This past year I have been mentoring a student, meeting with them at least once (often twice or three times) a week, to support them with their studies and help them work through the various stresses and anxieties that were proving to be barriers to confidence and success. It has been an incredibly rewarding process, though stressful at times. It has been a real privilege to watch this young person grow in confidence and find that they do in fact have the strength and resilience to face challenges.
I saw them for the last time this week. Their exams are over and it’s time for the start of the next, exciting chapter of their life. I was honestly a little sad to be saying goodbye. I’ve spent so much time thinking about and worrying over the best ways to support this student, that suddenly not having to do it anymore is a strange feeling – I keep thinking I’m forgetting to do something!
I was really touched, then, when at our final meeting, my lovely mentee presented me with a box of chocolates and a cuddly fox, which she informed me was the next best thing to having a Daemon (we’re both fans of Phillip Pullman’s His Dark Materials). More moving than these thoughtful gifts, though, was the card she gave me alongside them. Inside she had written a lovely thank you message, but the thing that moved me to tears was that she had listed everything she felt I had taught her.
My first thought was: Wow, you were actually listening!
My second was: I didn’t realise I was so wise.
My third was: I could do with remembering some of these for myself…
As I read the list they had written, I felt so happy that they had taken these lessons from me. I also genuinely found myself realising that some of the lessons I had worked so hard to make them hear and learn, I’m really not all that good at paying attention to for myself.
So I’m going to share that list here, in the hopes that I will do better at remembering these lessons myself, and that maybe there’s something here for you as well.
Things I (apparently) managed to teach my mentee and need to remember myself (in their own words):
- I CAN do things, even though it might seem hard.
- Things are hard but do get better.
- To acknowledge my own worth.
- It’s okay to reach out for help.
- Other people are allowed to care about me, and do.
- To be me no matter what everyone else thinks.
- I am important!
- To be strong and independent.
- To do what I want to do.
- It’s okay not to be okay.
- To look after myself.
- To read as many books as I can. (This one I’ve got down…)
- My anxiety is not me.
- To be selfish sometimes and that is okay.
- Stick up for what I believe in.
- ‘Alot’ is not a word. (Good to know I managed to teach some English in there somewhere!)
- 5 hours sleep is not enough.
- Reading always helps. (This I know to be true.)
- Harry Potter is amazing! (This too!)
- To have faith.
- It’s okay to trust people.
- We are all human and make mistakes.
- Magic can be found in everyday life.
- To try, even though I might fail.
- To have a day off sometimes.
- It’s ‘should have’ not ‘should of’. (This one is ingrained in my brain from repeating it so many times…)
- Poetry! (And not just the stuff on the exam!)
- The Quibbler podcast is amazing! (It is.)
- Keep reading. (I’m sensing a theme…)
- Sleep and eat!
- To keep trying and trying.
- Change doesn’t happen overnight.
- It’s okay to show emotions.
- Sometimes you need a book, a hot chocolate and a cosy blanket. (Most times, really.)
- Life is going to get exciting.
- I am not a disappointment.
Have you ever discovered you’ve imparted unexpected wisdom? Which bits of your own advice do you find it hard to follow yourself?