By Madeline Brady, Regular Contributor
Mentorship has always been extremely important to me. All throughout high school and college I’ve sought out mentors who I look up to, who are experts in my field, or whose attitude and approach to life I genuinely admire. There’s no single quality that defines an amazing mentor. Instead, it’s defined by the feeling of aspiration and possibility that grows as a result of your relationship. For me, it has been a powerful experience to have personal models of strength and intelligence that inspire me to take on these traits at my own stage of life. Mentors can be difficult to find, but once they come into your life, they can have a profound impact on your sense of self.
So, what happens when a mentor lets you down?
This can be a very hard situation to face: the person you’ve looked up to for so long does something that disappoints you or makes you feel like your relationship has been inauthentic. Maybe they move away right when you need them, or maybe they make a promise they aren’t able to keep. You feel used and even stupid for believing in them. Or maybe you aren’t even surprised that this has happened to you, which can feel even worse.
But, believe it or not, this is the moment your mentor has been preparing you for.
Of course, no mentor wants to let their mentee down, but mentors are people, too. They make mistakes. They say the wrong thing. They don’t handle a situation the way you thought they would. And all of this can feel devastating. But even if your faith in them wanes, they’ve left their positive mark on you, and these moments of doubt can’t take that away. Your mentor has encouraged strength and independence within you and shown you that obstacles can be overcome and struggle is part of the journey. Now, here is your opportunity to use these lessons.
When this happened to me, I became so resistant to using the skills I learned from my mentor. I was too disappointed. Everything I had learned felt tainted now and left a bad taste in my mouth. But then I realized that these parts of myself were just that: parts of me. They didn’t belong to my mentor. My compassion and ambition and enthusiasm are all parts of my own way of approaching life and no one, not even the mentor who instilled them in me, can take that away from me.
Now, I can use this compassion to forgive my mentor, alleviate my own feelings of disappointment, and move on so I can continue being the awesome, beauty-FULL person that I am. And, maybe one day, become the mentor I wish I had for someone else.
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Madeline is a soon-to-be recent graduate of Bryn Mawr College where she majored in English and Theater. She is looking forward to joining the real world, learning how to cook more than cereal, and living abroad after graduation. Her passions include running, music, feminism, and spending way too much time on Instagram.
image via alegnasolutions.com.au/