Mentor or more like mentored?
Prior to this summer I had never mentored anyone before. When ThreeSixty Journalism reached out, and asked if I could help mentor a group of high school girls for a writing bootcamp my first response was basically pulling a Divid Rose from Schitt’s Creek.
What is mentoring? Should I do that? Am I qualified? More importantly, can I do it?
Needless to say, I was afraid of not knowing what this opportunity would be like. I felt that I had nothing to really teach teenagers at a writing camp. Imposter syndrome sank in real quick, yet I’ve been writing a blog for years, write for my college paper, and naturally tell stories through my artwork. Experience wise I had it in the bag.
The real worry, were the students. Were the teens going to like me? Was it going to be hard? Were they going to listen to me?
They did though, and in return they made an impact on me. They took in what advice felt right and left what didn’t, they wrote amazing and truly personal stories. The three gals I got to mentor have big dreams, come from different backgrounds and are naturally strong story tellers. Overall, it was an amazing experience. I’m 24, still in college, and don’t necessarily want kids, a blog post for another time, but due to this and the overwhelming sense of imposter syndrome I felt that I wasn’t fit to mentor. I proved myself wrong. My guess is that some or most of you reading this, would probably feel the same way if a mentoring opportunity knocked at your door.
Reading through their essays, I further understood something I related deeply to; nurturing your own voice takes time, and that’s okay. I noticed their hesitation in fully expressing themselves. The fear of owning their own voice.
photo courtesy of ThreeSixty Journalism
While I was the mentor, they were also mentoring me. I was facing three mirrors throughout this experience. It made me think deeper about the fact that I say sorry too often, question my worth at times, as well as my ability to do things when I know fully well that I can do them. So in reality who mentored who?
That’s what I want to leave you with, the notion that maybe mentoring is more about what the mentee can teach you in the process. Not just about what you bring to the table. I’ve never mentored before, but have had mentors, and I highly encourage you all to give it a try sometime. Not only for the aspect of giving back, building relationships that can help the youth prosper, but to also give yourself the chance to learn something new about others and more importantly yourself.
If you’d like to take this step check out these rad opportunities listed below. Most are programs in the Twin Cities, but you can search for more in your area. Some of these are geared towards specific groups in today’s youth, and other in specific industries:
ThreeSixty Journalism (Focused in writing, journalism & media. The program I was a photojournalist for, and mentored at)
New Lens Urban Mentoring (Giving black men in the community the opportunity to help mentor black boys)
Big Brothers Big Sisters (local and national opportunities for mentorships)
YWCA / Girls Inc. (locally, but both offer various ways to get involved in your community)
If it calls to you, and someone you know could benefit from this post & the links with mentorship programs please pass it along.