Month in Review – August 2016

Hello and welcome to my review of August 2016!

With the first three weeks of it being my semester break, I got some much needed time off from campus life and all its woes, traveled, spent time with friends, and a lot of time with family. I initially planned these three weeks to be filled with constant productivity and getting a lot of side projects done, but it turned out that I was actually forced to think about life – where I’m at and what might be ahead of the future throughout the break. With sophomore year starting and the demands to succeed and constantly perform well getting even higher along with confidence issues and whatnot, August 2016 became a very challenging month for me mentally.

Here are some of the highlights of this month.

Places I visited

Yogyakarta

Yogyakarta, Indonesia

Semarang & Solo, Central Java, Indonesia

My dad and I crammed three cities into five days of traveling during the first weekend of the month which was both really exciting and physically draining. During this trip, I met a lot of people and got a lot of stories which I’m looking forward to share with you. I also ticked off places I hadn’t gotten around to visit in previous trips and went on a lot of random walks in each city. The highlight of this trip was the days I got to spend walking around a city by myself which gave me a taste of solo traveling and led me to want more of that. But getting up around 6-7 AM every morning (thanks, biological clock!) and sleeping sometime around midnight every night to write after an entire finals week filled with only 4-5 hours of sleep each night drained the hell out of me. Hence for the first time in all my travels, I got sick right after getting home from a trip.

The Highs

  • Starting my first job in a good company. Yep. This girl here is officially a working student. I landed a job as a part-time marketing communication staff in an education consultant’s office this month and have started working. If there’s one thing I can tell you about working life, it’s a lot different from student life in the sense that it’s so much harder to open up conversations and break the ice because you work with people older than you with different personalities and interests. There’s also the work itself and man, working 9 hours a day is tough. But I’m really blessed to work in a company with an awesome family-like culture and the people there are quite welcoming and for a first job, this is all I need.
  • Coming back to Semarang. Before Semarang, I’ve always thought my heart’s home is in Yogyakarta. But then I went to Semarang and immediately felt incredibly at home there. This month, I got to come back to Semarang and explore the city some more and it honestly felt like coming home again. I also got to hung out with my local friend there and met a new friend as well who both showed me their Semarang. Plus, I was mistaken as a Semarang local by a Semarang local again! Perhaps this city suits me more than I thought it would.
  • Celebrating Independence Day with my relatives. This was easily one of the most fulfilling days of the month. I hadn’t been able to join a lot of my extended family events for months because I had to work on several projects on campus. Meeting up with my cousins and aunts again during Independence Day recharged and centered me again. We reflected and laughed about life’s events even though so many bad things have happened recently and spending the entire day not working on anything like that really reminded me that I have a strong support system who will laugh about life’s problems with me. Plus, this year’s Independence Day celebrations in Indonesia were pretty dope with fireworks and parades in Jakarta and I honestly have a deeper love for my country.
  • Meeting up with friends. My semester break coincided with a lot of my friends’ breaks, especially those who have moved overseas. Getting to meet them and hang out again was really, really brilliant since for several days, we got to laugh over the same things we laughed about in high school and actually got to share about the things we now study.

The Lows

  • Hitting a mental rock bottom. It was while traveling that I realized that I’m mentally screwed. I was doing all these things I was supposed to love, meeting all these people who were supposed to excite me and yet I felt numb and couldn’t enjoy it all. It took several weeks to realize that I demanded so much out of myself as a travel blogger throughout the trip that I didn’t even enjoy what was ahead of me since I was pushing myself to always get a meaningful shot and a story out of everything. If you’ve been noticing my absence throughout August, that’s because I’m trying to take a step back from blogging about travels to fall in love with traveling itself again. It was a mental rock bottom like no other – feeling like I wasn’t good enough since I kept on making crappy decisions and worn out from traveling while desperately trying to be happy.

Photo of the Month

Photo of August

This photo was one of the three lucky shots I got while sitting on a potted plant waiting for my local friend in Semarang to take me out to dinner. I set my camera on the flat surface of the pot, making it my makeshift tripod and experimented with various shutter speeds while aiming the lens at the road. I thought it would be fun to capture the interplay of the static and dynamic elements of life in one shot. Most of the photos ended up quite bad since my hands shook the camera just a bit at the very last second and the three that ended up okay turned out brilliant. This photo for me captured how in the journey of life that we often dash through in order to keep “showing our shine”, we have the option to slow down or even completely stop and be still in the moment as well and just let it all pass us by. This one shot represents all the things I wish I could learn about life, especially after everything going on last month.

Favorite Song

The first time I heard this song, I fell in love with its lyrical beauty. The metaphors were so poignant and beautiful and I haven’t even seen the music video. When I did, I had to sit and let it sit in my head for a couple of minutes after it was over because it destroyed me emotionally and gave a whole new meaning to the song itself. I think we can all interpret the song in different ways and the way I think about it is that this song talks about how we are all always chasing the next best thing in life, the next new thing. But the thing is, we look forward to those moments. We forget to let ourselves be swept off our feet and just be taken aback by everything around us – good or bad. The song completely resonated with me this month with everything going on in my head and reminded me that yes, I was anticipating everything and perhaps that’s why I lost a lot of happiness.

U2 are masters in creating lyrics that pierce your soul without being obvious and they definitely nailed it again with this one.

This Month’s Posts

  • How to Survive Living Alone for the First Time. After a year of living alone and experiencing its highs and lows, I compiled my list of tips meant for anyone moving out and living by themselves for the first time.
  • Meet the Female Porters of Beringharjo MarketDuring my last trip to Yogyakarta, I met some of the strongest women ever who broke every “women are weak” stereotype there ever has been. This is my account of our conversation and a testament of their strength.
  • Ramayana Ballet: My Summary and ReviewThis was my first time watching a performance that tells the entire story of Ramayana and it turned out to be one of the most brilliant performances I’ve ever seen. This post is my (less than) accurate summary of the whole show and what I think about it.
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