Six years ago, I realized I was heading nowhere.
I was in the best comfort zone I could ever imagine: living in a comfortable kost five minutes away from my parents’ house. It means that I had all my freedom, yet I could always come home for meals and laundry. Life was so good, it felt boring after a while.
Everything was so right that it felt so wrong.
I started to question everything. Is this the life I want? Am I the person I think I am? Is this the place I want to spend the rest of my life? and so on and on. Maybe, I thought, teaching is not my actual passion. Judging that I am socially awkward and I always struggle to start a conversation with people I have just met, how can I be teaching foreigners?
I, then, decided to quit, to start a totally different way of life. I decided to yank out my root, and left Jogja.
While searching for the next place to stay, I tried to make ends meet. Funnily, most of the job that I took was coaching in writing workshops. (It took me four workshops to realize that coaching is just another word for teaching.)
By the end of 2011, I thought I have all figured out. I got my dream job in Ubud. No need to guess, it’s teaching. Settling in a new place was a good change. Right?
I was struggling. I was depressed.
During the first month, Ubud was so magical. During that first month, Ubud was just like what I imagine. But entering the second month, I started to complain.
There’s no mall here!
The cinema is one and half an hour away!
I had to ride 40 minutes to get KFC!
Cafes close at 10?!
How could they get a driver’s license, driving and parking that way?!
Don’t my friends back home realize, I’m one hour ahead of them?!
This is not the way we do it back home!
And then I realized. I wanted a change, but I refused to change.
Isn’t it funny when we want to move to another place, be it another house, city, or even country, yet we still want everything we have back home to be also available there? That the house we are going to live in, has to meet our standard? That we expect everyone understands us, the way people in our hometown do?
That was my turning point. I realized, it is me who needs to change, if I want a change. I realized that I need to adapt myself to the new place, so I can be in harmony with my surroundings.
When you are in Rome, do what Romans do, they said.
Well, I am still not a Balinese, because I am not. I know I don’t have to pretend to be one (although I like the idea of having a Balinese name, such as I Made Dani Arya — I made it up myself), because in order to change, we can’t fool ourselves.
So, the question is to what extent do we really want the change? Only a change of scenery? A better place for our currency? Well, that does not apply to me. Jogja is much cheaper than Ubud.
I decided I want a total change. So instead of trying to change everything else but me, I decided to change myself but everything else.
Squat toilet? Okay. Cars suddenly stop without signals? I keep more distance. Motorbikes signaling left but turning right? Well, I’m in no rush, I stay way behind them. Ceremonies? If I have the time and the right mood, I’ll join. Road closed for ceremonies? Take the detour, and you’ll be surprised there are different roads to get to your destination. Shirtless bule riding bike without helmet? I wear mine, both my t-shirt and my helmet. People trying to stop you from eating meat? Smile and nod.
In the end, I did not become someone new because of the changes I made. I became a better version of myself. Daniel 2.0. (Well, this year should be Daniel 3.8, I suppose.) I am still Daniel Prasatyo that I knew, with different attitude.
Now, I don’t feel like I’m heading nowhere. I feel I can be anywhere. If only I had known that just by changing my attitude and by willing to adapt can actually change the way I see things, I might still be living five minutes away from my parents.
Ubud has now become my another home, as Jogja will always be my home.
Ubud, January 18, 2017