Tuesday, December 11, 2018

My Body is Nobody's Palette

At first it was everything from ivory to ebony
Untainted against all the lights and shadows life gave me
Until he came and brought the key
Everything was done in the name of love
But what is love, really?

Then it was red
Blood reminded me that at least I was still alive
It was red like roses
Unless there was nothing beautiful about it
It was red like stop lights
But back then I wasn’t aware of the danger
It was red like fire engines
Unless there was nothing brave in this
It was red
Because I was everything but brave

Then it turned green
My skin was a forest
My eyes waterfalls
The more I cry
The more my wound multiply
With pandemic damp moss spread all over me
The sanity in me shrinks

The green became purple
I decorated the ones on my sleeves with pearls
And adorned those under my eyes with shimmers
I have mastered the art of covering what you have damaged
Your sharp exclamation marks tattooed beneath my skin
Apology kisses staining around my lips
As for the painful grip—how tight is right?
Every morning I washed myself
But the bruises and your traces remain
It was my worth that drained

Scars do not heal
They just turn much more subtle
Go much more deeper
You shouldn’t cling into the past, he said
If you don’t forgive me you’re a monster, he said
I shuddered as I smiled
If I’m a monster,
Then what does that make you?
But wounds do not speak
They just fade

Before everything went black
I was afraid to close my eyes
For when the world was silent
My mind became the loudest
The wildest
The angriest
The saddest
Because I was helpless

It was like a screen shutting down
An episode finally ended
Excruciatingly longer than what was planned
My life is what happened behind the curtain
I carry the shame with me
The ruins I got from him
The stigma that lasts
The cracks from my past
But I am whole
Glad that my hands could eventually reach out
Grateful for the hearts that reach me in

Now it’s orange
A sun rising
A sun setting
It will rise again tomorrow—first thing in the morning
I know that the sun holds better things
And when I can finally love again one day
I will love like there’s no yesterday
Now it’s orange
Orange of truth
Orange of optimism
Orange of warmth
Orange of courage
Now it’s orange
And I’m not afraid of colors anymore

Thursday, September 13, 2018

How Pop-Punk Contributes to Raise the Awareness about Mental Health Issues

World Suicide Prevention Day is marked on 10th September every year—a day meant to create awareness, commitment, and action to prevent suicide by reaching out to people who may be struggling to cope with life. 2018 marks the 15th World Suicide Prevention Day, with total of over 300 activities in around 70 countries were reported to International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP), including educational and commemorative events, press briefings and conferences, as well as media social coverage in the past years.

Everyone has a role in preventing suicide—and that includes the pop-punk bands that are continuously speaking up and singing their hearts out on issues about mental health.

Over the years, what we know as pop-punk has transformed rapidly—evolving with the times and the trends. As a music genre that fuses elements of pop music with punk rock, pop-punk songs are usually angsty-ridden and self-deprecating. It’s eventful and dramatic. It’s not just lyrics and guitar riffs; it’s the faces and scenes and places and processes in-between. It’s not just music; it’s the feelings. It’s not just a lifestyle; it’s the fleeting moments in our lives. Pop-punk songs never fail to cover issues that are so universal, yet deeply personal to each fan.

While some genre-purists condemn a lot of pop-punk bands nowadays for sounding more like pop and less like punk, or the other way around, I believe that the bands actually just focus on being honest and open about their feelings with no intention for making fun of that concept. Pop-punk should be seen as a platform to lift us up every now and then, not a box that constrains us, not a label that comes with lines of codes that instruct how we should think or act or respond at all times.

Sometimes pop-punk is one thing, sometimes it’s something else. It’s not all tough and riot and rebellion, sometimes it’s refusing to smile and admitting that you’re sad. Sometimes it’s about hating the world, sometimes it’s about hating yourself—and realizing that there are certain times when it’s okay to do so. Sometimes it’s grassroots organization and political activism, sometimes it’s acknowledging your own mental issues and bravely fighting your inner demons.

Let’s start with Paramore’s Rose-Colored Boy that talks about the social expectation to be happy—resulted in associating sadness as a shame. Isn’t it so poetic that Fake Happy is written in a major key so that even the song itself sounds happy, therefore, fake in an attempt to be so? Basically, the entire After Laughter album is a rollercoaster ride of emotions. All these happy-looking and happy-sounding sad songs are genius because pop-punk bands seem to always find a way to keep us feeling slightly less alone but still sad enough to feel okay being sad—if that makes sense.

Furthermore, the use of solid bright color schemes in some music videos like Neck Deep’s In Bloom, Bad To The Bone by WSTR, With Confidence’s That Something, and From The Outside by Real Friends, for example, is not merely about fitting in the trending palette aesthetics, but the bigger picture is about how colors have no gender. The coloring of gender resulted in how some colors are labeled feminine and therefore are believed to be made for women. The gender bias is so deeply entrenched in our consciousness that most men are uncomfortable to wear pink, purple, or yellow—not because they don’t like those colors, but because they fear being judged as not masculine enough by the society. Surely, the way we are raised and trained to believe and try to fulfill those ideals can affect our mental health. The way these pop-punk dudes exercise their passion in pop-punk music while wearing such feminine colors are their statement as to how the choice to wear any color is all ours to take and how we should be comfortable of what we wear, who we are, and who we want to be.

Oddly enough, these songs might have provoked some contradictory yet comforting sort of emotions to us; all those bright colors probably made us smile, but the lyrics would have had us being more self-aware of all the feelings we often hold back to our darkest corners. Admit it, we’re all struggling to put how we feel into words and then it kind of made sense right after we hear the songs.

The most important thing is, unlike any other cultural products that often romanticize mental health; we have pop-punk bands to normalize the issues.

Mental health issues are still mostly portrayed as unique and interesting—as if only by that it deserves a click. While mental illness is not something people should be scared of, it is also not something that people should aspire to have. The romanticization of mental health issues is probably one of the biggest contributing factors as to why people start self-diagnosing themselves with terms we really know nothing about.  And by refusing to acknowledge this problem, perhaps we are encouraging it.

Suicidal people are not angels that want to go home. Razor cuts are not artistic and scars do not decorate your body. Overdosing is not a tramp through wonderland. Depression and anxiety are not flaunting super cool exclusive club badges. It is fundamentally wrong to associate the word ‘tragic’ alongside the word ‘beautiful’. By making mental illness out as something desirable to have, we take the focus away from real people genuinely struggling from it. Fortunately, slowly but sure, pop-punk has been fighting against these misleading narratives by portraying that mental health is a spectrum and we’re all on it.

From “I’m just a little bit caught in the middle, I try to keep going but it’s not that simple” by Paramore in Caught In The Middle, to Neck Deep’s In Bloom “Last night, it had me down I’m feeling numb. I can try but sometimes that is not enough”. From All Time Low’s Missing You “And if you need a friend, then please just say the word”, to “From the outside I seem fine, on the inside I’m still sick, the pill is a temporary fix” by Real Friends in From The Outside. And let’s not forget As It Is with their emo-to-the-extremo vibes and the line “we’re pointing the finger that’s pulling the trigger” on The Wounded World that surely gets to all of us.

It’s only fair to also mention the song titled Voldemort by With Confidence. No, it has nothing to do with the story of Harry Potter and the wizarding world. Instead, it talks entirely about mental health issues. The band believed that what Voldemort and mental health issues have in common is that even if you don’t talk about any of them, it is still a looming presence in a person’s life and the only way to stand up to it is to admit that there is a problem instead of ignoring it, stigmatizing it, or worse, causing greater fear of it. The reference that they’re after is the line “Call him Voldemort, Harry. Always use the proper name for things. Fear of a name only increases fear of the thing itself.” I think it’s brilliant and thoughtful of them to do so.

Bands are getting more and more open to share their honest experiences and perspectives on mental health issues—and not only it’s aspiring, but it’s crucial to do. It’s almost as if the beats and guitar-riffs can make us feel less lonely, less anxious, and less depressed. It’s almost as if no matter how deep and suffocating it has been, we didn’t drown, because they swim with us—next to us. But one thing to remember, no matter to what extend their lyrics resonates with you; bands can’t diagnose you—and neither can you. Bands are friends, but they are not the professionals to seek help to.

Pop-punk bands can and should be our allies in fighting against mental health stigma and ignorance. Pop-punk bands can and should exercise their capacity in encouraging and celebrating the idea of diversity and inclusivity. To quote Hayley Williams, "It's important and more healing to be empathetic than to try and paint everything rosy". Besides, actively contributing to social progress and rejecting toxic narratives through songs is an essential, radical, and of course, very pop-punk thing to do. Here's to pop-punk bands to continue using their voices to speak up about issues that matter.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

What Happened to Jonatan Christie is Not Sexism and Here’s Why

The pancontinental multi-sport,  the 18th Asian Games 2018 has been running for 11 days. Having exceeded the medal achievement target, up to this midday Indonesia has successfully secured 26 gold medals, 20 silver medals, and 31 bronze medals. One of the most long-awaited match, badminton, contributed to give two gold medals, won by Kevin Sanjaya and Marcus Gideon at men’s doubles and Jonatan Christie at men’s singles.
The later became internet phenomena not only because of his talents, strategies, and determination to win in the field, but also because of his controversial victory celebration. Upon securing a ticket to final, Jonatan Christie (or Jojo, for short) went shirtless and tossed his sweat-soaked shirt to the audience. He then received so many comments—mostly by women—appraising his look and body. While some comments may highlight it in a nice way, some others are perceived as an objectification of Jojo as it expresses sexual tendency, such as the comment “my ovaries are exploding” and other similar remarks.
It then raised a heated debate all around social media upon whether this form of phenomenon is okay to do or not, and can be justified or not. In result, a lot of concepts are then being confused and used in exchange with one another, such as sexism and sexual harassment, when actually each concept has different meaning which makes them should be ideally used wisely regarding to the context.
I, however, believe that Jojo’s case is not sexism. First of all, sexism is the belief that men are superior to women and thus the act of prejudice, stereotype, and discrimination based on said sex or gender is somehow justified. Such a belief can be born out of ignorance or malice, conscious or unconscious, intentional or unintentional—but it doesn’t make it any less of sexism.
In a society, sexism is both born out of and functions to maintain patriarchy. The concept of patriarchy itself literally translates as ‘rule of fathers’. Society that upholds patriarchy operates in a way which male members have more social, political, material, and ideological power than female members. This oppression towards women, then, can be happened on the level of individuals, collectives, and even institutions.
The question now would be, can’t men be the victim who experienced the disadvantages while the women act as the perpetrator of sexual and gender based discrimination—like in Jojo’s case? Yes, they can. If that is so, isn’t it a reverse sexism—or just sexism in general? No, it is not.
An important, but often overlooked, part of the term is that sexism is basically prejudice/stereotype/discrimination plus power. Jojo is a privileged high-profile gold medalist rising star athlete with more power over his women fans. The way he celebrated his victories by repeatedly went shirtless twice in two different matches proved that at least he didn’t have bad experience with his first attempt to do so, or so we perceived. On a recent interview with The Jakarta Post, Jojo even chuckled and said that he had no particular reason as to why he went shirtless, he just did that because public seemed to favor and are entertained by that act. Most of the times, when men get praised for their bodies, they’d be flattered, because that’s just how superior men are in this world.
Meanwhile, when women get praised for their bodies, most of them will feel uncomfortable because unwanted compliments are not merely scary, but also oftentimes threatening. And that’s because there is power dynamics relation at play. A man teacher pulling a woman student’s bra strap as a form of so-called school punishment, a man manager standing behind a woman staff and pat her on the shoulder longer than necessary, a husband forcing his wife to do sex when she has said she doesn’t want to, a father assaulting his own daughter, a man stranger catcalling, breast-grabbing, bottom-pinching a woman walking down the public road, are just some of the common illustrations. Women are always the ones who are more harshly judged and easily slut-shamed by misogynistic moral police based on their behaviors and appearances. Men feel entitled to objectify women simply because they are women. Sexism can be found everywhere and everytime, it is something women experience routinely on a daily basis. In this case, Jojo has full authority over his body and the way it is presented, while unfortunately most other women do not.
I don’t deny that the power dynamics do shift around (that is why it is called dynamic and not static in the very first place) depending on the culture, time period, the individual aspect, the other privileges that said person has or does not have, and so on. But ultimately the scales remain tipped in favor of men in general. Men can be affected by prejudice, but because of they have privilege in form of power, they don’t experience it the same way that women do. My point is, power is one of the most important parts of the equation here. This is not to say that men cannot be prejudiced or stereotyped or discriminated, because many of them actually are. But without power, they are not actually working within the systemic framework of advantage created by the majority to privilege themselves. Thus, it is only sexism if the person is capable of using that framework. Otherwise, it is prejudice or stereotype or discrimination.
First disclaimer, I’m not saying that a sexual harassment depends on whether or not the victim feel harassed. What I’m saying is that how the victim feels and reacts toward certain phenomenon relates deeply with what relations she or he has with the other party. Sexual harassment is an offensive, uninvited and unwelcomed verbal or physical behavior of a sexual nature conducted by a person in authority toward a subordinate—and rarely the other way around.
Second disclaimer, when I say that women can’t be sexist towards men, I don’t mean to say that it’s morally right for women to be prejudiced against men, nor that I think it should be accepted. Prejudice is generally bad, and we should treat people the way we want to be treated. What should be highlighted is that there is a huge distinction between sexism and gender-based prejudice.
The appropriation of the term sexism to men was frustrating to me, as women’s oppression happened through long historical and structural inequalities in a systemic nature. No, it is not double standards, because it is not even apple to apple to reverse the sex to begin with. The power relations have been imbalance for so long, there’s no way the oppression that men experienced nowadays are in the same level as what women have to deal with. Women and their bodies have been commodified for centuries—seen as mere property and second-class citizens. The condition may has been improving over years, but it is undeniable that commodification of women still widely exists. We live in a culture that nurtures patriarchy—it is deeply rooted and manifested to the point that women are mistreated at the individual level as well as at the institutional level. The real-life example would be that a woman who is a victim of rape (the individual level) was told by the judges (the institutional level) that she was culpable because of the way she was dressed. It shows that sexism is institutionalized and systematic, and so I reject the notion that women can be sexist towards men because women lack and even don’t have the access to the institutional power that men have.
As for Jojo’s case, I think it would be a lot wiser if we fans turn our admiration to respect and support. We should praise our nation’s athletes in regard to their talents, hardwork, and achievements for this country, and not merely based on looks and body images that have zero relevance with their performance in the field.

Monday, June 25, 2018

My Master Degree Application Tips – Mendaftar Kuliah dan Mendapatkan Unconditional Letter of Acceptance (LoA) dari Kampus Luar Negeri

So as you guys know, lately I’ve been posting the acceptance letters regarding to my master degree application on the instastory of my instagram account. I received and am humbled by so many kind wishes from my friends and relatives about my future plans. Aside from that, my inbox also has been  flooded with several questions asking about my preparation. I really want to answer every one with explanations as comprehensive as possible, so I decided to make a blogpost about it instead. Well, I ended up pouring everything I had in mind and writing a 3000-word blogspot... Haha, but really, I hope this sound more like the informative and useful tips that I first aimed for and less like a boring and nonsense rambling.

First of all, to make things clear, I’ve secured unconditional LoAs from three different universities, which are University of Leeds (MA International Communication), University of Sussex (MA Media Practice for Development and Social Change), and Newcastle University (MA Cross-Cultural Communication and Media Studies). But I’m not leaving soon, because I haven’t applied for any scholarship for this year’s term of study. Jadi InsyaAllah paling cepat bisa berangkat di term September 2019 kalau beasiswanya nanti bisa lolos. Kalau berkenan, doakan bisa lolos beasiswanya juga, ya, biar nanti bisa bagi-bagi tipsnya lagi, hehe.

Dari kemarin banyak yang nanya, apa acceptance letter-nya nggak expired—kok udah daftar sekarang padahal baru mau kuliah tahun depan. Nggak perlu khawatir, kalau kamu udah dapat unconditional LoA untuk term 2018, misalnya, kamu bisa menunda masuk kuliahmu dan minta diundur untuk term berikutnya, kok. Biasanya di surat pemberitahuan atau aplikasi pendaftarannya, kamu akan diberi pilihan apakah kamu mau accept the offer (masuk kuliah di term tersebut), decline the offer (nggak jadi kuliah di sana), atau request for deferral (masuk kuliah di term selanjutnya). Maka dari itu, enaknya udah daftar (dan diterima) di kampus duluan adalah, acceptance letter-nya bisa berlaku buat dua tahun.

Kalau ditanya mana yang lebih penting, daftar sekolahnya dulu atau beasiswanya dulu, aku dengan tegas akan jawab: daftar sekolahnya dulu. Memang ada juga yang ngurus keduanya bersamaan atau malah sebaliknya, dan terbukti mereka sukses dengan cara itu, and that’s completely okay, tiap orang bebas menentukan, kok. Tapi kalau aku pribadi, aku berprinsip bahwa harus ada target berupa kampus dan jurusan tujuan terlebih dahulu. Harus berusaha buat ngedapetin unconditional LoA-nya dulu, baru setelah itu mikirin funding-nya. Jadi bagiku bukan “yang penting bisa kuliah di luar negeri”, tapi ya harus bener-bener tahu, luar negerinya itu di mana dan emang bagus apa enggak. Besides, I think there is more likely a bigger chance to be granted the scholarship when you are applying after you have already secured an unconditional LoA from the university.

Sedikit cerita dulu, ya. Secara garis besar, timeline-ku adalah untuk memulai kuliah S2 setelah dua tahun lulus S1. Dalam dua tahun tersebut aku mau bekerja dulu—mendalami passion, memperluas jaringan, dan mencari pengalaman. Aku lulus S1 bulan Juni 2017, dan langsung mulai kerja di bulan yang sama. Kemudian aku ikut preparation class untuk tes IELTS di bulan Oktober sampai Desember 2017, sedangkan tes IELTS-nya di bulan Februari 2018. Aku bikin outline personal statement mulai Maret 2018, dan baru bener-bener jadi sebulan setelahnya. Terus di waktu yang bersamaan juga udah ngehubungin pihak-pihak yang akan membuatkanku recommendation letters. Semua persyaratan selesai kupersiapkan di akhir April 2018. Langsung bikin akun di situs resmi masing-masing kampus, dan submit aplikasi pendaftaran. Alhamdulillah, Newcastle University memberikan hasil berupa unconditional LoA padA 17 Mei 2018, kemudian disusul dengan unconditional LoA dari University of Leeds pada keesokan harinya, dan unconditional LoA dari University of Sussex pada 4 Juni 2018.

Jadi, blogpost kali ini akan membahas tentang persiapan yang setahun belakangan ini kulakukan dalam membuat aplikasi pendaftaran master degree. Walaupun kelihatannya simpel, it actually takes a lot of time and consideration. Kalau kamu baru mau memulai, penting banget untuk bikin timeline selama setahun atau dua tahun ke depan. You don’t need to rush everything, but you must have deadlines for everything. Hal-hal yang kupersiapkan sudah ku-breakdown menjadi lima poin utama di bawah ininot necessarily in this order, because as I explained before, I prepared everything simultaneously:
Tentukan kampus tujuan.
Siapkan hasil scan dari dokumen-dokumen yang diperlukan.
Tentukan target nilai English Proficiency Test.
Siapkan personal statement/motivation letter.
Siapkan reference letters.

Oke, kubahas satu persatu, ya!

Tentukan kampus tujuan.
Some of you might roll your eyes real hard to this first tips, but this one honestly took me a very great deal of time to decide on. Tips yang pertama ini penting kalau kamu belum ada gambaran sama sekali tentang mau kuliah di mana, atau udah punya beberapa calon tapi bingung gimana milihnya. Aku sejak dulu selalu ingin kuliah di Inggris, tapi belum pernah betul-betul tahu kampus mana yang mau kutuju. Personally, caraku menentukan kampus tujuan adalah dengan membuat beberapa lists. List yang pertama isinya adalah semua kampus di Inggris yang punya jurusan yang kumau, yaitu seputar komunikasi dan media. Aku simply googling ”communication schools in UK” dan banyak kebantu juga sama situs hotcourses.com dan thecompleteuniversityguide.co.uk. Di tahap ini, dulu aku nggak mikirin requirements atau apapun—I just put everything down my list! I ended up having 34 universities on my list, dan bahkan masing-masing universitasnya pun punya lebih dari satu jurusan di bidang komunikasi dan media.

Selanjutnya, baru deh list tersebut aku kurasi. Caranya adalah dengan buka situs resmi masing-masing universitas. Sepengetahuanku, situs resmi mereka selalu punya informasi yang lengkap banget—mulai dari tentang modul kuliahnya, overall facilities-nya, sampai city life pun ada. Dari 34 universitas itu, aku berhasil kurasi jadi 10 universitas. Sebenarnya what to filters out ini juga personal banget. Misalnya, aku nggak pengen kuliah di London, because I want to experience the countryside of England instead of its buzzling metropolitan life. Jadi kampus-kampus yang lokasinya di London otomatis out of the list. Kemudian, aku pengen kuliah di kampus yang legendaris, kalau di UK istilahnya redbrick universities—yaitu universitas-universitas yang didirikan di abad ke-19 dengan bangunan original yang masih beroperasi sampai sekarang. Terus kalau di Inggris, ada yang namanya The Russell Group, yang isinya adalah universitas-universitas ternama di UK dengan world-leading research excellence. The filters are totally up to you!

Next, you might as well want to check out the universities’ rankings, biasanya yang paling prestisius adalah QS World University Rankings yang list-nya selalu diperbaharui tiap tahunnya. Tapi jangan terlalu terpaku dengan itu, karena itu adalah ranking universitas secara keseluruhan. Contohnya, if we’re talking about UK, pasti yang paling terkenal adalah University of Oxford atau University of Cambridge. Aku nggak keterima di dua-duanya. Kenapa? Karena aku nggak daftar di dua-duanya. Kenapa? Simply karena kedua kampus itu nggak punya jurusan komunikasi! Haha. Paham ya maksudku untuk nggak terlalu jadiin ranking universitas sebagai patokan. Instead, kamu juga harus cari tahu, gimana ranking jurusan atau fakultas yang mau kamu tuju. Misal, universitas A memang ranking 1, tapi di jurusan X akreditasinya dapet B. Sedangkan universitas B peringkatnya di bawah universitas A, tapi jurusan X yang kamu tuju akreditasinya malah dapet A. This is an important thing to consider before you decide which one is better.

Selanjutnya, ini menurutku cukup penting dan harus diperhatikan. Ketika kamu buka situs resmi universitasnya, pastikan kamu cek jurusan tujuanmu berada di departemen atau fakultas apa. Misalnya, ada kampus yang jurusan komunikasi-nya termasuk dalam School of Arts and Cultures, tapi ada juga yang termasuk dalam School of Media and Communication, dan ada juga yang termasuk dalam School of Sociology and Social Policy. Walaupun jurusannya mungkin punya nama yang sama, tapi approach dalam pembelajaran dan modul-modulnya akan berbeda—tergantung dengan fakultas apa yang membawahinya. Kedua, penting juga untuk benar-benar memahami jurusan seperti apa yang mau kamu tuju. Misalnya, apakah kamu ingin belajar tentang media in general? Atau media sebagai industri? Atau hanya tentang journalism-nya? Apakah kamu mau belajar film untuk membuat film atau untuk mengkritik film? Di satu universitas saja, aku pernah menemukan ada jurusan Print Journalism, Online Journalism, War Journalism, International Journalism, dan Feature Journalism. Semuanya sama-sama jurnalisme, tapi tentu penekanannya sepenuhnya berbeda. Kurasa yang banyak seperti ini adalah jurusan-jurusan di ilmu sosial, sih. Jadi, dengan adanya pilihan yang demikian beragam, pastikan kamu memilih yang paling sesuai dengan kemauan dan kemampuanmu, ya!

Dengan filter-filter ini, aku berhasil punya 10 universitas tujuan di list-ku. Selanjutnya, yang kulakukan adalah membandingkan modul pembelajaran satu sama lain—both the compulsory and optional ones. Mana yang menawarkan lebih banyak opsi? Mana, misalnya, yang memberikan kesempatan untuk field trip atau internship? Modul inilah yang akan kamu pelajari nantinya, so you might as well choose it wisely based on both what you like to learn and what’s important to learn. Selain itu, menurutku juga penting untuk cari tahu lebih dalam tentang city life-nya, karena nantinya kamu akan tinggal di sana (amen to that!). Do you prefer to live near the mountain or the beach? Are you a city-person? Are there enough of vegan restaurants? Is it moslem-friendly? Is the night life lively? Ini penting banget buat jadi pertimbangan. You’re not gonna spend your entire day in the university buildings only, are you? Gampang kok, tinggal cari aja di youtube “life in (the city)”. Enaknya kalau youtube, kamu bisa langsung nonton videonya, nggak perlu susah-susah bayangin. Bisa juga dengan mengikuti akun-akun resmi kampus dan kota tujuanmu di media sosial. Selain itu, aku juga mengikuti akun PPI yang ada di kota tersebut, supaya dapet pandangan tentang gimana sih keseharian pelajar dari Indonesia di sana. Lately aku juga sering cari info dengan cara googling “top things to do in (the city)”, atau “free things to do in (the city)” yang kebanyakan nge-highlight main attractions dari kota itu. Kalau sejak awal kamu sudah punya satu universitas tujuan, it’s safe to directly jump into this very last filter, just to make sure that the city and its people will not disappoint you.

Dengan segala filter ini, akhirnya list-ku jadi tinggal tiga universitas, deh! Di tiga universitas inilah aku mendaftar. Alhamdulillah kalau di Inggris mayoritas universitas nggak mematok admission fee, alias bisa daftar secara gratis. Caranya juga gampang banget, tinggal bikin akun di situs resminya dan mengunggah semua persyaratan di sana. Progress dari aplikasi dan pengumuman hasilnya juga akan diinfokan di akun dan via e-mail. Secara umum, yang perlu dipersiapkan adalah: informasi personal berupa data diri, berkas-berkas pendukung, personal statement/motivation letter, sertifikat English Proficiency Test, dan reference letters. Aku bahas satu persatu, ya!

Siapkan hasil scan dari dokumen-dokumen yang diperlukan.
Mulai dari yang paling gampang dulu, hehe. Yang paling utama tentu paspor sebagai identitas kita. Kemudian, ijazah dan transkrip nilai. Ingat, semua dokumen harus di-translate dulu ke bahasa Inggris. Untungnya universitas asalku menyediakan jasa translate ijazah dan transkrip, jadi aku bisa langsung mengurus di bagian akademik fakultas dan universitas secara gratis. Kalau universitas asalmu tidak menyediakan ini, kamu bisa pakai jasa dari lembaga penerjemah tersumpah dan tersertifikasi di kotamu. Harus sworn and certified, ya, supaya bisa resmi digunakan untuk keperluan mendaftar kuliah di luar negeri.

Tips dariku, jangan buru-buru buat translate sertifikat-sertifikat kamu yang lainnya, seperti sertifikat juara lomba, magang, dan lain-lain. Dulu aku sempat sok ide kepikiran untuk translate semuanya biar bisa kelihatan berprestasi dan lebih punya kesempatan untuk diterima. Kalau ditotal hampir habis satu juta untuk translate, tapi terus aku cek lagi di situs resmi kampus yang kutuju dan nggak ada kata-kata yang mengharuskan aku untuk upload semua sertifikat yang kupunya. Yang diwajibkan cuma ijazah dan transkrip nilai, that’s all. Aku akhirnya memutuskan buat nggak jadi nge-translate sertifikat-sertifikatku yang lainnya. To go for extra miles is good, but you need to be wise about it. Aku akhirnya dapat tiga unconditional LoA tanpa menyertakan sertifikat apapun di aplikasiku. Toh kalaupun universitas tersebut nantinya mempertimbangkanmu sebagai calon mahasiswa, tapi masih butuh bukti atas prestasi-prestasi yang kamu klaim, mereka akan tetap memberikan conditional LoA, kok. Kamu akan diberi waktu untuk melengkapi persyaratan yang diminta dan dianggap kurang.

Tentukan target nilai English Proficiency Test.
Sebenernya ada banyak jenis dan pilihannya, ya, untuk English Proficiency Test ini, seperti TOEFL, TOEIC, PTE, atau IELTS. Karena kampus-kampus yang kutuju berada di Inggris, aku memilih buat ambil tes IELTS. Lagi-lagi, kamu bisa cek di situs resmi universitas tujuanmu buat cari tahu berapa skor minimal yang mereka minta. Tiap kampus punya standar yang berbeda-beda, ada yang pokoknya minimal overall score 6.5, tapi ada juga yang overall score-nya cuma minta minimal 6 tapi writing section-nya harus minimal 7. Jadi harus dicek satu-satu, ya, supaya kamu bisa menentukan target nilai yang harus kamu raih nantinya.

Nah, sekarang aku mau ngomongin tentang persiapannya, karena menurutku persiapan adalah yang paling penting dari tes ini. The test is quite costly—aku tes IELTS di Februari 2018 dan dapat harga 2.850.000. Pastinya sayang banget, dong, kalau udah keluar uang segini banyak, terus skornya ternyata nggak mencukupi buat daftar di universitas yang kita tuju? Karena itulah aku bilang persiapan adalah yang terpenting.  Pilihannya ada dua, antara kamu mau self-study, atau mau ikut preparation class di lembaga pendidikan yang menyediakan tes tersebut.

Aku personally memilih untuk ikut preparation class dengan dua pertimbangan, yaitu structure dan consistency. Aku sebelumnya belum pernah tes IELTS dan bener-bener nggak tahu model soal-soalnya sama sekali. Di internet memang sudah ada banyak sekali panduan untuk self-study, tapi aku sadar bahwa kalau aku memaksa untuk belajar sendiri, I will tend to jump into every module and finishing them without having the basic premises and introductions. Padahal kalau ikut preparation class, tentu akan ada native teacher yang menjelaskan secara runtut dan berimbang tentang masing-masing section—listening, reading, writing, dan speaking. Keruntutan dan struktur belajar inilah yang kucari. Di samping itu, kalau self-study, aku juga nggak punya partner belajar yang bisa mengkoreksi kesalahanku. What’s the point of studying when you have no idea whether you do things right or wrong, then? Beda dengan ikut preparation class yang pasti selalu dikasih assessment tiap selesai kelas.

Kedua, konsistensi. I work every weekday from 10 to 5 and I sometimes also have events to attend on weekend, so studying on my own would most likely mean procrastinating to study because I’m either too tired or too lazy, hehe. Sedangkan kalau ikut preparation class, tentu sudah ada jadwalnya. Waktu itu aku ambil kelas yang seminggu tiga kali, dua jam per pertemuan selama dua bulan. Harganya 3.950.000. Karena mahal, jadinya nggak rela dong kalau mau bolos! Selain itu, tiap pertemuan pasti sudah ada jadwalnya, modul apa yang akan dibahas. Jadi kita akan belajar semua section tanpa terkecuali, dengan porsi yang seimbang. Tiap dua minggu sekali pun ada tes buat mengukur perkembangan kemampuan kita. Dengan ikut preparation class pun aku jadi yakin, kalau aku bisa dapat nilai IELTS sesuai yang kutargetkan. And I did, my score is even higher than what I predicted. In my case, to spend more is to invest more.
Do you think I need to make a separate blogpost and write about the tips to achieve your targeted IELTS test score? If so, let me know in the comment section!

Siapkan personal statement/motivation letter.
Yang satu ini aku ngerjainnya butuh waktu lebih dari sebulan, padahal hasil akhirnya cuma 800 kata. Memang nggak ada batasan yang pasti, sih, harus berapa kata. Tapi menurutku 800 kata is sufficient enough, jadi kalau bisa jangan lebih dari dua halaman, tapi juga jangan kurang dari satu halaman. Kalau kamu mau tahu apa yang perlu ditulis di personal statement, ada banyak situs di luar sana yang bahas secara komprehensif. Bahkan mayoritas situs resmi universitas pun punya guide-nya masing-masing terkait hal ini.

Secara garis besar, struktur personal statement-ku terdiri dari tiga main ideas, yaitu self-introduction, perjalanan hidup, pencapaian, dan rintangan sejauh ini, serta rencana hidup ke depannya—yang tentunya memuat tentang kenapa penting bagiku untuk studi S2 serta kenapa harus di universitas dan jurusan yang kutuju. The real deal is, of course, how do I write about myself? Well, seriously though, it can be pretty difficult to describe about yourself in a positive way when there are billions of people out there making outstanding achievements everyday. Tapi justru itulah poinnya; bahwa semua orang punya kelebihan dan pencapaiannya masing-masing—dan itu yang harus kamu garisbawahi.

Menurutku, yang menjadi kunci dalam personal statement adalah cause, impact dan consistency. Apa cause yang menjadi passion-mu dan kamu perjuangkan—is it social, economical, educational, cultural, or what? Cause inilah yang jadi benang merah hidupmu—kenapa dulu kamu ambil jurusan itu ketika S1, kenapa sekarang ingin ambil jurusan ini untuk S2, kenapa kamu bekerja di sektor tertentu, basically why you are doing what you are doing right now. Kemudian, dengan cause tersebut, apa impact yang sudah kamu berikan untuk lingkungan dan orang-orang di sekitarmu? Nggak perlu harus jadi volunter tiap tahun atau aktif berorganisasi sana-sini, sering bikin tulisan tentang isu-isu sosial yang lagi happening juga termasuk kontribusi, kok. Yang terpenting bukan skalanya, tapi apa hal nyata dan tangible yang sudah benar-benar kamu lakukan. Write it in a positive tone, make it sound as if you believe in yourself and are proud of it. Last but not least, dengan cause yang kamu perjuangkan dan impact yang kamu coba untuk berikan, apakah kamu sudah cukup konsisten dalam melakukannya? Dalam personal statement-ku, ketiga hal ini kutunjukkan melalui penjelasan runtut mulai aku SMA, kuliah, lulus, bekerja, dan kini ingin lanjut studi S2. Karena aku mendaftar di tiga universitas dan tiga jurusan yang berbeda, tentu harus ada beberapa bagian yang aku personalized supaya sesuai. Penjelasan tentang kenapa penting bagiku untuk studi S2 ini aku tempatkan di paragraf terakhir dan wording-nya aku ubah-ubah sesuai universitas dan jurusan yang kutuju.
Do you think you need a copy of my personal statement as a guide to make yours? If so, let me know in the comment section!

Siapkan reference letters.
Umumnya, universitas akan meminta dua surat rekomendasi dari tokoh-tokoh yang pernah menempati posisi di atasmu, baik dari segi akademis, pekerjaan, organisasi, dan lain-lain. Pada intinya, reference letter adalah cara universitas mengetahui tentang kepribadian dan kompetensimu melalui pengalaman dan pendapat orang lain yang sudah pernah bekerjasama denganmu. Karenanya, reference letter tentu harus ditulis dengan nada yang positif. Menurutku, yang bisa kamu maksimalkan dalam reference letters adalah keberagaman informasi.

Jika memungkinkan, usahakan dua reference letters ini diberikan oleh dua orang yang mengenalmu dalam kapasitas yang berbeda. Misalnya, surat rekomendasiku diberikan oleh mbak Nisa, dosenku saat menempuh jenjang sarjana dan mbak Ian, editor in chief-ku di kantor. Both of them are my best friends and I wouldn’t be who I am today without their generosity. Dengan begitu, reference letter dari mbak Nisa lebih menekankan tentang kemampuanku dalam proses pembelajaran dan pencapaianku di luar kelas, sedangkan reference letter dari mbak Ian lebih menekankan tentang kemampuanku beradaptasi di industri media, inisiatifku dalam mengembangkan potensi produk, serta hubungan interpersonalku dengan karyawan, konsumen, dan klien. Menurutku, akan sia-sia bila dua reference letters yang berbeda memuat informasi yang sepenuhnya sama. Kalaupun keduanya sama-sama dosenmu, misalnya, pastikan informasi yang diberikan oleh keduanya berbeda. Mungkin salah satunya lebih menekankan tentang kemampuanmu berorganisasi atau berkompetisi, sedangkan yang satunya lebih membahas tentang pencapaian akademik, you choose, but make the content as diverse as possible!

Tips dariku dalam pembuatan reference letter, nggak perlu repot-repot minta surat rekomendasi ke profesor, dekan, apalagi rektor, bila mereka memang tidak mengenalmu secara personal. Yang terpenting dari surat rekomendasi adalah the depth of the information, not the title of the informant. At the end of the day, surat rekomendasi ini toh akan membahas tentang dirimu, bukan tentang diri si pemberi rekomendasi. Jadi, pastikan kamu mendapatkan surat rekomendasi dari pihak yang sungguh-sungguh sudah mengenalmu. Kemudian, ajak mereka untuk berdiskusi mengenai kompetensi dan potensi apa dalam dirimu yang penting untuk disampaikan. Break it down into qualities such as motivation, initiative, time-management, communication skills, organizational skills, problem-solving, conceptual ability, commitment, and so on. Nah, dari poin-poin tersebut, kamu bisa mulai membuat reference letter-mu dan pihak pemberi rekomendasi bisa merevisi sebanyak beberapa kali sebelum pada akhirnya reference letter tersebut diberi kop surat resmi, distempel, dan ditandatangani.
Do you think you need a copy of my recommendation letters as a guide to make yours? If so, let me know in the comment section!

Nah, itu tadi beberapa tips dari pengalaman pribadiku tentang persiapan-persiapan yang setahun belakangan ini kulakukan dalam membuat aplikasi pendaftaran master degree. I think that’s all from me. Have you made your application yet? How far is your progress with it? Are you struggling with something regarding to the requirements? Let me know and I will be glad to do whatever I can in my capacity to help you!

Friday, April 13, 2018

On Sukmawati Soekarnoputri’s Controversial Poem: No Text Is without Context

The poem titled Ibu Indonesia that is recited by Sukmawati Soekarnoputri at Indonesia Fashion Week 2018 is deemed as controversial. Many people accused that some phrases of it contain blasphemy towards Islam as it compares sari konde with cadar and kidung with azan. Several days ago, Sukmawati Soekarnoputri herself held a press conference in which she tearfully apologized in public for her works that offended many Muslims within this country. Nevertheless, up until this very moment, reports that demand her to face legal action keep on piling up.

In analyzing this case, it would be highly unjust to put aside the fact that Ibu Indonesia is a poem. Based on the definition stated by Herman J. Waluyo, a poem is a form of literature works to express the writer’s thoughts and feelings in imaginative ways. With the twist of words, poem has its own values and aesthetics. That being said, just like any other text, the nature of poem, too, is a polysemy; it is open to be critically read by everyone—resulting in possibility of variety of understanding and multiple interpretations. Thus, most often than not, the coexistence of these interpretations can be contradictory from one reader to another.

The phrases in Ibu Indonesia poem that compares sari konde with cadar and kidung with azan are accused for being blasphemous towards Islam, because Sukmawati Soekarnoputri compares between what is believed as the obligations of a religion with the local and cultural values of a country. These two things—based on those who were triggered by this poem—are not apple to apple to begin with. The question is, is that so? Aren’t religious practices are essentially a part of cultural products in the very first place?

The widely-acknowledged definition of culture is the manifestations of human intellectual achievements and activities that are usually done collectively in a particular society, such as beliefs, languages, social habits, arts, and ways of life. Essentially, though The Almighty God is Divine Ontology and God’s Speech is Divine Discourse, but human’s thoughts, understandings, and interpretations of God and all things-related are somehow, something worldly and profane. The interpretations of human towards a text—be it a poem or a holy book—is the result of human’s thoughts and perceptions. This makes it appropriate to say that human’s interpretations are indeed a part of cultural products. Moreover, religious practices as cultural product are an interaction process. As time goes by, religions have been altering, renewing, perfecting, and affecting cultures, and vice versa.

Besides, if we are to stand in the shoes of those who accused this poem as problematic and controversial, I think this poem just makes even more sense than it already does. They were enraged by the phrase “Sari konde ibu Indonesia sangatlah indah, lebih cantik dari cadar dirimu,” because they believe that the essence of cadar is not to showcase beauty, but to protect the self from temptations. If that so, then this line is by any means not problematic and controversial at all, because Sukmawati merely stated that the sari konde is prettier, while cadar is not, because it is—as they believed—indeed not primarily intended to make one appear pretty. It is the order of The Almighty God and those who wear it seek for God’s blessings instead of society’s justification of one’s appearance. The same interpretation could also be implemented in the phrase “Suara kidung Ibu Indonesia sangatlah elok, lebih merdu dari alunan azan,” that is also not problematic and controversial at all, because azan is not a singing contest, it is a God’s calling to the believers to perform prayers, unlike most melodious kidung performances that require the singer to sing it beautifully because it meant to be an enjoyable entertainment. The way I see it, based on these simple examples, the nature of poem as a text is polysemy, which makes it able to be interpreted openly.

What is important to note is that reading a poem means reading the tangled and intertwined relations between denotations and connotations in it. Therefore, a poem also has intertextuality—the relationship between and within the text itself. It should be read and understood exactly as a whole and not only piece by piece without acknowledging its former and later phrases. Poem is rich of denotations as well as connotations meanings hidden behind the figurative language (majas). As a literature work, poem is not born within a void; there are always several discourses that serve as its background story. Hence, to read a text is to read in front of the text as well as to read behind the text. To read behind the text means to reconstruct the historical context from which the text emerged, whereas to read in front of the text means to recontextualize it in the light of present need. This hermeneutics methodology in reading a text is explained by Gerald O. West  as double movement; from the present to the past, and from the past to the present. Besides intertextuality, a text should also be examined alongside the extratextuality, in which are the surrounding contexts where it is read, including but not limited to the discourses of politics, power, traditions, history, linguistics, psychology, and many more.

Ibu Indonesia is among other poems featured in an anthology of poetry titled Ibu Indonesia which is published in 2006. The time gap between its publication date and its recitation in public is more than ten years, which means that there are a lot of contexts within the text that are no longer the same or relevant to this date. In her apology, Sukmawati Soekarnoputri stated that she has no intention to offend any parties. Instead, she was asserting that she just wanted her poem to serve as a reminder for this nation to uphold the value of diversity and to be proud of our cultural identity. If it is true that the relations between the text, the reader, and the writer is a negotiation process and a never-ending battle of meanings; then it would be undeniably unjust to claim that the writer ‘lose’ just because her own poem that is intended to represent reality as how she perceived it, is being interpreted by some readers based on the reality inside their own beliefs instead. It would be undeniably unjust to claim that the writer ‘lose’ when her initial intention is to make her poem as value-free as it can possibly go, but some readers are reading the poem based on those values instead.

To conclude, when it is being read and processed in someone’s mind, a single text is in fact able to deliver meanings beyond the text originally can physically bear. Those meanings are tangled and intertwined in so many different ways for us readers to interpret. If a text is deemed as potentially problematic, controversial, and insulting, then most often than not, it is us the readers who need to dig deeper and reflect further; do we as readers are able to fully distinguish between what the writer is saying and what we think the writer is saying.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

My Trigger Warning: The First Time

The first times are always the most difficult times for me.

I am sick of the first times.
I am sick of how the first times have always made me feel.
I am sick of the first times.
I am sick of helplessly whispering to myself that I and everything will be okay when I know for sure that it’s not.

I am sick of the first times.
I am sick of how I desperately look for other people to be my anchor because I know for sure that I will sink.
At the first times, I always sink.
It’s just a matter of time.

I am sick of the first times.
I am sick of my decision to go to the first times then go home feeling that I’m not enough, and that I can never be.
I am sick of my decision to not go to the first times and stay at home feeling that I’m not enough, and that I can never be.

I am sick of the first times.
I am sick of rarely being brave enough to take risks and ended up hugging what’s left of me.
I am sick of finally being brave enough to take risks and ended up losing what’s left of me.

I am sick of the first times.
I am sick of how no matter I have survived the first times, I am still left with negative emotions I couldn’t completely grasp, tears I couldn’t completely shed, and moments I couldn’t completely enjoy.

I am sick of the first times.
I am sick of hearing my heart pounding. I am sick of feeling sweat making traces on my forehead, my back, my knees, my mind, my consciousness—but do I still have any? Do I ever have any?
I am sick of being lightheaded when the rest of me—the rest of the world is heavy.

I am sick of not having control of myself.
I am sick of not fully being myself.
I am sick of fully being myself.

There are times when I could survive the first times.
The fact that I experienced the first time makes my next encounter with similar things would be the second time.
Just the thought of the second time makes everything somehow easier—just like how the thought of the first time makes everything somehow harder.

There are times when I could survive the first times.
But today is not that time.

Today is when I’ve been convincing myself that this time would be a successful first time.
But it is not.
Today is when I’ve been picturing myself show up and have fun with friends at my first time.
But it is not.
Today is when I’ve been telling myself that I will overcome this first time and no longer being paranoid with any other first times.
But, of course, it is not.

There are times when I could survive the first times.
But today is not that time.

Today is when I nervously changed outfits three times while being distracted by all the voices inside me that keep on echoing hundreds different versions of what-if-s and no matter how hard I tried to fight it I just knew since the very beginning that this time I couldn’t win.
Today is when I ended up curl up in bed screaming with no voices, crying with no tears, hating myself more than anything I’ve ever hated.

There are times when I could survive the first times.
But today is not that time.

Today is when I fail and dark parts of me win.
Today I let them dominate me—justifying that they still have power over me.
Today I am powerless.
Today I am not the master of my own self.

I hate the first times.
I hate how it has made me feel.

But I hate myself more.

I hate myself the most.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Do Men Really Dislike Colors, or Are They Just Afraid of the Society’s Judgments?

“This yellow t-shirt is really good and I really like the pink-ish artwork, but there’s no way I’m gonna wear it.”
“Why not?"
“Well, because it’s yellow and pink, of course. I don’t wear those colors."
“Why don’t?”
“Because… uh, it’s yellow and pink??? I just don’t wear those colors. Now stop asking and let’s check out other shirts.”

This conversation happened not too long ago between my friend—who’s a boy—and I. Since then I’ve been always closely watching the men all around me, and realizing that there are very few of them who wear various colors in public. It seems like men tend to feel discouraged to be existing in public along with the appearance of the color yellow, purple, pink, and other bright colors on their bodies—they feel that it is ‘safer’ to wear ‘neutral’ labeled-colors, such as white, black, and brown.

Personally, I think that it is okay not to buy pink t-shirt if you really don’t like pink because it is pink by nature, but not to buy pink t-shirt because you don’t like pink and the dislike starts from thinking that the majority of the society will not favor your pink t-shirt while deep down you yourself like it or are okay with it… I don’t think that’s a sufficient reason. It doesn’t even suffice as an explanation. And yes, for me it is a problem. in fact, this should be a problem for us all.

The sad thing is, some colors are labeled feminine and therefore they are made for women, but instead of being labeled as masculine colors, some other colors are labeled neutral and therefore they are safe to be worn by men, but pretty much also safe to be worn my women as well. When it comes to colors, women are ‘given’ more options than men. This whole gender bias thing and how its hegemony has rooted too deep within the society is very disheartening.

Fun fact #1, ladies and gentlemen, COLORS DON’T HAVE GENDER.

Some people dislike the idea of feminism and unsupportive of its movements because they misunderstood the whole concept as an attempt to place women in higher position than men, while what we strive for, is equality. Some people fail to see that the current status quo is not only harmful and disadvantaging for women, but for men as well.

Let’s see. Most of the times women are the victim yet the blame is on us, women are wrong for wearing hijab because it’s a sign that they are oppressed yet women are also wrong for wearing short skirts because that way they are ‘asking for it’, women are wrong for putting red lipstick on because that bright lips make them look like a prostitute yet women are also wrong for having a bare face on public because instead of looking natural they will look pale and it’s ugly. These are some real life examples that happen on daily basis that it has been considered normal that way. Luckily, some people—that’s us!—happen to realize that it’s not normal; that it’s wrong and it needs to stop.

But gender bias is also harmful and disadvantaging for men as well. Since they were just little boys, most of them were yelled at for crying, because crying is a sign of weakness and one most important thing that men shouldn’t be is weak. Boys were not allowed to play Barbie dolls—some even went further to not letting their sons to play any dolls at all, because dolls are just too ‘girly’. Baby boys can only wear blue, yet baby girls can wear both blue and pink. This bias has been internalized so deep within us that we began to think that it’s normal. Men indeed should not cry. You’re sad? Chin up, you’re a man. Men indeed should not wear pink or yellow. Black shirt and khaki trousers and white sneakers and a hint of red watch, a dark kind of red of course, I don’t want to be seen too colorful. I want to look cool. I’m a man.

It’s disadvantaging because men, as a human being, cannot be just who they want to be. It’s disadvantaging because men, as a human being, cannot be completely happy. Most of them are not wearing colors not because they personally hate colors since the very beginning, but because the society and the gender bias has gotten so deep into their consciousness and make them hate it for no apparent reason. Men’s choices and options in life are limited, and that’s simply because they were born with a biological reproduction organ named penis when they were never asking for it since the very beginning. It’s harmful because in fact there’s a higher suicide rate among teen boys because they are ‘trained’ to feel as if they don’t need to reach out and get help when they have issues because it’s not manly. Yep, it all started from color choices and ended up in human beings’ lives.

You think I’m exaggerating? You think that the entire phenomenon I listed above is normal and there’s nothing to worry about? Hegemony could begin and became imperishable because it is being normalized and seen as normal or even ideal in our ways of life. It is not.

There’s no such thing as an ideal men or women. There’s only an ideal you, and you yourself are the one who have the full control over it. Despite of being a woman or a man, an ideal you is a happy you, and that should be enough.