Hi there! My name is Owami and I am 16 years old. I have a best friend Mahlo.
When Mahlo joined our school in 2017 in Grade 8 she was very shy. She used to sit alone and have lunch at the library.
The other students at school used to make fun of her because she was always alone.
There was a time when Mahlo was asked to read a story to the class by the teacher but the teacher had to step out to go to a meeting.
As the teacher left, Mahlo started reading it. She read a few words and froze. I could see she was very scared but the kids at the back started laughing.
Mahlo got up and ran out of the class. I felt so sorry for her and I told the kids at the back that what they did was not okay. It was rude and they should stop being mean before I reported them.
I found Mahlo in the bathroom crying. I tried to comfort her and tell her to not feel bad about freezing. It happens to all of us. I also once froze during a religious service where I was supposed to speak. I decided to share with her a couple of things that helped me with my confidence and meant I was able to overcome my fear of public speaking.
I told her that I decided to view these instances as an opportunity to learn. If I put a positive spin on each experience it meant I not only took it less seriously, I saw it as a step in improving myself.
I also told her about a mantra I use whenever I get nervous - and still use every week in church! Repeating “I am cool, calm and confident” in my head really has made me feel that way.
The last thing I told her? That I believed in her. We are strong together right?
We walked back to class together and though Mahlo didn’t feel she could finish the reading that time, she’s done it many times since.
And that is how Mahlo and I became friends. We have been inseparable ever since. That moment made me realise that girls need to support each other. There’s so much we can learn from one another to make ourselves stronger - plus have fun along the way!
Sometimes it feels like there is a lot of pressure when you want to #unmute, but when you know you have the support of your friends and classmates, it becomes easier.
Tell us how you support your friends to #unmute in the comment section.