As my social media feeds fill up with the faces of embarrassed, frightened and smiling faces as the back to school frenzy gets underway, my year of mentoring with The Girls’ Network is coming to an end.
It feels a bit weird. As most people are starting something new I am finishing.
When I began mentoring back in January I remember worrying that I wouldn’t be of much use. I don’t have children and my lovely nieces and nephews are either in their last year of university, or are successfully making their own way in the world.
I don’t have much contact with teenagers. Will I be too out of touch? Do I really understand the pressures they face? Can I remember being that age?
I had little knowledge of why my mentee was on the programme, or why we had been matched. With the other mentoring I do I know why we are meeting.
At our first meeting I was really nervous and I came a way half expecting my mentee to drop out, or not turn up for the next session. But as the months went on we made a connection, shared our experiences, fears, failures and successes.
We even made it on to the local news in a piece about The Girls’ Network.
It was our last meeting this week and we have a good discussion around how we had found our few months together. What we learned and liked. Where our strengths and improvement areas lie. I had been of use and made a difference in my mentee’s life. How much we had laughed and enjoyed the sessions each month. also what we learned from each other and from the mentoring process.
As we said goodbye I realised that I would miss our meetings. On the drive home I wasn’t sure if I would want to mentor again at this stage. Would I get it right next time? Would I like my next mentee as much? Would I be asked to continue?
When I got home an email came from The Girls’ Network talking about the next cohort and hoping we would sign up again.
I have learned a lot from this experience – from improving my communication and organisational skills, through to realising that although a lot has changed since I was a teenager, a lot of things haven’t. And that is where I can listen, challenge and provide support and guidance.