The word “mentor” used to make me feel uncomfortable.
The idea of another person helping to guide my career in a formal way made me cringe growing up — but today I also cringed as I wrote that sentence. Because I realize now that my uncomfortable-ness was founded in nothing. In fact, my entire life, good people have been gracious enough to guide me through my passions, and I see that I wouldn’t be where I am without them.
Now that I’ve been working in media for the past three and a half years (which is not long, but the 2016 election makes it feel like a lifetime), I understand how crucial women like Maria Stephanos, who taught me how to survive in a newsroom, or Kela Walker, who I’d Facetime to practice for an audition, are. Or Danyel Smith, who has really become more like a good friend. Or Yvette Noel-Schure, who welcomed me into her home when New York City felt less than welcoming. Quite frankly, there is no room to feel uncomfortable with mentorship — it’s a part of my job to embrace these relationships and also do my part as a mentee. I’ve also realized that a mentor-mentee relationship is less about taking and more about how I can use my growth to enrich the lives of my mentors. All of a sudden, I have older (and wiser) women in my life who weren’t just giving me career advice but also suggesting amazing birthday dinner restaurants, giving brilliant life advice and helping me find the right salon to get my hair done.
This week, we’re celebrating the power mentors can have in our lives (for better or for worse). Here’s to the people who have pushed up, picked us back up and were simply willing to give us a hand because they saw the potential we couldn’t see.
- Meaghan O’Connor talks about her mentor, the author of The Big Life, Ann Shoket
- Caroline Waxler teaches us how not to find a mentor
- Diane DiCostanzo learns some lessons from working with millennials
- Penny Wrenn pays tribute to her extended maternal crew
- Paula Froelich gives no-bullshit advice to her 25-year-old self that we all can use
In deep gratitude,
Darian Harvin is TueNight’s Production Manager