Taking Chances

Reading time: 7 – 12 minutes

I have been citing this quote way too often, but I feel like doing that once again. “To hell with circumstances, I create opportunities,” said Bruce Lee some time years ago. This is one of the quotes that inspires me the most, and it sticks on my forehead whenever I am going to do anything. They also say that life is about taking chances. I know that life is short and I must make it as a worth remembering one. Even Britney Spears, who used to be my teen idol (and perhaps still is), held to the principle, “I live my life to the fullest”. I can never forget this sentence, and it has led me to the life I have now.

He's not around anymore but his words never fail to inspire me.

5 years ago, I published my first book, and it was the turning point in my life. I have never dreamed of becoming a published writer. I love writing since I was so little. I used to ace in Bahasa Indonesia class and I worked hard on my writing, for both its appearance and its content. I joined journalistic club, became a school magazine staff, participated in essay competitions, and shifted into fictional and poetry writing as I got into junior high school.  Voila, I finished my novel and asked for feedback from my schoolmates. They forced me to send it to a publisher. I did not have daily access to internet back then, I asked for my friend Aughya Shandriasti‘s help to send it. Afterwards, the rest was history.

Back then, there was no opportunity for me. I could not even imagine that a junior high school student would be able to publish a book with the same publisher like Sitta Karina & Monty Tiwa‘s. I thought it was impossible, but it was not. Since then, I believe that anyone has to create their own opportunities in order to make their own journeys, including me.

The same thing happened with my dream in becoming a volunteer. When I graduated from junior high school (and had my long holidays before high school admission process starts), I desperately wanted to volunteer in any NGO. I applied to a UN agency that works with children and education issues, and an NGO that deals with environmental problems. Both of them said that I could not be a volunteer because I was too young. Having the principle I declared before, I thought that I must make my own way in this. I believed that there must be tons of young people who also want to make a change in their society but have never had the opportunity to do so. So, I asked Aisha & Abazh – my two partner-in-crimes, to establish a youth-led NGO. Aisha gave the name The Cure For Tomorrow.

Years went by  and things have changed. Because of the support from a lot of people (including you, I believe), now there are a lot of opportunities for young people, including me. My passion is basically torn in two, which are literary and social issues. Both of them have given me exciting opportunities. I have known how it felt to have so few opportunities, so I tend to do whatever I could do. I tend to take those chances and say yes to those opportunities if I think I can do it. Even Walt Disney said so, right? “If you can dream it, then you can do it.” My friend also said, “If God gives you an opportunity, it means that you are ready for it.” So, for me it was basically clicking, “Yes to all”. I forgot that there are only 24 hours in a day, and 7 hours in a week.

Saying yes to the things I wanted to do meant that I was not going to have any day off in a week. Not even Sunday. This semester, I have a packed schedule on weekdays, and any day off would be filled with work as I was  offered for an internship in one of the most prominent international companies in the beverage industry. My weekend was supposed to be loaded with debate practices as there would be heaps of debate championships coming up. At the same time, there are a few issues on my scholarship that rose, and I had to deal with it. Furthermore, I can never spend any day without some quality time with my family.

I knew that I would have to drop one, or even a few things. The question was: which one?

I had a pretty long discussion with my boyfriend over this. He only asked a few things and told a few of his experiences, but the discussion resulted with this conclusion:

I don’t know if I can be labeled as an opportunist or not by thinking this way, but sometimes I feel like there are things that I do only in order to make achievements. When I write or when I do my social activities such as holding the Indonesian Youth Conference, I did not care about anything else and I was completely committed in doing it. Why? Because those two things are my passion.

On the other hand, let’s say that I want to do A. I don’t love doing A and I will not *die* if I don’t do it, but I know that I do it well. Doing that thing, although I might be good in it (said other people), felt different with doing the things that I love to do although I might not be good in them.

My boyfriend set a good example in this case for me. He’s academically intelligent, fluent in English, and used to be a debater, but he chose to study visual arts although he’s not perfect at it. He believes that what he loves to do matters much more than what’s he good at. He believes that what makes him happy matters much more than what makes other people happy. As Bill Cosby said, “I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody.”

This Venn diagram visualises what were in my mind well:

Consider “what we can be paid to do” as “what we can be rewarded to do”. Reward does not only consist of money, right? It can also consist of trophies, certificates, media exposure, or other things. “What we do well” and “what we want to do” are not always the same. We might be good at something we don’t like. We might like something we’re not good at. To get all three of them is another challenge.

I also talked to my mother and she said, “I think: if you don’t do something for your heart, you won’t get a maximum result; but if you do something you love, you will get a maximum result. In my personal opinion, you must follow your heart. What’s the point of looking great on the outside if we are not happy inside? Look for happiness, Daughter. Life is meant to be enjoyed, but hard work and achievements are still necessary in order to gain respect from other people. Those two things make people would not be able to toy with you.”

Thus, I dropped the rest. I have decided to focus on my academic performance, spend time with my family, and write once in a while. I am purging myself.

In doing social activities, I have seen too many people who do social work only in order to look great or to obtain achievements. I have seen people who do not want to cooperate with each other in tackling issues from poverty relief to climate change. I have seen people who are pretty much opportunists – who take the position leaders only to make them look superior but don’t want to fulfill their responsibilities. These people end up considering social activities as a competition – as the place to prove who’s better than the others.

I don’t want to be one of them. I never wish to. So, I dare say that I must not do something only because of the achievements and spotlight I might get from that. I must only do things that I love to do. I must only do things that will change people’s lives with all my heart. Therefore, I will be fully committed to it, and I will do my best wholeheartedly.