Diovi, Indonisia

I didn’t know modeling requires talent.” The presumptions around modeling are harsh and ever present. To many, models are walking hangers without depth and intellect, strutting around with an air of arrogance. Most people are not aware that I had been working as a full-time UI designer in Melbourne since I graduated uni with a degree in IT. But modeling is my passion, my outlet, it’s who I am. I even used up my leave time for modeling shoots. Modeling is also hard work that takes skillsets that could add to or detract from the creative experience on set. I have come to find my voice and myself in the act of modeling, something that I was not taught to consider growing up in Jakarta.

I was brought up to be meet others’ expectations. I remember starting at age 15, my mother would take me to get manicures every other week. I was thrilled to have these little bonding sessions with my mother, to have some time that just belonged to me and her. Later on, I found out she wanted me to have impeccable nails because my hands would be the first thing my future mother-in-law would notice. Bad nails means a bad first impression. Those manicure outings were never about an intimate ritual shared between a doting mother and her giddy daughter. All that effort was put in with a singular goal of being accepted by a future mother-in-law, some distant yet overbearing presence coloring every aspect of my young life. That is the epitome of my upbringing. I was drilled with the knowledge of what it takes to be a good wife instead of being well-versed in how to be a good person. And so, I’ve become adept at changing my appearances and little idiosyncrasies of myself to please my mother and my partners. My hair, my clothes, the way I walk. All for others. And it was never enough.

In the midst of finding myself, anxiety and depression have been steady companions. I had been struggling financially and emotionally for a little while prior to the pandemic. When the lockdown started, I could feel myself slipping away more, not being able to embrace social settings for more than twenty minutes at a time. I decided to move back to Jakarta from Melbourne. Being surrounded by my oldest friends and my big extended family has been good for me. I rely on my friends so much emotionally. Somehow, they can always sense when I need them the most too. When I had a mental breakdown recently that left me feeling very detached from reality, my friends showed up the next day to support me. It has always been difficult for me to speak to mental health professionals, simply because, to me, they’re strangers and I am not great at pouring out my whole heart to someone that hasn’t witnessed me traverse through life. I recently started seeing a therapist and I did share about my recent breakdown. Yet there is something gripping me back from opening up completely to a therapist just yet. For now, I have a strong, close-knit support system made up of my beautiful friends.

I really want to do some solo traveling in Indonesia after the pandemic ends. There is so much more to explore of my own country. I used to daydream about traveling there when I was in high school but there were always some barriers. Now, I have the financial means and the time, all that is standing in the way is the wait for the pandemic to be over.