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A letter to myself

Dear Yoyen,

How are you doing at the moment? I know you are keen on listening to Wynton Marsalis’ album as well as you are a fan of The Black Crowes. Your musical flirt to Jazz and Fusion is something dad couldn’t understand being a pure rock ‘n roll fan himself. He told me once listening to jazz was like listening to a bunch of musicians playing their own notes, which was true to some point.


You still smoke, don’t you? Especially after dad and mom don’t mind you smoking. You are proud to have cool folks but I warn you smoking will kill dad 7 years for now. If you knew what smoking did to your skin and hair, you would stop immediately. But then again, you are young and carefree. Afterall you earn your own money to buy cigarettes by dancing. You’d rather do modern dance right now as there are so many modern dance gigs to do. Cherish your ability to pick up new dance well and fast as 7 years from now, you will be a semi professional Indonesian traditional dancer. Beside classic Javanese & Balinese dance you have already mastered, you can add Jaipongan dance in your dancing career later on. Those interesting years are good learning moments. You will visit excellent places and meet various intriguing, inspiring people.

By the way, how was the lesson with Monsieur Nursal today? He is an eccentric bloke, isn’t he? What a colourful person he is. Take good example of his french pronunciation which is bcbg (bon chique bon genre). Right now you are dreaming of visiting France someday. This will come true, trust me. Within 6 years you will explore Brittany, Normandy, Aquitaine, Bordeaux region & Massif Central. And last but not least you will visit the region where dad named you after: La Lorraine. Everything will fall into place the moment you put your step on French soil. You will then dare to call yourself a Francophil. The other big dream to pursue a master degree on French literature at La Sorbonne, Paris will fade away eventually. As there would be other circumstances you’d need to consider. Carry on reading Balzac, Hugo, Camus though. This will form you as who I am today.

Things have not been easy for you this time. Hanging out with the boys from philosophy section has set you to think about the real purpose of your life. What do you do on earth. What your legacy will be. You believe you are unique. You are one of a kind. This is a turning point in your young life when you dared declaring yourself a feminist. Dad finds it very brave of you. Blame it on Simone de Beauvoir’s La Deuxième Sexe, Oriana Fallaci’s courage or Christiane Amanpour’s determination, you have sworn to be and stay independent. All your feminist heroes are single. You would be surprised to hear my recent feminist role models are working mothers like Marissa Mayer (Yahoo CEO), Sheryl Sandberg (CEO Facebook) and Nellie Kroes (Vice President European Commission Europe Union). Those are powerful women, mothers and married to a man who is not intimidated by them. Plus they are not afraid showing their femininity. They embrace it instead of reject it. They use it properly to present themselves accordingly, even when fighting the old boy’s network. I bet it is hard to imagine for you now. However, there is bad news I have to tell you, after two decades in certain regions in the world women rights have not been set as they are supposed to be. Sad but true. I hope this won’t stop you reading many more books of inspiring women. The hunger and thirst to knowledge remains though. Stay curious and do not stop asking question!

Stt, remember that Indo Dutch guy you met two days ago on Kuta beach? Go on a date with him. He is interesting and he looks good. 6 weeks after your first date with him he is going to express his real feelings for you. Grandma would be glad if you let her read his letter, especially those sentences written in Dutch. 3 years from now you will marry him! Don’t be afraid, once being married to him, you stay a feminist as he doesn’t mind this at all. He accepts you being outspoken.

Dear, things you believe now have to be adjusted or even banned when you reach my age. Take hairdo for example. In the picture above, taken on the first date with that Indo Dutch guy, your hairdo is a bob style. You believe  women past 35 year should not have long hair cause it would be too girlish. Excuse me if I disagree. I turned 41 today and still love my long hair. Look at my recent picture  taken last week. I hope I am ageing graciously like vintage wine. The long hair suits me, it doesn’t turn me to a girlish middle age woman, does it? Ah, the heck with that term. Age is just a number. By the way, you would have loved the dress as do I. Alas, it is to short to my liking, while I believe you would not mind wearing it.


A very happy 20th birthday to you Yoyen. You will find peace and balance which you are searching for. Only not now. You will find it after a worthwhile journey of 10 years ahead from now.

This letter is written for myself (Yoyen is my nickname) when I was 20 years old. A moment of reflection from myself at my 41st birthday today.

12 thoughts on “A letter to myself

  1. This letter is so beautiful and I feel like reading it for me. I am Yoyen, probably few years older. I am a feminist, afraid that getting married means losing my feminism but then again, the 41 years old Lorraine just told me that her feminist heroes are mostly working mom. 🙂
    I am also wondering about what’s my purpose on earth, curious and so wanting to visit France. I used to take literature degree in France too but then I tried to let some things go not because I gave up but because I have better plans. 🙂
    Thank you Lorraine. This is a very VERY beautiful story. You’re super awesome.

    • Thank you May. I am glad that you find this inspiring. We have a lot in common then :-). To be able to move forward one must take some steps back. That was the reason I let my Master study dream in La Sorbonne go. Now I have no regrets about it as I still can explore the French literature in my own pace during my spare time. It would be nice to meet you off line when you are in Amsterdam this fall, if you can find time in your busy itinerary of course 🙂

      • I actually leave one day to be plan-free because Colson aka Jerry (pelopor.nl) offered for a warm hosting session. I don’t know how long we’re gonna chat i will surely update you again. 🙂
        If I’m not wrong you know him too, right? Maybe we all can hang out together 🙂

  2. mba Yoyen rambutmuu bagus banget sih. akuuuu mau barter hehe
    btw….kartu posnya baru aja nyampe mba 🙂 makasih yaaa. aku suka, ajakin ke sana dong hahahaha

    • Makasih Non, makanya tetep kekeh rambut panjang dan ngga mau dicat walaupun ubannya udah mulai banyak keliatan he..he..Selama masih bagus & enak dilihat aku ngga mau potong rambut. Wa, berarti 6 minggu kemudian baru sampe itu kartu posnya? Lama bener. Mau ke Barcelona? Kesini yuk, bareng 🙂

  3. Mba yoyen, you are definitely ageing graciously like vintage wine!! Rambutnya bikin wanita berambut frizzy seperti daku ni ngiri. What a beautiful letter, a time capsule and inspiring! when i was growing up I read books from Nawel el Sadaawi & Simone de Beauvoir and they were my teachers and they inspired me so much and I too declared myself as a feminist :)) Wish you joyful years, a balanced life and happy belated birthday (this time on this blog!) for you! Veel liefs!

    • Thank you Oppie. Ah, Nawel el Sadaawi is also my fave too. Her books were ones of the few available in the book stores in Jakarta when I was young. Maintaining a balanced life between work and home will stay a challenge for me, for everyone I believe. Thanks again Oppie.

  4. you’re really one fine wine 🙂 I used to think will I be able to do the working and parenting together but recently I set my fear aside. I just hope I find a supporting partner like yours.

    jadi ingat G… dia bakal kayak apa ya nanti kalo umurnya sudah 20 tahun

    • Thank you Tin. I hope so for you, pasti jalan kok kalo ada kemauan. And one more thing: jangan ngerasa bersalah kalo nanti punya anak dan tetep kerja karena anak akan bisa ngerasa ini. Yang idealnya sih, ibu happy anak senang. Waah, mengenai G? Aku kayanya mau nulis post tentang dia sekarang yang udah resmi jadi ABG Tin. Lucu dan centil, seperti ngaca kalo mengamati dia. Aku kelakuannya persis dia waktu masih ABG dulu 🙂

  5. Pingback: EF: La joie de vivre | Chez Lorraine

  6. Pingback: I am a feminist but… | Chez Lorraine

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