Mentoring and Being Mentored
We can all think of a time when we had a mentor. Maybe a relative, a teacher, a colleague, even just a friend’s mom. And boy, isn’t it easier to mentor your child’s friend rather than your own! I longed for a mentor for my son since my husband and I never seemed to be on the same continent. Finding mentors for boys is still a weighty issue and needs a lot of thought and work.
Regardless of who or when, mentors retain a special place in our heart as they provide invaluable support and insight when most needed.
I can recall several mentors: an older aunt with whom I shared a special bond and interests; a music teacher from middle and high school; and perhaps most importantly, a generous and loving Syrian woman I met when I was newly Muslim. She opened her arms, her home, and vehicle for rides to the mosque. She even invited me to tag along with her, running errands as she picked up her children from school or shopped for groceries, all the while sharing her wisdom and helping me to practice my new faith. At such a pivotal point in life when my own family was not understanding my choice and I lost long-term friends who argued or refused to comprehend, I will never forget her. I pray others who make such a major change in their lives are blessed to find someone similar.
In appreciation for the mentors in my life, it’s my turn to give back.
Mentors and mentoring certainly do not mix with Mean Girls, but perhaps this is just what the Mean Girl is missing. No one ever took the time to guide her. Sure, she didn’t ask. That would be admitting to a lack of self-esteem. But it’s these very girls and women that need mentoring the most.
You might wonder how you are qualified to mentor. What are your skills, what knowledge do you possess to believe you can deliver guidance to anyone else?
It’s satisfying and important to have friends and mentors of all ages. I’ve always appreciated the ‘grandmothers’ in my life with their perspectives of the ages and wisdom, not to mention highly entertaining stories! On the opposite spectrum, young friends introduce new ideas and concepts that keep us thinking and growing- staving off the stark reality of aging, getting stuck, and stubborn. I readily turn to the younger generation to help me make heads and tails of the latest for the technologically impaired.
With a rash of shocking suicides recently in the American Muslim community – all women, professionals, wives, and moms with seemingly so much to live for – has there ever been a time when mentors are more relevant? If these young women had had someone to turn to; someone they trusted and with whom they shared their innermost thoughts and fears, perhaps these tragedies could have been averted or these women might not have slipped into depression to start with.
So perhaps at all times of our lives we need to be both mentored and mentors. To learn, to grow, and to give back in gratitude for those moments when so much has been given us.