Sunday, January 12, 2014

Galau: An Indonesian word with International significance

Is it just me or is my vision growing foggier as I set sail into my twentysomethings?

Sitting in a cafe, twirling the straw that I have, once again, anxiously chewed on, I am unable to see past the next two years. Perhaps I'm overreacting, I cross my fingers, hoping that this is just a symptom of brain degradation. I glance at my sweaty palms and notice my life line. At ten, I perused books on palmology to determine my personal life course. Far from being spontaneous, I searched for some sort of map, any sort actually, that would reveal my future.

If I were in the depths of my galauness, I'd probably "accidentally" jump into the water

Although, at five I could see myself graduating from primary school and in fourth grade, I saw myself walking on the other side of school in upperclassmen uniform, currently, I struggle to see myself sitting in a cubicle, typing away at my first job or even, getting a promotion. Things that came so simply a few years ago is now out of my reach. If I hadn't taken a class in twentysomethings or lived in the U.S. for the past two years, I would probably be at lower altitude. Actually, now, I can see myself plunging into the depths of the ocean in despair, trying to figure out what life is and will be.

Unfortunately, an epidemic is sweeping through my tight knit group of friends. A word that sounds as confusing as its meaning, galau is a state of mind that hinders an individual from thinking straight. When hit by this existential virus, we are left to wallow in a maze of uncertainty. Unlike most diseases, galauness, if I may, manifests in a variety of ways. On the one hand, it can attack our professional lives, rendering us vulnerable to lack motivation and direction. Another symptom is the inability to move on from the latest love interest. A common conundrum, galauness can evolve in differing ways. Yet, just like most afflictions, our immune system, both biological and emotional, factor into the likelihood for contraction and period of healing.

Sometimes, you just have to pull that lever for help!
Galau has become a widely-used Indonesian term. Rather than being a local disorder, galauness is palpable in most countries, worldwide, especially amongst teenagers and young adults. In the U.S. it is believed to be called the Millennial Crisis or Quarter Life Crisis, whereby current young adults struggle to stand up on their own two feet amidst an economic crisis. However, having moved back and forth between New York and Jakarta, I found it immensely fascinating to see similar conflicts in opposite sides of the world. Perhaps, this galauness is far beyond a local crisis. Perhaps, we have missed its global pattern due to the term itself.

Nevertheless, knowing that someone on the other side of the world is battling similar, if not, the same demons as I am or my friends are, have somehow allowed me to set sail despite my foggy vision.

*Writer owns rights to the photos above


  1. Wow,
    This post made me feel galau. Ironic.
    You write with such grace and skill... Kudos.
    One small correction, towards the very end you said "two" instead of "to".
    However, I didn't write to correct that, but simply because your use of English is astounding. Only two years in America? Bah, your written English rivals that of all but the most adept native speakers.

  2. Hi Samuel!

    Thanks for the support, thoughtful message and correction, which I have amended. Hope to see you soon on this blog!