The email went out to all of the teachers in school: come and get your measurements taken for next year’s uniform.
I decide to go after lunch.
I peek into the room, and the seamstress and tailors are sitting around a table, idle.
I approach the table. They all look up.
Moments later, the tape measure whips around my body, and the tailor barks out numbers in Bahasa Indonesia so quickly I can’t even register the first part of the number: what-five? what- eight? The tailors, who are still lounging at the table, snicker as the numbers are rattled off. The first measurement is re-taken: the number the woman says I was last time is more than the number I am now. (I secretly cheer, but keep pretending I don’t speak even the most basic of Bahasa.)
“Sama bu,” the tailor tells me, smiling (smirking?). Somehow, magically, I am the same size as I was 9 months ago.
Some Junior School teachers wander in behind me. They, like me, are scared to get measured. The very normal-sized girl in line behind me gets called fat by the snickering tailors, and the guy who measured her asked her if she was working out. We all laugh about the whole process as we get measured– it’s so different than what would happen in the States, and the idea that even an average sized American is fat compared to the average Indonesian is something most of us think about on a regular basis.
Nothing in Indonesia is the perfect fit.
Nothing in America is the perfect fit, either, but we all believe that there is, somewhere, a magical “perfect fit” for every situation. We run after it. We insist upon it. Americans are raised to believe that they should never “settle,” because if they work hard and keep searching, the perfect fit will come along.
But life isn’t about a perfect fit. In fact, life is more about learning from all of flawed, imperfect situations than it is about achieving perfection.
Here in Indonesia, we don’t expect everything to work out the first time we try. I don’t expect to find clothing that fits me. I don’t expect to be able to get from one place to another without a traffic jam. I don’t expect to find my perfect breakfast in the aisles of Hypermart. It is not a perfect fit.
I don’t know what my perfect fit would look like, even if it did exist.
But the point isn’t that we should be deciding what our perfect fit looks like. Rather, we should be looking at what we have now, and saying, “How can I grow into this?”
And every day, I grow more and more into Indonesia.