How many times did you decide to do something, then failed to accept the risks that come along with your decision? Worse, how many times did you blame others for it?
Here’s my example.
You decided to sign up for a beauty pageant competition. You know the risks that might come along with it. Some of the risks are: You’ll be under the spotlight, everyone will focus on you – they’ll judge your appearance, they’ll judge whatever you say, they’ll judge your self-confidence et cetera. Say something wrong, and you’ll know you’ll be dead out of harsh criticism.
But hey, you should have known that from the beginning right? You should have been ready for that, or else don’t sign up for such a competition…
Look at Nadine Chandrawinata, the winner of Putri Indonesia in 2005. Look how she accepted her fault when she mistakenly said “Indonesia is a beautiful CITY” during the Miss Universe interview. Look how she gracefully reacted when people mocked her, saying she was just a pretty face and that it was nothing but her Indonesian-German pretty look that made her get the Putri Indonesia crown.
Then we have Kerenina Sunny Halim, another half-Caucasian beauty, who won the title of Miss Indonesia in 2009, while in fact, she could not really speak Indonesian. This sparked people’s anger: How come a representative of Indonesia to the world can’t speak her own mother language? When I wrote a small news about this, people’s comments were out of mind (I didn’t count, really, but there must have been over 80 comments on the article). They all slayed her with some harsh words. People talked about her just everywhere. And you know how she reacted? So calmly. She accepted her “flaws” of not knowing Indonesian language and culture. She said she was committed to learn them. I once met her in an interview. It was Hari Sumpah Pemuda (Youth Pledge Day, a nationwide celebration of Indonesia’s unity, solidarity and nationalism), and journalists asked her opinion about it. You know what she said? “I’m sorry? What? I don’t know what that is.” Her reply sent dozens of journalists to confusion. “Is she joking?” one of them said, looking at me. But as naive as she could be, Kerenina was just playing cool. Well, maybe she had learned about “why lying when it can make you look more stupid?” And for this, I appreciate her like… A LOT!
Then I hope you haven’t forgotten the 2009 Putri Indonesia winner that represented Aceh, a region with an Islamic law and where Muslim women are obliged to wear jilbab (headscarf). Qory Sandioriva, a student of French Literature at Universitas Indonesia, surprised the audience with her answer during the final stage, when she was asked why she was not wearing a headscarf like previous contestants from Aceh. Responding to the question, she argued that hair represented beauty, and thus should not be covered. Her answer sparked criticism, especially from Acehnese communities. But again, how did she react to such painful reactions? She continued being graceful, and simply said: “Perhaps it was a mistake to make such a statement, but honestly I have never worn a jilbab all my life.”
So, the thing is, in life, you have to be ready for the risks you might get for everything you chose to do. These three girls I mentioned before showed that they knew the risks of being the center of attention. I am sure that during their preparation weeks of the event, they were already trained for stuff like this: how to behave on stage; how to speak in front of the public; and how to handle criticism. The funny thing is, few years ago, I wrote an opinion on a local beauty pageant for the newspaper I was working for. The idea to write about it came after I read a comment from Governor Fauzi Bowo, who said that the pageant’s contestants were merely symbols, like ondel-ondel (Jakartan giant effigies). He said:
“The goal of this pageant is actually to preserve Betawi culture, but I agree, it’s all for show.”
After a brainstorming session with my mentoring editor, we agreed to highlight on how an event simply called as a “show” by the governor himself could cost as much as Rp 4 billion per year. Worse, this came amid a situation where some education programs for the poor were eliminated from the city’s budget (a Rp 7.5 billion drop-out prevention program; a Rp 7.5 billion compulsory education program; and a scholarship program for 5,000 students amounting to Rp 6 billion). We simply thought this was an irony. A beauty pageant (or a tourism ambassador event) over some educational programs for the poor? I don’t know with you, but it did sound sad to me and my editor. So yes, I wrote about it, while also inserting some of my experiences watching the so-called-show, where some of the finalists answered the questions with unbelievable replies (“How will you preserve the Betawi culture?” |”By wearing traditional costume every day.” <–seriously?)
I remembered my mentor praised the article a lot, although I was a bit disappointed because they changed the title of the opinion into something that I thought “judgemental” and they rephrased some of my sentences, making them appear more “cynical”. But hey, you’re a reporter, you know the risk. Editor can do anything. You’re just a soldier in a battle that receives orders from your general.
By the way, do you know how did it go with the article? Well, it received harsh reactions. While some supported my views, others – surely the pageant’s finalists – criticized it. They didn’t put into account that I wrote it based on insiders’ information (my cousin once won the pageant and some of friends participated in the event). They didn’t even want to comment about the “irony” part of the extravagant budget vs education for the poor. They overlooked the fact that it was Mister Governor himself who said that they were just like ondel-ondel (that it wasn’t me who made the comparison). Nope. They highlighted things like: “Oh, Dian, you’re just another broken-hearted girl who failed to make the cut!” or “Go and place yourself on the stage, and see if you can answer the questions and face the audience.” or “You should give some constructive views, not just being cynical…” (I hope this last person read my later paragraphs, though, where I offered some suggestions).
Well, what can I say? I’ve always wondered why Indonesians prefer to attack personally than giving related arguments to the highlighted issues. I failed to make the cut? I didn’t even register for the pageant in the first place, for God’s sake! (and I already mentioned this in my article) 😀 And yes, I won’t register for such an event for whatever reason is. Why? Because I don’t know what would such an event do for my future. I know some people who signed up for an event like this because they were after an entertainment career. But me? I don’t aspire to become a model. Not even an actress. Hehehe. Someone I know took part in this competition because she thought it would look great on her Curriculum Vitae (more experiences, etc). Well, if you think so, than you have all the privileges to do so. In my case, I’m already satisfied with my academic achievements (not to brag, really, hehe. Just a comparison). I don’t need a contest like that to confirm my “Beauty; Brain & Behavior”. In addition, I just don’t want to participate in a project that wastes some city’s budget while the impact only lasts on certain people. And I know I don’t have that impeccable self-confidence to stand on stage, roaring about this and that in front of the judges or the audience. So, yes, why would I want to participate in an event that REQUIRES me to do so? The finalists, on the other hand, because they made that decision to take part in the event, they should be ready to stand on the stage. To be under the spotlight. To answer the questions. Brilliantly, maybe, so as to win the competition. That’s not my job to do that, simply because I chose not to sign up for that pageant 😀 Someone said to me something like “a concrete action is much better than just those words you said.” OK, I agree… but my concrete action is writing and exposing something that might hurt the society at large. That’s what journalists do. That’s our concrete action. In life, we play our own part, and what I do doesn’t have to be the same like others. I stick to my profession and carry out my actions based on it. If they feel that our job to report and write something isn’t “concrete” enough then… well, it’s their own problem heheee… They’re not the ones who pay our salary.
Then: Ok, so people criticized your onstage appearance – specifically, your ‘weird’ response to judges’ questions. So? Welcome to real life, you’re not the first, and absolutely not the only one to be criticized. And I believe I wasn’t the first one who criticized. And definitely not the only one. The fact that you refuted, complaining: “Try standing on the stage like me, in front of hundreds of people!”, only shows how you tried to play down your own mistake. Now I can revert: try being among the audience, watching a contestant said: “To preserve the Betawi culture, we have to always wear traditional costumes.” I am 99.99% (if not 100%) sure that you will raise your eyebrows, thinking of how absurd that answer is. And I am sure, you’ll behave like the rest of the criticizing audience when you see one of those Miss Indonesia or Putri Indonesia finalists talking nonsense. I am confident to say that you will never praise that kind of answer. Not if you’re a smart person. Then think, if a singing contestant sings like a wrecking pot that everybody gives negative comments, do you think s/he will say: “Try being onstage! See if you get the same nerves!”?? Or if a football player makes a stupid move that causes his team to lose a game, and everyone throws blame on him, do you think he will say: “Try being on the field!, see if you can do better than me”? Nope, right? Because they know the consequences of being what they want to be. Well, a beauty pageant or tourism ambassador or whatever you call it should be too – like any other roles or professions on Earth.
So, let’s accept the fact that you are RESPONSIBLE for the decisions you made. And just because you failed to act as expected, you don’t have to drag others to put themselves in your shoes. “Try to be on stage in front of hundreds of people!” Hmmm… Why do I have to? I wasn’t the one who signed up for a beauty pageant 😀 So, yeah: Don’t use your own mistake to justify your incapabilities. Nadine didn’t say: “Go and try speaking in front of the camera during Miss Universe event!” Kerenina didn’t go: “Try being me, who was home-schooled and had no opportunity to learn Indonesian!” Nor did Qory whine: “Try being me, an Acehnese descendant who was unexpectedly asked about something sensitive like jilbab!”
Nope. They didn’t say that. So, grow up and take criticism wisely (and please, avoid personal attacking. That’s immature, and it simply shows that you try to run from the real discussion).