Since birth, it has been said that I have an old soul; certain events in life do not seem to faze me, despite my age. That does not mean that I know everything, though, regardless of what I may think at times.
I do, however, know enough to realize that I have and will continue to need elders–mentors, more specifically–for my mild holier-than-thou moments. Most people have mentors without even noticing it; my first mentor came as such.
1. Past Mentor
In the midst of my mother’s chemotherapy a few years ago, her childhood best friend’s father (inhale) reappeared into her life for many reasons: their shared bond over cancer, their past acquaintance, the fact that my mother’s own father could not be there to support her, and his eerie likeness to said father. One could say the stars aligned in a zigzag pattern, crossing into several generations.
Upon meeting this man, I realized fairly soon that he was the grandfather figure I had often missed in my earlier childhood. Our relationship was an emotional mentorship of sorts.
Every Friday of the last few months of his life, I would visit after school, and we would chat about whatever would pop up in our sassy and whimsical conversations. Through those conversations I was given experience and a newfound sense of wonder. I now understood what it was to have an older male figure in my life that wasn’t my father or teacher. He taught me how to live; he taught me how to die; he taught me how to grieve.
2. Present Mentor
Currently, there is no distinct single influence in my life. (Is there ever truly ‘just one’?) Nevertheless, I am currently learning how to respond to situations and control my actions through observing my peers and elders. At this point in life, social and self-navigation is essential to learn.
Teen life consists of balancing homework, relationships, work and everything in between; this ability to balance comes from a distinct sense of independence.
With my life as I understand it, this is the stage in which it is essential for me to ‘grow up’. Now I shall let go of the hands holding mine and use my own developing wit. This is not to say that I shall return to handholding when I obtain a new mentor; in fact, independence would ideally be taught in depth with a future mentor(s).
3. Future Mentor
In understanding just how much I have developed with the influence of those around me, I crave the moment I feel inspired. In a perfect future, my mentor will form my personality and mental processes in a way that allows me to hold the reigns effectively.
I am only halfway through high school with at least four more years of schooling left, and I am already feeling overwhelmed. If an emotional guru could help me keep these emotions in check, my overall well-being would benefit greatly. From dealing with stress to simply managing teen girl-style mood swings, this person would part the clouds with a calm voice and strong logic.
As I move on beyond the bubble that is high school, I hope to have someone to sort out the jumble of promotional college e-mails, grades and doubts. And beyond that, may I have someone to help me survive in the college and career (mine)fields?
They would use words that would open up a useful understanding of life as it progresses from that point on. With my future mentor’s teachings, I would be able to see what is coming and have the tools in the tool belt to deal with what is coming my way.
Ultimately, all of these mentors were/are part of my personal evolution. Both the unintentional and very intentional mentors taught me age appropriate lessons: how to love/grieve others, how to become more introspective and hopefully how to shape a future I want.