I arrived in Stockholm today, four years ago.

Never thought I’d stay this long.

At the beginning, I thought it was going to be just two years (or as I’d like to say it before, 100 weeks) of Master’s study. But here I am now, two years into the PhD programme. It has been a very important four years: a period of change and transition, even when at times the transition seemed to be backwards.

One of the main theme of this period is a sense of closure and resolution. It’s a closure of a decade long journey started with naivety, with barely any skills and knowledge yet boasted so much dreams. Dreams alone were not enough. There were some self determination, sure, but the most important part was to have those who believed in me even at times when I did not believe in myself. And even better, the presence of a supportive partner.

I am here now at the other end of that journey. A resolution for a dream. Wiser, hopefully. With a bit more experience, hopefully.

Revisiting Siena after 11 years was my metaphor of a journey to Ithaca

With that, sadly, also came a bitter end. The partner and I parted ways. Ever since the beginning we knew it would not last forever. There were things that could not be compromised. Perhaps it had lasted for a bit too long. And when you have feelings for something you know you’d lose, it grows deep into you. Even worse when that something is the very support of your existence.

But a closure is needed. We could not hold into each other for much longer, each of us has to move forward.

Which brings me to another theme of the current four-year period, an internal struggle of finding one self, daily skirmishes of asking the questions “who am I“, “what am I“, “what to do“, “where to go“, and the like. I’m not really sure what was the cause of the struggle. Maybe it was the lost of the support. Or maybe now that I have more time to reflect and think about myself, those are the questions of old that have not been resolved.

There were good days where I had a sense of the self, but there were also days where I had lost inside the labyrinth of my mind and have nothing much to do but to surrender to the world around. It could be the bed under the duvet, but many other times I can’t be grateful enough that I’m in one of the most beautiful city in the world. It’s easy to surrender to my senses when they are being indulged by the surrounding nature.

I’ve been constantly pondering of how to move forward and what do I want to do next. If there’s a closure, one would expect a new beginning to be emerged. It is not easy, unfortunately. Perhaps I have forgotten how to dream. Or that I have overthink and second-guessing everything, thinking that those are the way of wisdom and being full of consideration.

What I can say for now, though, is about where I am at the moment. Physically, as mentioned above, I’m in one of the most beautiful city in the world. It’s amazing what they are doing here in Stockholm, both the architecture and how nature is an integral part of the city. That said, I am not “here” in Sweden as much as I’m being in an international environment. KTH is a very international institution. Majority of my friends here are fellow Indonesians or those came from other countries. And in the past couple of months in this social distancing period, I have been participating in online talks and discussions with fellow Indonesians here in Sweden, in Germany, and those in Indonesia. Perhaps I have failed to integrate to Sweden, even after four years. I have learned basic Swedish but have never been challenged much to develop the skill. Or maybe it doesn’t matter, I might not be here forever.

Professionally, I have my responsibilities at school. It does feel a lot, and I certainly have the skepticism towards myself if I ever be good enough. Aside from that, there’s also this crave for something unexplainable. Perhaps I have been missing doing concerts and performances. Or at least being around people who are deeply passionate about the art (or anything!) and would go the distance for that (for some reason I met a lot of them back in Bandung, but not so much here in Sweden).

One thing I realized in the past week is that I might have been worrying too much about the future and have forgotten to live in the present . If being here is the resolution of a journey and all of the dreams from the previous period, then I should take some time to be here and now. Maybe that is how the realization of self might emerge, along with the dreams and hopes for the future.

I know I have the company of those who believe in me even at times when I do not believe in myself. Of those, the most influential would be one identifies himself in his writings as SS. Nothing much I can say but thank you.

And finally, there is also someone there with whom I have enjoyed spending time together in the past two years. I certainly hope that the feeling is mutual and that it will last a bit longer (spoiler: it did not).

With that, here’s to the next three years.

It will be full of struggle and self-doubt in writing and finishing the PhD. But I hope I can enjoy being here in the present, while at the same time re-learning how to dream and have the determination for the future.

Stockholm, Aug 21st 2020