Thursday, March 22, 2012

Why I Chose English Literature: Clarification and Confession

I have been getting a lot of questions, reprimands, and objections about my choice to study English Literature a few months ago. I plan to answer it holistically here, in this post, honestly and firmly. Brace yourselves…

Wait a minute… before I get to that, I might as well explain why I am here when I was supposed to – or rather expected to – be somewhere else. Then I would get to the choices that made me be here and stop being there… I am not making any sense, it seems. Let’s take another step back.

I am a STAN (State College of Accounting) graduate. My placement after graduation was the tax department.

I should’ve been content and happy, right? Good school, satisfactory scores, placement favored by the majority, high salary… It all hypothetically equals to a stable and assured living.

Now let’s revert back to my post called Confessions of a 22-Year-Old. In writing I complained about how I was feeling at that moment which was mainly dissatisfaction of my choices and current occupation. I had my personal reasons concerning my beliefs and principles. I had a decided my stance. Nevertheless, I tried to be satisfied and hold on to the status quo. I finished it with a cliché conclusion and tried to get my composure back.

So did it work?

After a few months, I decided to quit. Kind of contrary, huh? It was shocking news for many people around me, particularly my parents. However, I had thought about it for a while – maybe even years. I just didn’t have the guts to do it. Well, it’s now or never, they say.

Quitting wasn’t easy. At that time, I wasn’t in a good state both physically and mentally. I had undergone a series of illnesses (stomach cramp, vertigo, skin rash, typhus) because of fatigue and unhealthy lifestyle (I was kind of a slob sometimes). Meanwhile, I was weak mentally due to stress and emotions all jumbled up together and emphasized significantly by the medicine I had to consume for my headaches. How? I found out later that some of the meds had side effects like moodiness and depression. I had been taking those pills for months in plentiful doses. Still, I do wonder: was it really the pills messing up my head with an overdose of hysteria. Maybe it was just me, No?

Anyway, my illness plus my emotional behavior didn’t make up the properties of a good civil servant. I had too many absences. Some were explainable (doctor’s note), some weren’t. I have forgotten some of those moments. Was I even sober at those moments?

I swear to God I didn’t take illegal drugs or drink alcohol – don’t worry.^-^ It wasn’t that kind of not-sober.

The nights were the worst part of the day. I was tired and weak so the mood swings took their toll. I was a pathetic spectacle drenched in hysteria.

The mornings were better. Logic and reason regained their place. I shouldn’t have been too keen on quitting, should I?

It was the opposite.

So I told my boss I wanted out. I considered opting for another institution but it wasn’t possible. So you could also say I was deactivated because of my absences. The process was not pleasant but in the end we understood each other. Many thanks to all the officials and colleagues involved who have made it possible. It ended well. Praise Allah.

End of story.

Next story: why did I choose English Literature?

My friends say that I don’t need to study it. After all, I have lived abroad for quite a while so I am half native. Wouldn’t it have been better to continue on with accounting? You can learn English on the way; it doesn’t have to be a major.

My dear friends,

I do respect for you care and good intentions, but I will firmly state that I want to do this. I want to pursue this because it is my passion. It will take me to the profession I have always wanted.

I have always loved learning English, maybe because most of my primary years were spent learning and practicing it. The first novel I read was in English. My diary was written in English. The first short story I wrote was in English. My first love poem was in English.

Language enthralls, invigorates, and sustains me. It fascinates me in a way that makes me hungry for more. The prospect of studying it, digging into it, and researching it makes my heart beat faster with excitement and puts a wide smile on my face. The experience is unlike that of any subject I have ever had to learn.

Why not Indonesian? Forgive me; I am not forgetting my roots. I like Indonesian language too. But it is not the language I grew up with in the first fundamental years of my life. It doesn’t have the same deep impact. It didn’t shape me to be the way I am now.

When I go to sleep, I can’t help that the thoughts that stream through my mind are in English. When I pray to Allah, I can’t help that it feels easier to communicate in English. When I have a heart-to-heart with my best friend, I can’t help that I feel I am more expressive when I talk in English.

So it is a passion and an instinctive preference. I cannot substitute it for something else.

But how about practicality? How about rationality?

It is not like I haven’t thought of that. It is not like I haven’t had signals of regret for letting go of my job, surrendering my income, and seemingly abandoning years of study to go to waste. It’s not like I won’t use my accounting diploma. Hey, I got a pretty good score and I wasn’t bad at it. I will use that for the opportunities I choose. But I won’t do tax no more. Nope (hehe).

However, waiting for the diploma to get in my hands involves a long line of bureaucracy. It is inevitable. So, why be idle? That is why I enrolled myself at a college in Yogyakarta (where I am now). I chose English Literature just because it is what I really, really wanted to learn. For this once, I wanted to be true to myself and make an honest choice. I wanted to do this for myself. No more regrets.

So why not guys?

In this world, often there is no room for the kind of passion I have for language. Passion is sometimes unpractical. Passion is frequently selfish. I know and I have accepted those labels.

Yes, maybe I am unemployed now because of my choices. Maybe I cannot give my family everything I wished to provide them with right now. Maybe I have caused a lot of trouble and pain and disappointment for a lot of people.

But this is my life. I will make my own choices and be true to them. I have my own personal principles that I will try to maintain. And I will manifest all of them into something wonderful, something that I am sure of and comfortable with. It’s something that was and has always been my dreams and ambition. I was just too late to realize it. Better late than never.

It doesn’t mean that I can’t use my dreams to reach other primary goals, such as providing for myself and my family. I can’t do it optimally right now, but I will soon, in due time. I pray that Allah will grant me that time.

I haven’t explained everything in this post, I know. I don’t think I ever could in just a night. However, I hope the main idea is clear. I have my principles and beliefs and decided to be consistent with them. The events following that decision subsequently lead me to the opportunity of going to school again and following my passion.

My dear friends and family (especially my family),

I don’t expect you to agree with all of my reasonings. I wrote them here because I feel that you deserve to know what I think and how it leads to my choices.

I realize that I am far from perfect, though I have strived to be, in trying to fulfill others expectations of me and agreeing to others’ choices and preferences of what is good for me – even when I wasn’t sure that it was what I wanted. I just wanted you to be proud of me

So I make mistakes. I stumble here and there. I sometimes fall repeatedly in the same hole. I just hope you will be there to pull me back up to the higher ground.

I am not a child or a teenager anymore. I am not a grown up either. I am still growing, so let me grow. Let me grow my leaves and branches wherever I please. Just help me grow in the direction of the sun.

I hope that you will keep having faith in me. I have gained enough wisdom to realize that the world is too big to face on our own. The roads are too complicated. To make matters worse, I can’t drive or read maps properly at the moment (what?).

Finally, I will end this long-and-exhausting-to-read post (surely not?) by emphasizing that your support, kind words, and presence means the world to me. I can never thank you enough. I can only pray that Allah blesses your life with happiness in this world and the hereafter. Love you all…


P.S. The video below does not have any direct connection with the post, but the singer, who is also the song writer, is really inspiring. He is amazing. The words in his song, plus his life story has given me motivation. Check out his first appeance here on youtube. Below is his single on ChrisReneVEVO.

Hey, young homie what you tripping on

Looking at life, like how did I get it wrong,

Life's too short, gotta live it long,

To my brothers and sisters when will we get along…

(Young Homie, Chris Rene)


  1. I can imagine how do they feel with your decision to quit from your job. I'm sure it was very hard for them to understand what u want and what was in your mind. But you have your own principles and beliefs, so just do for your best and make them proud (again):)

    May God bless you and keep you always in His tender, Good Luck :)

    1. Yes, it was... but they have accepted it now ;)As usual the day is always clear after a storm.
      Thank you so much for the support and kind words!

      May God bless you too... :)

  2. oh dear, finally i know your reasons of those decisions :)

    what a great bravery, dear, what an awesome choice to reach your passion :') I can't imagine that i would break through that way :)

    Good luck ya naya.

    So when will we see each other again, dear?

    1. yes... finaly. hehe.. i wanted t o tell u guys, but its hard for us to gather these days, isn't it? Everyone is awesome but it means they have to be quite busy..
      thank you for the kind words, sist!
      I hope we can see each other soon... i am in jogja right now. If you ahppen to get a work trip here maybe. hehe...

  3. to be honest, I envy you, especially at the following-your-passion's part
    I also want to quit, but i don't have any courage and there are many things that i must consider. Maybe one day I will, or maybe one day I will fall in love at my job, and enjoy my civil servant's life.

    And nay.. I really envy your capability to write in english... For me, wrote this comment take a long time and sometimes i still peek the dictionary and ask google translate to recheck it.

    I hope you enjoy your life :D

    1. aw... Amel, ur so sweet;) thanks for the comment n kind words. Yes, it is not a decision for everyone and we all have different things to consider n different priorities. I wish u the best of luck in what u choose or have chosen to do ;)
      hehe... i still peek at the dictionary too. it's almost an active program on my taskbar. I am sure u will get better and better. I wish I could write Indonesian posts as well as u do..

      thanks Amel! enjoy urs too;)

  4. Did DJP require you to pay when you quitted, Mbak Nay? Cuz I kinda wanna quit, too. I'm not really into administrative job like in DJP. I love economic and I dream of working as economist, or economic lecturer, or in World Bank, or something. I think that's what's difficult in life - facing harsh reality that we may hurt others, our parents (which happened to me as well when I told my plan to quit,) even if we don't want to. Hurting others is always a possibility. And I agree to you, it's not that we are not grateful, but sometimes we just can't love what we do and can't "coerce" ourselves to do it. To do otherwise is committing sin against our heart.

    1. Hi Andre!
      Yeah.. I do have to pay, not for quitting, but to get back my diploma. Many would disagree with my statement there.. hehe. But as long as the resignation letter is there it will be processed.
      Yeah, I can see you as an economist too. You have the potential and the intellectual capacity. Good luck, there", Although I do think that if things can go hand-in-hand, it would be easier on the others. Yeah, I agree hurting others is a possible consequence. But time heals it, in my case. Depends on how we communicate it in the beginning too. I didn't do such a good job, hehe.
      Yes, it truly is a sin to coerce ourselves, for it's not only lying to ourselves but also hurting ourselves, no? But maybe it is possible to compromise",

      thanks for visiting;)

  5. Actually, since i heard most part from third parties, it kinda heart-broken story i guess..
    But, i think you are the bravest (or most brave? damn you adjective!) girl i ever know. :D
    Not much bragging but "Booom!!!". Got me nay!!

    Passion is the most complicated thingy we must face as grown-up, yes?
    It makes us to blend it when we have no choice -like me bdw- or worse choose just one, take it or leave it, like you.

    I hope we can deal with all the consequences afterward.

    You rock nay!!! Saluuuuute!!

    1. Hi Rizky! Thank you for visiting and posting a comment ;)

      Yes, I don't know which version of the news you had heard, but I do know that some versions are funny, dramatic, and even "sinetron"-like. Hehe... Thank you so much for the supportive comment^-^. I don't think I am as brave as I am stubborn, though. ;)

      I agree. It is complicated and problematic. But I believe no decision is wrong if it comes from the true heart, whether it is in pursuit of that passion or not.


      Thank you, thank you, Rizky!

  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

  7. oh, i just read this post, and i feel so embarrassed to give you that comment before.
    you're brave girl, i hope you can get what you desire :)

    1. ^-^ Hey... I am grateful for your comments.. there was a lot of truth in what u said at the other post. Thanks a lot for it;)

      Thanks for the praise and hopes too.. Wish you all the best;)

  8. Naya, I just wanna say...
    You're a wise woman.

    1. oh, I am far from gaining enough wisdom for myself. Thanks a lot for your comment;)

  9. this is the reason behind your resignation. i've been wondering since i heard about this few years a go. i salute you for your brave decision kak naya. story of people pursuing their passion always inspired me :)

    and btw, i'm also a big fan of Chris Rene :D
    Cheerrsss :D