Mean Girls and Mentors - Page 3
Role models, mentors, whatever you want to call them. They can absolutely transform your life. When someone believes in you and your ability, and takes the time to build you up with important constructive criticism, you feel empowered. I knew a person like that in college, my writing professor. She said, “You don’t have to be the best, but you do have to try. And it all begins with your heart. Find your voice deep inside of you, get your thoughts down, and edit later.” Great advice. I follow it to this day.
My mentor and I became great friends, despite our 50-year age difference. She shared so many parts of her life with me, openly and willingly. Her quirkiness fit so well with mine, and we could laugh for hours about the silliest things. She loved to share her love of the arts, and we attended some wonderful shows together. She once brought me to Jacob’s Pillow in the Berkshires to see a dance performance. Every single one of those dancers was naked. I didn’t know whether to stare out of curiosity or to look away out of respect. And there was my friend, eyes all lit up with admiration at these dancer’s incredible abilities. She turned to me and said, “Ah, don’t you just love the human body? Isn’t it so beautiful?” That's how she saw people—as beautiful.
We stayed in touch through the years, sent Christmas cards, then lost touch. Lives get busy, and I had a second baby later in life. I sent her a birth announcement with a long letter inside, but I didn’t hear from her. Recently, I found out she had suffered a long illness and passed away. I felt robbed and devastated. And lucky... just to know someone like her. She was an amazing, inspiring woman that touched many people's lives. She was just so... positive.
So here's what I want to say to my teenager: Words are powerful and can be quite affecting to those who are quite vulnerable. All it takes is one gesture, one kind word, or act of kindness to influence a life. Try it out on your friends. Nice is making a comeback. It's cool, it's edgy, and it's hip. Spread the word. I love you, Mom.