Sunday, April 16, 2017

Post annoying social event

I'm increasingly aware that the older I get, the more socially awkward I am. I don't like crowds (anymore); I don't like going to social gathering of not-so-close people (anymore); I dislike people (even more) except for a handful that I call friends and vice versa; I get super anxious when I feel I have done something socially unacceptable.

I remember when I was in my early 20s, I loved going out and hanging out with random people; strangers even. I didn't have any huge social anxiety or anything like that. I was confident and very very social. And now a decade later, I just don't have the appetite to socialise anymore. Not only now I don't live in my native country, I also don't really speak the local language. A lot of "expats" here moan about social exclusion; they don't have friends, they don't speak the language, etc. that limits their social life. I moan about how I probably need to learn to socially integrate and *gasp* have a social life. I'm not saying that I actively stop myself from making new friends; on the contrary, I have a few (new-ish) friends here in this strange country and I like them and I don't feel I need more. Is that wrong?

This state of being annoyed by stuff that I can't really define is probably because I'm unconsciously trying to do what is socially acceptable, instead of trying to do what makes me comfortable. If I don't want to go to a party, then I can and who cares what whoever thinks. And this should be a conscious decision, instead of driven by a fear of social backlash. I think my Indonesian-ness is heavily ingrained that I oftentimes just completely forget that it's there and has become my mode of operating. I need to learn that it is okay to say no, sorry, I rather stay home, than dragging myself to a thing that eventually will just make me feel miserable just because that's the acceptable thing to do.

TL;DR I like animals better. They don't make me feel awkward. Ever.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

About what is "lucky" and what is "hard effort"

I've migrated to the Netherlands in December 2015. So it's only been 5 months since then. In those 5 months, a lot of things happened. One of them was the start of the permit application, which involved us hiring a lawyer to sort things out. It cost money, time and just a lot of effort. Not to mention the other things that we had done (and paid) before we found out that we should get a lawyer to deal with the immigration instead of doing it ourselves. Long story short: it has been complicated and expensive. Oh, did I mention "long"? The process is still on-going and I still haven't got any permit to live here permanently.

And then I got told by someone that I am lucky to be able to live here. At that time I was too flabbergasted to give a quick smart retort to that statement, but the next day I thought about it and it really pissed me off. So far, there's no "luck" involved in our effort in getting me migrated and settled here permanently. It's all hard effort and a lot of money (that also came from hard effort). We didn't get chosen by the Dutch government and given a free living permit. That would be "lucky". No, we have to go through all the bullshit like everyone else who wants to migrate to this country. We're fortunate because I didn't come from a war-torn country or that I had to migrate because some people wanted to kill me. I am lucky in that sense.

A lot of people (in some countries, not gonna point finger) are saying "we only accept legal immigrants!" "refuse them if they enter illegally!" and so on, without really understanding how it is still bloody difficult to get in legally. It's never a straight forward process in ANY country. Especially if you're coming from a developing country and trying to get into a developed country. Some people even asked me, "Doesn't the Dutch government give special conditions for Indonesians to migrate here because... well, you know, what the Dutch did to your country back then?" which is an understandable question. Like, yeah, why don't they give special conditions for Indonesians, considering they had killed and pillaged and enslaved many people in the Nusantara back then? Well, sadly, the answer is no, the Dutch government doesn't give any special treatment just because I'm an Indonesian. Everyone needs to go through the same procedure.

And that's fine, because that's just the way things are. But don't tell me that I should feel lucky.

And then I thought, how terrible it is for refugees who struggled so much to stay alive to come to a country and got told they should feel lucky and therefore they should not be asking too much, for goodness sake! Screw that. I agree that any country should have a solid plan when they're taking refugees in and not just do it only for the sake of doing it because we're talking about the welfare of everyone, both the host country's citizen and refugees. That requires a lot of planning and also the cooperation of the community. I'm not suggesting that every country should just open their doors and let people in without any real plan on how to make that work in the long term. But that's why you have a government, no? To think about this kind of thing.

I think the Dutch government, when it comes to refugees, is dealing with the issue a bit better than its neighbouring countries. Although, we need to wait a bit longer to see the real results.

It's not easy to uproot yourself, and therefore, no one should take that for granted.


Friday, March 18, 2016

The Perks of LDR, or Having Space is Really Great!

Long-distance relationship has its own perks. It's space. The infinite amount of space, regardless how far or close you are geographically. It doesn't matter whether you're 14,000 miles or just 3 hours-drive away, you will still have that amazing space between you and your partner. Of course, as with almost anything and everything in life, it might act as a double-edged sword. It might hurt or help you.

In the case of helping the relationship, with long-distance relationship you don't need to have a mental space, which I personally think is harder to conjure than just acknowledging the physical space. When you are in close proximity with you partner, you don't get to run away when you need some space. You have to create the mental space in your head and that, I found, requires a massive effort. Especially if said partner is in the same room, breathing too loudly or something like that.

Space and distance can also help one to focus on what actually matters, instead of the emotional side of things. When you're too close to the subject that is pissing you off or driving you mental, you can't (easily) think, okay I want to scream at this person now but I won't because it's not productive or nice. It will take a longer time for you to calm down and start processing things more objectively. When you have the distance and the space with it, you can just turn off your computer (or phone) assuming you're up-to-date with the latest technology and not relying on letters (can't even remember the last time I wrote an actual letter to someone), and then get the contemplation going. Or, alternatively, you can just go out and see your friends and have a laugh, feel better and go back home, with a full realisation that you won't even have to see the subject of your annoyance at least until a couple of days.

Relationship is tricky. Talking about cliches and boring statements. It's like trying to have a domestic scale of an UN assembly, constantly trying to work together despite the differences. In my case, it's even more similar because I don't share historical or cultural background with my partner. We're from a completely different culture and family. It is cultural shock, but it is also relationship shock--transitioning from long-distance to no-distance.

I might sound a bit ungrateful now considering a lot of couples in long-distance relationships would just do almost anything to be together and eliminate the distance. I'm not ungrateful, though. In fact, writing this reminded me that I (well, we) need to concentrate on being better. Maintaining a long-distance relationship is hard work, but then again, maintaining any relationship is hard work. Which is why I think it's worth living for.