“It is not wealth or social status that determines your life; it is things that you do. So do the right things right” Livina Tep
A fate many don’t fancy, but most get.
21-year-old NV is a sister of one of my cousin-in-laws and my neighbor. About two years ago, she moved from Battambang province to rent a small house in my neighborhood in order to continue her higher education in the city. An avid learner and industrious person from a poor family, she has gotten financial support from one of her kind-hearted friends in the UK as her family is unable to provide for her living expenditure and pay for her school tuition fee and because she is not yet capable to make a living on her own according to her qualification and the current job market in Cambodia.
Even though we are neighbors living a couple houses away from one another, I haven’t heard or known much about NV since I am not a nosy person. But, just a few weeks ago, I heard about her from her sister or my in-law. It was not a nice thing, though. I was told that she became unconscious while walking to buy rice porridge to eat. According to a doctor, better called a pharmacist, in the neighborhood, her unconsciousness was caused by her lack of nutritious food to consume and too much work. In order words, she had been studying very hard while she had not had enough food consumption, for the financial support she has got is just enough—no less or more.
NV, in fact, is not alone. There are many cases of students having to live their life like or even worse than hers. Take Mr. Sok Soth, one of my respected senior lecturers at IFL for example. When he came from Battambang province to Phnom Penh to study in university, he had less than five dollar in his pocket and knew no one in the city. Then he had to stay in an orphanage in order to be able to survive and learn.
CN, who will be employed as an office assistant to EdNICHE and work with me, also has a story quite similar to that of NV and Mr. Soth. Coming from a province and poor family, she has to stay in a room shared with other 3 friends from the same village. Of course, her parents can barely support her living and study in the city; that is why she has decided to find a part-time job just to earn less than 40 dollar per month to supplement herself.
To me, these people are truly heroes in real life. They are able to do something that I am not sure if I could because I have been living with my parents for my whole life and somewhat financially supported. I can’t imagine my life as a teenager having to break apart from my family, living independently, and facing with countless challenges alone.
They are my heroes because they fight back while they are under attack. Instead of backing down as most people would do, they choose to stand up and challenge without a single clue if they will ever win.
A fate almost all want, but few get.
Whenever I think of these financially yet mentally tough people, I also think of another group of people at whom I used to get jealous and like whom I used to want to be. This group of people is called the haves.
I remember I had a small-in-size yet rich-in-wealth classmate when I was a freshman at IFL. Then, around 18 years of age and a son of a successful Chinese-Cambodian businessman, RT dressed fashionably trendy clothes, drove a modern car to school, wore big gold and diamond jewelry and used nice, up-to-date electronic gadgets.
At the time, even though we were classmates and friends, I was really jealous at him. While I myself was riding my CUP 50cc motorbike, he was driving a fancy car. While I was using an old mobile phone priced at less than $USD100, he was using the latest model of touch-screen phone priced around $USD1, 000. While he was wearing a big gold necklace, I was wearing nothing at all. And what upset me the most is that I never him wear the same shirt twice during the whole two semesters that I studied with him, you may not believe me.
To be fair, RT was somehow a good student and above average in the class. But, in my observation, he could have been much better if he had not been too busy with his rich life. So rich and convenient, he did not care much whether he passed or failed his exams. He came to class just because he was required to.
In fact, RT is not the only example of rich kids or students in Cambodian society. As a personal learning coach, I am usually hired by above-average or rich parents to teach their children. Teaching these rich children, I see all nice things that they have. I can see and feel the comfort they are thrust upon from birth.
An educator, I almost always remind them to remember that they are luckier than million or even billion kids in the world to be born into a rich family and have almost everything they want at their request. I just want them to know that while they are playing game with their Apple computers initially purchased for their academic purpose, poor children are using chalk and hardboard to learn; while they are studying in a nice and air-conditioned room, many poor students are learning under a tree or buildings without roof or proper desks; while they are finding excuses not to finish food on the plate, poor kids are searching trash bins for left-over, rotten food to eat; while they are moaning about their academic difficulties, poor kids are hungry for education and desperately want to go to school. While they are driving their car or being driven to school, poor kids in rural less developed areas of the world are walking for miles to school.
Which fate do you choose?
To say which fate is better than which can be a mistake since the term ‘good’ or ‘better’ is so subjective according to the preference of each person.
Personally I used to have a sense of jealousy towards people like RT because I just couldn’t accept the fact that people born on the very same earth have different life and because I don’t under why those who have money don’t want to study while those who have little want to student so much. But, I no longer have this kind of jealousy now since I have figured out that there is no good to complain about the world’s being unfair, for it is just the way the world has been and is—unfair.
Instead of looking at people’s riches and getting envious, I have learnt to look at and appropriate what I have. I’ve been much happier since the day I self-decided to smile at things I possess rather than cry for those I don’t have.
Now as for you, what kind of fate do you choose? Probably, you now think that I am nuts since people can’t choose their fate; it is something that people are destined or thrust upon. Before you prejudge me, I want to clarify one thing with you that I don’t believe in destiny; I don’t have time to waste in it. I am a true believer in myself, and I create my own destiny via my daily activities. Whenever I am told that my destiny is this and that, I always challenge by saying ‘supposed your destiny tells that you would be poor for the rest your life, would you agree to that?’
I strongly encourage you to start your own destiny now from where and with what you are given. If you are a child of a poor family, start from there. Work hard and smart, climb the ladder of greatness, and succeed in your life like most people who have background in poverty do. But, if you are a child of a rich family, I’ve got to tell you that you are lucky and you may start from an advanced beginning. Use your potentials to make more achievements for yourself; don’t depend much on your parents.
Remember, it is not wealth or social status that determines your life; it is things that you do. So do the right things right.
This self development lesson is for you to understand that you don’t have to complain about your life being unfair in whatever aspect because life is and will always be unfair. From now on, if you feel like you are being unfairly treated by your life, stop talking about it and focus on doing something about it.
Stay tuned in www.teplivina.com for more Self Development insights and articles