Being You Is Sweeter Than Pride - Poem by Pallang Mofokeng
Growing up, I used to have this image.
An image society placed in my mind,
which grew to consume my entire
of what a man should be.
He was taller,
and he had bigger muscles.
He had bold hair
and big, black eyes.
He was confident that he was
He did whatever he wanted with
whomever he wished,
and he didn't give a damn.
Everyone liked him.
And he was loud.
He was not quiet at all.
In fact, he was extremely extroverted.
He walked into a room, and he
laughed and smiled,
and he was funny.
and he wasn't smart-oh no! -
he didn't think about things too much.
He didn't speak his mind or share his
He was always silly and fun and
And he never had any problems.
And he never shed any tears.
And everyone loved him.
And I liked him,
he, this image of who I should be.
I liked him.
I envied him.
Because in every way he was the
opposite of me.
I, who was often quiet,
I, who froze up in a room of strangers.
I, who wasn't funny at all.
I was awkward and tongue-tied.
And I wasn't extroverted.
I could spend hours alone writing or
drawing or reading,
and a crowd full of people often felt like
And I was broken.
And I cried sometimes.
And I was hurting.
Because I was not him.
He, the image of who I thought I
Because no one loves someone like me.
Years passed, and I began to grow up.
So many people told me who I should
So many people told me I should be him.
And they laughed, and they scorned,
And I tried so hard to be what they
wanted of me.
I lost myself,
Time and and time again.
It was like drowning-
only whenever I thought I was really
I came back to the surface.
Lots of things happened.
Bad things and good things.
Heartbreak and depression and
But through all the hardness, I began to
And through all the darkness, I began to
I cried and cried,
I felt like I was dying,
But in the tears, I finally found Me.
And one day not so long ago,
I looked at myself in the mirror,
and I thought:
I do not have to be Him,
The image society tells me I should be.
The unattainable wish and
of a man who doesn't exist.
I will be a real man.
A living, breathing human being.
I, who am slender and small.
I, who've always liked Afro hair better
I, who am not loud or funny.
I, who am smart and stubborn and
I will often be quiet and think,
and I will see things that others don't
I will look at people and love them,
even when they so quickly forget me.
I will write and I will create,
I will run through the mountains,
And sing in the valleys.
Sometimes, I will cry.
And I will always be broken.
But I will be real.
I will live.
I will be strange and wild, win some and
I won't let others tell me who I should
And I won't let the image of Him haunt
I will be strong.
I will be courageous.
I will be Me.
Me, who is so much more than him.
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