People of the Year (2014)

Being 22, you couldn’t help but realize that the world doesn’t revolve around you anymore—in fact, it never did. You do, however, continue to gravitate towards certain people: those who make you feel home, and those who give you the courage to leave it; to fight for your dreams. Some of these individuals might just happen to be around you (because you share the same university major or work at the same firm); some are people from the past who had to go separate roads (because life took them there) but bothered to make their way into your present; and some others were naturally drawn into you for what you both love. Either way, you now know better than ever that they matter. And since writers write about things that matter to them, here I am, posting my tribute to the 14 (sets of) people who made my 2014 count—in no particular order:

  1. Fellow Forest Warriors

In my first week of being an intern, WRI’s President/CEO cracked me up by saying—on an informal dinner, “It took me 20 years before I started working here, but this is your first job out of college? Too bad Andhyta, everything else will only be down the hill from now on—WRI is the best place you could ever work for.” Well, I thought, his confidence was reasonable—we had quite an applaudable cause, to begin with (saving forests and all). About two years later, though, I understood that it was rather the ‘people’, that make my workplace one of the bests in the world.

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Because what are the chances you would find colleagues who love talking about science and religion over lunch? And if that isn’t something enough, the same nerds also enjoy discussing about politics and linguistics as much as they do about food and traveling. They don’t really gossip—at least not in the common definition of it—although they do care about your overall well-being and check on you when you’re in a scholarship interview or feeling sick even when they don’t have to. The conversations during our team lunches in the past months have been something I treasure—so much that I came up with a separate blog to document them. Looking forward to more of them this year, too! Cheers!

  1. (South) Jakartan Policy Wonks

Another weirdly interesting set of people that I got to meet in 2014 happened to gather in this study group (?)—more like an after-hour geeky get-together—that convenes on a monthly basis. We typically started the night sitting in two separate benches (one affirmative and the other negative, in case it’s not obvious enough) and debate on a recent policy issue. So far we’ve only met five times—topics including: 1) Uber licensing in Jakarta, 2) fuel subsidy, 3) direct regional election, 4) inter-faith marriage, and 5) the new curriculum—but each of them had been immensely enriching.

We could be enthusiastically arguing against one another and yet mutually aware that it was all for intellectual pleasures. Next year, we plan to regularly publish summaries through http://wonk.id—so things would be expectedly more interesting. In case you’re into policy debates (and are young), don’t hesitate to shoot me an email.

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  1. The Other Aquarian

Not sure if quoting words from when you were still a third grader is a strategic move, but nobody puts it better than Dumbledore: “It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to your enemies, but a great deal more to stand up to your friends.” Instead of ‘always there to support you’, this good friend of mine prefers to ‘slap you in the face when the whole world is busy kissing your ass’. He would bluntly say something that would’ve hurt me when said by strangers, and yet remain one of the few people I could trust. We rarely had the chance to be physically present for each other in 2014 (even had to cancel a Bandung trip on last-minute), but he would spend 1-2 hours on the road just to kidnap me over 45-minute lunch, pop up for a short-yet-nice Skype call before flight, and send silly pictures from our old times every now and then. Here’s to wishing we could do another memorable roadtrip together some time this year.

  1. My December Boys

While maintaining a friendship could be challenging, maintaining a half-professional-half-personal bond is twice so—throughout 2014 more than ever. It was the year we kicked-off on our respective full-fledge careers, and therefore had to adapt to the new, changing nature of routines that came along with it (setting up a meeting had never been as hard). Given that our legacy (IFL) was at the brink of a long hiatus, some principal decisions ought to be taken. I am grateful to have survived through all the brainstorming and disagreements with them both; now equipped with plan ready to be executed. The long hours we spent (in various corners of the city because office meeting is too mainstream) will be worth it, I hope. (Oh and special thanks to the older of the two who bore with me during our trip to Paris/Strasbourg!)

11. Iman-Tama

  1. The Double F(amily)

Some farewells just happen so fast—one day you’re still sharing a table (and coffee cups) with them, the next day you’re rearranging your stuff in a new space that is only several miles away but still reaves you off the place where your roots previously grow (I miss Comma from time to time). We saw it coming, of course—and we said to each other, “Hey we could definitely meet every night! You could reach this place within minutes, and we could have dinner together! It would be fine!” We ended up not having dinner every night (does anyone who says these things actually achieve them?), but we still have our moments throughout the year. I would drive down to Bintaro or Pejaten—or anywhere, really—as long as we could still spend some time together. They still listen to my ramblings, and I’m not always reliable but will try my best to give my shoulders when they need me. You guys are awesome—don’t let anybody tell you otherwise.

10. Finia, Fri

  1. The Big Sister I Never Had

I first met her through joining this selection in 2013 (which was one of my life’s best decisions)—and after months of unexpected occurrences, found myself on an interview (and later accepted!) to the same think tank she worked for. Ever since, she had been consistently empowering and supportive—she broke the imaginary ceiling of ‘self-doubts from being an Indonesian in an English-speaking environment’ and convinced me to make bold moves, all done through direct examples. Even after she resigned for grad school, she still sends me emails offering help/inputs for my own applications. Not sure if she would allow me to call her a ‘mentor’, but if she does, I could testify that she’s one who communicates effectively. Instead of teaching you what’s right/wrong, she would involve you in the thinking process—and she would give you credits when it’s due.

Really wished I could return the favor, but not sure if I could provide her with anything she doesn’t already have—if it means anything, I’d pray that she kicks ass in the rest of her academic pursuit this year.

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  1. The Writer/Editor

His keywords: books and boys :)) You know who to WhatsApp for night drinks or sushi treats that involve talks pushing on either of those two buttons. Tracing back, I really couldn’t tell how we started becoming friends—I only have vague memories of visiting the Spy Museum in Washington D.C. together, and I guess everything else just followed through. Last year our library of conversations welcomes ‘career choices’ as a new entry—which is only natural because we both wanted to be writers—and now I am happy because he is doing it for the two of us (grab his book in the nearest Aksara).

He knows damn too well how badly I want to publish one of my own—and never ceased to remind me about that.

You soar high, o friend, through your dancing words and awkwardly joint phrases. Let’s meet at the top of the hill when our paragraphs take us there. (Oh and it’s the year we ‘matured’, too, but adult content may not suit as Conundrum material.)

  1. The Unsolved Scribbles

It takes a certain courage to grow feelings for someone, and a different kind to say it out loud. So I would like to take this space to appreciate him for just that—coming out to me, with no tricks whatsoever up his sleeve. He could’ve run away for good—and soon he will—but for a moment that seemed to be forever, he bothered to sit in front of me and be honest. Sorry if I hadn’t been the girl who could make things simple for you—but the blame should go to the both of us for being the complicated human beings we were. I’m not sure about the state at which we currently are but pray bring with you the good memories of us as friends—ones who secretly took pleasure from (and count on) our counterpart’s smart comebacks when we threw teases at them.

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  1. The Prizzly (Polar-Grizzly) Bear

Making new friends is not really my forte—but with him, no effort was needed at all. My memory told me it began with a book—Malcolm Gladwell’s David and Golliath, to be particular (not my kind of book either), on which I wrote something like, “Why would a Golliath read a book about how to beat himself?” From then on, we hang out several times; mostly as partners to catch up with ‘now showing’ movies—because we simply couldn’t afford missing them—and crashing into a mutual friend’s crib or event. I think it’s very possible that in our previous lives we both lived in the wilderness as animals, and that he was then a protective friend of the forest’s prancing doe. Our age difference hardly means anything—after all, I’m psychologically 12 years older than my actual age.

Above anything else, to me he’s a great mentor with whom I discuss career/academic/life options—although experience revealed that our disagreements have so far outnumbered the consensus we reached :))

  1. The Slanted Brother

Part of being someone’s friend, apparently, is witnessing him turn into a drastically different persona and stick around because the subtle presence of that nice guy you once knew makes up for it. Through the limited but quality conversations we had last year—post-attending a classic concert together and through many ‘international’ (HAHAHA) phone calls—I am happy to find him worry a lot less about what people think, and become more of the man he always is. Been three years since our first awkward bump into each other (and more awkward lunches that followed) but even now, we could still run hours on endless talk—unfortunately, these days he seems to be enjoying activities that involve less talking :)) Despite anything else, I am most thankful for how he always believes in me even—or should I say, more importantly—when I don’t.

  1. The Camera Bearer

Never really planned to fall in love but there did I, with the story he pitched me during that brief late-night chat on a glass table. Adhra was the title I picked for his brainchild—a Swahili for apology—and on nobody’s mark, off we went to raising more than Rp 10.000.000 from the amazing people who believed in us to make a 9-20 minute short movie. Come to think of it, approaching him at that campaign event was one of my best decisions of the year, for I get to meet a like-minded geek who appreciates films as a form of art, and whose taste in music matches mine (although his song vocabulary is way ahead of mine).

On New Year’s eve (about one year after we met each other), he lied next to me—shoulder to shoulder—and said, in one of the most serious voice he could ever improvise, “You have no idea how grateful I am to know you. Thank you, Fu. Thank you for everything.” He—the sweet boy that he is—was the one who had no idea how much he’s impacted me. Here’s to more working weekends to bring that story inside your head to the screen.

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  1. The Angel and Demon

Their friendship came in a package—not that I’m complaining. Our most memorable time of the year would probably be that almost-midnight concert we jumped in, although I value our random gets-together just as much. Sitting between them helps me find the perfect balance: my right side’s gonna chirp to brighten the day up, while my left side’s supply of skepticism is constant. He will bring me down (not because he hates me or anything, the opposite’s more like the case), she will support me back on my feet (because she cares). He will laugh at my silly sides (or roll eyes at my failed jokes), she will pretend like I’m the funniest girl on earth (or ask me to repeat because she didn’t get it the first time). He would buy us flowers just because, and she would nag us about not being able to walk too far because heels happen (kidding Maam, you’re doing great). He’s actually one of the kindest/sweetest people I know, too, especially for drawing this:

4. Ikhsan-Sirly

  1. The Lioness Mothers

Growing up has taught me to never take anything for granted—my home and family included. No, especially my home and family. After the semester I spent overseas, I decided to invest more time and effort for the ladies I haven’t prioritized enough due to other job and passion callings. Twenty-fourteen has been the year I got to spoil them with flowers and fabrics (the two things they both seem to be really obsessed about—thought it was genetical but then it didn’t occur to me), in addition to just generally being in regular speaking terms.

Expressing emotions has never been easy for me, but this year I dared myself to tell them about how grateful I am to learn first-hand that nobody should tell women to stay in the kitchen. That they should be free to choose what they want to do with life. The younger of them two told me to ‘chill out about marriage’ and ‘achieve your dreams first’.

When I have my own daughter (or son, doesn’t matter), I will make sure that she understands that, too.

  1. The Bitches in Black

If you’ve been friends with someone for more than five years, you’d be their friends forever?—I’m not too sure about that. In friendship, as are in every other kind of relationships, what counts it seems, is your commitment to make it work. Entering our sixth year—with all the foreign dynamics we weren’t familiar with—I was dropped at the intersection of whether I would fight for it or leave. I of course, being the coward soul, left. Spent almost half of the year without them around did make me feel lonely.

Glad to have things back together at last, and promise I will try to be a better friend from this year onward. Here’s to never having to grow up separately ever again. After all, what doesn’t kill us only makes us stronger.

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P. S. It caught me by surprise that this post would make the fourth of my annual review ritual—been doing it since 2011on to 2012 and 2013. Not the type who would stick to the same thing for a long time (I usually get bored on the second attempt) but hey, here’s to not judging yourself about what she’s capable of.

P. S. S. Here’s a quote from What If, my favorite romcom of the year:

“It’s very easy to be cynical about love until you’ve had that instant connection. If you’re lucky, it happens once in a lifetime.” (2014)

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