Iskandar Setiadi

Flag #18 - A self-reflection: Life in Retrospect and Looking Onward

To celebrate my life achievement that I've barely stayed alive for the past 25 years, it's time for a new blog post! First of all, thank you everyone for the birthday wishes! Since my TensorFlow has just made my server crashed, I decided to write this post instead. Let's start this post with a random photo that I took yesterday.

Beautiful mountains

Okay, so, this post is proudly written based on my entire life experiences, and since our view of this world might be completely different, we might have some clashing opinions but that is okay. After all, if everyone see this world in the same way, the world itself won't be sustainable xD

Life is never fair and never be, but one can make a big impact regardless of anything

This is probably the main reason of quarter-life crisis, I guess I am experiencing this and there is a high probability that you are also experiencing this. We often see too far above and forget if everyone can be at the same state right now . . ., okay, that's impossible. First, let's take a simplest example and get a bit philosophical: money. If everyone can make a same amount of money as Mark Zuckerberg, then the money itself has less value since everyone own the same amount of money. Now, if we take a more selfish approach to this problem, we can simply assume that everyone make a wish for their own self to be as rich as Mark Zuckerberg. Now, we should remember that most people will likely to fail, including our own self, therefore quarter-life crisis is born to the majority of population. Talking about money is one thing, but life is not all about money, it can be about your family, your life partner, your friends, and so on.

So, in one random week, I played a game called Cities:Skylines. We know that education is important, so I keep increasing the education level of my citizens, until one point, where the society breaks down. With too many highly educated people, no one wants to take a blue-collar jobs. The society starts to decline, a lot of highly educated people cannot get a proper job while there are a lot of blue-collar job openings. Unemployment rate starts to increase and the society starts to balance itself: less money causes education level to decrease and people who are working in blue-collar jobs start to increase. In our real world, highly educated people will create an environment with lower birthrate (e.g.: Japan, Korea, Taiwan). Therefore, while it's a highly selfish statement, I believe there's a certain balance that this society should have to make a proper and healthy life environment. Life is never fair and never be, so we must feel thankful for everything that we have right now.

Does anyone play Cities:Skylines here?

BUT, there is a big "BUT" over here. Everyone can make an impact regardless of anything. Do you have any restaurant that you like to go every week because the food is superb? If you have one, that means the chef of that restaurant has created an impact to your life. The chef makes you feel happy, at least for an hour every week, by providing a delicious food. How about the garbage collector (no, we are not talking about Java programming language) who collects your trash every week? If you have ever complained that your garbage starts to pile up during Lebaran (Eid Fitr) in Indonesia or New Year Holiday in Japan, you need to realize that the garbage collector near your house has made your life environment clean and less susceptible to diseases. Your garbage collector has more impact in your life compared to Donald Trump (no insult intended, . . . wait) or probably most of the famous people in this world.

Final note: Love what you are doing right now and continue making an impact to everyone.

One can't make everyone happy

While our self-consciousness (do I still have one? Hrm) always tries to make everyone happy, we need to understand the boundary that no one can make everyone happy.

For example, if you browse a random video in Youtube with million+ views, there will be absolutely some people who dislikes the video, no matter how good it is. So, where are those dislikes coming from? Someone might dislike the video because they think it's worse than something that they know. Someone might dislike the video because it doesn't suit his/her taste. Someone might dislike the video because he/she is frustrated that he/she couldn't produce those kind of videos. Or they simply dislike it because "dislike" button is the only thing that they click in Youtube. Regardless of the reasons, the creator of a video can only know one thing, there are a group of people who disliked the video, BUT, at the same time, there are a group of people who liked, feeling entertained, and enjoyed the video. At the process, we often forget the existence of the latter group and always feel bad because of the former group.

Let haters be haters

So, who are "everyone" that we are talking about? It can be your family, your friends, your co-workers, or simply a random stranger that you meet on the street. At the time when you need to make a clear choice, you need to make the answer clear. Remember that your own self is also included in the word of "everyone", which I learned it the hard way several times.

The world is vast: Wander, explore, and discover

Traveling is a privilege, but if you are here and reading this post right now, you are probably one who has an access to travel around the world. Around half of the world population lives below the poverty line, so traveling is higher than a luxury for them.

Wander, Explore, and Discover

Fortunately for us, as an individual who receives proper education, we have a lot of chance to see different parts of the world for "free". The challenge lies on us, whether we are brave enough to embrace change and take upon the opportunity provided. Starting from a high school level, there are several available opportunities: applying for student exchange (e.g.: AFS), joining an olympiad team, and so on. After graduating from high school, there are a lot scholarship offered abroad (e.g.: Monbukagakusho, Erasmus Mundus, etc). During university year, one can join international competition, apply for student exchange program, apply for internship opportunity in another countries (shameless promotion: join us!), or submit a technical paper to international conference. After joining the workforce, there are a lot of available conferences around the world and if your company is kind enough, they will cover the entire fee for you.

What could one learn from cultural differences? From Japan, you can learn how their transportation system is 95% on-time not only because of the system itself, but also people who are queuing properly. From Thailand, you can learn how their society appreciates gender differences and there's no (or less) "witch hunt" such as what we often see back here. There are a lot of other examples, but the last one but not the least, we will start to appreciate our own cultures. Indonesia people are trained to live in diversity, we can easily communicate with people from different islands. For example, back in the university, I often see a scenario where two people who are currently talking in their local language (e.g.: Sundanese, Javanese, Balinese) will switch to Bahasa Indonesia if there's an outsider joining their conversations. Or when there is an exchange student from abroad, the group will start talking in English. One might not appreciate these simple things, until they experience the opposite (e.g.: in Japan).

While creating cultural change in society level is hard, at least, we should try living up to what we have learned from our experiences. If we know that gender differences exist in this world, while it might contradict our personal view, we should not attack them on personal level and let them be since their lives are already very difficult even without our judgment. If we know that we should throw trash at a proper place in Japan, then we should also do the same thing back in our country.

Respect other people opinion, privacy, and life choice

If you have read my blog post to this point, thank you! You might think some parts are selfish and I believe so too. I am respecting the differences in our opinion. At the same time, I realize that I often say bad things about someone, but when I think deeply about that, it cannot be helped. While I think your opinion or life choice is wrong, then that is your choice to accept it or not since everything are purely subjective. There is no right or wrong answer to life choices. You might regret it but always remember that it could be worse.

Everyone are free to have their own opinions. However, I believe there is a certain border that should be kept since everyone have their own privacy. Now, this is the hardest part since everyone's view of privacy are different. This is the point where we should try being considerate with others since what we think is okay might be a problem for the other side. You will notice this problem a lot, especially when you are seeing an interaction between people from different countries. For example, Indonesian people tends to talk easier with others (even strangers) while Japanese people tends to keep a certain distance. In our conversations, we might include some privacy questions such as "What did you do during the weekend? How much money did you spend on X?" Since I am from Indonesia, I often think that Indonesian way is better since it will reduce the friction in conversation, but at the end of the day, we cannot simply enforce culture differences to other people since we are raised in different environment.

I want to apologize (to all readers) if I have ever disrespected your privacy line. Furthermore, I want to invite everyone (including my own self) to take a bit of our time and a step back to think whether our daily actions have ever crossed other people privacy line.

Looking forward: Build your own short, mid, and long term goals

Since I joined my company (HDE, Inc., soon to be Hennge, K.K.) three years ago, I started to write a short-term (1 year) goal and a mid-term (10 years) goal. Unfortunately, it's tremendously hard to write a long-term goal, so I leave it as a vision instead. At the end of the year, I usually failed several aspects of my short-term goal, and start updating my mid-term goal accordingly.

Based on Mandala Chart, it is recommended to write your own goal in 8 categories: personal, finances, study, business, home, society, health, and leisure.

Mandala Chart

For example, I will write one of my goal in 2018 for each categories:
- Personal: <redacted since it's personal, OK to some of them & FAIL to some of them>
- Finances: I want to have x yen in my account (OK) and y% diversification, such as bonds, stocks, USD, etc (FAIL - less than y%)
- Study: I want to achieve JLPT N3 (OK)
- Business: I want to achieve a stable income of x yen this year and the company that I'm working in should have growth-rate of x% for prospective future (OK)
- Home: I want to bring my parents traveling in Japan (OK)
- Society: I want to become PyCon speaker in x number of conferences and meet new people (OK)
- Health: I want to keep track on ideal body weight (OK)
- Leisure: I want to visit several new places / countries (OK - Vegas, Tohoku, Hong Kong)

For the mid-term goals, I put several ambitious targets such as seeing an auroras in northern hemisphere (leisure), becoming a conference speaker outside Asia (society), achieving JLPT N2 (study), and so on.

In addition, I set my own rule for tracking income / expenses. For example, I want to save around half of my income every year (and send part of them back to my parents) and for the rest half, the expense should consist of:
- Accommodation, including bills and amortization: 35%
- Daily food: 25%
- Travel expenses, including back to Indonesia: 15%
- Leisure and others: 15%
- Electronics (phone, laptop, etc), including depreciation: 10%

These goals might feel very restricted in the beginning, but after the whole 3 years, I don't think I can live without them. If you have your own stories about managing life goals and budgets, I want to absolutely hear them since to be honest, I have changed & updated my ways of tracking these aspects several times in the course of past 3 years :)

We never know what the future holds. As an imperfect human being, we can make plans, strive for the best, and let the world do the rest. I hope everyone enjoys reading this long post so far. I wish we can stay as a friend and alive for the next quarter century, and at that moment, we can look back together to this time and realize how fool we are for worrying a lot of things in our 20-ish age.

See you next time!

Author: Iskandar Setiadi - Type: Experience - Date: 20th Jan, 2019

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