My Contemplation of Being Older (2)

On my birthday last year, I reached it with sort of euphoria. My contemplation which I wrote last year reflected several small things I have discovered when I have had reached over 30 years old box (click here to read last year’s post). I felt I was being in the best time in my life: great job, great friends, great love life.

I have had moved to a great company which gave me a lot of opportunity to travel around Asia with a possibility to visit Paris one day, and I was given a one-in-a-lifetime opportunity to lead a project and work with 9 other Asian countries and a high profile management consultant, as well as continued renovating the office but this time I was enjoying being a client (which actually almost made me got a heart attack, as you could read here).

My friends and I were close and we were having good times with almost non-existent disagreements. If you have read my posts throughout 2005 you would have found that I was talking about friendships a lot. It was the first time a person I thought was a close friend ditched me (read about her here) and it hurt as much as if we break up from our partner. It was the first time I met someone who is so tricky I didn’t know what to do and finally gave up (more details in here). But 2006 was much better, I have found new friends who accept me as the way I am as I do to them, and my relationship with existing friends couldn’t be better, so we have conquered 2007 with fun, fun, fun.

My then boyfriend and I were happy even though he had to move back to Aberdeen. I didn’t complain because I was having the benefit of being single. We have had lived together for over a year and it was great, and when he moved away our relationship had survived the difficulties of being separated from each other, because we trust each other deeply.

This year, since early December, I have been trying to summarize my life for the past 12 months. I thought it was difficult to beat 2006, but 2007 is actually bigger and better. I am surprised to find that I have done so much in 2007: got engaged, quit a high-profile job, moved 12,000km away from Indonesia, got married… Not bad at all for 33 years old!

But of course I have found several things too, like:

Being older means being more patience
Yes, I have mentioned this many, many times. But the combination of being a perfectionist and stubborn makes me difficult to maintain my composure when something is not right happens. I went to Lombok with my mother, and when we were going back to Surabaya, I couldn’t believe that our trolley (which was full of 2 small suitcases and lots of oleh-oleh from Bali and Lombok, courtesy to my father’s staffs) was not allowed to enter the check-in area. I told the security officer by the gate that this is the first time and probably the only airport in the world which doesn’t allow people to carry their trolleys in. What, they expect us to carry 8 items with 2 hands? But a second later I stopped, because I realize there was no need to shed my sweat to a clueless security officer, he wouldn’t understand the logic. So I shrugged, and continued my journey. The other day I sent text to Tamara about some small matter between me and someone else. She sent texts back saying that as the older ones (ouch!), we should be more understanding, see the big picture, and see the reasons behind it. I calmed down right afterwards. OK, so I might not be able to be a Dalai Lama, but at least I have tried, and when I become impatience, it only took a much shorter time to realize that I shouldn’t waste my energy for something unimportant. It gives me wrinkles anyway!

Being older means being able to laugh at self
I wrote about myself being stupid here, being a laughing stock here and here. It’s a newfound skill. Being looked at not seriously is one of my biggest fear, and when I have overcome it, it feels good. Being able to laugh at myself turns out doesn’t change what people think about me in general. Actually it makes me feel more relax and I don’t have to maintain my perception about myself to the world (in other words, I have stopped being jaim- jaga image). I think it’s the combination of being around my ex-colleagues in Procon Indah and found a boyfriend who likes portraying himself being silly and seeing his friends treating each other with mean practical jokes. When the water stopped running during my shower in Bali, my mother was furious and kept calling everybody (now you see where I get that impatience skill!). I, on the other hand, after waited for half an hour, got out of the bathroom and sat down with a kimono and hair full of bubbles, waited the water to run back.After 45 minutes I told my mother that I was going to the spa downstairs to continue my shower, especially because my hair was getting sticky and itchy. We passed the poor housekeeping guys who had to refrain their smiles looking at me with bare feet, wet kimono, and messy-bubbly hair with water dropped on both cheeks every half second, because my mum yelled at every one of them. We passed the security guys who had to receive my mum’s preaches about the hotel standard. We entered the spa, where the receptionist tried to block my way, but I was being so authoritative they let me in after 2 seconds. But the whole incident didn’t make me mad. I actually thought it was very funny. I knew people think I look silly, and I did too! And I’m fine with that.

Being older means giving without expecting people do the same thing
I learn from my father and Stuart, who give with silence, never boast what they have done, and never ask anything in return. Over the years so-called friends came to our BBQ party by the pool, but only a few of them actually saying thank you for being invited to such occasion. Others came, eat the food, threw themselves into the swimming pool, and went home without even bother to look at me. Some even got drunk and was dragged out of the party by his girlfriend who was embarrassed of his behavior, and both didn’t say sorry up to date (talk about manner!). I sent birthday cards and birthday gifts to people, but they didn’t do the same things on my birthday, although some remember to send texts. It is difficult thing to understand because to me people are being remembered by little things they do, and that’s how I want to be remembered by, and I presume everybody does too (obviously I’m wrong). So now I’m learning to accept this unbalanced act without a grudge. And hopefully I will reach the point that when I give, I will give without expect they will do the same at me, just like Stuart and my father.

Being older means being recognized as self, not the daughter of
It took years to shed my parents’ shadow away from me. When I was little, my mother was famous because she was a local TV anchor so everybody recognized her. She was also a serious journalist and had won a literature award for her writing. Her circle of friends were full of famous people like Rendra, Emha Ainun Najib, NH Dini, and so on. When other kids went to see Catatan si Boy and meet Onky Alexander, I went to see Rendra reading his poetry about geckos. I hated it when people think I write because my mother told me to. I hated it when I got teased by my seniors in high school when they asked me to pretend reading the news like her. I felt claustrophobic living in a small city where everybody knows everybody and whatever I did always got connected with my parents. When I left home at 18 and studied architecture in a different city (I refused to study medicine even being a doctor is something my father’s family do for over 3 generations), I started building my own identity although sometimes people still recognized me as the daughter of them. I like to work my ways up, being known as myself without help from others. I am proud to say that I have found jobs without any help from parents or other family members, that I write without any push from my mother (she reads my blog occasionally but never makes any comment). That now people stop comparing me to my parents except that I look like my mother. That now people know me as an individual. Hurrah!

Being older means being happy the most at home
I’m not saying that I don’t enjoy going out. I arrived on Thursday and surrendered to the jet lag. But on Friday I was already up and about, and managed to appear on the next Eastern Promise newsletter. First weekend and I was already busy! But I don’t feel like I must go out. I could enjoy Friday nights at home doing nothing as much as in the pub or club. I don’t feel like a loser just because I choose to stay in. I have passed the phase that I have to prove to the world that I work hard and party harder. I just do what I feel I want to do. Ah, an obvious sign of getting old…

Further reading:
My Contemplation of Being Older


  1. johnorford says:

    great post!

  2. @John: thanks a lot, a comment from you really matters!

  3. Anita, I read in the Netherlands they don’t say “happy birthday” instead they say “congratulations” to the birthday person. Congrats, Happy Be-lated Birthday Anita! Wishing you many, many more birthdays. Peace, Love and Blessings. You’ve done yourself proud, that’s for sure.

  4. V. Melly Limengan-Chendrainy says:

    Great writing for self-reflection of what you had done right and wrong, what you had achieved, how is the process of becoming who you are today. You have all the right to be proud.

    Anita, I am a big fan of your writing especially about relationship, frienship and anything that could inspire me.

    Totally agree with you wrote of what Stu and your dad believed “give without expecting anything” I am trying to be honest, sincere in giving kindness.

    So, looking forward to the next inspring and funny writing.

    Friend forever. Mel far from Manado

  5. aroengbinang says:

    have a stronger feeling that in these last few years i was getting older faster than before …:D. it’s a very good reflection jeng. wish for a much better and more meaningful moments in 2008.

  6. Happy birthday! When I hit 40, I was happy and felt liberated. Sort of alive again. And, really, looking back at what you went through and felt like you are still survivng no matter how bad the experiences were makes you stronger. Cheers!

  7. I just stumbled upon your blog through the other post on copycats. I think I’ll link you. I’m from Malaysia, btw. Just wana let you know I enjoy reading your two posts so far. May 2010 bring an even better, happier and exciting adventure for you <3

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