How I learned that I am not walking alone in this

While walking about my neighbourhood a few days ago, I started thinking about something interesting.

It has become natural for me just zone off the world as I know it and venture into some territories far and beyond. I do that through thinking and when I’m upbeat enough, through talking to myself. (Yes, out loud.)

I have fun — and some of the best conversations ever — that way.

What leapt to my mind then, were thoughts about the world class standard of my writing skills. I was thinking about how far I’ve come training myself to be at the level I am today.

And just as numerous other people do, it is easy to make the mistake of thinking it has all been my work and ability. I know that that would be arrogant. Sure, some of it can be attributed to my working hard — writing something new every single day. And constantly fussing over how I write, even in my WhatsApp conversations. But not all of it.

I refuse to be that naïve.

I am this talented partly because it is a gift passed down to me.

My father was such an electrifying storyteller. He had anyone who listened to him eating out of the palm of his hands. And he was emotionally astute and could easily make someone else feel at ease. Upon studying his life and habits, I realised that he could get people to trust him. He had an aura about him that was so strong it pulled people into him.

My father did all of those things not through writing. I am the Writer he never was. Mr. Mahlobo was a pulsating speaker. And so, almost all his greatness and knowledge was passed through impressively devastating vocal variations and inflections.

“You are easy to talk to. You know how to make one vulnerable and open up.” These were the words of a woman I have been in conversation with for not over two weeks. Yet, she feels at home talking to me — she looks forward to our exchanges. And that, that has been my experience with people of different ages and kinds for a while now. At first, I never considered my ability to make people open up to be anything serious — let alone it being a gift.

In the world we live in today, it’s becoming rarer by the day for people to trust others. There’s just a lot of cynicism going on. People watch over their shoulders, thanks to previous hurtful experiences. And so, a large number of people have built high walls around their emotions and hearts. They are extra vigilant about who they let into those spaces.

My experiences with people then, have been ones where I am able to break down the shells people build around their trust. People often find themselves trusting me with a lot more than they are comfortable with with other people. (In some cases, even those who know them longer than me some times don’t know the things I get to know about them.)

It is such a privilege, then, to be able to do that. Often, it happens unwittingly, though. My emotional energy plays a big role in that it speaks to people way before I do. The energy lets someone know they can relax around me. And then they do, often becoming perplexed about how it all happened.

My father did these things to and for the world through speaking. That was his forte. When he opened his mouth, he could draw you in. My work with my gift(s) expand what he did and how he did it. On top of my writing work, I am a professional speaker. And with my father having been only exposed to people he knew personally, I am looking to hop on various stages and platforms and touch and speak to people the world over.

I am taking this farther.

And it has been such a wonderful experience realising the power I have as a result of the clan I am born into. Without that knowledge, I probably would’ve summed up and reduced a rather nuanced situation to, “This is all my talent. I am so proud of myself.”

Everything about the world is connected to each other. Once we start acknowledging that, it’ll become easier to know and appreciate that we can’t do this life thing all on our own.

And because it works for us, up to a point, it is risky going through life by trusting only our smarts.