My drawing captures the rollercoaster ride that was my 2023. It was a hard-core one, and not the kind of hard-core that I like, LOL.
But that chapter’s closed, and instead of dwelling on the tough bits, I’m focusing on the sparkles in the storm even though overall it was the slowest growth period in my adult year. Only the last month made up for it and it’s because I decided to come back to Indonesia.
Here’s a fun, unordered list of my 2023:
Got local work experience in Australia
I moved to Australia in 2022, but only started job hunting at the beginning of 2023. Initially, I got my web design freelance thingy going on, but as my relationship at that time was crumbling and so was my mental health, I decided to just get off freelancing for a while to get stable income(s) from working locally in Adelaide, South Australia, even though it means decreasing my rate a lot. I’m grateful for the experience of trying to find jobs in Australia without any international qualifications and I still got accepted for decent office jobs. It means in the end, my portfolio itself is more than enough. However, due to my visa, employers tend to expect someone who can work full-time in my field, and that limits my options in terms of the scale of the business. I did several jobs in Australia to see which ones fit me most and in the end chose to stick with two (until I resigned to come back to Indonesia). The two jobs I had were very different from each other but memorable in their own ways.
Worked for stillbirth prevention
One of my jobs was an office job where my role was as the Digital Marketing Coordinator for a stillbirth prevention organization. It was the first stillbirth awareness organization in Australia (founded in 2014) which surprised me that even a country like Australia didn’t give any attention before that. My colleagues were all women older than me. The office was located in the city center and the office was so cute because their brand color is pink. I was meant to work here. LOL. To be honest, I also didn’t have enough knowledge about stillbirth even though it happened to my own mother and I, as a woman, will have a chance to experience it. I guess it was my experience with loss that fit me with the organization because death is never an easy thing to talk about or deal with. The work was indeed rewarding, sometimes I cried during work because seeing the emotion of bereaved parents and the miles they went through to honour their babies. It was an eye-opener and deeply moving, though I realized that in-house office life isn’t my jam. I don’t think I’d work in an office again, and I would prefer to work in a more creative field in technology. I find it easier to be friends with people in the same field as I am.
Got paid for partying
My other job is a weekend job where I got paid to host paint and sip events. My role was to host, guide, paint, and build up the party vibe. Though it’s called paint and sip, it was more sipping than painting, LOL! Not only that I could dance during my work, I also could drink, haha! I am pretty good at staying level-headed during parties, I might look like a drunk person but actually, that’s just who I am at parties, haha. I was their first employee and was the only employee for some time, and I did enjoy it because I saw it as an escape from my stressful life in Australia. It was awkward in the beginning to make people dance, but luckily I got trained in Bali, LOL. It came naturally to me, and my favorite was the karaoke nights! I got to meet a lot of people, most of the customers were women or couples. And because it’s located in the city, I sometimes got men hitting on me, but because of my look, I kept attracting much younger guys! Whenever they tried to rizz me, I was like, “Kid, stay in school.” It was funny!
Started to paint on canvas
This one is related to point no.3 because the job requires me to paint and I never painted on canvas before. I didn’t do hand painting at all before this. I am a designer and a creative person, but because I grew up poor, I didn’t get to play with traditional painting tools, we couldn’t afford it. So I went straight to digital art as my first creative outlet. I told my employer about it and he said that he saw my digital work already and was sure I’d fit for the job. So almost every weekend, I painted. I just braved myself at first and I was not bad at all. It’s not something that I’d do regularly in my spare time but I’ll definitely pick up painting again once in a while in the future.
Did more standup comedy gigs
I did more standup comedy gigs in Adelaide in 2023 compared to the previous year and it helped to get some recognition in Adelaide’s comedy scene at that time, more experienced comedians asked me to perform in their shows. Unfortunately, I left. Haha. I also did some gigs in Bali whenever I had a layover there. One of the comedy gigs made a profile sheet of the performing comedians that night and this is how they described me:
An impromptu trip to Timor Leste and did a 40-min comedy show
Another unexpected event that happened in 2023 was that I flew to Timor Leste (East Timor), spent some time there, and did a 40-min comedy show! I was staying with Australian expats that were on diplomatic duties in Timor and the expat communities were very small and kinda typical in a way. Many of them were the do-gooders and somewhat delusional, LOL, and a few of them were giving ‘I’m just here to make money to support my family and I deal with this shit’ kind of vibe, LOL. I was staying with the latter type of people. Because there were not many things going on in Dili, when one thing happened, the news spread out easily. I was just at a bar and talked to people, they learned I’m a comedian and they introduced me to one person to another, and voilaaa… three days later we had a show, I was the headliner and asked to do a 40-minute set. For a comedian, it’s something not easy to do! Luckily I had done enough sets that can make a tight 40-minute set. And it was a success! Even though the marketing was done only via WhatsApp groups, the room was full!!
Spent more time with family
2023 brought me closer to my family in West Sumatra, Indonesia. My dad’s health went downward spiral this year, I had to suddenly fly to Indonesia in June, just right on my birthday. I stayed for 10 days in June. Then when I decided to go back to Indonesia in November, I was planning to stay in Bali for three months (because initially, that’s how long I planned to stay in Indonesia). On the day I quit my job, my mom informed her children that my father’s situation was getting worse and worse. So in the end, I decided to stay for the whole stay until the end of January. So I’ve been in West Sumatra with my family since the end of November 2023 until when I wrote this post. If you’ve known me or been following me for a while, you might understand how I’d look and feel like an alien in West Sumatra. I never feel like I belong there. I don’t connect with the people even though I studied there for 5 years. And I had to deal with my dad’s situation, it’s not easy to see someone you care about in pain and you can do nothing about it. I never spent more than 3 weeks in Sumatra, so it has been the longest time I spent with my family so far. I have a little sister (adopted) who is now 7 years old. Though I rarely spent time with her (because I always live either in Bali or somewhere else), I guess she idolizes me a lot, LOL. I got to spend more time not only with my parents but also with her. Well, I’m not a believer in gentle parenting so she’s been getting a lot of mental training from me, but she keeps wanting more, maybe she’s addicted to pain! LOL. This is a card that my sis made for me.
I guess the best highlight for me in 2023 happened in December. Leaving for Indonesia was the smartest decision I’ve made in 2023. I made the most growth in 1 month compared to my 1.5 years in Australia. My goal in 2024 is to cream income streams, one of them being by having digital products to sell. To do that, I used the whole month of December to build the foundation, which was the product creation. I made 4 websites in December while learning new platforms. The digital product that I want to explore first is website templates. I chose Squarespace instead of WordPress or other platforms because the price point to sell Squarespace templates is much higher than other platforms. I never used Squarespace before, it was my first time getting my hands on the platform and I’ve been doing well so far! I’m proud of seeing my designs come to life. I set up an e-commerce site and I chose the name FLY HIGH DESIGN for my brand. It’s taken from my late fiance’s YouTube channel, Fly High with Mike. I know that it’s a long-term game, I don’t expect fast results but it’s the game I’m willing to play. It’s the hard that I choose.
I’ve been working days and nights tirelessly and it’s not easy to do something not many people do. But it’s not my first time trying to break the code. Seven years ago, I did the exact same thing when I wanted to learn how to make money online (at that time not many were doing it, especially women). I went back to my parent’s home and taught myself design and web design only from the internet and books. That was my first financial rock bottom and that’s when and where I met Mike, during one of my lowest points in life. I am now not in a comfortable situation yet, but I will get better because I work hard. It’s a long-term game and I’m learning to be patient with myself and my progress. I didn’t feel like I’d done much but if I look back from where I was at the beginning of December 2023 to where I am one month later, in fact, I’ve done a lot!!