Sunday, July 26, 2015

Be Grateful: Dreams Are Always Valid!

Allow me to share my failure experience to other people out there. Some of you (most likely a lot) might fail to enter your desired university. I can tell you that being grateful is the most difficult task for everyone.

Everyone has the right to covet anything he/she wants. The nature of greed is deeply rooted in every single heart. Thereby, people begin to make life dreams and goals, and so do I.

Uniquely, most dreams are created with almost zero percent of failure.

I once dreamed to study in Singapore. I prepared a lot of things to make sure that I would be admitted. From being a sluggish student, I transformed drastically into an assiduous student. Every night or every two nights, I always spent some time to study. I was extremely proud of myself that I was invited to sit the exam on both NUS and NTU. Even my two classmates were not invited by both universities. This just boosted my confidence that I would ace the exams.

And the exams were ultimately strenuous, not like what I had thought. I predicted that one hundred percent I would fail on both universities, and I was right.

I was indeed deeply saddened, but mostly, the reason was not about myself. I paid almost $150 for both tests. I traveled from Bandung to Jakarta. And all of them were provided by my lovely parents. I really wanted to make them really proud. It's like, how could I still fail after what they have given me all these years?

I began to blame a lot of things. I started blaming my school for not teaching right, blaming my parents that I was not schooled at a famous christian/catholic school, regretting that I chose to be an acceleration class student so that I only had a shallow comprehension on the school subjects, and crying over a lot of things. I know that this doesn't solve anything, but I just need something to blamed for.

Two months later, I opened the SNMPTN results. And yeah, I was admitted at STEI ITB. I was neither happy nor sad at that time. If anything, I was slightly happy that I could still study in somewhere and all of my parents' friends and family celebrated me like I am an Einstein (only my brother, my oldest aunt, and I could make it to ITB in my big family's history). I was being somewhat arrogant that time. It's like, why ITB? Why the dreams had to be lost? I am more brilliant than a lot of people and I deserve a much better university, but why?

Finally, I realized that I should be grateful for what I have attained.

There are a lot of geniuses in ITB. Unlike students in high school where talking about academic things is kind of taboo, I can discuss academic things freely with other friends. There are a lot of brighter and more gifted people in this faculty, and rather than just studying by myself,  I can ask other geniuses to help me comprehend anything. I am really proud of myself now that I enter this university. There is a reason why ITB is always considered the best university in the country.

What makes me more grateful is when I hear my friends' results in this year's national university admission. All of my friends that I know failed to enter ITB. And guess what, even entering a not-so-famous university is already difficult. I realized that entering a famous national university is super tough. Only people with huge luck (luck is of course proportional to hard work and intelligence) can enter.

You know what? Even until now I really want to be a genius in computer science and live in a developed country. Studying in Singapore seems to be the best way. I even once had the thoughts to reapply to NTU and NUS again. Sadly, NTU does not allow applicants who have taken the test to resit the exam. NUS only accepts national exam score for the next admission, and I screwed up my score. There is almost no way to reapply. Perhaps this is just God's destined way. I think studying in ITB is the way to be even a better computer scientist. I could still have a lot of opportunity to live in another country. Life is still long so nothing is impossible!

I already told one of my best friend this story, and her response was, "Our situation is different. You are still accepted at a prestigious university. Dazzling future is one step further. But me? I have to study in a faraway place and the university is not even known by people here! The students are from small cities and they have no match for me! There is no reason of you to not be thankful at all!"

I can relate to that. But then I told her about other students who are not even accepted at any university. I told her about students who are only accepted at expensive private universities and they can't afford the money. There are always people who are worse than you. I told her the same thing: No reason of her to be ungrateful.

Nevertheless, although I have tried to believe all universities are the "same", there is a paradox that has always been my firmest opinion. I still believe that students who have bright future are mostly students who pursue their degree at prestigious universities. It's no bullshit though; it's a fact. The teachers' quality of a good and a bad university is different, and most of all, in  a good university, you can also befriend with a lot of brilliant students as well. If I failed my dreamed university, I would still try my best to re-apply, even though one year is going to be wasted. However, it's everyone's choice. Everyone has his or her way to live the life :).If you are still depressed after what you have got, trust me. There is a lot of time for you to begin accepting your destiny, and later live with it, or do some change.

In the end, may I remind everybody that your dreams are always valid. There are just a lot of different ways and God already destined one!

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Why Be a Secular?

Two reasons why I choose to be secular: freedom and tolerance.

Firstly, I believe that I do not have to be supremely pious to enter the heaven. Pious in this case means that I need more than just doing five prayers all the time. I also have to do dress properly, speak properly, etc. according to the Koran AND "the additional Koran" which actually limits me from even being a human. I also do not like the fact that being a true woman who can enjoy her beauty and sexuality is forbidden. I decided to be irreligious after I was fooled for a lot of years. God never shows up so why do religions exist in the first place? I just see religion as another support for politics, including Islam which is used to make Indonesians act like pure (or brainless) Muslims who came from Arab.

"All religions are equally sublime to the ignorant, useful to the politician, and ludicrous to the philosopher." - Lucretius

Secondly, my religion has become a source of intolerance for the sake of desire for power. You see that a lot of religious-political groups have popped out across the country. They mock other religions for being fake and misleading and think they are the savior for Indonesian people to enter Allah's heaven. You can see how Muslims went crazy when they see a mosque getting burned here in Papua. And shamefully, ALMOST nobody blamed the culprit solely; some idiots blamed the religion wholly. They cried over the fact that they are majority and how they could face this issue. So what? Even Christians out there are anxious. They might get attacks on their churches on Christmas. This is religion-based conflict, but the extremists want to solve to make sure that the majority wins. That's all they care. Peace approach is not the way for them; they want to show the victory of Islam, ignoring other religions' existence.

I really want to break out myself from this chain of Islam. But, what should I call myself?

Atheist? This is not what I want to be called.

What you need to be aware of is that atheism itself could lead to extremism. Being an atheist means that you do not believe in God. It's the actual and sufficient definition; however some atheists even disapprove and belittle other people's beliefs by claiming that these people are blinded. Bashing religious people is just another form of intolerance. I am not the type of person who will chant those words. It's ultimately fine for someone to believe in his own God as spirituality is a way that has corroborated a lot of people to survive in this world. It just does not work for some people, including myself.

I would call myself as a secular. I think it defines me correctly. I do not care if you embrace a religion or not, but I do not have to care about other people's religions. I am open-minded. I even still believe that God somehow exists because if he does not, who creates this gigantic world? He could be an entity, aliens, humans from the future, or anything mysterious though. Everything is just about respect of differences.

I still want to be identified as a Muslim although currently I rarely do prayers. I still do prayers when my mother urges me and when I am with my Muslim friends. Declaring yourself as a secular is taboo. I could not imagine if I came out to my mother like "Oi, I hate prayers". Most likely, I would be kicked out from my house, or even be burned alive... Nevertheless, being a Muslim has a lot of benefits for me to survive in this country, especially the human rights.

To conclude, I am Rangga, I am raised as a Muslim, but I choose to be secular because tolerance and freedom are everything for me.