Pregnant at 17: All I wanted was to be free

Written , Teenage pregnancy , Motherhood , Education

The time in my life when I felt the most trapped is when I fell pregnant at 17.

No one could have prepared me for the looks of disappointment from my family, the echoes of pain in our home, and the sudden feeling of being stagnant, trapped and a victim of my own actions. I was a top achiever in both primary and high school, but I had an awful need to be accepted. This led to a desire to have my virginity ‘broken’, not only because I felt that I loved the guy, but also so that I could have something to discuss with my friends during break. There were repercussions for this thinking. It suppressed my dreams. Just three months into the new "sexual phase” – I fell pregnant.

More than anything; I was never ready for the hurt I caused. The way my little sister looked at me with tears rolling down her face, asking, "Why maar Ntokozo?" 

How every time I walked into the sitting room, my mother would shift from a comfortable position on the couch and stare at me. How my father kept asking me if I didn't want to finish school and accomplish all my goals. It was in these moments that I felt the most oppressed by the consequences of my decisions and by the fact that what was to follow would hinder me from reaching my goals.

I was convinced my life was over

In my community, young girls with children were likely to end up with no form of qualification and to settle for a life that includes alcohol and physical abuse. 

I got stuck in that zone, a zone where I was convinced that my life was over, that I would never be an academic, or a TV and radio personality.

Although my family was immensely supportive in the lead up to the birth of my son (he was born in 2011), I still felt like a captive. I had new responsibilities now and none of those included chasing my dreams.

Low point

After a whole year of staying at home, my zeal to reach for the stars slowly found its way back to me. In 2012, I completed my matric, but with marks that clearly said, "I just want to finish school and find a cashier job or something.” 

Because of my dismal results, I received many university application rejections. I stayed home again, for another year. During this year, I attempted to commit suicide at least twice. All I wanted was to be free.

Bouncing back and following through

A change of direction arrived in 2014. The University of Johannesburg accepted me and boy, I felt so emancipated!

The feeling was short-lived. On the 19th of March 2014, my dad died from eight stab wounds. All that kept ringing in my head was, "I still wanted to make you proud."

I wanted my father, along with my mother and sister, to look at me and beam with pride.

After four years of studying, I got the email I had been eagerly waiting for: DEGREE OBTAINED. I cried so much that day! All my mother could do was pray and thank me for my efforts. On my graduation day, 12 April 2018, a minibus taxi full of my family members arrived. They delivered my graduation attire and complimented my make-up, and then we rushed to the graduation venue. 

My name is Nontokozo Ntuli, and I am an anthropologist and a young mother. 

And my son shaped my life.

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