Monday, July 24, 2017

The Art of Finding Confidence

confidence (n.)
a feeling of self-assurance arising from one's appreciation of one's own abilities or qualities.

When I was younger, I had a habit of walking with my head down. My eyes were always busy scanning the floor and the shuffling of my feet. When I grew taller as a child, I felt lanky and odd, always seemingly out of place. I never stood or sat up straight. In middle school, I'd brush my hair and wear it down the entire day. I wouldn't tie it back, nor clip it to the side. I kept bangs for a long time. "It shows less of my face," I'd say. 

I couldn't think of a time from my childhood where I ever felt beautiful.

When I entered high school, my perception of self worth slightly shifted. It's no longer only what is seen, but also what is countable. The strange, awkward transition from being un-confident, to trying to feel slightly decent about myself. Embarking on a path of figuring out who I was, and whether or not I liked it. So I relied more on things that hold certainty; numbers. Numbers on a scale, grades on a report card, likes and comments on a photograph. My self worth was defined in digits.

Maybe people who read this would laugh and think, What's she talking about? Of course she's confident, she's got a whole blog. Or something like There are pictures of her on her Instagram, if she really was so self-conscious she wouldn't share them in the first place. It's a strange paradox; being an introvert who writes her thoughts and shares it on the bloody Internet. Bloggers are typically stigmatized as being sociable, outgoing, carefree, and quite full of themselves.

But if there's one thing that I've struggled with my whole life, it's that; finding confidence.

My closest relatives will tell you how they always sigh in annoyance whenever I frown at a dress I'm trying on because I didn't think I looked good in it, even when they saw nothing wrong with it. They can tell you how I always utter my insecurities under my breath whenever we're shopping. My friends will tell you how indecisive I can get about the simplest choices. My mom will tell you how bad I can be at socializing and opening up to people.

Even though I (thankfully) came out of high school with eight times the confidence I had when I first walked into it, such "transformations" can only go so far.

Having a blog doesn't break down the mental shield I keep around myself, wrapping me like a shell. It doesn't silence my inner critic, doesn't instantly push all my deepest insecurities away. If anything, the pressures in my life as I grow up seem to enhance them.

I'm starting to think that perhaps I never have come out of that shell. A shell that has always made me self-conscious, uncertain, insecure, but also a shell I've always kept around me just to feel safe. I can write a hundred posts and I would still never crack it open.

But I know that we shouldn't spend the rest of our lives feeling inadequate. We shouldn't take on every opportunity, action or decision in life based on the thought that we're not good enough. I don't know if these words resonate with any of you, but if it does, I hope you can imagine a life without that imaginary shell. A life where you make peace with whatever you are, or however you look. A life where you break free.

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Learn to accept compliments. Over the course of my life, I've mastered the skill of deflecting compliments. Dodged them like bullets. I never knew how to react to them properly, because I could never wrap my head around them. Every nice thing anyone says, my mind would just warp it into: "They're just being nice" or "They probably just have low standards". It took a while for me to start saying "Thank you" instead of a "No I'm not!" To this day, I still have a habit of saying the latter.

Find people who make you feel good about yourself. Friendships aren't meant to drain you. It's a red flag when a group of people makes you feel like shrinking when you're around them. This doesn't mean you should find friends who shower you with compliments. Rather, find people who understand your feelings. Uplifting friendships; people who respect you, appreciate you, and are honest with you.

Learn how to become selfless. More often than not, insecurities stem from our fixations on ourselves. We overthink about our imperfections, we don't feel good enough, etc etc, all leading to a fractured self-esteem.

Try doing things for others. Fill your life with spending time with or helping people. Find passions, activities, things you can act upon. Have a heart for other people. Slowly, your life will revolve more around what you're doing, what you're investing in, and less around how you're feeling. And once you distance your mind from thinking about yourself so much, your insecurities will no longer feel so significant.

Don't be so hard on yourself. Being a perfectionist, my inner critic finds flaws everyday. I spend most of my days thinking that what I am is something that needs to be "fixed". But regardless of your imperfections, inside and outside, regardless of what you've done or could never do, you have to be brave and declare that you are enough.

In the words of Taylor Swift, "You are not your mistakes. You are not damaged goods or money from your failed explorations. You are a product of the lessons you've learned, and you are a person who survived a bunch of rainstorms and kept walking."

Sweater: H&M // Glasses: Karamata
It's not something you "find". Lastly, my verdict is that confidence is a tricky thing to find. It's something that you can grasp, but then one split second of comparing yourself to others will simply make it slip through your fingers. Knowing that, I realized that confidence isn't something you "find". Not in good looks, followers, or academic achievements. It's not "found". It's practiced.

Sometimes, it takes a little bit of faking it. You force yourself to put on that mask of being confident, and go out into the world and if you're lucky, that confidence seeps right into you. Other times, it's something you develop over time. Something that takes practice, trial and error, adjustments to settle into. Changing a whole mindset, whole habits where you constantly degrade yourself, is not an easy task. But regardless of what your mind tells you, regardless of who you are, regardless of who you've been, I urge you, friends, to at least

try.


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Many people have been sharing their "stories" or "tips" on how to become confident and whatnot, but I guessed that maybe people needed to hear it from someone other than a famous blogger with this glamorous amazing life, perfect bedroom, all smiles in front of a camera, telling you how she "achieved confidence".
Maybe some needed to hear it from something like this. Someone struggling, just the same.
So whether or not that be the case, I truly hope this helped you on your path.

See you around.







Thursday, July 20, 2017

BOOKS | Currently Reading

I've always loved to read, for as long as I can remember. But with enough tasks and distractions, it's astounding how I can completely neglect my books for months on end. However, upon taking a week off of social media, I started to re-connect with this bookworm inside of me. 

Since then, I've been catching up with several books kept on my bedside table, and started to continue my "book flow" (reading, finishing, buying more books, and repeat.) Re-incorporating reading into my daily activities is one of my best decisions. I'd forgotten how much I missed being lost in the pages of a good story. Listed below are the books that I'm currently in the middle of and still reading through to this day.

Indonesia, Etc. by Elizabeth Pisani
This is one of those books that's very complex to explain. Every time someone asks me what it's about, I end up talking a whole mouthful. That's because Indonesia, Etc. features Elizabeth Pisani's many, various, eventful experiences surrounding Indonesia. When she was working together with Indonesia's Minister of Health on issues surrounding HIV/AIDS more than a decade ago, she visited the country frequently, mostly spending her time lobbying or finishing up jobs in Jakarta (including being exposed to the prostitutes, drug users, and transgenders living in the capital city's slums.) For this book, she'd flown back to Indonesia; this time with her journalistic skills, determined to travel to its islands and experience every part of the country, immersing herself in the different cultures and norms found all across Indonesia. Seeing Indonesia through her eyes and through her writing is both relatable and revelating, so much so that it got me scribbling on some of its pages.

As an Indonesian, I have so much love for this book. It's so fascinating that through reading about her travels, I could learn so much more about the parts of this country that I'd never even heard of before.  When she talks about the social situation, or the little quirks Indonesia has, I would laugh and think "how true!" I also love how she entertains the readers by providing well-written summaries of Indonesia's history, government, and chaotic bureaucracy. Now, I'm still in the middle of the book because it becomes hard to keep up with some of the challenging vocabulary, and her chapters surrounding heavy politics, finances, or import-export policies. But through this book, I'm re-learning about my own country in a very interesting, unconventional way.

Chicken Soup for the Soul: Just For Teenagers
Believe it or not, this book was actually given to me by one of my favorite teachers on my 17th birthday. That's more than a year ago. It's been sitting in my room, untouched, for more than 365 days. How the hell have I been spending my life?

But when I finally picked it up and started, I read through probably 20 stories before stopping. The  diction and tone of the writing are very simple (probably because it's meant for teenagers), but I quite enjoy the short stories packed into this book, and it makes it easy and weightless to read. The stories are parted into different segments (like "love and relationships", "reaching your goals", or "liking yourself".) They're all written by different contributors, and each one gives a different lesson to learn. 

I think that's the important part of the book; that's also why I keep reading it despite its lack of details or climax. It simply inspires me. It's not the most ~*fascinating*~ book I've ever read but some of these stories managed to make me smile. Now, it's usually the book I read every morning during breakfast, and if not, I basically just read at least one story a day. It doesn't "change my life" but little by little, it helps me re-evaluate.

Beauty and the Beast: Belle's Library by Brittany Rubiano
As an avid fan of Beauty and the Beast and a loyal, inspired follower of Belle, purchasing this book was a biased move. But it's one I do not regret. I didn't know what to expect when I bought it, but the hard cover was not only pretty, but- alluring. It intrigued me so much that I ended up buying it, rather spontaneously.

It turns out that the book is this very adorably-illustrated curation of quotes and thoughts, all strewn together as if you're flipping through an actual literary journal that belongs to Belle herself. I loved the concept, even though I still haven't really delved into it yet. The words are presented in these very whimsical, pretty, animated layouts; giving you that storybook essence you can expect to find in any Disney children's book. Looking through it felt very lighthearted and entertaining, but still, I want to get the most out of this book. I've thought about doing so by looking up all the stories/books that are referred to (at the very start of this book.) I've always wanted to learn more about literary pieces from all over history anyway, so this book gave me a good start. So once I finish my two other books and get into this one, I'm determined to broaden my literary horizons by looking up the origins of these quotes one by one. Who knows? I might just become a Shakespeare know-it-all by the end of the book. I guess we'll see.


What are some books you've been reading lately? Are there any you'd recommend?
Leave your comments below, I'd love to hear what you have to say!

I'll write again soon.












Saturday, July 15, 2017

BALI | Motel Mexicola

We visited many places on our 7-day trip in Bali, but I gotta say, this place was one of the most vibrant and unique spots we got to experience.

Demographically speaking, Indonesia is a country with very little to no Mexican influence in its people. Unlike Americans who thrive on Taco Bell and embrace their many Mexican joints found at every corner, our country's overtaken by cultures and cuisines from our Asian counterparts instead. So when I saw that there was a restaurant in Bali called "Motel Mexicola", I knew it was totally worth a look. (Apparently not an actual motel, though.)



Walking in, I was impressed with the elaborate mix of patterns, portraits, and Mexican art decorating the colorful walls. You see crosses and flowers and grubby mirrors and framed quotes and paintings of people I assumed were famous (politicians, artists, musical icons in their day.) Unlike most of the hangout spots in Bali, I'd say the owners did not put a lot of thought into their interior designing. Nevertheless, it worked.

After a lousy security bag check, we entered and found ourselves in the face of this huge, cavernous centerpiece. We opted for a table upstairs, as the ground floor was filled with tourists chattering away at the bar.



The food in itself wasn't bad at all. Among a choice of tacos, tortillas, fritangas, and many other foods we mostly never even heard of, my friends ordered a couple glasses of mocktails, while on the table we had a plate of quesadillas and churros. It tasted great, but then again, I don't have many other experiences with Mexican cuisine to compare it to. Although I will admit those were the best churros of my entire life. They also served some Indonesian dishes or flavours, served with a Mexican twist, so I'll give them credit for that. The mocktails were fitting as well, perfect to freshen us up in a hot sunny Bali day.

As decorative and vibrant as the place felt, it looked a bit half-abandoned in the hours we'd visited (a few hours after noon.) I then learned that it was quite too early; Motel Mexicola is a "cool spot" in daylight, but it actually comes to life at nighttime, with their bar parties, more lights, music, and dancing. In retrospect, I would've totally bought an extra night in Bali just to be in that scene.

There were only a couple of things I did not enjoy about the place, though. 1) The very confusing layout where you enter and it's relatively dark, and you come upstairs (or walk a few steps down onto the outdoor area) and then it's so bright it's blinding. It was just confusing for me, but then again, I suppose it was a place meant for nighttime entertainment as opposed to afternoons. 2) The service was not enjoyable. It wasn't hard to sense how much they favored white tourists as opposed to- well, every other customer. They were fine with their jobs, but just not the friendliest staff (they even mocked our group for taking "too much photos"). Even if my friends did spend quite some time taking photos, it's still very low and unprofessional to call your customers out like that. So we did leave feeling slightly irritated by their attitude. But hey, if you're a foreign tourist, they're probably gonna pull a good face.

Is this how you pose? I have no idea.

So! (Why did this post become a little shady hahaha) That's all the impressions and commentaries I can give. More or less, it's a cool experience. For a look at the menu or basically any other info, they actually have an awesome website here. I'd simply recommend you to come in the evening or night time instead, if you ever find yourself in Bali's Seminyak region and are looking for a trendy spot to enjoy yourself in!

I'll write again soon.

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Long overdue? Perhaps.
But I'm still determined to share onto this blog every tiny bit of memory I have from Bali. 
Our trip was at the start of June, but there are still many I have yet to write about. So bear with me. 
In the mean time, catch up with me through these links below. Have a great weekend!

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