Saturday, 23 June 2018

Lessons Learnt: Friendship

There are certain things in life we learn from doing and certain things we learn from other people's experience. Unlike school subjects or college classes, the topics of these lessons aren't specifically disclosed. You have to know which lesson to learn and which wisdom to take out of it all. One of the things you can do to become a successful person in life is to acknowledge the lessons you've learnt and, if possible, share them with other people. Sharing knowledge, as opposed to popular belief, can actually make you smarter, wiser and a better person. Plus, it can be so much fun! Here's to lessons learnt and me sharing them with you.

Friendship has always been one of the things which confuses me. Growing up many things were a puzzle to me, but as I got older I start to learn the rope and they become clearer—romance, education, career—you name it! But, as the years go by, friendship seems to be more and more complicated, hazy and mysterious. Between trying not to hurt each other's feelings, figuring out if someone wants to be friends with you and making time to actually hang out, I am caught in a whirlpool of friendship codes and social conduct secrets. Before I know it, I was faced with friendship breakups, drifting apart and alienations. Nobody has ever told me that friendship could be a great chore when you're in your 20s. Maybe it's just me, but if you feel the same about this subject, I hope these few lessons could help you figure things out—or at least could be something you can relate to. Disclaimer: these aren't guidelines, Lord knows I'm not perfect.

Pick Your Team

I know this may sound harsh—and all of you growing up in the U.S. may suddenly have flashbacks of Gym classes back in school—but, let's be real, it is highly impossible for us to be friends with everyone. You can be friendly with everyone. But people you can have deep, meaningful friendships with? There may only be a handful. This doesn't have to happen deliberately. Knowing who your true friends are lie in finding those who you wish to scout as teammates and those who truly want to be part of your team—trust me, not everyone does. It's a fine line between knowing people you can trust and people who will only be toxic for you. You will probably meet tons of people who sidle up to you, pretending they want to be part of your team—when, in fact, they don't care which team they belong to, so long as they have a team. You will probably also meet others who you wish could be your long-term teammates, but refuse to join. But it's okay, because there will definitely be those who can be a win-win solution for you. Now, those are a keeper.

Translate Your Feelings

I've said this once before and I'll say it again: feelings are individual languages often lost in translation. Unfortunately, not many people realise that the only dictionary to your feelings are in your hands. Therefore, the only way other people can truly understand your feelings is for you to communicate them—translate them into verbal languages that everyone understands. I've seen too many friendships hitting roadblocks—and even ending—due to so many feelings gone unsaid. Misunderstandings tend to happen, because people refuse to put their thoughts into words. Heck, the same thing happens to me one too many times. Everyone has different mindsets. Things that may seem natural or casual to you could leave others with deep cuts. Things that you believe to be serious could come off as a joke to others. Assuming that other people know how you think and/or feel, that you know how they think/feel or—worse—that everything will work out on its own, can be the fine line between friends and strangers.

Judging Will Get You Nowhere

A little confession: I am a highly judgmental person. My sister called it early on, but it still didn't stop me from doing it. Anything you do can be subject to my judgment. It really doesn't help too, that I speak my mind 90% of the time. This has often led me to trying to control other people's lives, giving them unsolicited advice and being way too nosy in other people's business. When I was in middle school and high school, it wasn't that bad—or at least no one has stood up to me about it. However, afterwards in my early 20s, it started to become much worse. So much so, that I even experienced a bit of a friendship breakup. It wasn't until a few years ago that I started to realise something: judging will get in the way of knowing a person. I cannot tell you how many people I have silently judged over the years who turn out to be not as bad as I had made them out to be—in fact, they may be better people than me. Sure, there are also those who turns out to fit the image I had in mind, but it still doesn't serve anyone anything to give out unreasonable judgment.

All in Good (and Bad) Time

Let's talk about the hard part: breakups. When I was younger, I didn't know that breakups can apply to friends too—and that it could hurt more than romantic ones. In my 20s, somehow, I've experienced several breakups; some I was aware of, some I didn't even realise. It doesn't matter how close I am to the friend, it always hurt to know someone out there would rather not have anything to do with me. Sometimes it is due to my own fault, but most of the time it is severe misunderstandings. When that goes un-communicated, the best thing you can do is move on. On a brighter note, however, one of those friendships ended up being rekindled again after a few years of radio silence. Sometimes it really does take time to heal a wound and, when it has, we can exchange hellos again. Friendship is not a linear thing; it doesn't just go from start to finish. You can drop it for a while and pick it up again, because sometimes who you are now is not the best for certain kinds of friendship. But maybe in the future.

Not a Badge of Honour

One of the things that I think most people—including me—worry about is the fact that they seem not to have many friends. This used to bug me a lot, especially when I just got back home from Germany. I tried to re-connect with old friends like crazy, to get to know new people and to join whatever events that could get me both these things. For years I just decided to fit into various categories that other people seem to enjoy, just so I can connect with more people. Even when we're not at the same wavelength, I pretend that we are, which just ends up exhausting me—and them too, most likely. However, what I've started to realise recently is that, there is no point being friends with people, if we have to force it. Don't get me wrong, when I try to re-connect and hang out with these people, I do tend to like them. However, I should acknowledge that friendship can come in moderation. There is nothing wrong with not hanging out all the time or taking a step back from conversations. Let's acknowledge that friendship is not about the quantity, but the quality!

This is probably the hardest 'Lessons Learnt' post I've ever had to write. Friendship is such a delicate thing—well, for girls anyway, I think guys are more casual about it—and I've never really known how to approach it. In the first half of my 20s, though, I feel like like it's one topic that I've been learning about time and time again. There have been too many breakups, too many rekindling, too many drifting apart and mixed feelings. How come friendship isn't something that people talk about among adults? How are there so many books and advice on how to navigate through social life in adolescence and childhood, but almost none in adulthood? I feel like I've been dropped at the deep end with no life jackets. Well, if you feel the same, please leave any comments down below of what you've learnt on it so far and what obstacles and conflicts you are still struggling with. Let's have more open discussions on friendship!


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Wednesday, 20 June 2018

#alivegurlmudik: Order Up!

 Burger Up

The other day, my sister, my brother and I checked out this relatively newly opened burger joint in Surabaya—first opened around the end of March. We passed by it a couple times on the way to the nearby mall and, from the outside, it looked really cute and interesting. None of us knew what was so special about it, but I thought it would at least be a really great setting for a blog post—lol this blogger brain never rests. We decided to go one lunch time at around 2 pm-ish. The first impression we got was how quaint the place was. We already knew that the interior would be rather adorable and aesthetically pleasing, but the atmosphere definitely adds to our comfort. Now, one of the first things that we noticed was the yellow machines we were supposed to utilise to place our orders. It's very easy to use, has very few glitches and a great way to let us take our time to decide. The menu itself is quite unique, as it lets you DIY your own burger—which my brother took forever to do. And—guess what—almost all the drinks available are free flow! Nope, I definitely did not drain three glasses full of lemon tea.  As soon as we finished ordering, we went to the cashier to pay and pick up our drinks. The food was then to be delivered to our table.

The Executive top (old) // gifted batik jacket // thrifted loafers // borrowed skirt from Sis // photos of me by Sis

Okay, the moment of truth: how does the food taste? In. Cre. Di. Ble! I ordered the Classic Beef Burger and—oh my god!—the patty is simply heavenly. It tastes like the traditional beef patty of McDonald's—I'm not sure if it still tastes like that these days—and the sauce is spot on. But, seriously, that patty. My sister ordered the Fish Delight and it was also so, so good! As a side dish, I've also got their Fish Fingers and it was tremendous! The service was also nice. We spent hours there because we were just so comfortable. They take our refill requests with little fuss and tended to our questions patiently. The interior is really lovely too. There is even a mini playground area inside, so kids can play while being fed. Too bad we didn't get to check out the second floor too, though. Their theme at the moment is the World Cup, so they've got the whole place decked out in football scenes and flags—the window illustrations are just so cute! They also have a box everyday for each team playing that night, where you can put our receipts into, and if the team you 'voted for' wins, you could get a reward. Give it a try!

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Saturday, 16 June 2018

#alivegurlmudik: Eid Traditions & Changes

My aunt and uncle performing 'sungkeman' to my grandparents

Eid Mubarak, everyone! Did you have a great time with the family and loved ones? Last Friday my sister and I did too. It's really nice being reunited with the cousins and aunts and uncles again, especially busting out all those Eid traditions like we used to. There are mandatories, obviously. Starting out with the Eid prayers in the morning—usually at a nearby field magically transformed to accommodate the masses, followed by waiting for the cousins to arrive and preparing the house. Once everyone's arrived, we begin the sungkeman tradition while begging for forgiveness from one another. They are followed by the money-giving procession by the grandparents to their grandchildren—me included—which are almost always a riot. Lastly, the most important part: the feast. Oh, that's just a really lovely meal! There are usually Opor, Lontong/Ketupat, Gulai Rebung and Sambal Goreng Ati—accompanied by dessert such as Es Buah and Fruit Salad. They taste so much better because we waited for so long to dig in. In the afternoon, floods of more distant relatives will come to the house to trade greetings and share food as well as stories. This usually goes on well until the sun goes down.

My sister's outfit is 100% gifted and/or borrowed

Behind the scenes of every family gathering

Madjani hijab // hand-me-down top // drsv batik pants (giveaway!) // thrifted loafers // photos of me by Sis

However, of course as time goes by, not all traditions can stay the same. There has been a lot of changes, especially since my mother died over 11 years ago. For instance, in my own core family, the only ones who come straight to Surabaya are my sister and I—our parents and brother visit Semarang first and join us after Eid. In terms of food, we barely ever eat ketupat anymore and switching to the easier-to-find lontongs. We were also introduced to Sate Klopo (coconut chicken satay) a few years back and it has become a new tradition ever since. Aside from that, there are some changes that took place this year. For instance, my sister and I walked to the nearest praying site by ourselves, instead of driving over there with our grandfather—because he is, sadly, unable to join us at the moment. It felt kind of nice, though, since the streets are rather quiet. With the religious chantings echoing all through town, it felt rather peaceful and serene. I think with family time such as this, things are bound to be ever changing. And it's important to embrace the changes while also sticking to the traditions. How about your family? Any interesting traditions?

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Thursday, 14 June 2018

#alivegurlmudik: Tunjungan Street

There is a street here in the heart of Surabaya, lined with various antique buildings. This street is often passed through by all types of land vehicles. It is where Hotel Majapahit is located. At one end of it, one can find the city's biggest mall—spanning into five parts, filled with stores of any kind. At the other end, there is the Surabaya Museum. Tourists and locals alike love to take photos here, night and day. This, my friends, is the Tunjungan Street. It is a one-way street, mostly free of traffic jams, with occasional crossroads, optimal pavement situation and enough trees to keep the pedestrian comfortable. There are manhole covers of different designs adorning the streets—and they're colourful too! Old, art deco architectures line the streets, with information on what their purpose used to be in their heyday. Unfortunately, this street is pretty much abandoned. There are only a handful of stores still open today—most of which are probably not age-old establishments. Don't get me wrong, I love the run-down vibe of the area, but it just feels a bit of a waste. This street reminds me of Braga Street in Bandung, but a lot less lively. If only there was a way to revive it.

Sejauh Mata Memandang headscarf // Book of Deer dress // old jacket // thrifted loafers // hand-me-down purse // outfit photos by Sis

Okay, truth-telling time—because that's what I do on this blog lately—this photoshoot was supposed to turn out very differently. My sister and I planned to go to the Surabaya Museum at the end of this street, while taking in the view around us. Unfortunately, by the time we got to the museum, it was apparently closed—no notification or anything, as usual. But, I guess, we got so used to our plan falling apart that we just turned around and walked back down the street while snapping so many shots of ourselves and the surrounding buildings. I'm not going to lie: we were a bit let down at first. I, for one, was excited to find out what's inside, but now I can't. But we also know it's not the end of the world. Life often doesn't go as planned, so it's always smart to keep a plan B. One that we have just walked through isn't quite a bad plan in our book. It also didn't go as smoothly, as cars kept passing by. But we stole moments in between and managed to walk away with amazing photos. It's all about the way you look at it.

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