The day after I wore my second graduation robe

A note about letting myself to grow

Farewell dinners and lunches, checked. Photo sessions, checked. Administrative documents submission, checked. Those were the agendas that remarked my last week as a master student at the Master Program of Development Studies. Probably, it was the happiest time of this journey despite the hectic situation that I had to face every time I was about to re-check and submit all the graduation requirements. I looked blushing and silly in most of the graduation photos that were taken. I hope that people won’t be disappointed nor surprised that the vibes did not resemble the whole journey during the past one and a half years.

It finally met its end.

Personal document | Photographed by I Putu Reynaldy

Before I embarked on the second cycle of university-level education, I have heard several times the stereotype of pursuing a master's degree in Indonesia. People said, “it will be just a piece of cake”. However, I doubted that statement since day one. As an average student who hardly struggled to graduate from one school to another, any form of school and education should never be underestimated. Well, going through the journey of a master's program at such a young age (of course, according to my own standard) has brought me the culmination of awe, despair, and hope at once.

It was the end of July 2019. I couldn’t sleep well the night after my cumulative GPA was announced. Do I deserve the title? Am I good enough to graduate with the above-average mark? It was hard to not freak out while being frustrated as well. Finishing the second-cycle of university-level education itself was a major turning point to me, but now I have to consider the upcoming responsibilities because of what is printed on my diploma and academic transcript. Oh, what a life!

The first full-time job that I landed on upon graduating led me to thousands of unanswered questions, mostly on building expectations and nurturing personal growth. I also thought I probably lost myself due to the extensive duration of commuting back and forth between home and office. At once, suddenly the ideal future that I used to imagine was broken into pieces. “Should I stay or go?” was constantly replayed as my inner-monologue.

On the bright side, my first full-time employment in the government sector was another tipping point if I compared it to what the 19-year old version of me could imagine. I once pledged to jump into various sectors before settling in the academic world, so that I could at least complain less and appreciate more about the efforts that have been done by different actors.

The confused grad student is now a researcher. I can tell people that my teenage dream and value of occupation now intertwine in a good way. My current adult job allows to me read, discuss, and write about the things that the 10-year old version of myself read multiple times from the magazine and newspaper. It’s such an honor as well to work with notable researchers of their own fields.

Nonetheless, a new inner-monologue is being created again. I constantly feel dumb, even dumber than at any moment when I have to express love. Sitting on a comfortable chair in my new working space, I am trying to figure out the relevance of theories on environmental politics to complete an article that I am working on. The moments that I spend by skimming and paraphrasing the papers that are new to me still bring me another kind of awe yet lead to the feeling of thirst for knowledge and making an impact.

But, who am I?

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Jennie Yuwono

Jennie Yuwono

reader, writer.

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