We’ll Carry On

Meet Nazhifah Junia, a newly official bachelor of medicine. After months of conceiving The Undergraduate Thesis, I finally gave birth to it on October 15th, 2018. My “thesis pregnancy” journey, of course, wasn’t a common one, but then again so is everybody else’s. Each one of us has our own story of conceiving, nurturing and delivering our biggest academic writing yet.

Undergraduate thesis or what my faculty called Karya Tulis Ilmiah or scientific paper is a compulsory document needed if you want to graduate. It amounts to 3 credits (I know, only three, but that’s okay?) and has an expiration date of one year, but can still subject to renewal if you have already presented the first three chapters in proposal seminar, often called sempro.

I first registered my bachelor thesis title under the Department of Pediatrics in October 2016 but was canceled due to an unavailable slot (I did not know then, my ex-supervisor did not know then, it was a late information, really). I then registered a new title under the Department of Clinical Pathology, after helping my then future thesis supervisor and examiner’s research. The title, The Difference of Lipid Profile in Coronary Heart Disease Patients with Diabetes Mellitus and Without Diabetes Mellitus in Dr Soedirman Hospital Kebumen was registered on July 2017. I did my sempro in December 2017, I know, what a long gap, six months, really? I was just caught up in doing other things that were seen as very important then.

After my proposal seminar and its revisions, on February 2018 I submitted my proposal to the Ethics committee, I had to wait for my research’s ethical clearance which turned out took almost 4 months to be published. These four agonizing months of waiting were filled with academic exams, more academic exams, and more life exams, like tuning out my anxiety, coping with unmet needs and other things. In early June, finally, I could propose my research purpose to the hospital I wanted to perform the research about. This marked my first road trip to another city.

I was finally able to do sample-taking in July 2018. I learned to trust and to not trust some people. I also learned to befriended hard work and weariness. I spent the days in Kebumen in my best friend’s place, that being said I had to follow her routine (even though sometimes she left the house very early and I woke up an hour or two after). The realization of what would come after me in life became crystal clear: clinical clerkship is a collection of never-ending learning, consoling people and make peace with yourself. A real manifestation of what my life will be in the future as a medical doctor.

Mid-July 2018 was in itself a test for me. I fell sick and had to be hospitalized, which also meant a pause in my thesis making. A time away from my thesis pregnancy. In this time, the heartache, or should I say, the broken heart finally made its way to me. The somewhat world-shattering experience. I managed to get through, though, but like any other wounds, the healing needs time and some often ended up as scars. That’s unbelievably inconvenient, I have to admit, but that is a part of living.

August and early September went by so fast, my thesis was done but was once again faced with another challenge. I was torn in two: make an effort and waiting for a response. The long-awaited response finally came on a Friday. My parents’ prayers manifested. I was scheduled to have my bachelor thesis defense on Monday. It doesn’t stop there, of course. The real struggle came after.

I had to somehow manage to get done what to me seemed to be vague wishes and faced with uncertainties. Only my closest ones and the people who actually saw me in campus who know my real form during this time of life. I was messy. Hopeful but messy. Hopeful but afraid. During this time I also realized that there was nothing I could’ve done but pray. My prayers’, my parents’ prayers’, my best friends’ prayers, my family’s prayers’ all manifested, I was okay and will always be okay, InshaAllah.

Again, I must say, everybody else must’ve had problems too with their thesis pregnancy and I’m just so glad that my bachelor one’s now officially done. The whole experience has taught me a lot about life, people and myself. This is not the time to remember what has passed, it’s time to prepare myself for the future challenges life has prepared for me.

We’ll carry on. I’ll carry on. This is the start of beautiful new beginnings!

The Endless Circle of Doubts

More often than sometimes I’m stuck in the endless circle of self-doubt and fear of unable to do good and be enough. For instance, I have been holding back from my undergraduate thesis defense for weeks now. It’s crazy how I was once a brave young woman and now I’m turning into this horrible coward.

The fear does not only haunt me from that area alone (academic) but pretty much in all aspects of how I live my life now. I am sadly unable to enjoy life much as I did before. Even my parents have been giving me ideas to go on a vacation somewhere, to refresh my mind and rethink of what really matters; but I refused. I refused mainly because I’m afraid that the trip wouldn’t be as fun as my parents expected to be (not that I’m going with them, but their thought that my “voyage” will be fun) or that I will only spend money on things I’m currently not fond of doing. I want to: want to go because I want to go.

Most of my time was spent reading books and sleeping. I have read the same book twice in the span of 3 months. As of now, I’m reading Anne Frank’s Diary of A Young Girl again because it gives me the exhilaration of Anne’s spirit: how she stayed and continued to be herself (changed in some ways) in spite of having to be in hiding from hateful people with some people she fancied not. Books help, at least they give me something, new knowledge, make me more grateful, giving me escape.

I leave my room only when necessary… like when I buy the groceries and when I have to go to families to do some help. The sun irritates me, it’s too shiny and too happy; something I am not, that is why I do grocery shopping after Maghrib. Grocery shopping cheers me up, actually. I always look forward to doing it, don’t exactly know why, but maybe looking at products with beautiful colors and checking things off the groceries list give me satisfaction (and I haven’t been satisfied with real things, lately, not that doing grocery shopping is not a real thing… but you understand). When visiting families I do it in the daytime because at least seeing them makes me feel a bit better about myself, somehow, they made me feel better. I think that’s why I call them my family (both blood-related and not).

On the other hand, I don’t fancy going out with people nor discussing topics I used to love before. There are many invitations from my friends and some new people I know to go out together, but many I turned down because I’m very… selective these days. I mostly go out with people who get me; not rushing me with questions and keep up with me because they’re sincere. I still visit my friends, though. I visited a friend recently for her thesis defense, I visited my friends in their coffee shop, visited my friend from hometown in her graduation… they cheered me up, it’s nice. Then, there are topics I used to love but not anymore, for example, Haruki Murakami; he just published his new book and I’m nowhere near excited to read it, maybe because the “aftertaste” of his works often left me in more miseries and questions. I also don’t like discussing politics anymore, they can all say whatever they want, but as far as I concern, as long as I make my vote, my civic duty is done and that is what matters. Also, discussing what specialty I’m going to partake in the future does not do good to my heart. I haven’t even been in clinical clerkship and to be so sure about that choice right now is making my head spin. How can one be so sure? Certainly not when they’re me. I just hope I can learn so much from clinical clerkship and do good with my knowledge, what specialty and why, let’s not discuss about it right now. And then there are other things that I prefer not to write here.

I wouldn’t want to put the blame on others, though. It is all on me. I just hope this phase will end soon (if this is a phase). I don’t know… I’m just going to write everything here so that one day I’ll look back to this “life: documented”; an online archive of my life story and have more to be thankful for; because I will be happier. 

Acceptance of The Now and New Short-Term Goals

“I am my mother’s novel daughter: I have my duty to perform.”

These last few months had not been easy for me. I have conquered some of my fears and built up new ones. I have made some new friends and lost the old ones, but most importantly I have let go of my demons. I have learned to grow.

The idea of being a medical doctor to me was the only idea that matters most, one that should be taking place soon, the only idea that has to be put into perfection. Getting to know how a disease happens and the possible ways to treat it is what I really want to dig deep into, regardless of what I have involved myself in university life. Not getting things done according to my timetable sucks, I haven’t achieved anything medicine related lately (like getting my thesis presented), but, God has plans and I have to comply.

It was hard, however, to accept the situation God has decreed for me to have at this moment in life. Nevertheless, I’m so lucky to be surrounded by my parents and friends who are so supporting, understanding, and nice. The thing is that… you just gotta accept what is coming your way, after all the attempts, prayers and sweats, it is what it is. Be patient and stay hopeful.

I have come to the realization and have accepted that maybe I’m not so smart, unlike my other friends, but I want to be a doctor and I will try my hardest to become a good one.

Saya tidak pintar, tapi saya mau!

I have set some new short-term goals (some are long term), achievable ones, ones that can be measured before I continue my study The Clerkship alias Co-Assistant (estimated: November 2018), among many are:

  1. Be nicer to mom and dad, after all, they’re the only living humans who would do literally anything for my happiness and well-being.
  2. Fix my vertical relationship with God.
  3. Re-read and take notes on my preclinical books and presentations.
  4. Write at least 4 blog posts a month, write more poetries.
  5. Work or be an intern, if the time before clerkship is enough to do so.
  6. Frequently visit Bantul to see how Mama Piara is doing now that Tita is moving to Madiun to do her clerkship.
  7. Learn to cook edible and delicious foods, that being said; eat more vegetables and drink more fresh fruit juices!
  8. Teach younger kids or my juniors medicine/biology-related lessons (or any other lessons, really) for free.
  9. Take more beautiful photos and smile more.
  10. Have my own business. Or partnered to have one.
  11. Speak more English, learn more Latin (by reading Sobotta and memorizing human anatomy like its easy; 1 month = 1 book) and try learning French at least 2 words a day (before taking serious class after internship insyaAllah).
  12. Save more money, buy less, cook more, make more of something on my own.
  13. Take a better care of my body, my skin, and my hair.
  14. Call home more frequently, give encouragements and motivations to my younger cousins and speak more to Oma about all the good things in the world. Talk more politics with Papa, Papa Oni, Papa Han, Papa Ferry. Have more heart to heart talk with Mama and Tante Heni.
  15. Spend times for my best friends whenever they need someone to talk to or to cheer up their days. Basically just reach out to them before they do to me; understand that the amount of stress clerkship put to them is heavier than my not-yet-co-assisting life.
  16. Go somewhere nice, alone. A solo trip!

Anyway, I got sick a few days back. Got myself laying on a hospital bed because of Typhoid Fever. I need to really be careful about picking foods to eat, this was the second time I have to be hospitalized for the same cause. Photos were taken a day before being discharged, hence the happy face. Friends who came were all so nice, they brought foods and jokes. The nurses and doctors who took care of me were all amazing, I couldn’t thank them enough.

Moral of the story: be fit, watch carefully what you eat, being sick costs you more money than being healthy.

Special thank you to Inov and Naela for always being there whenever I’m sick, Team Hooray, to Tika and Eka for the never-ending support via the phone! Also Prita and Verlita who made the time to accompany me the last night in the hospital and had to sleep in a very limited space. Thank you to everyone who came and visited and all those who prayed for my recovery. Cheers!

Love Yourself

The perks of living alone in a far off city? 
You get stressed out, somehow recover and then you adapt.
*quoted from Sydney Uni sport and fitness flyer.

After living a long 2,5 years alone in Yogyakarta, I get to get things done on my own. I also make the better judgment about people, whom I can trust, whom I should only associate myself with for professional issues, whom I should not let to even peek into my inner circle and to my life in general.

The most important thing that I have to value in my all-alone life in Jogja is… self-love, self-compassion. Because sometimes, in order to get things done effectively, I became too hard on myself. even uglier, when things didn’t go the way as I expected, I always cursed myself to death, mock myself and became angry with my own, usually-sad self. It hit me very hard last month when almost nothing in my life went in order. goals falling apart, grades seemingly wanting to dive themselves in the deepest of the ocean, fucked-up organizations life, non-existence love-life that seemed to be very stressful that I have null idea why and the never-ending cycle of wants and needs that somehow seemed unfulfillable. I tried to reach to people that close to me but then I felt like it wasn’t the issue. they were not the issue. the issue, the problem is within me. I have come far enough until I realized that I was having all the problems then because I never enjoy, like, really enjoy doing every single one of them, it almost felt like I was being told to, being forced to do things I did. Being the almost-perfectionist and the eternal pessimistic person that I am, I always feel pressured every day, and funny enough, I was doing it to myself. After several weeks of wanting to beat my self to death, I went to have several talks with people I trust the most, and I came to the conclusion that; 1) I’m bored with the routine I used to love 2) I lack in engaging with newer activities 3) I don’t have a stable relationship with God 4) I’m too rough with myself –the inner self-war has never been officially over since I don’t know when it started.

One of the people I talked to told me that I need to make peace with myself, forgiving Nazhifah Junia. And truth to be told, I think I really need to do that. I have been in constant war with myself, for not being able to get things I think I need, for unable to reach the goals I have set, for not being properly ready for things I thought I deserved. I did some reading on the topic of self-love, and that brought me into the article written by David R. Hamilton, Ph.D, Mr. Hamilton told us that in order to reach self-love, one must go through 3 phases. 1st phase is realizing that one is not enough; some people spend a large amount of their time stuck in this phase (I guess, me as well), and the manifestation the 1st phase is lacking in confidence, frequently doubting self-worth, having a hard time to stand up for themselves; basically just questioning everything in life they doubt they can be or do. then, came the 2nd phase; I’ve had enough. Just like the name, during this phase one feels like s/he has had enough, like YAUDAH SIH GUE CAPEK KAYAK GINI MULU (in Bahasa) or like, this is it! I’m not backing down anymore, I have to change this, whatever this is. This phase characterized with passion and determination to actually change, like surrounding one’s self with people that will bring betterment for their lives, involving self in newer activities, some even travel during this phase. After that, the 3rd phase: I am enough! this phase manifests with no more struggling to be liked or to be accepted, more often it’s called as the stage of authenticity. The people who are already in this stage are very easy to spot, Mr. Hamilton wrote that they have their own inner glow and are kind, they don’t convince you of their good points or achievements, instead, they take an active interest in others. I’m privileged to know some people who are at this stage.

I think, I’m somewhere in between phase one and two. I hope it will be over soon so that I can move on to phase three and can really start to love myself and help others who might go through the same just like I am today. At least, I have learned that by shifting love and attention internally, leads to self-compassion and it heals, moreover, self-love leads to forgiveness; of ourselves and of others. Plus, if I don’t love my self, who else will?

as one of my favorite poets; Charles Bukowski said…
“If you have the ability to love, love yourself first.”

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