In My Fantasy Life, I’m a Good Mentor

In my fantasy life, I’m a good mentor. Truth be told, I’m not.

It’s National Mentoring Month. The words “Will you be my mentor?” or “Are you willing to mentor So-and-So?” always stop me in my tracks. I feel that in saying yes, the relationship is now doomed.

The problem is the formality of it all. The mantle of responsibility is too much for me to bear. I want to say, “Aw, c’mon. Can’t we just hang out and be good influences on each other? Do we have to make it an official thing?” I realize this is a lot like saying to someone you’ve dated a long time, “Let’s not ruin the relationship by getting married.” You know there’s a backstory there somewhere.

I wrote a short-ish post about my feelings, then held off publishing it because it wasn’t very encouraging. To potential mentors, I mean.

The problem is I lose track of my mentees. We meet. We do stuff together. We pursue goals. This goes on for a while, possibly a long while. Then life happens (usually college). Years pass. Next thing you know, I’m getting a wedding invitation and being introduced as an influencer. I don’t even know the groom’s name or what anyone majored in! Is this the right moment to tell them I feel like I failed? Nah, they might think it’s about how they turned out.

Okay, maybe the problem is I have a little perfectionism going on. Since the ultimate goal is not concrete and it’s unclear to me whether I’ve hit the target, no matter what I do, it never feels like enough. We don’t meet with enough frequency. We don’t have enough important conversations. We don’t have enough fun. (Suffice it to say anyone having me for mentor is not having fun. That’s a given. If they wanted a fun person, they should have asked someone else.)

Despite all this, today in Sunday School there was a discussion about mentoring, about being willing and available to empower someone else, to help them grow to their fullest potential, and I do think it’s important.

So I came back and wrote this medium-ish post because I was inspired and renewed in my thinking, and reinvigorated! (Still, this isn’t a very encouraging post. For potential mentors, mean.) But while the teacher was talking and drawing a graphic on the board and inviting thoughts, it struck me: The whole time I’m walking with someone else and they are being stretched and they are growing, I, too, am being stretched. I am growing.

Mentoring isn’t about resting on my laurels, disseminating wisdom from on high. I’m still learning. I’m still encountering faulty thinking on my part, ridiculous expectations and inner resistance tracing from who-knows-where.

In fact, if I ever start to think I AM a good mentor, that might be a red flag.

About Marilyn

Reading, thinking, listening, writing and talking about faith, creativity, ESL for refugees, grief and finding the story in a story. Student of Spanish. Foe of procrastination. Cheez-it fan. People person with hermit tendencies or vice-versa. Thank you so much for reading.
This entry was posted in comfort zone, commitment, mentoring, perfectionism, relationship. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to In My Fantasy Life, I’m a Good Mentor

  1. sarahfarish says:

    The first paragraph made me laugh at loud:) I’ve known you for about 6 or 7 y years. And I’d consider you a mentor – FOR SURE. Your blog posts, your emails. Both grow and stretch me. Make me question. If you share a book or podcast, I know I want to add it to my list; it’s trusted. When I’ve shared an issue, you don’t say…oh, Sarah, you are so right. Nope. You say things like…why do you think that? where’s that coming from? what in you could be wrong? (Although, “oh, Sarah, you are so right” would be great;) In my book, this qualifies you as a mentor. I know I can check in with you right now, and you will respond honestly and authentically. And you’ll continue the dialogue – even if you take a few days to process, I know the response is coming. And I am THANKFUL to know you.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Belinda says:

    I related to so much in this post. I too, have felt like a bum deal for anyone who ever attached the title “mentor” to me. Thank you being so transparent about your insecurities Marilyn–because you made me feel better. 🙂 Nevertheless, whether you know it or not, you ARE a beloved mentor to me. You will forever be in my hall of fame of mentors.

    Liked by 1 person

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