Mentoring for A Lifetime

Ever wondered why me? Usually this is followed by some dreaded thought about a negative experience, but on occasion it’s followed by recollection of a good memory. As I wait to board the plane for my college mentee’s wedding I think back to how I got into mentoring. I recall how it’s impacted me these last few years, and how I’ve impacted others.

I’ve always participated in community service.  I can think as far back as middle school where I assisted with student government activities. I tutored other kids, led fundraising efforts and oassisted with ESE students. High school was no different. My college experience was an extension of it all. 

In college, I volunteered with After school Gators, I Got Your Back High School Mentoring, and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Mid-Central Florida. I did this throughout my undergraduate and graduate studies. Each time I left the locations I just had that feel-good feeling.  It was like a natural high, a natural happiness. It just felt right.

Mentoring has continued to play an integral part in my life. Following that, I started a mentoring program with my old neighborhood. To me, mentoring is a form of giving  back to your environment. Your environment nurtured you to where you are today and you should help nuture those around you to keep the cycle going. Especially, if you are successful. Success has many definitions but to me it means a person that has ambition and is actively working towards their goals daily. They are not in trouble with the law, but if they were they have done their time and are being productive citizens.

As a lifelong mentor, I feel that my actions have a direct impact on society. Even if I mentor  just one person. That’s one person that has an opportunity to be a role model and an example to those around them. That may be one person that I saved from entering the penitentiary system or one person I saved from doing damaging things that otherwise would have longterm negative effects.

Mentoring extends beyond classrooms and four walls. It applies to those around you.  Relatives, colleagues, and teammates can all be mentors or mentees. If you’re helping someone or being helped by someone, you may have a mentor/mentee relationship. 

Mentoring others forced me to take responsibility  for my actions. People that I mentor look up to me and expect certain actions from me and likewise. It’s reciprocal behavior that favprs accountability. My mentees have thanked me for teaching them new things. Whether it’s a life lesson, a math problem, or even how to drive.  Each act has made a lasting impact and has helped someone who otherwise may not have been helped.

The greatest thing that I’ve taken from mentoring is that it’s a progressive act. People are benefited in many ways by the acts of others. Even if it’s the smallest thing, something good has happened and still counts.   A person doesn’t have to go the extra mile. Each step is part of something greater.  As a society if we all helped each other to take that extra step we would reach unlimited potential. 

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