This poem is written by Phina So and edited by an Australian writer Robert Horne. It tells my experience combating age shaming. Such incidents cause me outraged and I became to protect myself from being harassed as a old person and went to protect my other colleagues from being falling into next victims.
From my observation, many Cambodian young people tend to find themselves as old when they are in late 20s. Most often, you would see people complaint how old they are on social media. When you check their age, you are about 26 or 27. Then, it makes people in their 30s feel that they are grannies. This perception is a lose-lose mindset. Why? Because when they think they are old, more or less they don’t care to dream big. When people are called “old”, immediately the message to them is that “You are old!”, “you should not enjoy your life”, “You should not join us (young)!” and it goes on. That discourages them and violates their rights to self development and contribute to their society. How dare people could tell other people just they are older than them to slow down in their life?
Despite, I firmly argue for my own space, the repeated insult made me write this poem. I wish to tell that it does not up to other people to tell you are old and to slow down. Never let such a naive and thoughtless perception win yourself.
Here is the poem.
I appreciate my youthfulness and I really enjoy my life.
I can smile at the frangipani flowers –
that lie on the green grass.
I can smile and welcome an uninvited bird who visited my office window.
And I can smile simply without any reasons why.
I can smile as the rain goes by.
I am mindful of the moment when the cold morning air race on my face.
I welcome those memories without a thought to erase –
The state of enjoyment.
Yet, people told me –
I am old repeatedly.
I would play hide and seek these days.
And I would love playing volleyball every week if not every day.
Yet, again, people tell me I am old.
I think staying strong is cool.
[I] told myself not to believe such a fool.
But the repeated remarks somehow cause me confused –
To believe or not to believe that.
Am I an old woman in my 30s?