“Wealth, health, lucky, and happy. Sometimes I feel everything I get is not just for me because it’s too much, too perfect, too unreal.”
When I was in my first grade at elementary school, I had a perfect life. God gave wealth and health to all of my family. Absolutely, I always feel blessed and happy. Every time I’m doing something, it’s always a success.
I succeed at selling any stationery to my friends, succeed as a sister to my little sister, succeed at academics, and make my parents really proud to have me. I had everything as a privilege to get something I want. I never thought about this life too much because, at that time, life is really kind to me.
As the first daughter in my family, my mother always raised me as an independent one. Even in my first grade in elementary school, I always take any responsibility for my self. At that time, my mother’s focus is on my little sister. And I never think if that’s not fair.
I don’t know how can am I, the 6 years old kid, never feel jealous or salty for not being cared for by my parents. Sure, is not easy, but I did that and I’m so proud of it. At that time, I thinking precisely if I’m just dependent on my parents for everything I’m doing in my life, I can develop myself.
And that day came.
My mother found if my father is cheated on her. They are arguing and yelling. And like a movie scene, I started to protect my little sister by close her ears hole with my hand. She was crying and I am doing so. We really panic at that time. We have never through something like this before.
After that fought, my father left our house. I don’t know where is he. In the house, my mother crying every night and started raving if she is not precious and not pretty. I’m crying too, but at that time, I just thought to say something for making her feel better.
“It’s not your fault if he’s cheating on you. You are really kind and pretty, he can’t let you down or making you feeling guilty for not being good enough. It’s his fault and selfishness. He doesn’t thinking about you, about me, about her (appoint my fell asleep little sister).”
A few days come and finally my father back to our house. After that time, I can’t see him as the same person anymore. The fact after that time until my third grade in elementary school he is cheating on my mother three times makes me crazy. I can't eat, sleep, and study well. It’s hard to see your mother crying because of your father.
I feel really mad at him, but I can’t do anything. My mother is my world. If someone destroyed her, in automatically way, I became flakes too. The worst part of that tragedy is my father never says sorry to my mother or me for his faults. That’s really broke my heart. Until this time, I can’t believe in a boy or man. I won’t let myself cry or looks stupid to them. I don’t know it’s a trauma or no, but I think that’s fine.
After the first tragedy, my father cheated on my mother, I can feel day by day in my life is not perfect anymore. Our family still exists but doesn't as warm as before. My academic is still excellent, and I just focused on making my mother happy.
I know every people in my elementary school thinking if I’m such a arrogant and untouchable one. They teased me for being so “angry”, I was building my wall and protect myself from others. I don’t have many friends. And in that time, I keep every pain and sadness by my self.
And that day came again.
My family was bankrupt when I was entered junior high school. My father’s got fired from his job and my mother’s business is not working anymore. My parents are just high school graduated people, so it’s difficult for my father to find another job. My mother asking for help from her relatives and finally, he gets a job. However, is not for a long time because the office is bankrupt too.
I feel really guilty in this situation. I can’t help anything. And my mother just told me to study well to not making her disappoint, but I can’t. Due to my family’s financial condition, in my junior high school phase, I became insecure and unconfident.
Lucky me, I got friends that make me feel happy. Whenever with them I can laughing like there is no problem in my life, while every night, I can’t stop crying.
I don’t know how can I become a person who really independent but also have a really sensitive heart. I’m sad, feel terrible, and depression but I just keep it to myself — never tell anyone about my problems.
I’m rarely talking to my father after that tragedy and never tell my mother about my problems because I don’t want to make her feel more worst. The main reason why I never tell my friends about my problems is that I’m shy and think that’s not their kind of business.
In my high school phase, it’s too general and nothing special. I’m rebuilding my confidence, go to English Debate Club and Student Council. I get myself back even if life is not getting better. My academic is not really good because I’m realized if I don’t put my heart in this science class. I know if this is not my passion and I never feel alive.
However, the English Debate Club gives me new hope and dreams. I don’t know, whenever I’m speaking in front of a bunch of people and they are put attention to me, that makes me feel happy. And alive. I’d love to do that. But it doesn't happen as easily as I tell you so.
Today I’m writing this as an undergraduate student from the University of Indonesia. In this pandemic phase, I rarely go out of my house because of scared of the virus. I feel really lonely, stressed, and a little bit depressed due to I failed in many things in 2020.
I tell one of my friends about this and she gives me the recommendation to go to therapist and I did that. I told the therapist about all of my issues and problems; about my dad, my family, my insecurity, my sadness, and also what I scared about my future.
This is the first time I go to therapist and I’m doing it online — that’s why I have this audacity for telling someone about my problems — because I never do this thing properly before.
She gives me some advice, and after getting all of the information from her, I can conclude that the biggest point I’ve learned during the journey of my life is: Happiness is more about subtraction than addition. So, rather than adding more things to my life, it’s better if I eliminate what’s hurts my happiness in the first place.
I’ve read about The 80/20 Rule that suggests that 20% of causes create 80% of effects. What I can implement from that rule is, I try to eliminate everything that makes me feel terrible. Like if thinking about my dad’s issues makes me feel terrible, I’m trying to stop doing that.
In the few activities, projects, or people that make me unhappy, I’ll do everything I can to avoid them, and vice versa. It’s really helpful to be chill and accept annoyances you can’t control, but there is no need to be a masochist. Never hurt your self.
The red yarn things that make me further away from happiness is because of the “perfect” standard from the previous phase in my life before. Due to this “perfect” standard, I get the depression, anxiety, insecurity, and burnout phase. I was chasing an imaginary standard of “perfection”, one that will never be attained because my definition of perfection will always change.
Yet who I am as a person is constant. There is no level of achievement that will make me more worthy as a person. By removing my chase for an imaginary standard of excellence, I did things purely for enjoyment and love, which made it a lot easier to be happy.
I’ve believed if I can’t be happy until I get my “perfect” standard back, but my therapist says if when we achieve something and we feel happy, we quickly adapt, and lose that happiness — we then try to achieve something else, and the cycle repeats, creating what’s called the “hedonic treadmill.”
Right now, by her advice, I try to reach goals without making my happiness depend on something in my life — like the wealth, or the perfect family’s in my imagination. So far away, I create more freedom, ease, and peace. And if I ever happened to lose what I had, I won’t be as devastated because it was never the source of my happiness.
Even when there’s pain, anger, or sadness, realizing there is only so much time left before I go makes life easier to enjoy. Because happiness is always there, right in front of me. I just need to look and bless it.
Right now, I start to open up.
I started to forgive my father, even if he never says sorry.
I know by the times, he realized if his actions were wrong. He never does that thing again and I hope he will get his happiness — because his happiness is mine. And so do my mother and my sisters. Even if I lose my family’s wealth or don't get my dream major, I have my family — and we always get this health and many times to create our beautiful memories.
I should be thankful to the galaxy because they gave me this family. I should cherish it.
And about my future, I’m not scared of them anymore.
The one thing I know is we can’t control our future.
What can we do right now is just put our best in every single condition and opportunity we have.
That’s the point.
Enjoy the moment, don’t be too ambitious for achievements, always do my best — and let God give you the result.
I’ve written this in 2016 in bahasa Indonesia:
I’ve watched the It’s Okay to be Not Okay Korean Dramas, and I get this conversation from Ko Mun Young (the main characters in the story) as my favorites quote right now. The quote is;
“Remember it all and overcome it. If you don’t overcome it, you will always be a kid whose soul never grows.”
I know that by the times, we will always grow. That’s why right now I started to forgive my past, eliminate everything or person that will ruin my happiness, doing my best in every opportunity that I have, and always enjoy the process.
My name is Alifa, and this is my journey.