My life had never been so great. I had it all in my hands: my cell phone, my friends, my freedom and most of all my undeniable confidence.

This was back in 2011. Most things were the real deal and we all wanted to get our hands on them. Bekumnandilicious ngiyak’tshela, wena! Nothing seemed to get me down – I mean nothing! I was on top of the world. I was invincible and cocky. I was still adapting to my new life at high school. Trust me, I survived through all the drama. In my mind I told myself that I was the “IT” girl of the year because each day felt like a New Year’s Eve party. I loved living life to the fullest and I never let anyone define me. I would walk around like those models doing their thing on the runway.

I was in Grade 10 at the time. All of my classmates were very loving and friendly. We were never afraid of being ourselves, of showing who we really were. The bond we had was so magical and so hard to explain in words. Everyday was a present to me and I’d open it with a face full of smiles. At home, life was just OK, but at school it was super great and very enjoyable. I would go to school in the morning and only come back home late at night. That’s how crazy I was about my friends.

I believe that we are all different in our own way. We must meet each other half way in order to avoid misunderstandings. Life is more meaningful when you know what you’re living for and when you know how you want to contribute to the world.

There then came a time in my life when things weren’t going so well. There would be times when I felt bored and very sad. One of my friends had to leave for Durban, which meant she wouldn’t be schooling with us anymore. I was heartbroken and lonely. Our group of friends started betraying each other and that is how we drifted apart. Ever since, I’ve been afraid to get too attached to people, because I’ve felt afraid that I might lose them.

One afternoon, I was on my way to the shops when I bumped into a group of hot guys. These guys used to say that we look beautiful and smell fresh. They used to love touching our thighs. I reported them to my uncle and they stopped what they were doing. They acted like it was just water under the bridge. Later, they hauled me away to some place and wanted to rape me. Luckily, someone saw them and came to my rescue. I’m still grateful for that. I was so terrified about what had happened that I couldn’t think straight.

After that incident, I changed my lifestyle. I became a zombie that nobody understood. I no longer expressed how I felt, because I no longer trusted anyone. Life had become something that I hated. I didn’t want to be happy. I would find a reason to cry, so that I could feel better afterwards. I kept my feelings to myself and I always wanted to be left alone. I felt sorry for myself.

Four years have passed now. I’m stronger and older, and I love myself just the way I am. I’ll always wear my mask – things feel safer that way. Wearing my mask feels good, because people don’t see my weaknesses and don’t know how I’m feeling. I love my mask. It’s my facial clothing. I take it off only when I’m alone. I am the only person who can define myself. I am the author of my own life.


Tell us what you think: Do you have a mask? When do you put it on?