As promised last week, today we’ll be focusing on the topic of MENTORS!
But first, let me ask you this simple question…
Have you ever had someone believe in you soooo much that you had no choice but to start believing in yourself too?
In fairytale context, a person like this is considered a fairy godmother or an angel, a wise man or a kindred spirit. In real life, this person is called your mentor.
God blessed me with my mentor at age ten, before I even fully understood what the term mentor meant or how much having a mentor can influence your dreams.
In July 2001, on school break before entering standard five, I met Mr. Kurt Fleming. He was no stranger to me, since he was well known by my family and everyone in my school as the best darn Standard 5 teacher that ever existed.
However, it was only until July-August classes that I was able to establish my own personal relationship with him. A relationship that I thank God still exists today.
I was the baby of the family, so I attended a primary school where generations passed through before I did. My older cousin Shamillia, whom I admired, obsessed over and wanted to follow in her every footstep had two years prior graduated not only at top of her class but also the country and it was all thanks to Mr. Fleming.
Therefore, it was understood that I had to do well to remain an A student to be in his class too.
So said, so done, my turn had arrived. I was in Mr. Fleming’s class two years after my cousin graduated and my life has never been the same since.
At age ten, I wanted to attend St. Joseph’s Convent, St. Joseph because my cousin attended this school. I wanted to excel in Mathematics and top my country because my cousin did the same. However, what I soon learned was, that journey was hers and I had a different path to follow.
The thing is..
Sometimes God changes our pathway and we need to allow this to take place instead of holding on to our current situations, or holding on to current relationships because these things and people are what’s really holding us back from getting on the right path, our true path.
Ohh let’s tweet that: https://twitter.com/
Mr. Fleming wasted no time in crushing my dream of becoming a convent girl and following in Shamillia’s footsteps.
I wanted to hate him so much for this but that’s the thing about being a mentor. He was in my corner backing me every step of the way, but that did not mean that he was my “Yes-Man”. In fact, since the day I entered his class, he challenged everything I thought I knew and wanted.
You see sometimes what we think we want isn’t always meant for us.
Now I know you’re thinking, “wait, you’re always writing about following my dreams and now you’re telling me that my dreams probably aren’t meant for me?”
Do not panic or be confused.
What I am telling you is that you need to be honest with yourself and spend time in prayer and meditation if you want to truly understand your purpose and what is meant for you.
My dream at the time was to attend St. Joseph Convent but what were my reasons?
I only wanted to do so because someone else did.
What are your reasons for that thing you’ve always desired?
Why do you want it?
And after you’ve answered that, ask yourself…
Why should I attain it?
Do you truly deserve this?
Is this what God has in store for you?
Ask yourself these questions if you’re confused about any area in your life.
Apply it to that dream job you want and even that relationship.
As a matter of fact, be honest with yourself especially when it comes to matters of the heart.
Do you ONLY want to be in a relationship because you are lonely or because all of your friends are in seemingly happy relationships so you think you’re missing out?
I’ll be damned if those are the reasons I end up stuck in a relationship with someone that’s not meant for me or give someone a permanent status when they were only meant to take up temporary residence in my life to teach me a lesson.
Not only did Mr. Fleming tell me that I will not pass for St. Joseph’s Convent (how dare him?) But, he also told me that I would soon be attending Bishop Anstey High School East.
After I dreamed about wearing a convent uniform my entire life (and even played dress up in my cousin’s uniform, taking pictures to see how I would look) here comes Fleming to tell me that I would be switching my blue skirt for a blue tie for the next seven years of my life.
How can he just come into my life and wreck all of my plans?
Who did he think he was telling me that I’ll be attending another school? A place I barely knew about, had no desire to attend (because I barely knew anyone there) and he was so convincing at it too.
He even convinced my mother to put it as my first choice.
What I soon came to understand is that God purposefully placed this “mentor” in my life, or rather placed me in his life, his class, to wreck my plans before it wrecked me.
What he did instead was replaced it by putting a new dream in my view.
Sir saw what, at the time, I could not see for myself.
Indeed Shamillia was an intelligent student, if not the best and St. Joseph’s Convent her equal. But that was not my path to follow.
Mr. Fleming saw that I had the potential to forge my own path.
I could have my own success story.
He believed that I should walk down the road less traveled (or in this case, newly traveled because this was a new school) and I could set a new course for others to follow.
Sir spent the final months of standard five teaching me how to walk, talk and act as if I had already received my results slip and Bishops was printed on it. He told me:
“Whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe it can achieve” – Napoleon Hill
He believed in me so much that I started to believe in myself.
Even if I tried, I could not hate this man. I had no choice but to love him. For his guidance, teachings and motivation helped me become the woman I am today.
Can you think of anyone in your life right now that mentors or is willing to mentor you?
You may not agree with everything that they are saying or wishing for you, but often times its for the best.
To be quite honest, I was still selfish in my own thoughts, and wanted to attend Convent, but what Mr. Fleming did was teach me to be a winner.
He taught me to achieve the impossible no matter what school I attended. To always strive for excellence, to see my own worth and to work hard to get to the next level.
These are the lessons I wish to pass on to everyone else:
- Always strive for excellence
- Realize your own worth
- Work your hardest to get to that next level – because there is always a next level.
As predicted, the day I received my results, I passed for Bishop Anstey High School East.
I cried like a newborn baby.
I cried because like many others, sometimes we are afraid to step out of our comfort zone and pursue grander things.
I did not know what this new school had in store for me.
Until then, I had no desire to create my own path, because I was quite comfortable following someone else’s.
However, the only thing I ended up regretting was wasting tears because from the day I entered Bishop Anstey High School East, I came into my own.
I excelled in everything I put my all into.
I was class prefect, library prefect (who knew that was even a thing, right?) And school prefect. I ran for President of our first school’s student council. I was on the volleyball team, I was a part of the debate team, young leaders, peer counselor and many others. I excelled academically. I established friendships that to this day still exist and will for the rest of my life. I fell in love with English Literature the first day my teacher walked into the classroom, which propelled me into becoming a writer.
Needless to say, that girl who cried like a baby out of fear of the unknown and her true potential, graduated as the valedictorian of her graduating class 2002-2007 then went on to complete two more years of A-levels not at St. Joseph’s Convent but at the same school, now my proud Alma Mater.
Ah! School days are definitely the best days of our lives!
I had seven of the most amazing years of my life wearing not a convent but a Bishop Anstey High School East uniform.
To this day, I owe much of my success to my mentor.
Had it not been for him I may have still been struggling through, trying to do my very best yet so confused as to why I’m not succeeding.
And the reason would have been because it wasn’t my journey to follow.
I am so proud to be a product of BATCE and I thank God that that’s what was printed on my result slip instead of my cousin’s school, my original plan and someone else’s dream.
Now it’s time to ask yourself if you are on the right path.
More importantly if it’s your path to begin with?
To believe in your own dreams you must first be honest with yourself because your real purpose is found in your truth and only your truth will become your success story.
So just like someone did for me, I wrote this today to encourage you to be honest with yourself about the path that you’re meant to follow.
We can all use a mentor in our lives.
Today I encourage you to look around and find the people who will encourage you to master your craft; who will help champion your cause(s); and who will anchor or keep you grounded when you’re getting ahead of yourself.
The plot twist is, you may have to leave your squad to find these types of people. But that’s okay too.
On the flip side, so what if you don’t have a Mr.Fleming in your life. Take my words as encouragement and believe me when I say if no one else does, I want you to succeed.
The funny thing I’ve learnt about life is that it’s messy sometimes. For some of us, it’s messy most of the times. It’s not always glamorous, we all go through tough times and one thing I know is for sure is that life does not end up the way we first planned it.
At age 10, my biggest hurdle was to graduate from primary school. To this day the lessons that I learnt in his classroom, keeps me going in my adult years.
Mr. Fleming did not look at us as just kids who needed to pass a test.
No. He wanted us to be leaders.
I could fondly remember, when we had to get up in front of the class and pretend we were the teacher, teaching our fellow peers. The idea was not just to mock the teacher. Rather, the lesson was to see ourselves no longer as the student/mentee but now as the mentor.
If we could learn then we could also teach. I still believe in this practice.
If you and I could experience difficult times and overcome it, then we can surely help someone else, can’t we?
I think that’s the beauty of going through tough times to begin with.
Mathematics was not meant to be my top subject, as I imagined when I first entered his class.
Instead, Creative Writing became my baby. Today my words help me heal after being hurt. I hope it can help you too.
I also hope that whatever you are going through, one day you too could become the mentor and help someone else because you know what it feels like and you know how to get through it.
I’m not a writer because I’m only good at this or because it’s easy to do.
I’m a writer because even when there is no hope, nothing seems to be going in my favor and only but a handful support me, I keep writing anyway.
Now it is my hope that you will keep going after that which is truly meant for you.
I hope you find the courage to follow your own path the same way I had to follow mine.
And as we end, I want you to know that there are endless possibilities within you which far exceeds those small goals you think you want to achieve because everyone else wants it too.
More than anything else, when you do discover your path, I hope you never give up because one day you can become the mentor someone else needs.
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