Thursday, August 7, 2014

Sometimes Our Presence is Enough

In my early twenties I had a strong desire to start a mentoring relationship. Thinking back, I can’t remember where this desire came from or what impact I thought I could have on a young girl’s life. But I followed through with my feelings and signed up to be a mentor with my city’s local program. The program I became involved in wanted mentors to commit to a teen for four years; to provide support for the mentee’s entire high school career. I thought this was an excellent idea because I would get to see my mentee grow and transition into her adult life.

I started the mentoring relationship envisioning me and my mentee becoming close. I saw us having a legit big sis, little sis relationship. I wanted to be someone she could come to for anything. And I wanted to teach her things and show her new experiences that would make a lasting impression on her life.

But that’s not what happened, or so I thought. When I met Christina she was a shy freshman that sat quietly in my car when we drove to scheduled events. As much as I tried to get her to open up, she wouldn’t. I figured she needed more time to get use to me. But after a year into our relationship nothing changed. Of course we talked to each other and shared certain things here and there. But we never grew into the relationship I envisioned for us. I felt like she wasn’t interested and that I was wasting my time.

I spoke to the program coordinator about not connecting with Christina. She told me the way Christina was acting was normal and that my presence was enough. I didn’t believe that at all. But I continued fulfilling my obligation to Christina, and still tried to make her feel comfortable with me.

Three years in, I made the decision to move out of state and had to end our match. I explained my reason for moving to Christina because I didn’t want her to think I was giving up on us. I knew she would understand, but I didn’t expect the sincere thank you that Christina and her mother gave me.

As previously mentioned, I didn’t feel I had made an impact because things didn’t go as I had planned. But Christina told me she really appreciated the small things I did for her. And just as the program coordinator said, Christina confirmed that having me be there for her was what she enjoyed most. Hearing her say that made me realize I did accomplish my goal of making an impact.

I use to think I had to do something major to get people to like me. But my relationship with Christina taught me that just being there for someone can make the biggest difference. It may seem simple, but sometimes our presence really is enough.

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