Sunday, July 4, 2010

The value of a mentor

I had coffee with one of my college advisers after work last week. I showed up in work clothes: slacks, a blouse, real shoes, face painted in makeup. She was in jeans and a t-shirt. Our costumes illustrated the swapping of roles, and one of the things she said to me: "you're going to be the one who carries this movement forward; who shapes the movement in the future." Whoa!

This is coming from a woman who is the definition of 2nd wave feminism. She has made a very tangible difference through her activism, organizing, coalition building, teaching, and mentoring. My first year in college she planted a seed in me, as she did with so many others. She has helped us nurture these seedlings; helped us develop our own voices and find our own paths towards making a difference in this world. Sitting down with her to talk global health, reproductive choice, activism, and gossip about our lives allowed a metric to measure my development. It made clear how much she has inspired me and how much her confidence in me has allowed me to believe in myself.

A huge part of me knows she is right. I am, along with so many others, going to be involved in moving women's health activism forward. Whether I would have done it anyhow, or because I now feel that her statement carries an official decree which means I now HAVE to, does not matter. And that is one of the intrinsic beauties of a trust-worthy, long-time mentor: blurred lines between shared visions and confidence boosters in the form of factual statements.

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