Hell of a write! Things I’d like to publicly announce.
I wish I’d written everything in one site. I’ve made up my mind to finally secure one online home after my long lost blog was removed (I had muhammadcarlos.com for a few years until I decided to remove it). For a year I’ve lost my balance until I got the hang of dynamic life. I’ve tuned 2016 in Illuminati mode, to take a break and to reflect on my life while gaining tremendously from random talks I have every day.
Here is to sum up a few things:
- In 2015, I went to school again. After I lost my appetite to pursue education in the west. As I understand myself, I strive for new knowledge. Then I chose a private school in Jakarta to study something that never crossed my mind that year: coding. I’ve jumped from the world of business to environmental science to law. And end up falling hardly for tech. So at this moment and more years to come, I will still be digging about tech and what good it’d bring along with my passion. As an added bonus, Jakarta is astoundingly amazing after all. Not only I get to proudly witness every progress made in the capital, I also get to be a part of the making of this country with some of the craziest talented people.
- For almost a year since I got my feet back on Jakarta’s cruelty (because I went back to the US to figure things out with my life’s big plans and everything) I worked for three different jobs: freelancer writer for a year (until I decided to quit last month), I taught at some schools in Jakarta and tutored some kids of different ages, I was an assistant for a few months to someone quite influential in the city to gain useful insights about how I’d do things next. In my spare, I still took some host and presenter jobs, but not so frequently because I wanted to do something else with my life. I’m proud enough to say that every privilege I have earned came from the fusion of love and work. They all helped me afford my own life and financed myself through school and all other shit we do here for social life.
- Learning to say no was, and still is, easier said than done. But screw it I’ve said no to some good offers to run a business (fully-funded ride, well-capitalized, etc). I guess the only factor is I’ve known myself inside out. I knew I never wanted to become a money-generating machine. I’ve been long tantalized by the empire I’d like to build, which should come from me, my pocket, my own blood and tears.
- I’ve moved 5 times in total just within the city of Jakarta. That happened in less than 18 months. From Bekasi to Mampang to Senayan to Setiabudi to Kalibata to Kemanggisan. So, that’s 6, not 5. Which also makes me realize how less most of my native Jakartan friends know about their own city than I do now. It’s mostly because I go out almost every damn day to finish some errands and take whatever transportation is available: I drive or I take Uber, Bluebird, Ojek, Go-jek, Grab, Busway, KRL Train, Kopaja, Angkot number 33, 04, 17, 18, 78, and the list goes on for crazy Angkot in this city. I live in the roads.
- For a long period of time, I used to time everything I do just so nothing is left unchecked before I crash. Including how long I should talk to an old friend I haven’t seen in ages or someone who came to see me not in the right time. There was nothing good about this. Now, you’d find me in a coffeeshop or Warteg, sipping a cup of hot tea for an hour or two. There is more to life.
- I had a quite difficult transition phase when entering college again, at my age especially. Me being relatively older than most of my classmates and having been surrounded by friends who run businesses and complain about marriage or their office life, I swear it was hard. I’ve always been the youngest in every group of people I was in. I am a machine that gets shit done and move on to the next thing on my list, but when you’re starting college again with teenagers who make a fuss about a presentation being due in two weeks, it’s depressingly fun. My monthly budget went drastically down if more time was spent around my college and plain shirt became a good friend of mine again. How much I enjoy these years in college.
- I went to KL for YSEALI summit and had the opportunity to meet hundreds of crazy inspiring young leaders from Southeast Asia. I’ve never been a conference type of person but this one, man! They start things, commit their time to it, and finish everything with satisfactory result. From running profitable and useful startups to NGOs. I’ve gained enormously from the people I’ve talked to and had the chance to chat with Obama. The cost was me skipping midterm at school, part of my life which had just begun. Sigh.
- In the summer, mostly happened in my apartment, things were moving faster than any of us thought. My team of seven highly-committed individuals has set up the pilot project of Buku Kami, a social enterprise that empowers survivors of sex trafficking in Jakarta and some other parts of Southeast Asia, once we reach another milestone, by producing 100% recycled products. We had a lot of interested international and national partnership proposals lined up and encountered some great setbacks. But we’ve moved on. Currently, we are stepping back to see things in a different perspective to learn. In short, that summer went brutal like we didn’t know what sleep really meant anymore and how bustling around to meet 8 people in a day could make you sick. Literally.
- In between, I couldn’t be the person someone else wanted me to be: I failed my relationship life. Although I had so much on my plate, I still tried the taste of love for a while until again, it destroyed me. One thing I’ve learned about love: your extensive experience in love ain’t worth shit. You’ll always take the swing and hit and all that comes with it. There was nothing mediocre about this thing. You’d either become so high and happy singing in the rain or become that smile hater who stands alone in the corner. If you’ve drunk enough the acidic part of this liquid, you truly listen to lyrics of every song you listen to. Breaking ups and fights and all the drama make you become a deep listener. However, if you’re in the midst of this crossroad, don’t take it if you can’t afford it yet. When in doubt, don’t take all the bullshit from someone who never drank that acid. Neither your cool dad nor your 17 years of friendship could help yourself. Only you who can define everything about you.
- Surprisingly, I’ve been a vegetarian for almost 7 months now. Good and bad. Good because I’ve changed my lifestyle that directly reflects my values on environmental protection. Doing campaigns for years about protecting environment has come to the level where I felt a grudge about what I do to make a change. A change should occur within me precisely before I go out and speak on behalf of the green and animals. Bad, because it’s making me feel like living in a bubble every time I get invited to a decent dinner, and not being able to taste it, sucks. So much. And it makes me view the meat eaters like monsters as I dig deeper about vegan world. I grasp it as one of the ways of living. But. Let’s see how long I can commit this relationship with myself. It’s fun! Who knows how Vegetarian Kebab looks like until you get lost for two hours in Ubud, Bali? It looked like Satay to me. Nothing kebab about that food.
- I took some time off. I travelled to see and breathe in places I’ve never been to, to talk to people who have lived in the places I adore and eat the foods that make them smile in family dinners. I went home to Lombok quite a few times, but not for vacation, mostly for work. I have been building a travel business there and plan to expand to some other areas. These travels and its perks seem to be the right places I could use to sleep, to rest my mind and to kiss myself in the crowd. Borrowing her style, Adrianna, my list goes like this: Jakarta-Guangzhou-New York-Jakarta-Lombok-Jakarta-Bali-Jakarta-Riau-Batam-Jakarta-Singapore-Kuala Lumpur-Jakarta-Bandung-Bogor-Jakarta-Penang-Langkawi-Yogyakarta-Malang-Thousand Islands-Lombok-Jakarta-Surabaya-Bali-Singapore-Sydney-Gold Coast- Jakarta-Singapore-Butterworth-Bangkok-Hong Kong-Jakarta-Bali…and more places to be explored. I have a list for the next five years already to fulfil my desire by learning about every place from its locals. There is no right way to say one is well-travelled. Just because one damn good camera could capture your face in different places, you are never a well-travelled person. Ever. But if you can afford this type of luxury to explore different places, go and bring back some values we can learn from your experience. Wouldn’t the world be a bit nicer? 🙂
- Let’s talk about money. I did my calculation on daily basis and do my budget projection annually. If you ask me the number of days I had ‘zero’ in my savings account, the answer: 21. Those are the days and nights I spent burning the midnight oil and have accidentally ignored my responsibility to this physical body I used to get things done. Living in one penny can teach you a lot about loyalty of some friends 🙂
- Summer 2016. I have a plan to trade my summer with an internship or go to a coding academy in NY. So I applied for an internship program in Washington D.C. because I knew had chances to get in until I was informed about a few policies within the company that didn’t allow them to pay for non-American interns. Going out to Smithsonian museums for free while chilling in DC parks were crossed out. While waiting, my plan to go to the coding academy isn’t an option anymore. Because I’ll have hacked myself a journey to learn the crazy foreign things I wish i’d learned years back from now: something that involves computer, beach and sun.
- Interfaith and all the other inter-thing interest me. In 2015, I’ve managed to run the first BUBW conference (Better Understanding Better World) in Asia with a group of amazing volunteers in Yogyakarta. I finally caught up with Imam Bashaar, the face of Muslim in the west and a true inspiration to me. We caught up on a lot of things after the last time we talked somewhere in America (Jay-Z, 2013). I worked my way to get the best applicants around Asia by cooperating with this and that. It worked.
- The organization I’ve been running with the coolest people in Lombok, Share for Care, is still running. Last year, one of the best ladies in my life helped me to set up a few things in one of the schools we’ve built in Lombok. Now, our team is planning to rebuild another school in some other area. I’ll make sure I write something about that later so you can help if you’re interested in helping kids in Lombok to get free education.
- In my commute from school and work in Jakarta, my faith in Gojek or Grab bike driver never fades. I had two accidents during rush hour in the morning (very embarrassing) and one around 5pm (also extremely embarrassing). I rushed into Starbucks at Kota Kasablanka in my ripped pants with knee bleeding.
- I missed two flights in total. Both were because of the traffic. Not really. It was me who didn’t see the clock right. The other flights, I usually arrived at the airport around 15 minutes before the airplane takes off. I’ve always been running and hustling. And sleep in the poorest economy seat until the takeoff gives me heart palpitations.
- I get bored most of the time. I’m bored of some dude or woman who just earned her expensive business degree and acts like the know-it-all type of asshole. Or another story of someone who just quit the corporate world to set out on a dangerous entrepreneurial journey. Or even the startups themselves that supposedly, in my tiny bubble, inspire us to innovate and bring our generation forward to not just a digitalized world, but the world full of hopes that we could accelerate the change by the help of technology. Look at us. Every corner of the globe praised entrepreneurship, with the enormous help of technology, and the remaining problems we are sick of. Look at what we can possibly do with these. I am not asking too much if these privileges we have in these days could be channeled more ethically to care about people who get left behind. I am fed up by ads, which surprisingly turns out, many of my friends who turn into marketers and feed my timeline with branding profile I don’t give shit about. It’s important to most of us. I know. I’m just the guy who is more into my friends who share their messy life so we could help or even laugh about it altogether. Seriously. I’m bored to the level I just want to flip everything off. I’ve had enough seeing ads in my phone, on every wall I see, or some Angkot’s window. I miss people who I can be weird with. I wish to connect with people I’ve known. Deeper. And know how I can be a better person in their lives. Not being treated as an audience sitting behind the fence.
- Jakarta is small and big. Bumping into people happens almost everywhere you go. Jakarta is one of those places where it’s nearly nowhere to hide your nose. There’s always somebody you know.Which makes me wonder what drives people for some insane fame.
- The desire of caffeine diminished. One day I could smell my own caffeine breath. Your Starbucks or some favorite good coffeeshop barista is even sick of you. And then you turned your back on coffee. You had a thing with beer because you’re simply mature enough to afford it. But then something cuppy is more interesting than some glasses of yellow water. I’ve been drinking tea for months. Good tea. Just green tea. No sugar or milk.
- I’ve changed my playlist three times in total, all of which was largely influenced by the stage of life I was in. Life’s tough. You heard me. And songs helped me through it.
- My network grew more diverse than I ever asked for, from national movie producers and sick famous celebrities, to access to important people in politics and business in the country. I even had the guy for food in different streets of Jakarta.
- I’ve learned from speaking to different minds: never give an advice until you’ve experienced the same exact damn thing. No matter how many movies you’ve seen, books you’ve read and people you’ve talked to. Sometimes you don’t earn the right to speak or give an advice. I’ve learned from having been a smartass that the best way, and yet still the hardest skill to most people, is to truly listen to someone until she specifically asks for a help and that help is within your expertise. It’s like you’d rather talk to an entrepreneur than listening to a business consultant from great great consulting companies.
- If you’ve been on the journey where it can be lonelier than barren roads, your mind develops this thought if anything would’ve been better with someone still being alive. Someone who inspired you to get the hell up when you fall. To me, I had those nights when I terribly missed my dad and wondered if I could simply hear somebody speak on the other end of my phone call.
- I have sworn to myself to learn and dig and learn and care less about small distractions. I’ve sworn to sweat and bleed for the people who kept me going, the ones that popped up in my mind when giving up is around the corner. Nothing is stronger than this motivation. They have always been there, giving everything you need without you ever asking just for a simple reason: they want you to touchdown that final line.
- I also became more selective these days. I aim at being the best goddamn version of me. I still can’t tell whether or not growing up is an instant process of reaching a certain number of age. To me, it entails the way someone treats anyone she meets at the most unexpected moment without behaving differently if she were to meet a president of Murica. Being kind and being an asshole can simply be felt. You just feel it and it’s always your call. BTW, about being selective, I’ve left 38 groups in my Line account and 20 Whatsapp groups. Im happier than ever. You just know what you really need and don’t need.
- End of writing: life is really just an incalculable lengthy road of ‘I think I’ve been wrong’ moments and you sit back to smile.
That’s a good sort of punchline. Maybe not.