Within the last week, I’ve spoken with some of my younger friends who were seeking advice. The school year has ended and many of them were contemplating next steps to take during the summer. I enjoyed our conversations and they generated some mentoring concepts that inspired today’s post.
Sometimes mentoring can seem like such a formal process. In my opinion, mentoring is a fluid process, a mutually beneficial relationship where both individuals, who are proactive in bettering themselves and each other. Taking this into account, anyone can be a mentor. It is true that someone older than you might be of more help. But everyone has different experiences to share. Case in point, my almost sixteen year old cousin, ToniAnn.
ToniAnn’s Sweet 16 is tomorrow night and I know she is extremely excited. So I am! ToniAnn and I have a great relationship: we trust each other and can talk about almost anything. I pride myself in having this type of relationship with all my younger cousins. Within the last several months, ToniAnn has lost forty pounds and looks incredible. She has inspired me to get healthy and it never give up no matter how hard life gets. While seven years younger than me, my amazing little cousin has mentored me and called me to take action in my own life.
Sometimes we don’t look to younger people for advice because we don’t think they’ve had the necessary life experience to understand our situation. This could be true in specific situations like I’ve never been married so I can’t give my married friend specific advice on her marriage. But I can listen, which can be almost just as helpful as providing advice. If we restrict ourselves to only using older people as mentors, we will limit the guidance we receive. We need to be open to all perspectives including ones of those younger than us. ToniAnn has proved that age is just a number; anyone can inspire.