Seng Gechly dropped out twice from universities majoring in Accounting and Food Chemistry; however, after having spent one year reading motivational books, she found her passion for writing. Currently, she is the author of four books.
After she dropped out from the Institute of Technology of Cambodia (ITC) majoring in Food Chemistry, she dedicated one year to reading motivational books, her favorite childhood activity, and taking notes while reading. Gradually she realized that she did not only enjoy reading but also writing.
Gechly, 24, has written a series of three motivational books and one self-help book. Besides being an author, she also produces videos based on excerpts from her books and posts them on Facebook. Currently, she is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Psychology at the Royal University of Phnom Penh.
Before she published her first book in late 2018, she graduated from high school in 2015 and enrolled at two universities majoring in Accounting and Food Chemistry. However, she dropped out from both universities because she did not like studying those majors, the young author said.
Not knowing one’s passion leads to choosing the wrong major
“My mom tried to plan my future for me because she worried that I would not have a job after my graduation,” she said. “My mom's mindset was that since I am a girl, I should study accounting. At that time many people studied accounting and it was easy to find a job as an accountant.”
“Studying accounting in the evening did not make me feel happy,” she said. “After studying accounting for one year, I decided to drop out. “What did I love doing? I did not have an answer.”
Gechly decided to enroll in university for the second time. She passed the entrance exam at ITC and chose to study Food Chemistry. “I got Grade A in chemistry during the national exam in 2015,” she said. “It made sense for me to study this major at ITC.”
Having studied at ITC for one semester, she realized that she also did not like the major. “I decided to drop out for the second time,” she added. “My parents were upset; they wanted me to find a job, but I did not want to work. Instead I decided to seek my passion.”
Writing journey: Challenges as an author and changes she wants to make
After dropping out from ITC for the second time, she spent a lot of time reading and being alone to understand herself better, said the young author.
“I thought of my childhood activities that I liked doing, I liked reading books as a child,” she said. “I started to explore and seek [my passion].”
She spent almost one year reading books at home, she added.
“During that one year, I took notes while reading, when I was upset I read those notes,” she said. “Then, I realized that I not only like reading but also writing.”
She found her inspiration for writing motivational books when the number of the collection increased.
“Then, I thought if I combine those notes together to create a book and publish it, wouldn’t it be really helpful to other people who have been through the same situation as I have?” she said. “It was not only me who chose the wrong majors.
“I used to be depressed, I felt so alone. I chose not to share my problems with anyone, not even brave enough to talk to my high school friends who I have helped to pass the exams.”
She stopped socializing and stayed home reading motivational books, she added.
“It is an issue that Cambodian youth face. Therefore, I want to share my experience with them,” she said. “When they read my books and they are in a similar situation to me, they may find solutions to solve their problems.”
When she started writing books, her parents did not support her because they are businessmen, she said. By writing books, her parents worried that she might not be able to earn enough money to support herself.
“But, I insisted on doing it, writing books.’’ she said. “It was hard for me to lose support from my family,” she said. “I felt like I had lost something very important.”
Understanding and hard work are key factors of her success
However, she thought she should try to understand her parents instead.
“Every parent wants to see their children succeed and have a good future,” she said. “That is why they worried [about me dropping out from university two times], they feared I always failed at doing this or that.”
Even though her parents did not encourage her to write books, they were not against her doing it, they just did not care to ask about the progress of her writing journey, said the young author.
This understanding became her motivation to work [writing books] harder to be successful in order to show her parents that [her hard work has paid off], Gechly added.
“I kept doing what I love to be successful just to convince them to support what I am doing,” she said.
“Nowadays, my parents support what I do,” Gechly said. “My parents started to support me after they saw my videos posted on Facebook and their neighbors and friends told them they are proud of her.
“Even though how much support I got from the outside, when I did not get support from my parents, the support I got from the outside seemed meaningless.
“I felt less pressure after I got support from my parents. I felt like no matter what will happen in the future, at least I have my parents supporting me. Now I write books without that pressure, I enjoy doing it more now than before.”
Producing videos based on excerpts from books
“Some youths could not afford to buy my books; thus, I came up with an idea of producing videos, based on excerpts of my books, to share with them,” she said. “I chose Facebook because it is the most famous social media platform in Cambodia.”
As of 2022, there are about 13 million active Facebook users in Cambodia, an equivalent of 74 percent of the total population.
Concepts for her next books
Through her journey being an author, she found that she is into psychology. That is why she decided to enroll at RUPP as a psychology student and write self-help books instead of motivational ones, she said.
In her next books, she wants to rectify the myth that psychologists only cure crazy people, she added.
Studying psychology is about understanding other people, people’s behavior, why people behave in certain ways, what is the scientific studies behind the finding, she added.
In her fourth book, Little Things; a self-help book, there is a section about changing habits.
“To change habits, people say we need to set goals, be patient and so on,” she said. “But, we do not understand how the brain functions. In psychology, we study why people do not want to do hard work, and why our brain likes doing enjoyable work.”