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The Art of Surrender

by Talita Setyadi


This is a story on how I had been a self-confessed ‘control-freak’ and ‘perfectionist’ throughout my young-adulthood, and how I had come` to learn to trust deeply in myself, God, and the path ahead.


I was brought up by a mother who was and still is impossible to please. Everything I had achieved during my schooling years were “to be expected” and would never be enough. Added to this, my father is a self-made entrepreneur, so naturally achievements became my language of “love”. I thought my perfectionism, stubbornness, and tunnel-vision were my greatest assets. It had given me high rankings throughout my schooling life and was a sure-fire way to make my mother and father proud. So of course, hearing my name, walking on stage and receiving an award to a room full of people cheering became a drug. Accolades and approval from others quickly became my indicator of “self-worth”.


I founded my bakery business with an angsty insurgent mentality. I chased total domination, money and fame. Yes, it was with my “never say die” attitude, that we achieved very quick growth and I opened high profile bakery locations at two of Jakarta’s best malls. Magazine coverage, TV shows, fame and accolades, started to roll in. However, with every milestone, award and recognition I amassed, to my frustration, the self-love and self-worth never came. To my horror, I just observed my standards go higher and higher.


“It’s okay that I am unhappy” I thought to myself, “as long as I’m successful”. For greatness, everything was worth sacrificing. My health, my time, my family, my relationships. Isn’t that what we had been taught?


Back then, as “success” constituted 100% of my self-worth, failure wasn’t something I could contend with. Bombarded with images of successful, beautiful and popular individuals in social media, I set even higher and higher standards to myself. I withheld self-love and self-acceptance hostage as “punishment” to myself, to ensure that I perform, stay skinny, and keep raking in those accolades. Just in the way that I had been brought up, I thought I could guarantee future successes by holding “the carrot of self-acceptance” just slightly out of reach. “One day I’ll have everything I want, one day I will love myself. I just have to achieve ‘this next goal’, then everyone will approve of me and I would be comfortable in my skin.” I thought to myself.


“Moderation is a fatal thing. Nothing succeeds like excess.” Oliver Wilde.


My biggest fear growing up was dying anonymous; to just disappear off the face of the earth without having left my mark - to fail myself absolutely. I was ready to give my everything to be remembered; to live the impactful, romanticized ‘troubled life’ of rock stars as long as it brings me greatness. That led me to a life of absolute excess; overextending my body, my mind and my soul to their limits. I started drinking and smoking heavily and developed a debilitating eating disorder. I worked and played hard and fast; released every pressure I had building up by getting high in rave parties, before repeating it all over again.


It would not come as a surprise, that I was bitter, angry and depressed all the time. I was not nice to be around, and therefore relationships with my loved ones suffered. My self-worth hung by a thread so fragile, it could break at any time. I thought if anything should ever go wrong with the ‘persona’ I’ve destroyed my health and relationships to build, I might as well just ‘check out’.


Luckily, as blessings in disguise, my high-strung life of control and excess came to an abrupt stop when two of my biggest fears came to fruition at the same time. I had to close my first two bakery outlets due to financial losses and got dumped by a boyfriend I was absolutely obsessed with and relied on for love and approval. I perceived them as such gigantic colossal ‘failures’ of my life that I hit rock bottom, totally lost and broken. I thought that I was nothing without my relationship status and achievements, and I truly didn’t know how I had to live with myself.


Looking back, it’s crazy to think I put my health, life and family on the line just for me to accept myself.


It was in meditation at The Golden Space, that I finally connected to my heart, my body and my soul. I wept desperate tears realizing how tired I was, how high strung I was, and how hard I had been to myself. I recognized that not unlike a circus animal, I kept whipping myself to “perform” to audiences, but inside I was unhappy, imprisoned and trapped. In meditation, I saw my inner child begging for my approval, asking if she’s enough, if she’s done enough? If she’s proven herself enough? Wow, like a ton of bricks everything dawned on me. Seeing how severely I’d treated and pushed myself rattled me to my core.


The months following, I channelled my A-type commitment and insatiable need for growth to embark on a journey of healing through “Awaken The Divine You” with Master Umesh H Nandwani. Embarking on reflective and powerful spiritual retreats, I slowly rebuilt the trust and relationship with myself. I learnt how to let go, how to detach and how to love myself unconditionally. Now I run my bakery business with so much more love and joy, going towards a greater purpose of growing talent and feeding the nation nutritious food – instead of fame and fortune. Opening more locations and with a bread factory in building, I realized that I am still able to achieve my goals at an extremely high level without being so hard on myself.


Having achieved balance in my life, I now have healthy and meaningful relationships with my loved ones and have just gotten engaged to the love of my life! I proudly acknowledge that I am still a work in progress, but now have a healthier and more well-adjusted approach to life. No longer do I need to control my outer world for inner peace, or am I conflicted or addicted to the approval of others. I have learnt to align with the divine flow, and yes, I no longer resent the word “surrender”, I have embraced it.

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