Why Mentorship Matters
5 Reasons to Share Your Wisdom Now Even If Your Life Isn’t Where You Want It To Be
1. We are all works in progress.
2. Your life challenges are gold to mentees.
3. We don’t listen to elders because they are right, but because they have more experience being wrong.
4. Helping others helps us.
5. We heal and grow best in community.
We are all works in progress.
In life, learning and growing doesn’t stop. There is no pinnacle of self-actualized, perfected, humanness that—once we reach it—we can relax and be…done.
Can you imagine what that “perfected” person might look like?
I’ve read the personal development books, done the yoga, rubbed the crystals, aligned my chakras, freed my kundalini life force, somatically exorcised my childhood traumas. Mission accomplished! I’ve achieved enlightenment.
Cool. Now what?
Even an enlightened person still needs to brush their teeth. Take out the garbage. Do the dishes.
Stop thinking there is some perfect you out there in the future. She’s not out there; she’s in you, waiting for you to reconnect with her again.
And here’s her secret: You are holy. Just as you are.
There may be things you want to change. That’s true for all of us. In fact, simply committing to walking the path of awakening means that you are already doing all you can in this life.
Here’s another secret: You don’t have to achieve full self-actualization in order to help others. You only need to be a few steps ahead on the path in order to turn around and help someone a few steps behind.
Your life challenges are gold to mentees.
We women in midlife have been through a lot. We’ve seen life at its best and ugliest. We’ve loved and raged a lot. We’ve wrestled with our dragons and come out relatively uncharred. All of this has provided us with the mettle and strength that makes us powerhouses in the world.
I wish I’d had a mentor in my 20s and 30s who could tell me that it was okay to be the quirky, creative, unique spirit I was. I wouldn’t have felt so alone. I might have made the same mistakes, but I wouldn’t have felt as badly about them.
I know I would have had better self-esteem in my young adulthood if I’d had an older woman who held the messiness of my life in her non-judgmental care and cherished it. In fact, if her life was a bit messy too, all the better. I’d know she knew what she was talking about because she’d been there.
One of my all-time favorite films is “Auntie Mame” (1958). Rosalind Russell plays the titular character—a flamboyant, free-spirited, boozy, tough-as-nails, soft-as-marshmallow middle-aged powerhouse of a woman who is charged to care for her orphaned 10-year-old nephew, Patrick.
What I loved about Mame Dennis was that she changed very little of her true self in order to mentor Patrick. She did change, of course, (not as boozy, for one) but the core of her beautifully flawed being ended up shining brighter as a result of her mentorship.
“We don’t listen to elders because they are right, but because they have more experience being wrong.”
This gem was shared with me by Marketing for Hippies founder, Tad Hargrave. I sat with it for a long time, letting it compost.
Then I felt it in my bones. Yes. Of course.
Think about the stories of older women that have influenced your life path. Were they without conflict? Failure? Of course not. Conflict, challenges, failure—all these things make us stronger.
The longer we live, the more of these precious experiences we have. When we get it wrong, we learn. We move on better and stronger.
Simply by being alive—by trying and failing and trying again—you have tremendous gifts to offer younger generations.
Helping others helps us.
There’s a beautiful book by Philip Martin, The Zen Path Through Depression. In it, Martin talks about how our feelings of inadequacy can be mitigated through compassionate attention to fellow human beings.
Being of help to another human being is also a stong antidote to the feelings of worthlessness we have… In addition, we gain some perspective through helping others, so that we don’t believe that we are the only individual in the world who is suffering.
We need not believe we must do great deeds in order to help others. Each kind word or helpful act serves to make the world a kinder place.
We don’t have to do anything huge to be a sharer of wisdom. We may not even realize how much effect even a few words can have. A depressed teenage girl may shrug off your commiseration and compassion, but she heard you. More importantly, she felt your presence and connection. Your efforts—however small—may very well depth charge within her long after your conversation has ended.
Just knowing that can help us give grace to ourselves as well.
We heal and grow in community.
True inner work is done in solitude. That’s not a popular notion these days.
There’s a fervent anti-individual movement growing. The argument that we can’t live in a psychospiritual vacuum is a valid one; we need community.
Still, this also needs to be said: We can’t wholly craft our true selves if we keep looking outside ourselves for validation from other people.
The deep work has to begin with you, come from you—because it is you. The gifts of life and experience you bring to your mentees must be authentically you. Otherwise, what’s the point?
Here’s the paradox:
Our deep inner work isn’t worth much if we keep it to ourselves.
That is, we need to take our gifts of experience out into the world—both to our mentees and to each other as awakened women.
A few things I believe…
I believe we can shine a light in the darkness of what young women think middle age is like. We can let them see it’s not so bad. Even when it sucks (and it surely does suck sometimes), we have our true selves to keep us grounded and whole.
I believe we can change the way society thinks about middle aged women. Wouldn’t it be wild for young women to look forward to the milestone of midlife and the wisdom and groundedness that comes with it? Can you imagine the impact that acceptance would have in the workplace, at home, in education, in politics—on society as a whole?
In short, I believe we need you and your real, human, lived wisdom. Not just for our sisters in midlife but for our younger sisters who deserve to know their worth.
My solution is a global hub for women like you to share your experiences with each other so that you can craft the Self and the wisdom-sharer you want to be.
Your contribution to our community is welcomed.
Needed, actually. The Awakened Women Mentors Community brings together women in midlife who are ready for the next level of personal development: Sharing their unique life experience with younger folks, and guiding them to live as their true selves—just as we have learned to do.
See you there!