“10 things I’ve learnt at the age of 18”

By Yat Thida. UNICEF Cambodia’s Voices of Youth 2019.

“Time really flies!”

I finally have to say this word again. I am so grateful for myself because I am officially 18 now. I wish my 18th birthday would be the most exciting moment in my life. However, life always changes its journey from what we expect it to be. The age of 18 was the year of exploring. I was feeling lost sometimes. But when I sit down and think back to every moment, I suddenly realized about some important things. So I want to share my memorable eighteen years old with you. Here are 10 things which I’ve learnt from my 18th.

1. High school life is the most beautiful event of life:

It’s almost 2 years already but I feel like it was just yesterday. Everything in high school life was the happiest moment ever in every single person’s life.

When I was a high school student, everything seemed so boring. Nothing was interesting. We only had to go to school every day, and listened to the teacher’s explanations…got homework then we came back home. Tomorrow always came and we still had to go to school as usual. No wonder we all could go through these annoying routines.

Yet, I finally realized that high school life is the most beautiful moment of our life. No matter how much time will fly, you will have someday to sit down and think back to your old happy school with the most boring rules and strict teachers, also the noisy classmates. Maybe your high school crush still exists in your mind.

The old table where I sat in front of the white board and where I could look outside the classroom to where my mind belonged.

The table of my crush where I could sometimes have a peek at him whenever I knew he was writing the lesson.

~你好不好?~ (How have you been?)

By:  Eric Chou.

I want to dedicate this song to him.

The one who sat next to you! That person might be your best friend.

No matter where time will take me to, all these vivid memories are still amazing.

Have you ever recalled your high school life?


2. What exactly university is:

University is where I started to know how cruel deadlines are. If you don’t respect the deadline, the deadline can get you in a minute.

University is where I have to do everything as a group.

University is where I understand tough time management.

And “One-night policy” is what I’ve learnt so far.

University is where you can see how people treat each other.

After the first year of my college, I learnt that judging people based on their knowledge, appearance, and property are unimportant.

I always tell myself that no one is perfect. And we learn to improve our confidence, to show our perspectives, and to BELIEVE in ourselves.

Sometimes you might feel lonely because you think that you’re always alone.  Some people said that finding true friends at university is hard. But for me beside finding true friends, learn to give the value and respect to each other is also important.

I have no idea if you ask me how my life at university is.

3. Your family is your family:

Someday we did not talk to each other. Someday I felt lonely…..

I used to hate my family. I hated all of my brothers and sisters. I felt so insecure in this world. I hated them because they let me grow up like this.

Some days I miss my father who is so far away from me. I thought nobody is like him. I wished he could take good care of me until I grow up. I hated my mother just because she did not ask me how I was doing with my life. I hated her just because she let me lived without her and rarely cooked food for me.

I used to hate my family. But these were the things in life that led me to be who I am today. Your family is your family.

You could have nobody in your life. But your family is still your family. No matter where you go, whatever you do, you will never let go of your family.

I was too immature to hate them. It was nothing but an innocent feeling.

Family is the most important thing to me although sometimes we do not talk to each other, we do not have dinner together, we do not have time for each other….

They probably do not understand your feelings, your dream… but just do not forget them.

Go back to your family if you have a hard time.

Love your family.

4. Mental health still matters:

Mental health is still essential. I noticed that mental health has a very big impact on our daily life no matter how old we are.

Have you noticed your mental health recently? How are you feeling lately? Are you happy?

I often ask myself all these questions. Somedays I feel so bored with what I am doing. I do not want to do anything. And I have to force myself to complete all the unfinished tasks.

Have you ever lost interest in what you like?

Have you ever wanted to be ignored because you know that people will ignore you?

Have you ever wanted to be alone all the time because you know that you are not comfortable with them?

Sometimes we really do not know what to do in life but just keep going as the day passes by. We find nowhere of hope. We seek nothing in life. But we still go on!

At the age of eighteen, I am still searching for who I am. And I know that I will be doing this again and again as time goes by.

I sometimes want to give up on my life.

When I hate today, I am waiting for another day.

And life just goes on like this.

Please take good care of yourself, and be happy again.


5.  Starting work at an early age is not a bad idea:

I decided to find a job when I started my university. I did not want to but I had no choice. Then I decided to be a teacher of English at one private school. For the first time, I honestly was so nervous. It was like you changed to another new world. I also did not like teaching when I was in high school, but teaching has become so interesting since then.

Thus, I think it is not a bad idea if you want to work during your college life. It is like you are finding yourself and also your passion. You have a chance to explore a lot of things during this blooming time in your life. If you do not like what you are doing, do not force yourself to do it over again and again.

I am still seeking what I am passionate about. There are a lot of things out there that we do not know and we are searching for who we are.

I know that my job nowadays is just temporary but it will have a big impact for me in the future. I somehow ask myself why I have to do this kind of job while I am young and so excited about youth. Why don’t I spend my time travelling and focus on my study only?

Later on, I found out that everything was paid off. I feel i’ve achieved something in my life even though I sometimes have an empty mind.

No matter how you spend your time, you will at least get something back in mind.

Spend your time wisely.



Friend is an important person who you can turn back to whenever you feel sad, hopeless, and stressed about life. Friend is someone who you can rely on whenever such a thing happens in your life. When I was in my high school, I always thought of how to make friends with other people, how I should treat them, and how I should communicate with them. Then I realized that somehow we treated each other unequally. It is not their fault doing that but perhaps we were not meant to be friends.

I am very thankful to my high school friends who still support and encourage me to chase my dreams. Although we have different path to go, we still come back and talk about those memories. We do not judge each other no matter where they’re from, who they are, what they are doing…we still have a warm heart to respect each other. We still have a story to share no matter how far we are. Someday we will sit down and talk peacefully.

I hope you will never forget who your best friend was.

yat 3

7. MONEY????????

Nothing makes sense to me whenever people talk about the money at the age of 18. I am so proud of those who can make money at their young age.

I sometimes feel embarrassed for myself that I cannot save much money. I often don’t know where my money goes. However, I realized that it is okay to spend all your money with nothing left for you. At this young age, the most exciting time for youth, we have so many different things to learn; there are many different people to know.

Talking about money is quite difficult for youth like me. I have no idea how to save money. But the idea of spending money might be what I’m good at.

I just want to be able to afford my life!

8. Travelling

Travelling is a kind of healing for both our physical health and mental health. At the age of my 18, I challenged myself to travel to somewhere I’ve never been before. It was incredible. I learnt a lot from each trip that I had with my friends.

Travelling has a very big impact on our lives. We would save all the money just because we want to travel. Moreover, I know that there are many amazing places where I could spend my time for relaxing.

Travelling is like searching for something new. You also can search for yourself too.

Travelling is kind of healing. It heals all the sorrows…all your griefs.

yat 4

9. Getting Lost doesn’t mean you don’t have your own purpose of life:

I am getting lost.

I am getting lost in the complexity of life. I am getting lost in a very huge world which is full of mystery. I am getting lost about who I truly am….

But what I know is, getting lost is simple for human beings. We get lost and it means that we’re finding the right way to start again.

If you feel you’re getting lost, it doesn’t mean that you can’t get away from it. You will see something in that feeling lost.
We’re growing!!

yat 5

10. What is love?

‘What is love?’

I think this should be the last thing that I want to talk about. I’m not surprised anymore whenever I hear that a 14 year old girl has boyfriend already. But I will admire her that she understands about love better than I do.

Love is as complicated as complex math. I couldn’t do it well when I was at grade 12. It was so confusing.

Love is a beautiful feeling. Maybe this is all I know.

They say that love has no specific definition.

So what do you define the Love is?

No matter what it is, I hope this world can be full of love and hope.



Note: All photos my own.

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