What Are You Holding Back?

I was raised in a culture of silence. In my Cambodian upbringing, when you asked too many questions about the past, you were labeled as a “troublemaker”. 

No, thank you. I did not need the negative attention. Staying quiet served me well. It kept me safe and made me likable. I didn’t want to rock that proverbial boat, so I hid. I stayed in the shadows, preferring to do things behind-the-scenes. Choosing to be invisible.

But there was a cost to this hiding act. 

I kept myself small. 

I held back my voice. 

I erased myself.

Operating incognito was no longer acceptable. If I chose to do more with my life, and be more of myself in this world, I needed to be seen.

This was made clearer when a spiritual mentor pointed to the artwork of Cambodian women on my apartment wall, each hiding behind masks. The masks ranged from a motorcycle helmet to a krama (traditional Cambodian scarf). Delicately drawn in black and white by a dear friend and Cambodian artist, their invisibility gave them power and freedom to do and go as they please. I, without fully realizing it, had been embodying these women. 

Here's the thing: I am a Cambodian woman living in America. It does no good for me, nor am I serving anyone else, to continue being quiet, hiding, and playing small. 

This film project, "Bitter Melons" is an act of coming out -- coming out from the shadows of a culture, out from hiding of an illness, and out from my fears.

What truth are you holding back? 

Is it to tell someone, “I love you” or “I’m sorry”?

Is it to reach out and ask for help?

Is it to admit to yourself that things in your life need to change?

Join me on this journey as we cultivate more courage to express our truths in creative and authentic ways.