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Archive for the tag “mentoring”

Youthful Hubris And Remembering My Younger, Self-Centered Self

I had humbling moment last week.

That moment made me wonder if I was cut out to be a parent.

A few months ago, on this blog, I talked about being very excited to have a young mentee, interested in journalism. We hatched a plan to ask a local newspaper to give her a mini internship considering she’s just 14-year-old.

I told her we’d take it seriously, and that I’d write a proposal and recommendation. It may not work, but it was worth a shot. I asked her to research cover letters and write on of her own.

She wrote the letter and I believe she wrote it in a way that tried to make her sound more sophisticated than her age, but kind of shows that she is young and inexperienced. I edited her cover letter, fixed some grammatical stuff and gave her glowing praise in addition to telling her she should pump up more of her activities at school involving writing and to mention an article she liked that currently ran in the publication.

She did what I asked, but it looked like she purposely didn’t change some things I told her to change.

And that upset me.

I got on my high horse thinking about how I’m trying to help her out, and I’m using my time and energy to only get back a short, curt email (which is unusual for her). It was really upsetting.

So, I had to step back and take myself out of the equation.

After talking with a dear friend who works with young people her age everyday, it gave me some perspective.

I remembered the first time I’d been edited heavily for my first article with the college newspaper. When I saw what was actually printed, I was crestfallen. I wrote the most beautiful, wordy, esoteric account of a college volleyball game, you’d thought it was the missing excerpt from War and Peace. I get it now. It was wayy melodramatic. It wasn’t news. And it wasn’t one of the greatest sports moments in life. My editor had every right to chop me the hell up.

Fast forward to years later, when I was an intern under the tutelage of the amazing Simeon Booker. He was the journalist to cover the Emmett Till case for Ebony magazine. HUGE!!!

I had a 500-word article and he ripped it to shreds. Made me rewrite it a whopping EIGHT times. I was furious. And by the fifth version, I had no clue what the man could have possibly wanted. But I kept at it until he finally gave me an approving nod.

I sent off the latest revisions to my mentee this morning and I shared my story about the rewrites and it being a part of the process, and how I noticed she was short with me in her previous email. I showered her with more praise and then I went to Amazon.com and bought her first Associated Press Stylebook and had it shipped to her house as a surprise.

I want nothing in return. Honestly. I did think it would be dope to have a mini me, who admired me and wanted to be like me, but that’s not the point of mentoring someone. It’s letting their differences shine and helping them get to where ever it is they are trying to go. It’s not about me.

I do want this child to know that I support her and can appreciate her passion. So even if she wants to be mad about my edits, I’m an adult. I can take it. She’s got a long way to go, and there’s no reason for me to get bent out of shape about it or take it personally. I am an adult.

While I understand her pain, and she’s probably used to her teachers fawning over her and telling her that her work is brilliant, I’m sure she was pissed to see her awesome letter bleed red with corrections.

It was an important lesson for both of us to learn and even if we part ways and she thinks I’m awful, I hope she uses her Stylebook in good health and will become a raging success.

I never had a little sister. Maybe there was a reason. I don’t think I have the stomach for it. 😉





On Seeing Myself and Other Revelations

So many things are going on in my heart and mind right now, it’s kind of nuts.

I’m inspired by how kick-ass Lancelot is, and I’m inspired by the book I’ve been talking to you folks about, “Calling in the One.”

There is a section in the book that talks about being a better you and basically having things going for yourself so it’s a lot easier for someone who has their stuff together can enter your life and you can both go do great things together.

The book, and Lancelot’s passion and risk-taking abilities speak to something I’ve known about myself all along but have kind of suppressed the last couple of years, because I’ve been in survival mode.

I do enjoy doing things that I feel are meaningful and that will help others and will allow me to be creative.

Somewhere along the way, I got lost in the sauce. And even with a new management position now, for which I am grateful, I have gotten further and further away from my passion as a writer and a reporter. I no longer professionally identify as such.

I still consider myself a journalist and editor, but I work in the digital space, with online content, primarily. I enjoy supporting my team, teaching them things and watching them grow. But, I can only take them so far, because in this world, I’ve only gotten so far myself and have been struggling with what to do next with this company way long ago.

Something tugged on my heart to go to volunteermatch.com yesterday. And there are times I have these moments. I feel inspired, I want to give back, but I search the site and either the times are bad or locations for the things I’m interested in.

I did something different with my search and put in writer as the keyword. There were few choices that popped up, but one did and it was awesome. It was for a writing coach to help low income kids prepare their college applications and scholarship essays.

I was all over it. I applied yesterday, got correspondence from the organization right away, and as of this morning, I passed the background check. I will be participating in an intense four-day program at a local university, working with a group of 4 to 6 kids, getting them ready.

Then I realized the personal mission I wrote down like three weeks ago. Connecting people to opportunities!! Yes, I am already embarking on that journey! I felt and still feel so good.

Yes, I will be taking two vacation days to do this, but I really want to. It’s important to me.

“Calling in the One” made me think about the connection to feeling good about myself, working on my purpose outside of potential romantic relationships.

I want Lancelot to be proud of me. I want to be his equal. I’ll never know how to do the crazy information technology stuff he does, but I know how to write my ass off. I know how to sit down and talk to people, ask them questions and have them share with me and feel safe. I know how to encourage people and cheer them on and remind them of the greatness they have inside them.

I want to do more of those things.

I find so much joy in talking to my mentee. I decided today to not just talk to her about her goals, but talk about the process of creativity and inspiration. So I shared with her my favorite books that spoke to me and or changed my life forever. Then I asked her to tell me what her favorite books are music are. We could take a short break from prepping our proposal to the local newspaper for an internship for a moment.

I look forward to her response.

It’s becoming clearer to me that I want to transition into working with young people and helping them gain access to opportunities. I don’t think I want to be a teacher, but I want to help them discover their talents and build a plan to help them utilize it and find a way to make a living out of it.

Seems like a lofty goal and I guess it does sound like a teacher or a guidance counselor. But I don’t want to be bogged down in the administrative nightmare of working in public schools. And I don’t want suckie pay. But, if I end up happily, ever after with Lancelot, maybe I’d have a little breathing room to do something without thinking about my rent all of the time…Can’t bank on that, but I’m just saying…

So what’s out there for someone like me? How can I blend my talents as a professional communicator with helping young people and get paid and not starve?

What masters degree could I get? What organization could I build or start?

Even with the tee shirt business, where the grand vision also included a women’s lifestyle website with articles and eventually empowerment conferences… I’ve been more motivated.

Trying to build the website on my own, I’m realizing has been holding me back and making me nuts. Just to get going, I may just buckle down and pay money for a simple site and finally get started. Just because the website I was building was free, it’s costing me more time and frustration. Sometimes you just have to jump out there.

Lancelot has shown me that, and so has “Calling in the One.” The book is gangsta. So I’m working on me. The better version of me. The version that seems to be gravitating toward working with young people and helping them reach their dreams.

One of the organizers from the event I spoke at a few weeks ago sent me some photos. Most of them were taken unaware, and seriously aside from me being dissappointed with my weight, I looked really happy. I looked comfortable doing what I was doing.

I saw myself.

I really saw the heart of who I am, in a photograph of me holding a microphone, sitting in a circle of young women, sharing with them.

It moved me.

One of my close friends saw it and said, “Just look at how those girls are looking at you.”

That was cool, if it was a look of interest and admiration, but I was more interested and fixated on what was radiating out of me. It was natural and it was the best of myself.

I had the same feeling looking at that picture, as I did in a photo of me from years ago, when I stood outside of the White House, arms folded, rocking a fabulous suit, with press credentials around my neck.

I feel my life shifting into something I’ve never expected and I embrace that. I’m happy to find myself being filled with purpose again.


So, around these parts, I’m always talking about my goal to empower women.

I got to walk the walk and talk the talk this weekend, by going back to my hood and speaking to some young ladies at the new, spectacular, ballerific Boys and Girls club facility. This place is beautiful and breeds creativity.

This place is gorge.

There were about just over a dozen girls there ranging in ages from 10-20 and we talked to them about going to college, career opportunities, trying new things, bullying, popularity, etc.

I was over the moon.

I was in my element. I really enjoyed sharing my experiences and giving advice.

But there was one girl. Who stood out.

She wasn’t afraid to ask questions, and she was the first to shoot up her hand.

And what did she want to be when she grew up?

An investigative journalist! Ding, ding, ding.

It was like Jesus himself shone a light on this girl and said, “My child. Mentor this child.”

My best friend was in attendance to support me and she kept saying over and over, “Oh my God. This is scary. I thought the Universe was supposed to implode if you ever met a younger version of yourself. Like, you just aren’t supposed to.”

I played it off, but I knew she was right.

This little girl talked about loving to be in the poetry club, and how her friends think sometimes she’s too intense and too deep. She was encouraging to the other girls in the group and talked about even if you aren’t popular you should join different kinds of clubs to meet other people who like the things you like and make more friends that way.

I pulled the old mentor trick to see how for real she was…

Here’s my email. Please contact me if you are really interested in getting more information or you need help with your goals to become a journalist.

Little me had the nerve to hit me with an email first thing the following day. Then she said, she was sorry she didn’t email me the same day we met. Oh, I laughed a good laugh. This little girl is for real.

I see a young hustler beast in the making. She started asking me questions about summer internships and how she can get started. She asked about what major and minor should she look into.

Was she a high school senior, prepping for college?

Hell naw. She’s 14. This is why I call her Me:6.0. I knew I wanted to be a journalist when I was that young, but I wasn’t thinking about majors and minors at that time. Her reason for interest in investigative reporting? She wants to write stories about the government and expose evils and such. Oh, God bless her little heart.

She really doesn’t know what large media companies have been reduced to and that she needs to investigate and expose them too!

But we’ll get to that later. I wouldn’t dare squash her dream. She can write in-depth, investigative stories, but she will have to find other mediums and they are out there.

I give her props, because at her age, I would have been too nervous to contact a speaker from a program, even if that person did seem really interesting.

I told her she was already a natural and I’d be delighted to help.

I have already started to devise a plan to see if we can get her a little job at our tiny, super-local community paper. I feel like they are so small, they’d be nuts to turn down any kind of help. I’ve offered to write a recommendation letter and talk to their editor to see what we can do. I told her I can’t promise anything, but we are going to try.

I also told her to make sure she tells her mother we are speaking by email, to discuss our emails and call my cell phone to talk to me personally, to learn more about me and decide if she feels comfortable with me mentoring her daughter.

The funny thing is, as cliché as it is, going to talk to these girls did more for me and my esteem and helped pump me up probably more than me helping them.

I’m beyond thrilled I met a young lady interested in my field and maybe just maybe, I can help her achieve her goals.

I’m floating on air! Can’t wait to really help this girl. I’m going to go nuts if we can land her a little job at the newspaper.

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