Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Completing the Circle

Lately, I have been spending a lot of time mentoring college students, particularly women. I am not sure if it’s even part of my job description, but I am so drawn to it and I was trying to figure out why.  

I spend hours being there if they need me...answering emails, writing letters of recommendation, even being their friends on Facebook (which I am still not a fan of).  Basically, just being there for them both professionally and personally.

It gives me so much joy to be even a small part of these young women’s lives.  

Mentoring seems like such a win win situation.  There is not even a whiff of competition.  It’s all about connecting and providing a relationship different than a parent or friend.

I don’t know these young women that well, but I know that I want them to succeed.  I want them to be courageous, powerful, respectful and kind.  I want them to become role models for other women and, eventually, become mentors as well.

It’s this special circle that I believe in so strongly.

Years ago, when I was a law student, there was a woman who was friendly with my mother who created a women’s network.  The network group was set up to connect and help women both professionally and personally.  At least, that is what the woman who was the founder said.  There was one problem, it was all about her.  She only wanted women to be a part of the group who she thought could help her professionally.

In fact, when my mother asked if she could bring me to a meeting, the women’s network founder said, “no”.  She said I had nothing to offer to the group as I was still in school.  I kept thinking I am a law student who will become a lawyer who could maybe help the founder one day.  But, that wasn’t the biggest issue. Why didn’t she want to include young women to help them?

I swore that day that if I ever had the chance to be a mentor to young women that I would. It wouldn’t be about what I could get from them.  It would be how I could help them be the best that they could be at whatever that was.  

By the way, that women’s network failed, as it should have.  Networking, mentoring, helping the generation that is just starting out is a gift, an honor.

Every time I look into the young women’s eyes that I am helping right now, my heart feels confident that I can make a difference for them.  That I can inspire them and motivate them to take chances and be bold.

In return, I have the joy of knowing that one generation helping another is what connecting is all about.

I am grateful that I was rejected from that network when I was in law school because it helped shape my values and beliefs for years to come.

In the end, it provided an important lesson that I have never forgotten.