Recently I had the following conversation with someone I was attempting to recruit to work as a mentor:
Q: What do I do if there is just no emotional connection with this kid? Like what if, I’m just not feeling it you know? I mean, this kid doesn’t really seem to want me around?
A: You just keep showing up
I’ve been thinking about that conversation a lot because I’ve been feeling pretty blocked about having anything to say. I let fear and my own self defeating voices take over and I stopped showing up. I quit following my own advice.
But you can’t let those voices win. And they’re absolutely coming for you. Your old buddies fear and doubt. They don’t want you to win. But you can’t let them. You just keep showing up and doing the work.
The reality is that in all efforts sometimes just showing up really is the best you can do. And you may feel like it doesn’t matter if you do show up or not. Whether showing up means publishing a blog post that you’re not extremely proud of, or sitting in uncomfortable silence with a kid with whom you have seen no progress at all, you keep showing up.
And the lesson obviously applies to mentoring too. Because there will be times, and I have had many, where you will say, “This isn’t working at all.” or “I’m simply not making a difference here.” But the truth is that you’re too close to see the changes. Change is incremental, sometimes in such small ways that you don’t see it at all.
These real lives that we live are nothing like we see in the movies. Maybe one day it will all make sense and maybe it won’t. Maybe one day all the showing up will yield results. Or maybe it will end up in disappointment. Which is honestly okay with me. Disappointment, I can deal with that. We can all deal with disappointment. What we can’t deal with is believing that if we just tried a little bit harder, something might have changed.