By Thim Rachna
If I could go back in time to the start of high-school and was asked what matters to me the most, I would definitely say initiatives in living my life.
Like many Cambodian teenagers, most of my life decisions have been overseen by my family. It would have been unlikely for me to be able to pursue the choices of my interest had I not been able to acquire the approval of my family. I can almost count their common reasons for supervising my decision-making process with just my 10 fingers; “You are too young”, “You don’t have any experience”,”You will regret it later”.
But should a few mistakes stop you from living your life to the fullest?
While obtaining permission from my parents is not an easy task, I find myself seeking obedience rather than going with my own choices. In addition to the frustration garnered from boredom and feeling out of place, I feel suffocated for not having my voice heard. It demotivates me and I feel like I was in the middle of nowhere.
While planning and supervision is good, fostering independence in children is important to prepare them for achieving long-term life-goals. According to an article from Roots of Action, a website focusing on youth psychology, helping children and teenagers navigate their life, as well as boosting them with encouragement and optimism, is a part of raising children in a healthy way. This would enable them to lead their life with purpose, to achieve their goals, and be able to cope with the consequences of their choices.
I am worried that by being too dependent on my family I will not be able to make decisions of my own. I fear that one day when my parents are no longer able to guide me I will be left stranded and directionless.
Inspired by an article from the Huffington Post, I did some self-reflection and realized that youthhood might be the prime time for me to explore life to the fullest. I have stepped far away from my comfort zone, and have figured out that it might be the time where I shall not be afraid of making mistakes. Rather, I should learn from those lessons.
Growing up extremely reserved and quiet, I always fear not being able to adjust nor fit in with the crowd. Before I decide to do something I would give it a lot of thought, to the point where I overthink every single angle of it just to make sure i do not make a mistake. But I figure that by following the patterns of ‘trying to fit in’, I would miss a lot of things and will never be able to discover who I am truly meant to be.
If I could go back in time, I would give the 16-year-old me a pat in the shoulder and tell her not to worry so much. While making decisions is not an easy task, taking charge of your own life is even more challenging. However, at this age, I do not think I want to lose my own sense of self, and live as a version of me that is expected by everyone else. I would rather make my own decisions, after a rational consideration, and shoulder the consequences with a smile.
Views expressed here are those of the author’s and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of UNICEF.