Climbing the hill is not easy, but at least reaching the top reveals light. I am delicately shy and an introverted person. Somehow, my shyness has influenced my self-confidence and believing in the whole me. In 2015, I was doing my last year at school. I was in matric! Yeah!!!

The last year of school is an exciting year for some…I am currently studying at the University of The Witwatersrand in Johannesburg. I am doing my first year of Bachelor of Pharmacy for the 2016 Academic year. I spend most of my time studying and in my free time, I watch educational shows on television like Dr. Oz or listen to the radio. I am an indoor person and I hardly ever go to parties. I guess that makes sense since I am shy and not that confident.

In the year 2014, I worked extremely hard with the aim of passing my Grade 11 with good marks so that I would be on the list of The Class of 2015. When I received my report card, my heart was filled with joy, as I obtained a pass with good marks. For the whole of December 2014, I was counting down to January 2015 for schools to reopen. As usual, I spent my days alone watching television when my mom went to work. Every day of that December I was impatient for January to arrive. The month finally came almost in the blink of an eye. I was on the list of The Class of 2015 for Thuto-kitso Comprehensive school. I am a hard worker, but I doubt myself and have a fear of failure.

My mother is a single parent working as a domestic worker and she earns peanuts. At the beginning of my Matric year, I knew I had to apply to universities, and I was so excited to finish school. My friends, most if not least, were excited about farewells and planned endless parties for the year. I judged myself. I initially told myself that I just had to pass matric with good marks and then I would apply to an FET College, but deep down I knew I wanted to be a pharmacist one day. I was inspired by ‘The Black Child – It Is Possible’ program that I attended in 2012. Because I was not confident, I minded not about my innermost feelings. I guess the situation at home discouraged me instead of motivating me. My neighbours were gossiping about me, saying I wouldn’t make it, as ‘no one makes it in that family’!

Wow! I passed my first term with flying colors and I came second in the entire Grade 12 class of my school. Did I change my thoughts? I changed my thoughts of going to an FET College and to rather apply to a university of technology. Tshwane University of Technology was my option. It was my option because TUT offered pharmacy and their requirements were typically not hard for me as compared to traditional universities and I was thinking about TUT from then on.

My friends kept on singing about our farewell to my ears. I knew that my mother wouldn’t be able to afford to pay for my Matric Dance as she had to work hard for application fees for TUT. Surprisingly the application fee for TUT was higher than those of the University of Johannesburg, Wits University or Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University. The application fee for TUT was R250, WITS was R100 and for UJ and NMMU online applications were free. I am sure you are wondering why I mentioned other universities when I was so obsessed about TUT.

Time was flying in 2015 trust me! I don’t know why. I was working hard though and I attended normal and extra classes, hardly missing any. I went to school when the sun was about to rise and came back after the sun set. I woke up when my neighbours, who are gossipers, were in their night dreams. I was studying, but still I doubted and judged myself based on what society and the neighbours expected. I judged myself based on what society wanted of me, regardless of my inside body.

I received my results for midyear, and I came second and improved on my marks again. I was summoned by one of the teachers who asked me where I had applied and I said TUT. The teacher said: “Andile you have potential! You should apply to Wits University. You must apply for Pharmacy there…” I hesitated not. I asked my mother to give me R100 to apply to Wits University. I applied for academic space, residence and financial aid. It was so easy compared to TUT. I applied to UJ for Geology and NMMU for Pharmacy. I applied because in one of the career shows I attended, they said one should apply to at least three or more universities to be on the safe side. After my third term results, the same happened through hard work and dedication, and I came second with good marks. I had to neglect TUT as I was asked to come for an interview in Pretoria early in the morning. It was impossible because my mother had no means of providing money for me to get there.

Thank God, the Matric dance was cancelled after the school governing body took that decision because the school results were dropping. Well, the endless parties did not end, they were still planned. I worried not about the Matric dance and the parties, instead I focused on the final exams.

After the final exams, I had to wait for the whole of December doing the usual, watching TV. I was emotionally drained as the waiting was literally exhausting and December 2015 was the hottest which made it difficult to sleep at all. My friends went to parties but I just couldn’t because I had no money or was just not interested. They were not worried about their results at all. I was worried more especially about where I was going to be next year. I thought of NMMU this time because its requirements I could meet… Hehe!

January 2016 came and the day before the results were released, I was so stressed, I didn’t sleep. I waited for midnight as they were to be released then… but for some reason they were not released. I slept like a baby and in the morning around 7h00am I received this sms: “63637377373777 obtained four distinctions in Mathematics, Physical Sciences, Geography and Life Sciences with a Bachelor’s pass”. This sms was followed by this sms: “Wits. You are admitted for Bachelor of Pharmacy. Visit to accept the offer before 14 Jan 2016. You qualify for financial assistance”.

I was so elated. I forgot about the stresses I had experienced. The exam number I quoted here is not the exact one but typical and that includes the sms’s. Immediately after receiving them, I checked my emails and surprisingly NMMU and UJ had both accepted me.

That day I went to school with no fear of failure and I was confident for the first time. The school principal announced the results and I was even more elated… I got distinctions and not just distinctions, but A plus’s. I was invited to two academic dinners, one by the municipality and the other by Gauteng West District. I chose the University of the Witwatersrand because they offered me an entrance scholarship and financial assistance(NSFAS). The Department of Education also contributes to my studies as part of their Job Creation Program in Gauteng Province.

My neighbours judged the book by its cover. I judged the book by its cover. Never judge the book by its cover before reading the book. I do not have as many friends as I had in 2015, but I understand. Indeed, climbing the hill was not easy but the light was revealed. Do not judge a book by its cover.