Genuine humility has been rare to find in a stranger. Most times people, and myself, opt for the cold shoulder, or the awkward stare when I look up that comes with the occasional nod or smirk that says, ‘Hi, I’m friendly’. It’s almost as if I want to get the greeting out of the way so that I can abruptly suspend myself back into pretending to do something productive with my phone. ‘Gee, I guess I can have a third look at my pictures or try finish level 100 of Candy Crush.’

People Watching

Mokgadi The Gautrain station is one my favourite places to be – people watching, yay! One of the superpowers I’d like to have is invisibility because people are really interesting. How we talk, our body language when we are alone or in groups, how we show care, judgement or confusion. Each person has a different way of expressing it, but I have an idea of what is going on in the person’s head.

Yes, I just confessed to being a stalker, sue me! I don’t know about you, but I really like watching people. A friend of mine, who’s from Port Elizabeth, brought my attention to how much we Jo’burgers LOVE to watch one another. I know some are reading this and thinking, ‘I am definitely guilty!’ It’s nothing to be ashamed of, we all do it at some point in our lives!

No Rush

After spending a week here I realised that people’s attention isn’t glued to their phone. No one is rushing anywhere – it’ll happen when it’s meant to happen. Walking in the road, the person you encounter has their eyes, heads, pointing in the same direction – straight ahead. At this point I can’t curl into my Jo’burg tendencies, and pretend to look at my phone, we are the only two people on the dirt road. No choice is given.

Before the lockdown, Mam’ Trish invited me over to her house to have dinner. I couldn’t say no because my system was craving pap. After many conversations about her past career as a friend, lover of children, excellent awards achieved in the culinary field and overall Angel, I came to ask, “why am I so guarded?” I mean, Mam’ Trish hardly knew me and she was able to just open up, without my request.

The Power of Compassion

Bringing me back to the greeting; we look for one another’s compassion, but because of the lives we lead, we are constantly shifting and changing our personalities so that; your subordinates don’t take advantage, or because like me, you have been used countless times. Therefore, as our subconscious goes into survival mode so that we don’t get hurt again, we get stuck in that state so much that it becomes our natural reaction. Before you can hurt me, I’d rather keep my distance.

Or we get so lost in changing our personalities that we lose our essence. I don’t know who I am anymore because in the office I am professional, at home I am my mother’s daughter, with my friends I tell all the jokes, but who am I in solitude? I guess I picked the right place to open myself up to the answer or answers, because a human being cannot be one thing, we are infinite.

PS: Psychology 101 is courtesy of Brenda during our deep, meaningful conversation (d.m.c) in the office.

Mokgadi Sekete, volunteer at TRC