulan Juni: “Bagaimana mungkin seseorang memiliki keinginan untuk mengurai kembali benang yang tak terkirakan jumlahnya dalam selembar sapu tangan yang telah ditenunnya sendiri.”. Bagaimana aku mesti mengurai paksa benang-benang yang telah terkait dengan selaksa degup jantung di kota yang kutinggalkan--aku tidak mengerti. Serat-serat rapuh ini barangkali hanya akan patah bersama terlepasnya genggaman jari-jemari jiwa-jiwa di kota ini.

Terima kasih untuk menjadi tahun penyembuhan yang kubutuhkan. Terima kasih atas kehangatan yang bahkan tidak mampu menjadikan suhu 6 derajat membuatku menggigil dan ingin pergi. Terima kasih atas 4 musim yang begitu indah. Aku begitu beruntung sempat menjalani 365 hari di belahan bumi yang ini. Terima kasih khususnya untuk orang-orang terhangat yang pernah kutemui--yang melihat segala tangis dan tawa--lalu berkata bahwa kita bersama-sama dalam langkah. Terima kasih untuk membuat pergi menjadi terdengar bodoh dan tidak masuk akal.  

Setiap kata perpisahan--baik bersama riang tawa maupun derai tangis--meninggalkan jejak yang serupa di rongga batinku. Aku datang saat musim gugur dan kini musim gugur lainnya sudah selesai. Aku harus menyelesaikan ini semua dan pulang. Akan tetapi, meminjam lirik Selesai milik Glenn Fredly, “Rasa ini tak pernah selesai.”. Aku tahu bersama kepulanganku ini, rasa ini tidak akan pernah selesai. Meski akan ada bagian dari hatiku yang tersesaki oleh kenangan dan tidak akan pernah selesai, aku tidak akan melawan.

Jika hanya boleh ada satu kata yang mewakili perasaanku pada setahun belakangan, itu adalah kesyukuran. Aku mencintai kota yang jembatan dan rumahnya begitu ikonik itu. Di masa depan, jika aku bertemu dengan seseorang yang membuatku jatuh hati, barangkali ketimbang berkata aku mencintaimu, aku akan mengatakan: Engkau seperti Sydney bagiku

Sampai bertemu lagi, kota impian. Sampai dengan waktu itu, aku akan banyak merindukanmu. Sekarang, izinkan aku berdamai dengan rindu yang menusuk-nusuk hati. Besok mungkin aku akan berhenti menangis tetapi hari ini biarkan air mata membanjiri sisi-sisi batin ini.

Alhamdulillah atas segalanya--termasuk perasaan begitu sulit meninggalkan.


Love,

iim

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Image source: meer.com

Why Didn’t I Defend Myself (Part 2)

In my previous blog post titled "Why Didn't I Defend Myself", I shared the painful experience of being unjustly accused by a colleague's wife of attempting to steal her husband. I kept silent all the time until that blog post--an effort to document my healing journey from such a heartless act. I thought I had finally done with the horrible treatments until recently I once again received a message telling me to stay away. I had blocked her husband’s number, and never ever interacted again since that accusation was being thrown at me, and I was not even physically in the same country with him so it was perplexing why I was being bothered again. And what made me go back to the disappointment loop is the knowledge that she had reached out to my friends and colleagues--accusing me while shedding tears.

If someone’s wife tearfully tells you that a woman is trying to steal her husband, I believe it is difficult for us to not sympathize and incline to take sides with her, isn’t it?  

This kind of question reminds me of a story that sticks in my memory--a great reminder to never judge solely based on someone’s silence or speech. I have a good friend who was accused of pestering someone even when that someone already rejected him. Naturally, everyone believed these claims and viewed my friend in a negative light. In the middle of unpleasant words about him, after long thoughts, I told him, “I know you are a good person and I want to give you the benefit of the doubt. It would be useful if you can tell me your side of the story but even if you are never ready for that, know that I am always your friend,”

He thanked me but chose not to explain further, simply saying, “I will let you know someday,”. It indeed took him months to finally be able to open up about his experience. One day, he sat across me, exhaustion evident on his face, telling me that he quietly struggled of finding a way to cope with a rumor that was being spread by the other party. He revealed that he had been visiting a psychologist every week until he arrived at a point where telling the story didn’t shatter him anymore. (As evidence, he also showed me the letter from the psychologist).

“Instead, it was me who was being harassed,” his voice soft and trembling. “I was a victim of sexual harassment. It wasn't me pestering, just demanding an explanation. I know it is hard to process this information and believe it--especially when it comes from a man. But, that is my side of the story. It is okay if you don’t believe me,”

His voice shook me to the core, and I vividly remember his reddened eyes that simultaneously conveyed strength and vulnerability. His shoulders rose and fell visibly, as though all his efforts were insufficient to articulate his thoughts, as though he could crumble at any moment. I can see that even breathing wasn’t easy for him while brokenly smiling. Seeing that kind of smile, everyone, broke my heart every time without fail.

Holding back my tears, a profound realization washed over me. In this world, we easily empathize with those who openly display their feelings and tears. But what about those who silently weep, bearing their burdens in private? What about those who seek healing in silence while the accusers are loud and relentless? What about the hearts that quietly suffer as if they will die from the pains but still act calm and collected?

That day, once again I learned that sometimes, truth could be quiet and lies could be loud. That very moment, I made a solemn promise to myself that, even in times when my mind is clouded and judgment is easy, I would do my utmost to seek understanding from all parties involved. That is because I understood firsthand how it feels when people do not try to find my side of the story. Because I know how it feels when I’ve explained and nobody doesn’t really consider my perspective. Because I know how frustrating it can be when the people that I consider friends and colleagues stay quiet about what happened to me.

I took any steps further--even when the distance was already far. I backed off from the place where that someone's husband and I worked together because I am so done with all the dramas. Enough is enough. You can try to bring me down but know that Allah is watching. You can accuse me of anything but know that His angels record anything. And for the people that didn’t try to seek understanding from both sides or didn’t try to help when they have the opportunity to clarify, I am so sorry.

I am sorry that you could do better but decided not to. I am sorry that you could help someone who is being abused but decided to act like the pain she feel was nothing.

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Image by: Thanh Nguyen via Pixabay

Thank You for Saving Me After The Seemingly Endless Heartbreaks

For all my life, I went through a lot of heartbreaks. As a daughter, my mom seemed to have favoritism towards her son. If the son couldn’t academically perform well, she would say “It’s okay you don’t necessarily have to be a great student,”. But if the case happened to me, she would say I didn’t study hard enough. That I was not diligent enough.

That I was not enough.

That I probably will never be enough.

In my elementary school, a teacher also exhibited a clear bias towards boys to the point he decided to give a male classmate of mine the top rank although many people’s views suggested that I performed better. I vividly remember the tears streaming down my face as I walked home, burdened by the exhaustion of striving so hard only to face the perception that I would never be sufficient. These experiences served as bitter reminders that life is inherently unfair and while I know that indeed reality plays that way, I wished that I hadn't learned this harsh truth as early as that. I was an innocent young girl who believed that as long as I gave my all, good things will eventually happen to me. However, reality kept slapping my face with hardship after hardship, heartbreak after heartbreak telling me that I will never measure up. I experienced too many heartbreaks that I thought for a long time probably I simply doesn’t deserve love and happiness.

Guess what lyrics I picked as the representation of my life where love and acceptance were perpetually out of my reach?

Hyukoh’s “For me, even love occurs just between other groups of people.”. 

Consequently, I grew into a person of contrasting elements: I smile and laugh a lot even when I feel sad and upset. I appeared cheerful and bright even when fear and insecurity consumed me. I wore a bubbly façade while carrying the weight of heartbreaks and feelings of inadequacy, believing that I wouldn't be accepted unless I take the extra mile in everything. For me, I didn’t dare hope to be loved or cherished, my heart just quietly requested “Please just accept my existence”. I just couldn’t afford to feel rejected while I was struggling to accept myself and the fate I had.

After years of heartbreaks, Sydney which was in my prayers for the last 8 years appeared as a ray of hope into my life. The woman who thought she wouldn’t be chosen for great opportunities was picked among thousands of applicants. I finally know what it feels like to feel wanted after witnessing what happened here and crossing paths with some of the most beautiful souls I've ever met. That there are people who genuinely appreciated and wanted me to have this beautiful life. That I also deserve to wear genuine smiles and be happy.

So thank you Sydney for illuminating my once-dim heart. Thank you for gracing my monotonous dull days with your presence. This time around, thank you for being the beacon of light in my life after enduring the seemingly never-ending cycle of heartbreaks. I rewrote my narrative here as I learned to accept the lasting scars on my soul and moved on. I cherished the strength, resilience, and authenticity I learned throughout the journey. 

I finally learned that I am also worthy of acceptance and happiness. I am no longer feeling unwanted, unchosen, and undeserving. I am saying goodbye to an endless sadness. It took me two decades but I can finally say this: 

I am healed. 

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P.S.: Thank you, Allah.

I Want You to Have A Warm Meal, Even When I’m Not Here with You

Hi, everyone. How have you been? I wish everyone is doing well and enjoying the season whatever it is, wherever you might be. Recently, I got a message slash *cough* reminder saying, “The month has changed and you haven’t posted something new,”. Alright. Here is this lazy blogger's comeback post 😊

Speaking of seasons, the colder-than-average Australian autumn just started in full-blown --no no I didn’t mean his autumn-like eyes' icy stares, just the season, okay? Please refrain from taking this assumption because I am still trying to find someone who will even stare at me *ugly cry. huhu. *my self-deprecating humor needed to make a comeback as well.

I remember last autumn wasn’t this chill but recently I shivered whenever I stepped outside. A recent morning, I saw my screen display a bone-chilling 5°C while I was waiting for the train. The temperature dropped significantly and I recalled a conversation with a close friend from the previous autumn about how colder temperatures affect our food.

“I used to think this Reply 1988 quote is deep but after I knew how frosty a food can be, the words are Mariana Trench. I mean, I don’t mind eating cold rice in Indonesia but here I feel pitiful of myself when I eat it because it is really that cold. Therefore, ‘I want you to have a warm meal.’ is such an underrated love expression,” I uttered.

At first glance, it might seem like a simple statement, but once I've experienced the biting cold of a meal, it takes on a whole new level of meaning. And the words are even deeper in meaning when you know the story. Let me walk you through it. One of the main characters in Reply 1988 is a young baduk (traditional Korean board game) athlete who traveled frequently for matches. As a consequence, he couldn’t accompany his single dad to have his meals from time to time. One day, when the father cautiously asked for the son’s permission to remarry, he answered his father with a tear-jerking statement,

Dad… I want you to have a warm meal, even when I’m not here with you. It’s your life, Dad. I want you to be happy.”

source: Reply 1988 PH

(He just wanted someone to take care of his dad. These words pierced my soul. Who cuts onion? Where is my tissue?)

I then remembered my father who "liked" to eat cold rice. My family used to have tough times when I was a child so we couldn’t afford a rice cooker. As a result, he would often eat cold rice, saying that he liked it that way (at that time, I didn’t know that there is a great possibility that it was just an act). Those particular vivid scenes taught me to appreciate what I have and not to complain about food or anything else in life. Even now, I never complained about food because my dad gave me an example to be patient and not complain. However, putting the lessons aside, that memory truly broke my heart. Hence, I worked hard so his life could be a bit easier. I don’t have any option but to put in my entire effort. Struggling is hard but watching my family has a difficult life is even harder. That is how I walked this far. 

I grew up with cold rice to be able to deeply appreciate the warmth. I am aware that warm food is not a luxury everyone can have so I am consciously thankful. I also like when people have warm personalities, warm smiles, and warm words. People who radiate gentle acceptance and understanding can easily touch the inner part of my soul. I am just thankful when people resemble warm blankets in the peak winter--comforting and reassuring.

Dear everyone reading this, I sincerely want you to have a warm meal every day. And what I meant is not just warm meals but also emotional warmth that embraces your hearts. And also, if by any chance you have eased my day, know that this “I found it hard to express my feeling except by writing” woman is deeply grateful.

Lastly, dear my dad, I want you to have a warm meal, even when I'm not there with you.

 

Love,

Iim

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Image by rawpixel.com on Freepik

#OzDiaries Part 5: Bookstore


Little girl, don’t become weak. Don’t live bearing all the sadness alone,” - Hopefully Sky, Jung Eunji

“Do you like it?” a friend asked, referring to visiting a bookstore that I mentioned as one of my wish list items in Sydney. It was a summer day in December when people flocked together in one of the biggest bookstores in the city.  


There was a slight pause before I nodded. The emotions overwhelmed me at that moment I saw a vast array of books and somebody's question brought all of my attention to my feelings toward them. Unknowingly tears dropped behind my mask. Immediately I turned away so nobody could see my reddened eyes.


In my university life, I witnessed first-hand how much privilege people could have. I noticed how easy things could be when you have a comfortable life and many options to pick from. Indeed, most of my fellow students come from affluent backgrounds. While this fact didn’t necessarily make me feel bad about my life, unconsciously my grateful level slightly decreased. It wasn’t at the level where it should be: I should be highly grateful for where I was at that time.


Until a day I visited a bookstore with my friends and my hands trembled while picked a book from the shelf. I instantly recalled my childhood memory of borrowing children’s magazines from my neighbor because my parents couldn’t afford the subscription fees. That little girl in my past wouldn’t believe it if I went back and told her, “You would be able to buy the expensive books you like somewhere very far away, without having to put them back after seeing the price labels. Therefore, don’t feel disheartened that you can’t buy ones now,”. She definitely would think I was lying just to console her heart. Growing up, that little girl's options were always limited because she was aware of her family’s financial situation. Things that might be ordinary for other people were luxuries for her. Until the moment she earned money by herself, she always held back her desire to buy books, especially expensive ones. Therefore, there is no way those comforting words seem close to reality. 


Now, far away from her hometown, she was unafraid to see the books’ prices anymore. She can touch a book without having to worry whether she can have it or not. At that exact moment, it was a crystal-clear realization of how far she had come. As she knew she couldn’t undermine the significant progress she had made, tears unstoppably rolled down. In the middle of a crowded bookstore, she really wanted to pat her shoulder and say, “you did well”. She made a big leap in life considering her starting point. If she measures her progress by her personal yardstick, she should never let her grateful level decrease. She should understand how much progress she has made when she uses her personal measure stick.

I wish I had a proper photo but there is only this selfie of me in that bookstore

In the middle of a packed bookstore, she felt sorry for herself for the moment when she was less grateful than she should be. In between bookshelves, a song that always made her both smile and weep suddenly rang in her ears:


“A life of no regrets--memories when being poor, I was happy,” 1


Hey little girl, I must say I'm not lying. I would like to also thank you for living your day happily even when you were poor. I would definitely not take your beautiful patience and attitude toward the difficulties for granted. I would cherish all the memories of you loving books dearly although you can't have them. It was a humbling reminder of how much I should be thankful for this life.


Look at you here and now. Don’t you think you would be even happier knowing that in the future, you can be in the middle of a busy bookstore in the heart of your dream city? 

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1Lyrics of Hopefully Sky by Jung Eunji

Image credit: Sabrina Bertazzo via citymonitor.ai


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