By Heang Sokuntheary
I actually have problems expressing myself, even my opinions. For the past 19 years, most of what I have been doing is “staying silent”. I am really good at listening and nodding to what people say. I would always agree with them, thinking that my idea is simply weird.
It appears to be the same whenever I have to introduce myself. Frankly speaking, I suck at it. I often hear myself saying, “Hello, my name is Sokuntheary and I am a junior student majoring in Media Management and Communication,” every time I meet or talk to new people. To be honest, I almost feel bored because of this routine introduction.
But you know what the weirdest thing is? I was a very talkative and friendly girl. Could you believe it? That’s what my mom told me when I was small. I was always talking, asking this and that all the time.
However, things changed when I got into middle school and high school. I had become a huge nerd who did not have many friends at school. Sitting in class, I always felt lonely and left out by people around me. Not only did I have no friends, but some people in class even disliked me because most of the teachers at school liked me better.
I remember one time in middle school, when a group of girls in my class gossiped about me, saying, “ She probably gets the first rank in class because the teachers were being biased.” It hurt to hear them say that, but because I was afraid of defending myself at the time, I just walked out of there without a word.
High school ended, and I was filled with excitement for college, hoping that I would be able to make more friends there. I remember on the first day of class, everybody looked so innocent (just like me), and shy to go around and talk. As expected, I felt so awkward and couldn’t say a word. I simply didn’t speak because I didn’t want people to think of me as a big nerd like some of my high school friends did. I didn’t want anyone to judge me.
I am good at hiding my feelings. It’s not because I think it’s cool, but because I’m afraid people might know what i am thinking, so I keep pretending everything is fine. Same goes with speaking. Every time i talk to people or meet new people, i have this huge terrifying emotion, and my whole body starts shaking all over. I don’t express my opinions or ask questions because i always think my ideas and my questions are weird and I’m afraid that people might laugh at me.
I remember once when I joined a social event with my friend, I felt so nervous and afraid. At one point, my friend got into a really deep talk with a foreigner, whom we did not know. As I stood there, I felt like an outsider. They were talking about many topics, which i understood, but can’t relate to. So, for the rest of the night, i just stood here and there, smiling and frowning, all by myself. I bet I must have looked like an idiot.
But something in the back of my mind clicked after what happened. The moment made me feel guilty, embarrassed and ignorant. I want to do better. So then, I promised myself to be more socially active and good at speaking, especially English. Once I got home, I opened my laptop and googled, “How to start an effective conversation”. I’m not even joking. I watched a lot of motivational videos, and began having interesting ideas for conversations. I even practiced my English in front of the mirror a lot of times. It sounds crazy, right? But yeah, I did that, so that I could speak better English, and express myself in a better manner.
But I tell you what, even when I get to start a conversation smoothly, I still have problems expressing myself. You know how when you shake the soda can for a whole minute, and when you open it, the soda explodes everywhere? That’s what I feel like most of the time. I have a lot of things bothering me everyday, but I keep bottling them up because I simply don’t have the confidence to say any of those things out loud to others (except to my mom and grandma). I feel an overwhelming need to spill my thoughts out somewhere.
So one day, I was on the phone with my dad and he told me, “I think you should write in your diary, so that you could keep your inner thoughts.” And I did take his advice. For the whole of two years, i completed 3 books. Impressive? Not really though. Most of my diary goes like this: “Bad day at school coz the lecturer made us wait for the whole 1 hour. I didn’t wear my best shoes and it hurts so bad,” or “ today lesson learnt is…”. It goes on and on, but I truly enjoy writing it so much.
This is how the first page of my dairy looks like.
Because of these experiences, I always want to become a person who is passionate and good at expressing my perspectives. I want to motivate young people about life-related problems through my writing too. Being part of the Voices of Youth Blogging Training Programme at UNICEF Cambodia is a great opportunity to do both of those things, and I love that I am doing it right now.
I think I have talked a lot about myself today. If you have read until this part, I thank you a lot. What I want to say is, even though I’ve had some bad experiences and struggles in the past, I won’t let that define me. I am better in expressing myself, my opinions, and asking questions now, and I won’t let people’s judgement or negativity get in my way. Who I am is up to me and other people’s judgement is not the thing that defines that. I promise myself to always get up and defeat any problems I face, take charge of my own life, and be myself.
How about you? I also want to know whether you have the same or similar problem like me? If so, what have you done to improve the condition? By any chance, have you also written in your diary as well? I’d love to hear your story.
Besides a diary, I also have this monthly calendar, which looks like this most of the time. Something funny and adorable I’d like to play around with.
I wish this self-introduction is not something so boring to read, and I hope you enjoyed reading it. Finally, i have this one quote I love so much from Ms. Lizzie Velasquez that I want to share with you: “My life was put into my hand, just like your life was put into yours. You are the person in the front seat of your car. You are the one who decided whether your car goes down the bad path or good path. You are the one who decide what’s define you.” Thank you.
Views expressed here are those of the author’s and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of UNICEF.