2020: The Year of Stagnation

This is a note for my future self to read.

To remember the worst year you’ve had in 19 years. 

A pandemic unprecedented.

For all I feel in 2020 is despair.

Hi me in the future. How are you? I’m here currently listening to TXT’s Fairy of Shampoo, trying my best to write this because I know how important it is to keep a record. I would have preferred a monthly record, but well once you read more you’ll remember why there was no monthly writing. For there is nothing to write, but a faster descent to despair.

However, before we go to the introspective part of the end of year review, I wanted to dial back, do a review of what has happened in the past year, see all the good bits that happened despite the odds. Because without those I might have truly broken down.

Pre Pandemic

2020’s theme (as per CGP Grey’s video on yearly theme) was supposed to be the year of Friendship and Novelty (nowhere in Grey’s video did he mention that there can only be one theme), a theme that was supplemented with the idea that I would be getting all of them in university. It is a theme that has two years of my life (1/9th) leading up to it, it was supposed to be the greatest year of my life for finally I will be exploring the world as an individual adult. 

The year started strong when my team Britannia was one of the top 15th papers in one of FEB UI’s marketing competitions. Back then I thought that this would be a glimpse of what my life here in uni would be like. Meeting new friends, learning by doing, and attending gala dinners from competitions and events. It was marvelous. A big shout out to the team over at The 16th MIST, it was one of the best experiences I ever had, and a special place in my heart to Rionanda and Emirio for being my first competition partners, hopefully after the pandemic is over we can find some other competitions to join, and maybe taking the throne on those ones.

It then went on well, continuing the trend of greatness with my admission to Badan Otonom Economica. Shit, I wanted to do a separate article for this, but low me can’t into words so I am pouring everything I have for my first year in BOE here.

Badan Otonom Economica

HOLY SHIT DO I LOVE YOU BOE. You have no idea how much you have helped me stay sane during the lockdown, and you are probably the sole reason I’m still staying in uni and not dropping out yet. Even if you weren’t my first choice.

Originally I wanted to join Kanopi, the official organisation for us studying economics at FEB UI. They had a Kajian division that is the jewel of my faculty, and I thought it would be where I start my journey as a budding economist. Me and my friends wanted to be part of you, so the competition was tight. I thought that joining Kanopi would give me an outlet to write while learning a lot about economics by talking with the seniors that would be there guiding me. 

Sadly, I wasn’t that optimistic with my chances to join Kanopi. I know a few people in my major who are way smarter than I am and have said interest in joining the same division that I wanted. There were 6(?) slots available, and if I did my math right there was only 1 slot that wasn’t a “guarantee” (it was never a guarantee, but it was extremely likely that those people would get accepted). Afraid that I might not find a friend group here, I was recommended by a friend of mine to join the Kajian in Badan Otonom Economica as well.

Long story short, I lied. I do have enough words to say about BOE. There’s too much to say about BOE that it would detract this article from a yearly review to the BOE review. So to keep it short, almost all events and fun that I had in the past year was due to the events and people in BOE. Links here if you need to remember what happened there: 

A special big love to Rama, Miftah, Fadhil, and Yandi. I wished we had more time to talk. A massive hug to all the people in Kajian. Good luck to Milen, Daffa, and Erika in their respective posts. Milen I know you don’t have the ambition for it, but I still deeply believe that you are the best candidate to lead BOE in this uncertain time. To Eja, Regina, Ricardo, and Oliver, let’s go through this together.

Pandemic Season One

Twas the 17th of March, the last day of University. The scream of happiness from the announcement that we were going to take some time off due to Covid was ringing in the Pusgiwa (Pusat Kegiatan Mahasiswa) building, an eerie scream to anyone rewatching said clip at the time I’m writing this. I got an order from my parents to buy a train ticket to be with them at Semarang where they’re currently staying for business work.

Looking back at it makes me feel things in my heart that I can’t fully comprehend. Is it sadness? Pain? Jealousy? Pity? I’m not sure. 

In my brain at that point was relief because the midterm was getting pushed back, and deep in my heart I wished that it would last at most until the middle of 2020, so that I can get back to doing Dancesport with the new kids, and doing the physical events that we we’re gonna do at BOE. No… for this is the start of the decent. 

Well, I say that with retrospect, but back then I was pretty chuffed. I mean I’ve spent most of my time learning from home right? I should be right at home! The thing about learning from home for me is the freedom in choosing what and when I learn. Putting school at home is just a nightmare. Oh my god. I feel sick. Having to stick to a rigid schedule not made by myself with attendance that matters to my grades without being able to meet up with friends in between or after class is distilling the worst of university and throwing out all of the good.

My third semester, one that was supposed to be made for love and excitement and fun was thwarted. “No matter” I thought to myself, confident that the next semester will be better, “I still have the next semester to play!”

Oh how wrong you are.

Pandemic Season Two

The semester starts off bad with a rejection to one of my most anticipated events that I’ve been aiming for since I joined uni. Komdis, Komisi Disiplin, or the Discipline Committee, in some places the seniors that made life hell for freshmans, is one of the coolest people I saw during my ospek period. Hearing all sorts of stories from my mentor, it was one of the best places to make friends with all different types of people as we’re all there together to help prepare the next batch of students and make sure that the events go well.

It was one of the things I desired. I want to get in, because it is the best way for me to get what I want. Friends.

The interview went well. I clicked with the interviewer and I think I did well. The only question I was unable to answer however was one that I think struck to me the deepest, and probably messed up my psyche for the next semester. “Was I able to come to Jakarta?” is the question, and reluctantly I said I wasn’t able to. Why? Because my parents said so. I was willing to risk my health for this, because the probability of me catching covid is pretty small and even if I catch it I’m a young man I’ll be fine. But no. My parents forbid me to go, so I said no. I understand their rationale, but it was painful.

I found out through a friend that if I have said that I can, I would have gotten in. The only reason I failed was due to that question. I have never felt as bad as today. For I am not sure what day today is, but I know today starts when the new semester starts.

At this point I think pandemic fatigue has seeped in. I was no longer excited for class that didn’t excite me. There was no attempt at forcing myself to be a certain way because there was no telling when the pandemic was going to be over. I have one class I’m excited for. Development Economics with Professor Iwan Jaya Aziz (IJA), a joint class with people from the international class.

Quick tangent. I LOVE YOU PROF IJA. That class is hands down the best class I’ve ever had while I’m in FEB UI and it is 100% what I was looking for when I decided that I was gonna join university. I am honestly really sad that not every class could bring me that level of excitement to learn, but I believe that you have shown that it is possible to have a class of that caliber. I hope I’m lucky enough to be able to experience more classes like that one. Back to the review.

I… cannot tell you what has happened in the past six month. It was such a blur, I no longer remember things in time, but in events. Time is figured out relative to other events, not to the calendar. One such activity that has happened was my foray into the world of roleplay twitter, in an effort to find friends. It is a dreamscape, akin to Cosmo Entelecheia from Negima or Mugen Tsukuyomi from Naruto, where we could live in our own dream world for a bit, interacting with others, playing a character.

It was… interesting to say the least. There I experience my first time dating and breaking up with someone. Sure the characters might be fictional, but the emotions behind them weren’t. I… do not have the mental capacity to recite it, nor do I feel like it is something that needs to be remembered. If I must put names that might remind me of it in the future: Aleah, J-nee, Nyanya, and Talita should be enough to remind you, dear future me. If not then, well, let the past be the past.

Other than that there was fun stuff dotted around, but none of them ever felt like breakthroughs or things that had happened due to my own will. It was part of me going through the motion of university, part of this railroad that I got on. Part of me wants to give up and just drop out. The pressure of grades and expectation (mostly from myself) was piling up, this is supposed to be the year where I expand my world, not a time for reflection. 


This has all culminated into December, the bleakest month I’ve had in my entire life. I think I was on the verge of breaking every. single. day. and there was nothing that I could do. It’s not as if I’ve sinked down and have recessed, but I’ve had no growth, at all, in the past year. Any good thing that I’ve done has been set to make sure I don’t dip lower than where I’m currently at. I don’t like this. No matter the situation, change is a must. For to live is to change, and stagnation means death. It is even worse when I start comparing myself to others. 

I must preface this by saying I REALLY don’t like to compare myself to others. Everyone has their own story and path, there is no need to compare. But… sometimes it is hard not to compare yourself at least with your immediate family, especially if you’re as close as am with my family. Compared to other families my family has been relatively well off during this pandemic. A mix of skills and luck has allowed them to thrive during this time.

My brother is currently having an experience of a lifetime with his chess endeavor, especially due to the many online competitions that normally he wouldn’t be able to join due to cost. My sister has started her own business and has earned herself more money than what we expected. My parents’ business is booming and they’re starting to expand their team, helping others along the way.

And here I am, sitting terribly in front of my laptop, haven’t taken a shower in days, eating pringles, listening to 70’s soul, not being able to do anything. Normally I would feel fine, but mental resilience has been down and I feel frustrated. Why is the year where I’m supposed to be having the best time in the world actually the worst year of my life? 

What is this? Why am I trapped here? Why are there people outside, having the best time in the world? Why are they not punished? Why must I be stuck in this position? Why did I lose my ability to write? What did I do to deserve this? Was it my fault? Is this a message from the universe that I’m not supposed to go through formal education? Should I just drop out now? Is there any need for me to stay? Other people can go through this fine, so why can’t I?

All of this and more, repeated in my head. I don’t know what to do anymore.

Send help.

Lights in the Dark

The bleak and depressive tone in this article reflects the current state my mind is in when writing this review. It however glosses over so many good things that have happened to me in the past year. While I won’t be able to pinpoint all of them (heart to much in the gutter), I can point a few that made me super excited.

One was the experience to be Instruktur Calon Pendamping Calon Guru Penggerak (try saying that 10 times quickly), part of Kemendikbud’s (Ministry of Education and Culture) plan to revitalize and create a better environment in schools all over the country. It was an eye opening experience as a newbie in the field of education. I got the chance to meet with teachers all over Indonesia (mine was mainly the east side), some with more years experience teaching than I’ve been living, that are extremely excited to help improve the quality of the teachers here.

And I was there teaching them what to do. Okay, I wasn’t there to teach (how does a homeschooler that is currently in his third semester of economics uni teach these veterans?), I was there to help them understand the module and help lead the discussion because I have experience with one of the main parts of the new module. Merdeka Belajar. A big thanks to Tante Ira for giving me the chance and trusted me to do well as an instructor. Also thank you to everyone that was involved and interacted with me, be it other instructors (usually way older and way more experienced than I am), people in Kemendikbud, to all the teachers that were extremely humble and let me lead the discussion.

I also had the chance to try out a new brand of friendship. One based on Twitter, and utilizing twitter for a more productive discussion platform filled with people around this new ideology called post-rationalism. I’m still not sure what it is, but I have to thank Miftah for introducing me to this world. It helps me see that maybe, even if I dropped out of uni, I’ll still have some place to call home. A place to make friends in these dark times. Maybe.

End of the Reflection

I have to end the reflection somewhere. It is rambly enough, and more of the real emotions can probably be found in the 2020 recap thread over at twitter. The tone of this reflection is to pour out emotions, all the sludge that has built up over the months. It’s still not all gone, I’m still feeling terrible. But at least some of it is in writing, around 20-30% got out. Good enough.

There will be a separate post about the future and where I want to go. Here it is if you’re interested. Future is uncertain though. For I am still in despair. Maybe even depression.

If there’s anyone reading this and are relating to what I’m feeling here, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me either through Twitter (@yudhistirags), Instagram (@yudhisgs), or email (yudhis.sumardiono@gmail.com). They are always open, and talking to people has always had a positive impact on me. So never feel shy to be in touch.

To my parents, if you’re reading this. I… don’t know how to talk to you about this. Because I know you two probably don’t know the answer to this problem as well.

That’s all from me. 

I hope you reply soon.

Tell me how it is in the future.

Thank you.

See you soon.

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