Please Step Out, Stay Alive

Acin Aulia
3 min readJun 6, 2024

Someone might be rushing to catch a bus, while someone else walks casually holding an iced coffee. A couple might be sitting relaxed at the edge of a shop, a mother chasing her child who is running around, a woman bowing at the edge of the bus stop while crying, and there’s me, walking through the crowd while listening to Jose Gonzales’ music.

There’s something harsh about life recently, especially with the major changes in our nation’s political landscape. Because of COVID-19, I felt as if my life was in a vacuum, and I couldn’t fully enjoy my youth. I had to work to earn some money, but most of it was spent on medical expenses. I couldn’t travel freely, nor could I meet my friends. I lost some people.

Lady Bird (2017)

Despite everything that has happened, it’s been 4 years since the pandemic started. It was a whirlwind year of acquiring clients for my work, switching professions, celebrating the fruits of my labor, and finally receiving my rewards after working so hard. It’s a fast-paced period that made me question if I’m good enough and if I have reached my limit.

While I was focusing on myself all these years, some of my friends got married and had children. Others were promoted, opened cafés or restaurants, and embarked on holidays around the world. I just think that I should also enjoy life the way I want because COVID-19 has limited so much, and I’m seizing the moment now.

Last month, the news reported that the marriage rate in Indonesia has decreased this year, followed by data and research from state institutions regarding the ideal timeline for when women should get married and have children. Specifically, women.

I don’t have a problem with the declining marriage rate. What concerns me is how, as women, we cannot freely choose our timelines to decide the course of our lives.

I just started living my life at the age of 25. I can travel with my own money, treat my father to delicious food, and indulge in interesting books and films with what I have at this age, especially now that the world situation is starting to stabilize.

However, with reports and data regarding marriage, and the ideal age for women to get pregnant, it makes me want to embrace all my friends. Why should women be confined to a certain timeline dictated by research? So what if we focus on ourselves? It’s alright; those of us still dedicated to our careers can still pursue our desires while also hoping for marriage, pregnancy, children, and more. I was just pondering over the fact that our life timeline is being dictated by outsiders.

As Jo March said in Little Women,

“Women, they have minds, and they have souls, as well as just hearts. And they’ve got ambition, and they’ve got talent, as well as just beauty. I’m so sick of people saying that love is all a woman is fit for. I’m so sick of it. But I’m also lonely.”

Little Women (2020)

She highlights the frustration towards societal expectations that limit women’s roles to just finding love and getting married. She expresses her weariness with the narrow-minded perception that love is the only thing a woman is deemed worthy of but also acknowledges the loneliness that arises from challenging societal norms and pursuing her path.

While Jose Gonzalez’s ‘Step Out’ resonates in my ears, I still feel positive amidst my concerns. The lyrics go,

Living life, feeding appetites
Stayed through every hard stop, every go
Being bland
Breathing half the time

House on fire
Leave it all behind you
Dark as night
Let the lightning guide you

We’re going to get through this together. Keep traveling, earning money, meeting friends, and doing hobbies. We will find the right timeline. So, please, step out and stay alive despite the raised bar of standards!