There’s this episode of my life that I will always remember. It was the time when I have to choose a university after my schooling years.
I was a very cowardly boy that was very undecided because all the good universities had these horrifiying stories about their orientation week (freshmen’s week, or OSPEK or MAPRAM).
Back then in Indonesia, with no freedom of speech and human rights watchdogs like what we have now, the freshmen’s week can look really similiar to the lite version of an army bootcamp.
They cursed you, they kicked you, they give you unthinkable assignments, they made you ate things, they physically punished you with situps and pushups, they degrade you and they broke you. You will be treated like dirt in your junior semester. (People nowadays will argue that it was bullying and it most definetely was, but that’s not the point I’m trying to make right now.)
So I was leaning very hard to choose some of the less popular university, since the more ‘prestigious’ the university, the more horrifiying stories you’ll be hearing.
My brother, which is ten years older, tried to advise and comfort his little cowardly brother. With sparkly nostalgic eyes and occasional giggles, he told me all of the crazy things that he went through in his own freshmen’s week.
He then turned to me and said, “You know, all of those things might be horrifiying and look really bad for you right now. But afterwards, after you’ve gone through all that and you are way into your adult years, you’d look back and you’d smile remembering them.
At my age, you’ll catch up with your friends and all of you will have a beer and a good laugh reciting all the stories, all the punishments you got, all the junk you ate, all the push ups you took, all the mud you crawled through.
You’ll look back and you’ll agree with me that they are one of the sweetest memories of your life. Really. You’ll regret it if you didn’t go through one.”
The thinking stays with me until now.
Whenever I am going through a tough period in my life, I always remember that after I get through this, I will look back and I will smile telling people about it.
I remember that I once cried my eyes out riding my old motorbike because I don’t have enough money to pay for the parking and I felt so really poor. I remember thinking, “How can I be blessing to others if I continue to be broke like this?”
I remember that me and Francy once cried in the earliest days of our business because it was almost the time to transfer salaries and we didn’t have enough money in the bank.
I remember spray-mounting pages for the countless dummy company profile pitchings that I never won.
I remember my tiny old blue KIA Visto that I drove everywhere with my business friends calling out, “Come on, you cannot drive around in this?”
I remember the three desks office that me, Evy and Victor shared.
I remember being embarrassed because my client S-Class wouldn’t fit in my studio tiny driveway.
I remember being with no money in my pocket.
I remember when my old bike broke down while driving Francy home and how she continued the trip with a bus and how I pushed my bike to find a repair shop. (It was the sweetest memory of our dating years.)
I remember the old rented bedroom that we stayed in after we got married. I remember the rusty bathtub and the peeling wallpapers.
Richard Branson do not remember the massive Virgin conglomerate that it is now, he remembers his first business running a tiny and broke student magazine.
Steve Jobs did not remember that Apple has more money than the US Goverment, he remembered his first office at his mom’s garage.
Funny how much fear you lost if you look at these toughest times of your life as sweet memories that are being written for future nostalgic purposes in beer hangouts.
I am too remembering these times, with all the risks I take and the pressures I have while making this huge leap of faith.
I will too look back and have a beer telling this.