Last Wednesday one of my mentees stopped by to visit. Though I saw him last in May 2013, he had grown so much, he even seemed a bit taller in stature. He spoke with a confidence I had not heard from him before. Then, he began sharing his new life as an adult…”I work all of the time”, he said in an attempt to describe his newly developed awareness of the adult order. “I use the money that I make to pay a percentage of my tuition each quarter. ”
I remembered the conversations that we used to have about college and about making good choices. I remembered talking to him about work ethic, responsibility and thinking about the long-term. “There are consequences for everything”, I would tell him. “Work hard for you and for your sense of success, not for anyone else”, I would lecture.
Sometimes you think your words fall on deaf ears as young people stare at you senselessly before putting the classic white earbuds back into their ears. Sometimes I would find myself becoming upset because I felt he wasn’t listening, wasn’t getting it.
But then they come back…and they exhibit a maturity, a development you felt would never manifest. That is part of the power and reward in mentoring. That moment when you begin to see a young adult emerge, when you see the results of your collaborative effort.
When they make the journey home to say thank you, maybe not verbally, but in their actions and with their stories.