By Dara Chea
Greetings to all my fellow youth!
You may ask me who I am, why I am here, and what I do. I always think I’m like you, and you’re like me. You can call me as an insider, as I am a part of the same group as you.
I am probably at the same age as you, or younger or older than you. I just want to connect with all of you through this amazing platform and share my thoughts with you on various issues. I always hope that my voice would be loud enough to reach all of you, from any corner of this planet. Hopefully, you will get to know me more in this post.
My name is Dara. I am in my early 20s. As a young country boy who has to pursue higher education in the city, I find it hard to adopt a new life in such a densely populated city like Phnom Penh. I have encountered many challenges along the way of my life’s journey. To me, the most challenging factor in my life is mainly parental influence and pressure. The most striking situation I have faced so far is when I discussed with my parents about which career path I should take and which major I should study. They wished for me to work in a private company like my siblings, whereas I liked to work for an NGO or do voluntary work. Then, I decided to choose English as my major because I loved teaching. My wish is always to share the knowledge and experience I have gained, particularly with young people. It’s very tough especially when I decided to follow my passion, which was different from what my parents wished and expected.
I personally believe that, in Cambodian context, most parents like to decide their children’s future rather than let them think by their own. This is because they think they have gained much more experience than their children have, so their children must listen to them. I agree that they have gained more experience and tastes of life, yet we have to realize every coin has two sides. If parents instill pressure and attempt to influence too much over their children’s lives either directly or indirectly, it can lead to some bad consequences.
In my case, during that time, I have gone through a lot of emotional breakdowns when my parents didn’t agree to the major I chose and the work I did, and we got a terrible conflict. My parents didn’t phone me as normal, and we didn’t talk to each other for a while. I felt so awkward to be ignored by my parents. Afterwards, the feelings emanating through my body were excruciating. My life was at rock bottom. I seemed to be in the middle of nowhere. It was like a kite dancing in the hurricane. I suddenly started to think something silly. All I could imagine was to go into death and see how things would change. I had often heard people talk about the word “Depression”, and wondered what it was until I fell into a situation where I found myself in melancholy – in a world of gloom.
However, every cloud has its silver linings. I have gone through and succeeded that challenge, and now my parents confirm my goal and support me both emotionally and physically. Before escaping this barrier, I set up a principle for myself, which is to “believe in yourself and to let others believe what you believe”. In order to achieve this, I had to hold a lot of discussions with them and be willing to compromise by trying to find a middle ground. I told them I am confident and crystal clear with my own future – who I want to be and what I need to do along the way towards my dream goal. I told them that if I completely followed your wish and did something I didn’t like, it would lead me to an unsatisfying life, including a poor academic performance at university, a mismatched career after graduation, and thus a disappointing life .
I first went to talk to my older brother. Surprisingly, he gave me courage and told me to listen to my heart since he wished me to achieve something bigger than he did. I also approached my sister for help because I found she was the only one who could help me pave the way, for she understood the youths’ situations. Then she tried to explain to my parents until they gradually understood my circumstances. They eventually stand on my side and even encourage me to go further. Finally, I just want to say that no matter what circumstance you are in, you have to believe in yourself. If you don’t believe in yourself, why should anyone else? Don’t be afraid to stand for what you believe in, even if that means standing alone.
I hope my short personal story above would reach all of you who might be standing, walking, studying, working, listening, reading, or thinking. I would say this bittersweet experience seems to be a stepping stone in my life and has shaped me to be who I am today. I am wondering if anyone else has the same story as me or any other more interesting things that haven’t been heard or shared. If so, please let your voice be heard here. I would say we, as young people, are the same because we share common grounds. I believe that in our youth, we normally have tons of questions popping up about study, work, and social life. We are surrounded by innumerable problems, and there are countless challenges emerging day by day. Some are out there, waiting for us to encounter them. I believe that dealing with them is an important task at our age.
I have to admit that I am very pleased to be here and have a chance to share my thoughts on this platform. Let’s thank modern technology and the Voices of Youth Program for creating this awesome platform, and inviting youths in particular to speak up on various issues.
I think that’s it for the introduction of myself. See you in the next post.
Views expressed here are those of the author’s and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of UNICEF.