Growing up, Patricia Nkwane was told she would never amount to anything.
It was a message that was drummed into her by the very people who were supposed to care for her most.
However, despite a childhood plagued by self-doubt and blighted by disappointments and disillusions, the 24-year-old defied the odds, defeating her demons to emerge as a successful transformational speaker and life coach.
“I grew up believing that I was not the smartest of kids and had to endure being told that by teachers and family. It was hurtful and I retreated into a shell hence I was known to be quiet,” the Tonota native recalled, remembering the shy little girl she once was.
Nkwane tells of a painful past that nearly destroyed her faith and threatened to dictate her future.
“I was never good enough and found it difficult to keep up. Everything seemed way too difficult and I struggled,” she explained.
Nkwane would repeat Standard 6 and live with the stigma of being labelled ‘stupid’.
“Repeating a standard was never seen as corrective and affording one a second chance but rather it solidified what had been repeated to me for so long!”
Unbeknown to teachers at the time, Nkwane’s struggles at school were caused by dyslexia, a lifelong condition that makes it difficult for people to read, write and spell.
“At the time and unfortunately even now, conditions such as dyslexia were unheard of so as far as all were concerned I was stupid. Not a ‘slow learner’ or ‘differently gifted’.”
This derogatory label would have a devastating impact on Nkwane, stripping her of any dignity and desire to learn.
“I rebelled and lost interest in school. I thought to myself that there was no point as it had been drilled into me that I was hopeless – so ‘why bother’ I thought to myself.”
During these difficult times, Nkwane’s grandmother proved to be a source of much comfort and encouragement.
“My mother worked and lived elsewhere thus my grandmother and aunty were my sister and I’s caretakers. I managed to painfully complete primary school and move on to study further. At this time I lived with my aunt, who truth be told did her best but the comparison to her child, my cousin, brought back years of my struggle with learning.
“I became reserved again and found it difficult to catch up with my peers. In the end there was no point in going to school. I allowed myself to be distracted and met a man that would be reason of a detour in my studies,” she continued.
That ‘detour’ would unwittingly become the catalyst for the start of Nkwane’s resurrection.
She fell pregnant and gave birth to a healthy boy. As a young mother with little to offer her newborn, Nkwane realised it was truly ‘make or break’ time.
“One day as I looked at my child’s tiny face, it hit me that I could not possibly resign myself to the life of hopelessness. I wondered how I would raise my child without an education to better my chances of getting a better job. I worried that indeed I did not amount to anything as often told previously. It was then that I decided to urge my aunt to assist in getting me back to school.
“Even then I was met by detractors who felt that I had missed too much time at school and I would not be able to make it,” she said, smiling wryly at the memory.
Undaunted and motivated by her newfound focus and drive, Nkwane aced her BGCSE before enrolling at Botho College to undertake Computer Science studies.
Graduating top of her class and receiving two presidential awards were moments Nkwane recalls with relish.
“I had reached a now or never state in my life and refused to succumb to failure – it was not an option!”
Though proud of her achievement, it was a bittersweet moment for Nkwane as both her mother and grandmother had passed away by then.
“It is sad and painful not to have had them see this. But I’m grateful for the part they played. It also meant a lot to have my sister present.”
As she looks forward to a brighter future, Nkwane excitedly tells of the projects she is currently pursuing and is determined to be an inspiration to other young people.
“I am certainly not the only one that has had to deal with life’s dark side but there is a light at the end of the tunnel. It is worthwhile to remind young people of this and that they are responsible for their destinies,” stressed this week’s Voice Woman.
Nkwane offers her transformational speaking and life coaching services through her company, Elegant Business.
Though the enterprise is in its infancy, Nkwane is positive that it will soon blossom – just like its founder.
She also hosts a talk show, Women to Women, which aims to empower young entrepreneurs.
“Many are desolate and need motivation and that is an area I know too well. I have been visiting schools and holding talks with various stakeholders and it is apparent that I have made the right decision to dedicate my life to helping others,” she concluded warmly.
Although she swears by self motivation, Nkwane admits to drawing strength from the following reads.
Miles Monroe – The Power of Vision
John Maxwell – Intentional Living
Lisa Nickes – Abundance Now
Joyce Meyer – The Covenant Woman
Joel Oesteen – You Can You Will