What is it Like Being A ‘Maba’: An Honest Observation

What Is it like being a 'maba'

This morning I woke up and spent some good reflective minutes thinking about how these past two month after I got accepted to unpad had treated me and what I feel about it. This surely has been an emotional roller-coaster; dense-but-loose bag of lessons; a good-yet-dissapointing kickstart that I may regret later in life. Things are not working as I imagined them to be, I get worn out so easily; which is apparently explainable given that this whole uni activities are hella hectic; something that I don’t used to went through in my homeschooling years.

What was hard is figured out that I’m not the smartest person in the room; I more often that not am just an average. Some of my friends appear to be very passionate (to join heaps of organisations and extracurricular units at the same time), brave (to raise their hand, to lead a project, to speak up in front of the class), and keen-witted individuals. I am not, very far away from that.

I also recently just experienced my first failure in my uni life; I got rejected from joining unpad’s English Speaking Union, yeay! Though I wholeheartedly believe that this is just a smaller-sized success that help me to learn, I couldn’t help but crying my heart out; it did make my day gone blue. I even put a long ass time to think about what did I do wrong in the interview; am I that bad and uncapable? Yes, there you go all the self-doubts and whatnot.

Social life is another thing. So, during my early days in uni, I put so much energy to make my counterpart enjoy talking to me. My biggest fear was awkward silences and boring conversations; things that might make people dislike me and stay away from being friend for the rest of the year. I know it sounds riddicilous; how do boring conversation make people hate you? But I swear that was the thought that stayed in my head for a long period of time; things that stressed me out every time I need to interact with new people in college. Guess that’s just some normal introvert issues.

To sum up, I guess I read too much stories glorifying college life. My expectation exceeded the reality, and that’s how I started to question my decision to get into here; one of the most prestigious uni in Indonesia. My dad recently asked me a question that caught me off-guard: “So, after the past month, did you feel like you’ve grown? Did you feel anything different?” Err… the things is, I still feel like the same immature girl who easily cry and confused. The ‘mahasiswa’ title hasn’t gotten into my head yet. My idea of what being a ‘mahasiswa’ is like doesn’t match with what I’ve been experiencing, if that makes sense.

Did it sound like a depressing story? I’ll welcome every hug, but guess what?

I’m just joking! Teehee!

Well, while all the depressing part are mostly true, there are two sides to every coin. The first week in college did got me drowned out in a hole of somber, but luckily I managed to pull myself together in a quickest way possible. I managed to put my perspective upside down and finally see everything in a clear-cut positive light. This post is a peek inside this revelation.

  1. On Comparing.

I did get discourage after realizing how much I lack compared to my friends, but as Confusius said; If you are the smartest person in the room, then you are in the wrong room. Apparently, I’ve tried to stick with this quote since day one, but oh boy how hard it is to remain calm and positive in such circumstances. So what I’ve been doing to deal with this issue is just to constantly reminding myself that college is not a competition, it’s about community. I got here, meeting new people, new friends, to work together as community. This is not a place where you *should* be better than other people, because guess what? There’s NO way you can be better than others because everyone’s story is different. Every person you see in college has their own life experiences, their own strategies, their own goal to reach that’s not necessarily yours too.

One thing I had to learn the hard way is that there’s no way you can compare one person with another when each of them might be good at different areas. The comparison won’t be equal and fair, you see? The only comparison you need in life is between the present you and the past you; the you right now and the you from last year. How are you improving along the way; that’s all that matter.

Let me bring up this quote from Laviendare that I’ve been looking up to for the past month;  “One person success, does not diminish your own worth. Just because someone else is beautiful and killing it in life, doesn’t make you any less. It just shows that you can do that too. What we do instead is lift each other up, rather than want each other to fail. One person’s light doesn’t not diminish your own light.”

  1. On Failure.

Failure is a complicated concept to comprehend. The keyword is: framework. How you perceive failure is as important as how can you overcome them. I failed joining ESU due to my inadequancy, but hey, at least I learned something new. I understood that ESU has this standard that every union member has to have that I don’t have, so all I need to do is work harder (smarter!) to achieve this standard and try again next year. I also have picked up the idea of what ‘poor interview’ is like (to contrast with the opposite), given that I never had any interview experience before. All these small-scale know-hows has made me one step ahead than where I was before.

  1. On Being Liked.

I hate awkaward silences and boring conversations because I fear of being left-out. But one day I’ve got a revelation that not every two people are meant to each other (I guess making friends is like finding your lover). When you try to make friends, you introduce your name to a person after you but he/she doesn’t bother to respond or to go along with the conversation; you can assume that you and the other party aren’t meant to click together. And it doesn’t (necessarily) mean he/she is a mean/rude/cocky/unpleasant person, neither you are. I rather try to understand that people are not in the same emotional situation all the time, and so I cared less about putting these extra efforts. If I fail to befriend one person, I can just move on and find another (and believe that there will be one at the end the day).

  1. On negative things in life in general.

When you had a lofty expectation of what university is like, it’s easy to find flaws in every little thing around. I do get upset of how boring the professors, how hard it is to find true friends to stick around, how exhausting it is for my body to keep up with all the schedules, how burdensome the ‘ospek’ activities, and first and foremost; how saddening it is that I don’t achieve many things yang aku pengen banget, banget, saking bangetnya aku bisa nangis kejer kalau ga kesampaian. But, as I mentioned before, there are two sides to every coin. There has to be a brighter side of uni life, or life in general. This is just a matter of our will to shift the focus.

Getting into college, for me, is a battle with oneself; how we overcome our fear, our arrogance, our tendency to not acknowldge all the good things and the dreams we deserve to have, and our cluelessness to enjoy every failure; because you can’t make an omelette without breaking some eggs. This is for me, an era to celebrate, to explore dan try new things I won’t find outside, and as Buber said: All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware.

That said, I wish you a meaningful journey ahead filled with even more love and lessons. Hwaiting!


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