What Defines Me - Karabo Thea Masekwameng

Am I defined by what I aspire to be, what I’m working towards or what I’m clawing at with every ounce of me? Or am I defined by what I did last year, a month ago, a week, a day, or even what I just did a minute ago?

Many well meaning folk have encouraged my ragged soul by telling me that I’m not defined by my yesterdays nor my today but by my tomorrows. This somewhat eases the pressure of trying to be anything today. But what happens when tomorrow becomes today? Surely today is what sets the tone.

Something that has boggled my mind is people thinking that when you are striving to be something better than what you were before then it only means you are denying your true self and trying to be something you are not. My response to that is: "so what? So what if am trying to be something I wasn’t yesterday". I mean it's not like you have a slightest idea of what it means to be truly me.

But what if?  What if what I am is a lying, whoring, thieving bum. And what if today I decide that I CAN be something better and I start living like that - no more lying, no more whoring or thieving or bumming around. Does that make me a phoney? Or perhaps a wanna be? Uhm... I don’t know. But I’m certain though that you have heard far more derogatory words used to define those who try to better themselves. My personal favourite is being “holier-than-thou”.

My question to those who mock and sneer at people who feel they could be more and actually dare to be more is this: "would you prefer if nobody tried to be better? Would you rather be comfortable if we all lay in the gutter of human slime and fester away so that you can be comfortable? Have you searched yourselves to find out why it is that you get upset when your best friend decides to quit drinking, to quit drugging themselves or degrading others? Why does it pain you when others make an effort to change? Is it because their changing highlights what YOU are and STILL are? Is it because in their changing, you are forced to look at yourself in the mirror and realise that you are the one giving off the foul smell of self loathing the entire time"?

Everything needs an upgrade now and again, so why not you?



I believe in change and a desire to strive to being better - to being a better person, to have a better body, a better mind and to have better relationships with those I love and those I struggle to love.

Unfortunately the “intention” to change has lost its meaning because many people’s trust has been broken because people were “intending” to do something right.

But I would still like to be defined by my intentions to change and not only through my actions. Yes, I have heard the argument:  action speaks louder than words and to bring it home..." faith without actions is dead", and I agree. However, the same Word also says that “without faith, one cannot please God".

I have seen myself do and say some despicable things and completely shocked myself. I have beaten myself up into a pulp on those days in shame. But today, I realise that those once off days when I messed up are not what defines me. I am defined by what I intend and strive on doing and being on each day. I am the only one who defines what those intentions are, not you nor my failure to uphold the intentions on random days. Yes I may fail today, but please check on me again tomorrow and see how much more vigour goes into making up for lost times in my life.

Because such is life, we will often fall back into old habits when we are on the road to breaking off those very same habits. So why the surprise then when we stumble? So then why do we define ourselves by our falling? Why don't we define ourselves by our getting up?

The journey to wherever it is we are going is long and often tiring. Let’s do each other a favour and get off each other’s backs about what we said and shouldn't have said, or what we did and shouldn't have done. We already have enough to bear without having to be each other’s judges.

So to those who are like me, those who have noted their imperfections, those who have accepted what they cannot change and yet are working and praying to change what they can, to you I say: “WELL DONE”! We are fewer than you know. Keep walking, keep striving, and keep at it. Yes they will keep mocking and belittling but so what? It was never about them anyway.

Like Steve Biko said, “I write what I like”.

Written by Karabo Thea Masekwameng