Upon arriving at my mentee’s house for the first time, I was really nervous and I suspected that she would be too. In fact, she was incredibly anxious; so much so, that we spent the first hour of our time together at her house talking with her family, trying to gently coax her into going window shopping with me. I remember sitting down next to her and telling her that I understood how she felt; being nervous and frightened of the unknown was normal and that it was very courageous of her to want to try this new relationship. And I promised her that I would make her comfortable and we’d try to have fun. Finally, she agreed. And we had the best time window shopping, laughing at the silly sunglasses we tried on and singing in the car. Little did I know how much I would actually get out of our friendship.
Some of my favorite memories with my mentee included painting our nails together, dancing in the backyard and walking on the beach collecting seashells to make picture frames. I saw a lot of myself in her—a timid girl who couldn’t get past the harsh and untrue words in her own head; a girl who struggled with her identity daily. The most memorable experience I had with her was when we wrote letters to our future selves. We wrote three things that we loved about ourselves and three things we loved about the other person, and then we read them aloud. When she read the words she wrote about herself and heard the words that I’d written about her, I could see her physically lighten; I could see hope in her eyes for the first time. I felt like she was able to break away from the chains of her old thought patterns and start considering the idea that she was so much more than those negative words. Seeing her growth also made me feel lighter, and I saw how I could learn a lot from her experience. I went home that day crying tears of joy. Seeing her breakthrough was almost spiritual.
Being a mentor was a very enriching experience for me, and I hope it was for her as well. It took a lot of patience, respect and empathy—from both of us. I will always look back on my time with her as something that helped me gain confidence in my abilities to help others and stick to my goals. There is something that just feels right when you give of yourself without expectations. My soul felt that I was experiencing something I was made to do, and—for lack of a better word—it was nothing short of divine.