I met my best friend first time in 1991 when we were entering the same Elementary School in Yogyakarta. If I should do a flashback, I don’t even know why we were attached to one another from that day on. I think we didn’t have any specific reasons, and we didn’t choose one another among the others.
During the Elementary time, we spent time together at school and after school. Sometimes her mother picked us up, and we spent time at her grandparents’ house until my parents picked me up after work, and sometimes my grandfather or my uncle picked us up, and we spent time at my grandparents’ house not far from school. Most times, we just played barbie.
What I can recall from my memories, she was a smart and diligent student. I think she was the best student, for she always had the first rank in class. I beat her rank once on the third grade; I was number one, she was number two or three. The rest? I was number two, three, or four. However, we did not compete each other intentionally.
During the fifth and sixth grade, we biked to school — we had the same direction from home to school. As there is no such thing as a perfect family or marriage, she seemed to have her first challenge as the firstborn of the family. Of course, we didn’t understand so much that time, and I just accompanied her and listened to her.
After that, we went to different schools. She entered the best Junior High in Yogyakarta, while I got into the third-best one. We visited one another and spent time together sometimes, especially when family situation was tough.
When we graduated from Junior High, we tried to enter the same Senior High, the best one in town. However, she didn’t make it and went to the best private female-only Senior High. As how we did during Junior High, each of us made new friends and introduced our new best friends to one another. Her best friends became my best friends, and my best friends became her best friends.
That time, I were the one who got the first challenge as a firstborn. We went to different universities. I didn’t make my way to the best one in town like she did. However, I still tried to do my best, because it was my own choice. And yes, ups and downs still happened, both in the family and our teenage to early 20s love stories.
We began our first career still in our hometown. She was a teacher of an international Kindergarten, and I was a Content Writer (who didn’t have a Content Manager) of a small agency focusing on web development. As she moved abroad to pursue her Master Degree, I was offered a job by a friend to be a Copywriter/Editor at a startup company in Jakarta. Salary was good, company’s vision seemed good, I took it.
While I tried to settle down, at the same time, I was processing my divorce papers. Couple of months later, my friend, the one who offered me the job in Jakarta, passed away at a very young age because of heart attack after playing futsal for two hours non-stop. This was hard for his girlfriend, and I tried to support and be available for her. He should have been the future CTO of the company.
After finishing her Master Degree, my best friend worked as a headhunter in that country. Couple of years later, she was offered a job in a headhunter company in Jakarta. That time, I was a Communications Officer of a US-funded NGO. Couple of years later, she was offered the job she is doing until today, and she was trying to “hijack” me from my comfort zone (LOL). Why comfort zone? Because I traveled like almost every day to several cities in Indonesia (which I like it). I sat in my desk just around two days in a week. I just got my first promotion and a business trip abroad 14-hour flight from Jakarta. Salary and benefits were more than okay and women-friendly (this is important for a single mom). I liked what I was doing and where I was.
However, since my best friend was a headhunter, she tried to convince me more than twice. One month later, she did it again for the third time; and now I knew that it’s just the nature of a headhunter (LOL). And voila, I did the interview and got the salary I proposed, and more importantly, we now work at the same company!
Have the two of us ever imagined that we would work at the same company when we first met in 1991? Of course NOT! Have we ever imagined that our ups and downs together would bring us to a huge understanding about People and to love in Psychology? Of course NOT; and even my best friend had to convince her father that she wanted to have a degree different from his. Have we ever imagined that the friendship that began in 1991 would be an advantage for each other in 2014 onwards? Of course NOT. Have we ever imagined that our friendship would be an advantage for others? Of course NOT. NOT AT ALL.
What we do know is that… we don’t give up on each other. No matter how stubborn I had been and was, she never tried to change me. She just was there for me, all ears on me, gave me a different perspective. She never judged me, and decision was always on me. Though I would make the wrong decisions over and over, and though I refused to listen to her, and then I fell again and again, she would still be there. She never gave up on me. Not even once.
If today I am a changed person, it’s because I wanted to change… for my daughter, for my best friends, for my parents, for my friends, for my community, for the people I love. I don’t want to let them down. Not anymore.
The decision to take actions is always on us, not other people. No one can change you but yourself, and most times, you do it for the people you love instead for yourself. And in my perspective, as long as we have those we love, we will always have the reason to live and be a better person. As long as we have those we love, we don’t give up.
One day, when my best friend’s perspective has no longer be able to convince my perspective, it was when I had the first chance to convince myself. And from that day, I tried to return her lifetime favor by not trying to change her and not giving up on her. In every situation, I’m giving her my perspective and any another possible one so she would decide herself. Of course, every decision would result in different consequences. Anything she decides, I’d be there for her.
And the one good thing today is that after our long years of developing each other, God trusts us to help other people. Of course, we don’t have any legal counseling firm or something like that. As everyone knows that no one in this world live without problems or challenges, so does our friends or circles. God keeps sending them to us, and we try our best to share what we have learned and keep learning: love (and life which will always be a mystery no matter what the theory that should be put into practice).
As two persons who are stuck together from 1991 to 2017 (26 years), what we learned together about love is that it doesn’t try to change one another and doesn’t give up on each other. We never did. And life? Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, because they will shape us and make us grow (as long as we don’t make the same mistakes over and over, LOL). The most important thing is that we don’t live in denial, because no one can help you—not even yourself—when you keep denying what you feel or experience.
Accept your past, forgive everyone including yourself, love yourself, and then you’ll have enough energy to love everyone around you and to accept them as they are without judgments or expectations — don’t try to change anyone. That is the key to a peaceful mind… where you finally make a room in your head and heart to grow and receive love. People around you—or perhaps yourself—might keep making mistakes or disappoint you again and again. Realize that there is no such thing as a perfect human being, perfect family, perfect marriage, or perfect life. Train yourself to forgive and give second, third, or 999th chance. Because my best friend has given me 26 years of chances, I’m returning the favor to the people I care about.
Dedicated to Ratih Pulkeria