By Sreynet Chhem
This blog was developed as part of the Voices of Youth blogging internship assignment requirement. Views expressed here are those of the author’s and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of UNICEF.
Dear youth of my generation,
As a youth myself, I can say there are many lessons to learn in order to grow. I may not be a foremost expert on life, but I’ve learnt quite a lot things that I’d like to share to people my age, especially those who are struggling right now.
Remind yourself that when you were given one life to see the world through those starry eyes, you are granted with every right and freedom. They’ve been attached to you since the day you came out of your mother’s womb. Some of you may feel deflated by the small riches your family owns at the moment. But you should have this embedded in you: fortune can be sought at anytime while a father or mother who’s sweated all these years can’t be bought like a doll in the nearest convenience store.
Your youth may seem short, but the way you spend these years is what makes it feel eternal. So, if you are young, allow yourself to feel all the freedom your youth brings . However, keep your sanity in check. Don’t let yourself fall into the pit of carelessness. Falling means breaking. Not many of us see ourselves at the breaking point from below, but somebody looking down from above can see it. That somebody is none other than our parents. Live young, wild and free, but don’t allow the worry over you to become something your parents sleep on each night after a long weary day.
Coming of age is a period when your beauty and your grace make their entrance. Baby fat hanging loose from your cheeks starts to disappear. You get taller. You become heavier. 206 bones beneath your skin grow stronger. Your weight, height, skin tone and any other flaws you’re wearing right now is what makes you “you.” Stop seeing your flaws as curses and trying to fix them by injecting substances, taking pills or going under knives just to feel “beautiful”. On behalf of someone who loves you, can you see your flaws as blessings? Real people are hard to come by. Now imagine, you paint yourself into someone who isn’t “you”. Doesn’t it make it even harder to see the realness in people you meet?
Never forget that being unique, polite and kind are the qualities most appreciated by the people around you. Many of us have come a long way through different roads, with bruises marking the obstacles we’ve faced . Life isn’t easy for anyone. This is why we need to be kind to one another. Treat others as you want to be treated. Ring any bells? How much does it cost to do a small act of kindness in exchange for a smile? A small smile can conjure many miles for a person to walk. You’ll never know.
Now, here’s a candid truth about life. Challenge. A productive challenge makes people crave for more. At the same time, it leaves some people feeling unmotivated. Once upon a time, you were a kid free from any responsibilities and suddenly, you have expectations to meet and goals to complete. At this point, every one of us would be forced to face an unhealthy habit: comparison. Comparison hurts; we know that. So why do we keep doing it? Probably because we see ourselves as stuck in one place. Yet not only is comparing unproductive, it can also lead to suicidal thoughts. Instead of comparing yourself to someone you believe to be “better”, why not look up to someone you find inspiring and follow their footsteps? Work harder than your inspiring someone! Make them notice you!
All these images I’m trying to capture may not be the reality of some of you. You may be living in the dark, feeling distraught all your life trying to be better. Trying to be healthier. Trying to shake the weight off your shoulders. Trying to step outside for the first time to feel alive after being dead inside for so long. The perfect family or partners may only be found on TV or in books. But that doesn’t mean you should worsen the pain by telling yourself you can’t stand back up. For once, steer yourself away from the negative road. Take the positive road and see how it goes. You have your friends and family at the back seat guiding you. No one is alone in life. You’re only lonely because you shut out all the good people who want to help you. Why not open the door and make room for one or two? There will always be someone who enjoys your company and decides to stay.
I can’t find the perfect way to end this open letter, but I just want to shout out to all the people who are struggling right now. You’re a beautiful human being walking on this Earth. You deserve to be loved the heck out of sadness. Though happiness may seem temporary these days, the right people will come along and work their magic to make your days count. Give time its power to heal. Patience may be your enemy but loving is your friend.
One day in the future, you will look back to this moment and tell yourself “I lived.”
With love and caring,
Originally posted on Tuesday, September 6, 2016