Let me live my own life and plan my own paths

YOUNG COMMUNICATORS: Second-placed Tebogo Selemo, overall winner Khethego Chiloane and second runner-up, Malebo Rakgalakane. Pic. Lindi Obose. © Sowetan.
YOUNG COMMUNICATORS: Second-placed Tebogo Selemo, overall winner Khethego Chiloane and second runner-up, Malebo Rakgalakane. Pic. Lindi Obose. © Sowetan.

Khethego Chiloane

Khethego Chiloane

How many of us judge a book by its cover?

How often do we undermine people because of their appearances?

Why do we always praise the external beauty of people and forget that all that glitters is not gold?

How many of us are forced to fill someone else's shoes daily?

Before you come to any conclusion about the kind of person I am, take a walk with me through my life.

I am a young South African with hopes and dreams. A girl who is passionate about life, a maiden who is forced to become someone else.

Confused? Perhaps you need to take this journey of my life to really understand the pain I am feeling and the real joy I would feel if only I could be left alone to be my truest self.

Basically I am a girl living my life just like any other girl, like life is really "golden".

I am truly an element of change, a masterpiece in the making. I am an African goddess in training. I shine and am transforming into an African queen.

But the truth is, my life has not always been this splendid and in my total control, so to speak.

I used to be tortured for being unique and I had to fill another person's boots. That person was my own sister.

My sister was always praised for her achievements and for being a rough diamond that was turning into a rare gem.

Before you get any ideas, my sister and I are great friends. My parents' other great daughter and an excellent young leader. My sister is actually one of the strongest pillars of my life.

As you might have guessed, my sister and I have a lot in common.

We are seemingly genetically-attuned to speak, walk and even look alike although we are not twins. So much so, that even our mother struggles to tell us apart.

But wait. My sister is five years older than I am and has her own life to live. And so do I.

I am a socialite while she is a bookworm. A nerd to be precise. I love music and my sister loves her books.

I love to hang around with my pals and my sister loves her friends too, though her friends happen to be books in the library. I love to sing and dance while my sister loves to read and read and read some more.

So you can imagine how different we are and how close to impossible it is for me to do things the way she does. If I am going to become an achiever like my sister, I can only do so in my own way, at my own pace and in my own space.

I really need to set, and to achieve my own goals. Not necessarily to reach the heights reached by my sister.

Philosopher R Schuller once said: "Man dies when he stops dreaming. Fear rather that you shall not stop dreaming."

So let me dream so I can live; live my own life. Let me plan my own life paths.

Too many of us are compared to other people.

What do we do when our dreams are shattered before our eyes and our hopes are turned inside out as we shape our lives to suit others' wishes and according to their standards?

Do we give up? Do we lie down and let them trample us? Do we not shout and resist at the top of our voices?

American civil rights leader, Martin Luther King Jr. did what no other man dared to do. He told the whole world what his dream was and today the world has changed because of that special dream and King's own uniqueness.

South African actress Charlize Theron - who is currently achieving greatness in America - has attained what no other local could have imagined or wished for.

South Africa's first black democratically-elected president, Nelson Mandela, cannot be compared to our second black president, Thabo Mbeki.

Mandela fought for freedom for South Africa while Mbeki fights for freedom to stay and for a better life for all.

You are all who you are, unique. Like me, you are also a reflection of perfection, but by your own standards. What makes you perfect is that you are an individual and you are free to be you.

I am what I am, not what you wish I should be, or become. I live freely today because I have accepted myself the way I am.

I am perfect in my own way. Do not turn me into someone I am not or push me in a certain direction. Let me do things in my own special way so that I too can soar into the open sky. Just take me the way I am. Let me be.

The author is a matric pupil at SJ van der Merwe High School in Limpopo. She has qualified for the national finals of the Sowetan and Anglo American Young Communicators Awards, scheduled for Anglo's auditorium in Johannesburg in June.