For me, 2020 has been a... memorable year—in its way, of course. It is as if yesterday was still 2019, but here we are, at the end of 2020. I encountered a lot of events this year, which were a mix of happiness and sadness inducing events. In this post, I will rank the top 3 achievements and struggles as I paved my way throughout the year.
Top 3 Achievements
For this achievements section, I want to dedicate it to my efforts—not necessarily have to be tangible. I think it is more leaning towards a change in my attitude, hopefully a better one.
Being Kinder to Myself
I think I did a lot of favor to myself this year. Previously, I was somewhat "hungry"—hungry for recognition, hungry for praise, hungry for more money, and all that. However, this year (especially after COVID-19 landed in Indonesia), I tried to take things more slowly for the sake of my long-term vision. I can't be a good father if I am not alive, so there's that.
During the early stages of COVID-19 in Indonesia, I was asked if I wanted to volunteer in an independent group to monitor the COVID-19 progress in Indonesia. It was around March if I remember correctly. I asked my soon-to-be-wife (at that time) whether I should join or not. We arrived at the decision that preparing for our wedding planning had a bigger priority and if I wanted to accept it, I should consider whether I would be able to juggle between my job, volunteering, and wedding preparations. I didn't think I could, so I didn't join the volunteering group.
I think myself in the past would have accepted the offer, which leads to me burning out in the process and ultimately results in my other 2 responsibilities (or possibly all 3) not being properly managed.
Overcoming Suicidal Thoughts
There were probably 4 times where I was trapped within a vortex of myself. The first one happened around January/February—I had thought of jumping off a footbridge. That was the point where I felt I needed to visit a therapist... for the first time. I was nervous because I had heard about people's experiences with therapists and mostly they had bad experiences.
It turned out to be a quite pleasant one. I binned some of my psychological garbage and learned some good teachings. The therapist said that I was stuck in my thoughts because I didn't see that coming. To prevent that, I should be more aware of myself and feel if the "darkness" starts to creep up on me. Besides, she [the therapist] also taught me some meditation techniques, which are incredibly useful until now.
The second one came around June (1 month before my wedding). I laid on the floor the whole night until my body felt numb. I didn't check on my phone, I didn't eat. At 3 AM the next day, I thought about my soon-to-be-wife (at that moment)—we were so close to being together and I didn't want to make her feel sad (although I already did by disappearing). Then, I decided to order food online to fill out my empty stomach. I didn't do well in my job for 2-3 days after the incident, but I regained my pace eventually.
The third attack came around September. I remember back then I just laid on a carpet [in my apartment]. Breathing, but devoid of life. I looked up as I saw the ceiling and my wife crying. We were living in an apartment and my mind was conflicting on whether I should rush to the balcony and jump off... or not. But again, my feelings for my wife triumphed and we spent the rest of the night comforting each other.
The fourth attack was probably the weakest compared to the previous ones. I was quite stressed at that time and we decided to go along to buy some groceries. My mind was fighting between continuing living and intentionally walking on the BRT corridor, so I bought 2 sacks of rice (5 kilograms each) and I carried them to the apartment (yes, we usually walk to the nearest supermarket). This was because when I am emotionally unstable, I stabilize myself by "depleting" my energy, hoping that I don't have any energy left to harm myself. It worked and we arrived safely in our apartment.
I am thankful to myself for not giving up in these fights. They were not, by any means, easy. If you are facing the same thing, please stay strong and find someone who can help you carry your "emotional burden". I hope everything gets better for you.
Learning About Long-term Investments
This year, I learned quite a bit about long-term investments. Investments were not necessarily my priority before—but this year, I decided to learn some. They were not only about wealth-related investments, but also family-related investments.
The latter is especially most important to me. Since I got married, we [me with my wife] have tried to establish a healthy family's foundations, such as apologizing when making a mistake, being thankful when one does a favor, and explicitly expressing our love for each other.
Apologizing when we make a mistake and thanking others who do us favor(s) are important because we need to make that our habit. This hopefully will make us a role model for our children. I think it is essential for children to be able to look up to their parents. If parents have good attitudes, their children will most likely follow in their footsteps.
As for expressing our love for each other, I want our children to also know what "love" is. I was raised in a family where "love" was subtle. This caused the boundary between kindness and dictatorship to blur. I want to teach my children what "love" is. I want them to see how close I am with them, I want to hug them when they go outside and when they get back [considering health and pandemic situations, of course]. I want it to be a routine instead of events-driven. I want our family in the future to be happy.
Top 3 Struggles
Of course, there would be no year without struggles as long as I am still breathing. Without further ado, here are the top 3 struggles for me this year.
Yes, I think this hit almost everyone this year. This virus was really troublesome and still is. How can it not be? To prevent the virus from spreading, people were told to stay home, companies were told to switch to remote, and if we must go outside, we should use face masks and keep our distances from each other.
For me, one of the biggest letdowns was Full Stack Day 2020 in New Zealand getting canceled. It was my first international, offline conference ever and I was really looking forward to it. However, COVID-19 happened and I decided to not go because I might endanger my family and our wedding preparations.
This COVID-19 also spread fear in my family, in particular my mother. There was a time where every day, I would get 3-4 news about this virus and I was so done at that time. I already knew the virus was dangerous and I stayed home every day because my job was remote, so I did not get why my mother would insist on shoveling all this information to me. I was burned out from the news at one point and I decided to mute all keywords related to COVID-19 on Twitter.
Of course, this virus also impacted our wedding plans. Initially, we wanted to hold a wedding reception. However, with this virus, we needed to change plans. Again, the hardest part was merging two families and making sure that both had their suggestions considered. Thankfully, we arrived at the decision that we would only invite close relatives to the reception in my in-laws' house, as 30 was the maximum number of people present at a time.
My life always revolves around my parents' family issues.
Last year, I came back to Indonesia from Australia as I finished my Master's degree. I steeled myself as I took a risk to continue working remotely from my parents' house in Jakarta. I was hoping to somewhat remedy the relationship between my father and mother, which I think was not healthy. How naïve I was to be so optimistic about it. Not only it didn't work, but it caused some mental toll on me as well.
Aside from COVID-19 issues, preceding family issues also didn't help in smoothing our wedding plans. My brother had issues in his marriage, so every time I did something that was against my mother's thinking, I would always be compared with my brother. She said that I would fail just like my brother if I kept my behavior. I was quite baffled because I and my brother had different personalities.
On another occasion, I was ordered to listen to ulamas because I had different opinions from my mother. It turned out that the ulamas' opinions were the same as mine. However, I was told that they [the ulamas] did not understand the religion. Wow! The constant judging was getting on my nerves. Even choosing accommodation [for the wedding day] was hard and full of drama. I was relieved when there were no issues during the event.
This series of events further solidify my will to build a better family.
People Saying that "Relationship between happiness and health is still unclear"
One of the most ridiculous things to be ever said.
It started when a public figure said that if people are happy [by going out], then they won't get infected by COVID-19 and they will recover from it faster. This is wrong—happiness can be found without leaving your house. However, the group that I was asked to volunteer quoted quoted a doctor who said, "Relationship between happiness and health is still unclear". It feels like an inhuman statement, to be honest. He could just counter the public figure's statement by saying "Being happy doesn't have to risk other people's lives by going outside", but sure, he chose a worse one.
If you ever live in the same house with someone who abuses you emotionally [or even physically] a lot, you will be afraid this kind of information reaches that person. They will use it to their advantage, saying that "There is no scientific evidence that happiness can affect health. Stop being so weak, my life in the past was harder than this".
It is even worse because he [and the group] didn't suggest to always "be kind" to each other. I know it's common sense, but when you just said something like that, you'd want to emphasize something that is... humanizing.
If you know why certain people of certain families want to go outside to find happiness, it's probably because they are trying to ESCAPE from their family. If you can stay happy and sane in your home, then that's good, I take it that you have a good life [and maybe a loving family]. But please, try to be considerate of people who don't have that privilege. Don't act like there are no dysfunctional families in Indonesia.
I suffered 3 bad fevers (39°+) because I was stressed out and unhappy (1 in 2013, 2 in 2020). Those were the worst sicknesses that I ever had because of emotional issues. On other days, usually, I just became dizzy, had a headache, or had trouble breathing. I don't know whether there are other people out there whose health gets degraded when they are emotionally shaken, but one thing for sure, please assess your audience. Try to understand who you are talking to because it will help us to deliver a more appropriate message with the same objective.
This is my first time writing a reflection of a year. Some parts were really hard to write as I needed to dig what was buried. However, it allowed me to look back. Maybe what I did before wasn't right and I didn't realize it. By writing this post, I get the chance to retrospect and see whether what I did was the least destructive one or not. One thing for sure, as the one who had suicidal thoughts, I don't tolerate inhuman actions from a group who claims to "guard" its nation.
I hope this post is useful to you. If there are inappropriate or offensive things, please let me know. Thank you for reading!