Twenty-sixteen is the year where I choose family.

It’s the year where I decided to go back home to Jakarta, away from my fiancé, to spend more time with my parents before the big status change.

To be honest, it’s not easy to choose family, especially when you’re still adulting. When everyone else is spending time with their friends and significant others, I have very limited time to do the former and physically unable to do the latter. 

Plus, there’s still pressure for me to perform, to tick the boxes and to compete with my peers. 

Among my two decades of living, twenty-sixteen is one of my least productive years. Yes, I finished a minor thesis and yes, I graduated from my Master’s degree. But apart from those perfectly planned achievements, I have no other I can tuck under my belt.


Well, it’s hard to be in this life’s season.

I see friends settling down with their careers – many are into their second or even third year of working. Many have started their dream businesses and succeeded.

Yet instead of being one of them – instead of boasting a dream job right after graduation – I’m holding my newborn niece in my arms and trying hard to soothe her crying. Instead of getting a fat paycheck month after month, I’m teaching my nephew to scoop his own food and sending him to school.

Instead of building my portfolio and connecting with powerful folks at networking events, I’m eating homecooked dinner in pyjamas with my parents. 

Instead of donning the perfect workplace OOTD, I’m snatching a five-year-old t-shirt and Bali shorts to be worn for the whole day. 

Since I keep on seeing my friends’ Christmas parties with their colleagues on my feed, sometimes I can’t help but feel a twinge of envy. 

Instead of building my portfolio and connecting with powerful folks at networking events, I’m eating homecooked dinner in pyjamas with my parents.

The other day, I was trying to get my baby nephew to sleep.

If you’ve never tried to get an active male toddler to sleep, well erm, it’s always a battle. After forty minutes of singing and patting, he has finally become quiet. But he suddenly turned around to face me, pulled my hand and placed it around his waist. Then he gave me the biggest smile.

I finally realised.

Instead of a job offer and a paycheck, I have the privilege to witness family moments that are fleeting.

The achievements I may have if I worked — the paychecks, the reviews, the projects and the constant search for status — would pale in comparison to the time spent with loved ones.

There will always be time to search for money, to work on your career and to climb up the status ladder. But time spent with family is finite.

Tim Urban, the infamous Wait But Why author, did the calculations. He laid out human lifespan and figured out the time we have left to spend with our parents, siblings and friends. He concluded:

‘It turns out that when I graduated from high school, I had already used up 93% of my in-person parent time.’

Yes, twenty-sixteen is the year where I choose family.

And I don’t regret it one bit.

Ps. I do miss my fiancé so damn much.

Photo (c) by author.