Monday, August 29, 2011

An Introvert Breaking the Habit

A few weeks ago I went to a fast breaking with a couple of close friends from when I was still in college. Some of them are friends that I still maintain contact with and we meet at least once a month just for coffee and small talks (that could last for five to six hours, cafe hopping). The others are friends that I haven't been in contact with since college, except for a text message on Idul Fitri, or occasional comments on Facebook.

Gathering and even reunion with old friends are commonly found during Ramadhan. I got many invitations, started from college friends to friends from junior high school, but I never attend it. I never really turn them down right there and then, simply because I didn't want to offend them. But I think, over time they finally learned that I just don't go to such gatherings. They keep sending me invitations, but I think they knew that I wouldn't show up.

Some of my friends start questioning my behavior, thinking that there is something wrong with me. Some speculated that it must be the painful break up that I had just undergone a few years ago. And they said, I really need to pull myself together and move on. Meet new people, have fun. Forget about the past.

That's what I thought I felt too.

About two months ago I accidentally found the MBTI personality test. I actually had taken the test a few years ago and I've already learned that I am an INFJ. But it wasn't until two months ago that I started digging on more materials on the subject. From what I found on the subject, I learned that there is nothing wrong with me. I finally could see that it's not about the break up and how I failed to overcome the trauma, or me being socially incapable. I have always been that kind of person since a long time ago. I just had the chance to realize it now. It was a relieve because I have always thought that I'm different from normal people and it needs to be fixed.. 

As an introvert, I constantly need a certain period of time alone. While others recharged through parties and gatherings, I recharged by having quiet time alone with myself. Sometimes I'd do some activities like writing or painting, sometimes I'd just do nothing, just sitting by the window and sip my coffee or tea. I just realized I did that a lot, even when I'm home during the weekend. I would sit in front of my computer in my room for hours, writing or doing some photo editing or digital painting. I'd let my daughter coming in and going out of the room to check on me once in a while, or when she feels like it, she'd sit next to me, occupying herself by drawing or creating stories. (Now that I think of it, I realized that I should be really grateful for having her as a daughter. She's seven years old, yet she seems to understand that there are times that I just don't want to be disturbed. She'd smile and shake her head while looking at me, saying, 'Bun, you forget everything once you start sitting there and painting').

I also learned from the materials I found that it is important for the introverts to have their daily dose of quiet alone time to keep their sanity intact. Some people may find this strange, but actually it's only a matter of different ways of operating in social interaction. 

I usually don't feel hesitant to go out if it is to meet people I'm most comfortable with, and that consists of a limited number of close friends. But there are times, when I feel quite drained and need my solitude, that I decide not to meet even my closest friends. I never really try to explain this to my friends, because, honestly, I don't know how.

But I also realized that I don't have to always indulge my habit.  While I think it might be good to let my friends know that I'm okay and I don't need social interaction booster, I also think that there are times when I need to break the routine once in a while; to go and meet them even when I don't feel like to.

One of the recent examples was the fast breaking gathering I mentioned earlier. I went there despite feeling that I'd rather go home and sit myself on the bed and read some books. I made the right decision because it was really nice, and I really had a good time meeting them. We still contact each other until now, and even sending broadcast message within our whatsapp group a few times a day. Broadcast message has always been considered to be the most annoying thing in mobile phone interaction, yet nobody in the group seems to complain. I can even say I enjoy it. It's less disturbing compared to text messages (where you usually required to reply immediately), and it keeps you updated of what your friends are doing without having the obligation to reply immediately, because there will always be someone else replying first. 

A few days after that, I was faced with another situation where I had to go to a family gathering. It was the third times that month, all of them were held during the weekend, where I was supposed to have a quiet time alone. I went to the first and the second because I felt like to at the time. By the time they told me that there's going to be another family gathering, I started to form an escape plan. It was a moment when I was very snappish, due to the lack of alone time, and I knew that at times like that the best thing to do for me was to stay in my room for hours until I feel calmed and gain my energy back.

But I came to the gathering anyway. 

We were asked to gather at my aunt's house because she was severely ill and her condition is worsening. I love my aunt. She's one of the person from my childhood that I'd remember the most. So I went there to see her. She looked so happy seeing her nieces and nephews and grandchildren, and she told my Mom that she hadn't been this happy since months ago.

So I guess, I did the right thing.

It might be a torture at the beginning, but I think doing extra effort to go and meet the people you love and care about, would worth it. To find that you are actually happy being around them, and that they actually love to have you around, would worth it.

I learned that it is important to know yourself and what works best for you, but it is also important to be flexible and tolerate, when needed. Love, and caring, are the operative words, I suppose :)

Bintaro, 6.30 am

Sunday, August 28, 2011


Probably you're sad. Probably you're happy. Probably you're missing someone. Probably you're anxious. Probably you're disappointed.
Be grateful, as they only show that your heart is still intact.

-Pidi Baiq, my all time favorite tweeter-

I've always thought of sadness as disturbance to a supposed to be perfect, happy life. 
It's poisonous, and like a disease, it eats you from the inside. You don't want to be anywhere near it, since its negative energy, silent as it may seems, reaches out to its surrounding, to the farthest distance possible. Its invisible claws haunting you, its nasty breath hovering on your back, making you feeling the feeling of never ending anticipation of what might come next and would it be sadness?

It reminded me of dementor.
And I despised it.

I despised the way it makes me feel.
I despised the way it caught my breath and suffocated me. The way it takes words from my mouth and leave me speechless.
I despised the way it makes me crawl on the bed and cry myself to sleep.
I despised the way it makes me feel like there's a constant lacking in my life, for I cannot smile on a sunny day, and I cannot laugh when the world is roaring with laughter.
I despised the way it makes me feel imperfect.

But over time I realized, that it might not always be the case.
I learned what perfect means. I learned what laughter means. I learned what happiness means. And though I will still have to continue learning for there's just so many things I don't understand about life, I learned a few things.

Sadness is haunting.
It won't stop on your front door. It will keep on knocking until you open the door. It will come inside without invitation, sitting in your living room, quietly absorbing everything that is you. There's nothing you can do to stop it from appearing every now and then around you. Running away from it will not do you any good either.

So don't. No need to.
No need to run away from sadness, the way you run from dementors.
No need to push yourself to create happiness, they way we should create patronus.
While dementors are not something you can embrace, that's not the case with sadness.

To acknowledge it, accept, and embrace it, would be the best way to deal with it. 
It's part of yourself, part of your emotion asking for your attention. It's a dialogue you're having with yourself, only in slightly different manner. There are dark clouds and thunder accompanying. But we need them from time to time, to calm us down when the sunshine gets too bright.

So don't run away cause it means no harm. 

You can always preserve happiness and keep it in your heart forever. But it won't stop you from feeling a sadness when it comes knocking on your door. Let it in and sit silently in your living room. Let it do its job, to appear, and make itself known and  noted. Give it a pat on the back, and sit with it until it's passed. 

It'll pass.

I've learned that when it has to end, it ends. It ends, and there's no guarantee that it will not come again. But while you're sitting with it, you can always visit the happiness that you have preserved in your heart. Or when it gets too heavy, you can always look around for signs of happiness. 

It could be small things, like a cup of coffee in the morning, a smile from fellow commuters in the morning train, a happy song sang by street singers, or a sincere greetings from your colleagues in the office. 

In my case, it was the morning sun I saw from my window couple of days ago, that reminded me that there will still always be things to appreciate, and reasons to smile, even the smallest smile, during your toughest times.

Kindly remember that, Self :)

Bintaro, 10.45 am

writing and the lack of serene morning

Still in the topic of writing (and how it is such a nasty business), 

I've read so many references on writing saying that early in the morning is the best time to write.

The world is still quiet. The only sound you'll hear is the sound of bird chirping (yes, even if you live in urban area, somehow there are always the sound of birds chirping in the morning). Wake up very early in the morning. The silence and serenity is priceless.

I would reaaally love to do that. But serene morning never happens in my house.

My Mom, she wakes up at 3 am every day. And she knows no serenity of the morning. 
She wakes up at that hour and straightly starts the house chores. She'd start with washing the clothes, juggling it with cooking and cleaning the front yard. So there would be a mixing sound of washing machines, stoves, and the sapu ijuk. For my Mom, morning is too precious to be wasted in silence.

So there it goes. I gave up trying to follow the advice to find time early in the morning to sit and write. That's not going to work for me. There will be no serene morning in my house. 

I've made peace with my situation. Now I write everywhere, in the most unlikely times. 

I write during the family gathering (silently walked out of the crowd and find secluded place somewhere in the house), I write about thirty minutes before going to work, during lunch break in the office, on the bus, while waiting for the doctor appointment, or, like now, while baking a cake.

That would just have to do.
Because if I have to wait for the right moment to write, I'd be crazy because the emotional tension would be unbearable.

Wish me luck.

Bintaro, 8.30 am

Monday, August 22, 2011

Dear God

There are times that I just can’t make myself praying to You.

I don’t know why. 

Hence the constant talking inside my head,
the constant calling out Your name in every step I take to pull myself together when I’m not praying

Hence the long paragraph of whining and complaining in my diary

I hope You understand, dear God. 
I really hope You do.


Sunday, August 21, 2011

have you ever


I know.

That's pretty much what's happening right now.

Unhappiness is such a haunting feeling, isn't it?

-I wrote so many nonsense these days-

Thursday, August 18, 2011

tears run dry

The kind of feeling when you feel terribly sad
yet you cannot cry

No matter how hard you try to exhale and release 
No matter how deep you drown yourself into the sadness 
just for the sake of letting it all out
so you can weep and cry your heart out
No matter how long you sit silently in the dark
embracing the throbbing pain inside your chest
absorbing it into your system, 
encouraging it to run through your veins
breaking all the invisible walls
ready to accept the poisonous feeling of sadness

Yet you cannot cry

You wait and wait for the warm feeling in your eyes 
Anticipating the small glistening moist to appear 
right in the corner of your eyes

Yet nothing happens

Your eyes have gone dry
Your heart has gone dry
Every, single, part of your body has gone dry
All the feelings have evaporated into thin air through hundreds and hundreds of unspoken words, emotionless talks, denials, pride, ego, logic, reasons, and the unmet gaze, 
lost in the crowd of the universe
Until there's nothing more to shed

Tears run dry,
It's not just movie made, cheesy talks, or helpless romantic helplessness
It happens in the real life

You cannot cry


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

will you

Will you be able to get through this? 

Will you be brave enough to embrace the storm?  

Will you be ready to be crushed and wrecked to the bone? 

Will you be humble enough to lift your face again afterward and accept whatever it is you're becoming when the storm has gone and the wind is still and there's nothing but the sound of the truth? 

Will you, Self?

Bintaro, 4.30 am

Sunday, August 14, 2011

a meltdown

I’ve been reading quite an amount of materials on INFJ and introversion in the past week and I started to really get a grip of what has been going on in me. I guess I’m one of those less lucky introverts who hadn’t find out about the nature of their personality sooner. Will talk about this later, but I guess what I’m having right now is one of the introverts situation.

I’m writing this during a family gathering event. Well, not yet started as this is supposed to be a fast breaking. We’re still waiting for some people. I guess I’m lucky because I got the chance for some quiet moment, as long as the kids leave me alone. So I sit on the patio and opened my laptop, trying to write something to release the tension.

I’m currently having a meltdown. I’m feeling snappish and ready to pick a fight with anyone. The right thing to do right now actually is to lock myself alone in a room and having some alone moment (which I’ve been trying to have since this morning but failed completely since my daughter somehow became mysteriously demanding for no apparent reason) to recharge my energy and neutralize the emotion. Yet, I couldn’t do it, as I have to go to this family gathering.

At times like this, I usually try to find some secluded place, away from the crowd. This time it’s the children swing on the front yard. It’s pretty much quiet because everyone will be inside of the house, gathering around the table waiting for the time to break their fast.

So here I am, typing my heart out, hoping to release whatever it is I’m feeling, drop by drop…

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Her Wish

A friend once asked a question about the things that, I think, have been the main topic in every self motivational talks: why should you wait for someone else to make you happy? With or without a partner, be happy. Love yourself and be happy.

I totally agree with it.

This friend of mine, was talking about someone that he thinks is not too happy because she is currently single, after having gone through a rather painful break up. He thinks she needs to learn to obtain happiness without having to have someone by her side.

I think my friend was missing the point here.

I know the person that he's talking about, and I also know very well that she's not an unhappy person. She leads a small life, but she's contented with what she got and she's grateful for it, and aren't those are the important ingredient of happiness? Contented, and grateful.

Oh I can assure you that she is happy with her life.

Her wish is just simple. 

She wishes there's someone to cherish her happiness in a way that might be different from what she has always been cherishing with her friends and families. She just needs someone to cherish her happiness in that certain way, until the end of her life, when her friends would have been too occupied with their grandchildren and her families would have been gone or living their own life.

She is a loner and enjoys solitude. She only wishes she has someone to share the solitude that she really loves, someone who will sit with her in silence, admiring how lovely it is when you share it with the one you love the most. 

She just needs someone to sit next to her when she sits by the window of their house, looking out into the garden, watching the trees and the leaves as they dance with the wind, or washed by the rain, or simply stand silently in their grace.

She needs someone to share the gratitude for the chance of meeting another new morning everyday, sipping a cup of coffee or tea, while silently absorbing the view of the last stroke of orange and purple in the sky.

Her wish is just simple.

She thinks the world is a beautiful journey, and she wishes she has someone to walk with her hand in hand, sharing the same fascination of the beauty towards the end of the journey. Until the day they die.

And I think, despite the constant denial and our everlasting struggle for what we perceived to be independence, don't we all actually wish for the same thing?

5 am, early in a Sunday morning.

the end

When the last soils are thrown, and the hole is covered
I think that's the loneliest moment at the end of one's life

So long, dearest people...

Bintaro, early in the morning

Friday, August 5, 2011

socially awkward (and proud)

I got it from Tumblr, but I can't remember who posted it.

This is on my desk now.

It should be able to get across the message effectively as it is pretty self explanatory.

Or so to speak.