AROUND 12 years ago, I was standing at a crossroad.
I was teaching part time and from the very beginning never planned to stay long.
My parents are educators. They were natural educators. They seemed to enjoy their jobs. Their jobs gave them all they needed, from comfort to social lift. Working as a teacher back then was a cool thing to do.
But now, it isn’t as cool as it used to be.
Salaries are meager. Welfare is less than satisfactory.
And as a government civil servant, you must obey whatever government tells you to do.
This is sooo NOT me.
So I kept saying to myself, “This is a temporary stint. It wouldn’t last long”. I promised myself day in day out while I was teaching my students.
All I wanted to do was do something else. A corporate job would do. Anything but teaching gigs or position seemed worthtrying.
I was so desperate, I almost got tricked into a scam. An unknown company emailed me and it triggered my curiosity of how the world outside of my hometown looked like.
Jakarta was never my dream city. It was filthy, full of crime, disorder, chaos, and … opportunities.
Alas, I can’t resist the last.
So I went to this center of Indonesian civilization one day in April 2010.
I picked a tiny room to rent for some time. And you know what, I stayed there for more than 11 years. I was even more impressed by my endurance. Enduring from its claustrophobic environment. A small bedroom, tiny shared bathroom, and nothing else.
The pandemic saw my moving out of the capital.
My endurance finally ran out. I couldn’t continue living in this shared environment. I decided I needed to get out as soon as possible.
And I happened to make a purchase of a little house out of it.
It takes me 1.5 hour to get there from Tanah Abang but I don’t mind that much.
It’s been a lifelong dream to work in a countryside. And it doesn’t hurt if I can stay there alone because I’m an introvert. I thrive in silence. Well, not a total silence but a controlled environment to think, ruminate and live. I like some noise but it should be a type of ‘desired noise’.
In retrospect, I recall my teaching phase of life was kind of hectic and energy draining.
I was working under a formal institution. I (had to) set a flawless example for my students. I had to come and go at a certain hour, and definitely could never leave the campus before I was allowed to.
But what I wasn’t comfortable with was the fact that I had to stand up and talk all day long during the classes.
It DID suck my energy up.
At the end of every teaching session, I somehow felt hollow and empty. As if I was too tired psychologically and mentally to live my life.
That was when I thought I couldn’t live that way.
I’ve always wanted to earn a living by writing or doing things that doesn’t require me to meet people in person under a formal setting.
I truly love the honor of teaching. But I knew from the very beginning that I can’t stand the bureucracy behind the walls of academia.
That’s why I still love teaching but I teach something else now. I don’t teach English but yoga. Still a thing I love doing every single day and I don’t feel any pressure. I felt this is the choice I made myself so I have no objection.
So if you ask me what my comfort zone is, I’d most probably answer: writing and teaching (informally).
How about you?
What’s your comfort zone you can never leave and can thrive in? (*/)