Mentoring with Authenticity
'You may feel agreeing is part of your job, yet won't always do so. That's authenticity.'
That was my horoscope on Tuesday. The day after I got officially bounced from the mentoring program I recently volunteered for. (In all actuality, I fired them first.) My crime? The usual. Questioning the system. Generally, people don't like that very much.
After filling out an application, gathering references (thanks to all who took the time to write them), scheduling an in-house interview, spending a beautiful July Saturday inside at a required training, and moving up the line of command at the Providence Police Department to get my background check, I was finally matched. On paper, it seemed like a can't miss. But face to face, in a one hour meeting, the chemistry wasn't right. Nobody's fault. It's just a fact of life.
The problem? The agency was not willing, or able, to deal with such a rare occurrence.
I could have just walked. Left without a trace. But that's not my style. So I tried to explain the situation, even offering to be rematched. Their response? It seemed to come straight from the policy manual on how to deal with awkward first meetings. Only the issue had nothing to do with awkward first meetings. It had to do with personalities. With individuality. With the same things that affect all relationships, not just those of mentors and mentees.
To me, this alone seemed like an important life lesson. Not everyone can, will or should get along. The truth of the matter is, this girl deserved better. Someone who was committed to her cause. Who could relate to her as a person. Not just a warm body going through the motions.
I decided to officially opt out when my commitment was questioned, because plain and simple, that's just insulting. And when I was told that they 'couldn't possibly risk hurting another youth with me' that just sealed the deal. And made me laugh. A lot.
Truth of the matter is, I've done this a time or two before. My track record goes back to 2006, when I was brilliantly paired, at another program, with a little girl, who has since grown into a beautiful, smart young woman.
How do I know? Well, she happened to call me on the EXACT SAME day the new program was busy assessing my mentoring abilities and personal character. No accidents. And after a year and a half of living apart, we have already picked up where we left off. Independent of any program.
Commitment and dedication? Please.
So, as the director firing me explained that 'it wasn't personal' and she 'hoped there would be someplace else better suited to my needs', me and my girl, the one I already had a six year relationship with and counting, had already worked that out.