Moments that Change My Life 1: Thinking about Others

When asked about a moment that changes my life or myself, I would answer it with a super short story when I was in high school. At that time, I was a 10th grader in my high school. My schoolmates (who I did not really know at that time) and I joined this leadership activity. During the course of that program, we were given several demanding tasks that required us to collaborate with each other. I was not the way I am now. I had very limited exposure to such activity and I would even say that my leadership and collaborative skills are 0.

One of the tasks given to us was that we had to wear a red ribbon on our school uniform. We agreed about the size of the ribbon, etc. We were also given other tasks, which consume my time at home so that I forgot to prepare my ribbon. On the next morning when I arrived at school, I remembered that I had to wear a ribbon. I panicked. Then, I met this friend of mine whom at that time I didn’t even know her name. I think she realized that I forgot to bring my ribbon and she happened to have a spare ribbon. She just gave it to me like that, saving me from punishments that will be given by our seniors if we didn’t wear one.

I always remember that moment because for me, it changes the way I approach life and the way I think. I was a very individualistic person. I couldn’t care much about other people. That moment when I friend gave me this ribbon made me think how a person can think about other people and be unselfish. What she did didn’t benefit her, but she did it anyway. From that moment on, I always try and try to think about other people’s position, condition, and perspective. Then, I try to do whatever I can to help others. What my friend did was merely giving a ribbon, maybe an extra one when she made it for herself. It didn’t take a lot of effort. And I now believe that kindness shouldn’t always take a lot of effort.

As I said, I try and try to be a better version of myself. Sometimes I forgot, sometimes I slip. Recently, I was reminded again of how I should not be selfish. So I work as a school counselor in a private school in Jakarta. There’s this new regulation from the government that will give a certain amount of money in monthly basis for private school teachers. I knew this as I saw a colleague opening a document about this matter. Then, in a Whatsapp Group, another person shared the document. I knew this, but I disregarded it. What I thought at that moment was that “ah… maybe I am not qualified. I don’t want the extra load that I have to do to obtain that”. A few days later, a friend also talked about this, sharing the information that she knows to me about this endowment fund. Again, I simply thought that it is unimportant for me.

Can you see what’s wrong in the way I think about this matter?

Yes, I only think about myself. I didn’t care that maybe my other fellow teachers may need it. I didn’t think that probably there are teachers who really really deserve this endowment fund. And when this matter was blown up because most of my colleagues are informed about the fund when it is too late, causing a rather chaotic situation; just then that I realized “maaaan… what did I do?”. The answer is: I didn’t. I didn’t do anything because I was so self-centred that I didn’t think about other people. What I could have done was so simple, as simple as sharing the information that I knew.

As usual, what I do after this kind of thing happen is to think of what I could have done better. And I realize that I have been so busy with myself that I care less about other people around me. This situation reminds me that I have to reflect and evaluate. I have to practice my belief to not only think about myself, to not being selfish.


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