For week five, everyone has started to write individual articles. Finding a topic is hard, but finding an angle is harder. I tried to think of an issue that people always want to talk about, but are afraid to because they think they will be judged by Cambodian society.

Suddenly, I thought of what Thina (my classmate) and her friend said when they found out I lived alone in an apartment. They said it’s what they always wanted to do, living independently in a condo or apartment and taking all responsibility for themselves. But they can’t do it because their families do not support the idea.

They think I have a good life, but it’s not only them. Most people who just get to know me, they think I live a happy life. But actually, there are many painful events that happen behind the beautiful stuff they see. I just don’t want to show any of the drama from the other parts of me. Because I hate being judged by people.

As females living outside alone, we always get criticized, especially in Cambodian culture. For me, I have always wanted to live independently since I started university. But I was not really sure until the day that my parents were not on good terms that I decided to live alone.

It was not easy to walk this way alone because I not only get criticized by relatives, but also some friends, teachers and even neighbors that I try to be friendly with. They go too far asking about my personal life and start to change their behavior toward me.

To some people, this problem may be just a small thing because they don’t care. But for me, from day to day I get more and more pressure.

I began to lose confidence in myself. I didn’t want to go out and meet people.

Sometimes when I have a meeting with a client and I come back home, I keep thinking about what I said. (Did I do something wrong? Will they go and talk behind my back?)

I didn’t notice that I had started to feel afraid of talking to people. When I go out, I always look at my feet because I don’t want to face anyone.

I have been like this for more than six years. During those years I didn’t make new friends and I only talked to five or six people through social media or by phone when I felt alone.

Beside them, I only have my two cats that I adopted from ARC two years ago. There were many times that I really hated myself. I forgot what happy tasted like.

Sometimes, it’s not sad or happy but empty. When I really want to give up everything, I sit down in my bedroom and express all of my emotions, and my cats come to sleep near me. They remind me that I’m not alone. They are my kids; if I give up, who will take care of them for me?

Although they make me angry because they steal my clothes to play with, and tear up my sofa piece by piece when they are bored, I know they love me. They only have me.

Thinking about this problem, I have not found a solution yet. I think of not working with those who think it is a bad idea to live alone. What I have faced is more than I can say, but why? I just want to live my life. Why do people think that what I do is wrong? I’m not hurting anyone. Why do they look at me like I’m a bad person? Especially old people! They talk about those bad things to my family and my family throws all that stuff at me.

This is just what I’ve faced, so what about other women who live outside the family home like me? What do they face? This makes me want to write about this issue and see how people react to it.