By Heang Sokuntheary
As an introvert, I live in my own universe. But don’t get me wrong, even though I don’t usually talk, I am asking questions in my head all the time. I have been super curious about everything since I first started to speak.
My mom told me that when I was around 4 or 5, if someone came up to say hi to me, they’d be stuck answering my questions for at least 30 minutes. I used to laugh at her words every time she recalled those memories. I didn’t really remember what or how many things I asked people or my mom. But there is one memory that I can’t forget at all, which still exists in my heart until now.
When I was 5, on one starry night, I lay beside my mom, watching and counting the stars until very late. At some point, our conversation went like this:
Me: Mom, Are you an adult?
Mom: Yes, I am. Why?
Me: Oh, nothing. What is it like to be an adult, Mom? I think adults can do anything they want, unlike me. Every time I want to go to my friends’ house, I always need permission. Why can adults do more than me? When can I become an adult, Mom?
(In the moonlight, I can see really clearly that my mom was smiling at me, ready to answer my question.)
Mom: Well honey, you’re right. I tell you what, being an adult is not that easy. You call yourself an adult when you are ready to live your life independently, ready to take responsibilities, ready to make your own choices, ready to fight back, and be strong. Dear, you can become an adult when you can do all of those things. Then, you can have your freedom.
Me: But why can’t I be an adult now? Of course, I can earn money now, Mom. (I was a business kid since I was young, and I had a lot of savings as well. But let’s talk about it next time…)
The conversation went on and on until we both felt sleepy. In every conversation I had with my parents, both of them always answered my questions patiently with a broad smile on their face. Even though I can’t recall all the things my parents told me, I do think those answers made a big impact on my life. Just like my mom’s answer about being an adult. She’s right. Being an adult is not easy.
I started to change as I grew older, becoming more quiet. I didn’t talk much to anyone when I was in high school. But my curiosity about the world remained. My best friends were the books in the library. I remember my favorite was the “The Amazing Facts”, which was around 500 pages long, in English. I didn’t really know much English back then, but I did try to understand what was in there. The Amazing Facts focused on the scientific findings about life on earth, animals, nature, the universe, world history, archaeology, you name it. By reading that book, it made me feel like I was on another planet, seeing a different world.
Curiosity actually makes me happy.
When I was in my senior year in high school, the Internet had already become popular among students. I started using it a lot too. My to-go source for answers became Google.
It’s definitely funny when talking about Google because some of my friends now in university even named me as “Ms. Google,” or whenever I make a wondering face, they would say “GO, go google it!” Yeah, since I don’t really socialize much, I often wouldn’t understand the slangs my friends use. So, whenever I don’t get what they say, I would note it down, and then surf Google once I have my alone time.
Being curious makes my world special.
I like that I am a curious person. I always feel the need to learn something new in my life. Being curious makes me feel special. Even sometimes when I talk with a group of people, and I can’t catch up with them, I don’t worry. I am aware I still have many things that I don’t know and need to learn about. So, not knowing one thing is adding another lesson I’m ready to be curious about.
My habit of always being curious also teaches me how to be skeptical. Whenever I hear or see a piece of information, I always feel the urge to look for more, read more and understand better. That way, it helps protect me against absorbing any false or polluted information into my head, and it clears my mind as well.
Curiosity actually makes me happy. I am not kidding. Can you imagine feeling the need to find out something, and then finally you get it? It feels so good, a happiness indeed. It feels like I have been rewarded with something special and precious, like an achievement.
I also think being curious helps me to be empathetic too. As I navigate through life, I always want to know what other people’s experiences are like. By reading and talking to others such as my seniors in school, friends, and relatives, I get a clearer picture of the relationships between people and a deeper look inside people’s mind. This makes me feel the urge of wanting to help people through their hard times, too.
How to create a habit of being curious?
Speaking from my experience, I think to be curious and explore all life has to offer, you need to tell yourself, “I do care.” Of course, everything, every action, comes to life when you care about them. If you ignore or do not care, then nothing is going to get done. When you care, you feel the need to do something, understand something, and learn.
That said, make sure to always be skeptical of what you hear and see, before you make the decision to believe it or not. You have to ask, “Why” and “How” so that you can have a better understanding.
One more thing, keep a book or list of whatever you’re curious about. This is what I do. It’s so simple. So, whenever I don’t understand a certain thing, I have this notebook, which I carry with myself all the time to jot down what I want to know. After that, I would go to Google, read a book or talk to someone I know who I could ask for the knowledge I want to learn about.
Finally, create the habit of reading. Reading is the best way to transfer the knowledge to your brain. Besides, with today’s technology, if you don’t have enough budget to buy a book, you could always find your next favorite book online to read for free.
However, if you are not into reading, you could also check out the educational and motivational videos or speeches on Youtube as well. Be sure to do this regularly and stay committed. I promise, being a curious person will make you feel happier.
I believe each and everyone of us has a unique curiosity based on our interests. Now you know what I’m curious about, so how about you? What particular things are you enthusiastic to learn about the most? And do you think you feel happier being curious? I’d love to hear your story as well. Thank you for reading this piece!
Views expressed here are those of the author’s and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of UNICEF.