I think the last few months can be boiled down to four words:
I have trust issues.
There are four people that I go to when I need to vent: my slightly messed-up nineteen-year-old best friend, two girls my age that have way too much on their plates, and my unfortunately perceptive mentor.
Can I say that I love and care for these people? Usually.
Can I say that I fully trust them? Probably not.
You see, I have this nasty habit of bottling things up, and eventually the bottle bursts in a rather messy fashion, complete with snot and tears and shaky hands (also known as panic attacks).
My issue of trust only amps up with my mentor. I know my friends – their birthdays, their dreams, their hopes. But I can’t tell you the month my mentor was born in without checking Facebook (September 6th – I asked today). I suppose these trivial details don’t matter in the grand scheme of things, but it’s difficult to confide in someone I don’t really know.
I can’t help but feel like I’m burdening him, like I’m one of the many people he has to help or fix. I know intellectually he doesn’t think that way, but every time I see him, I feel the need to be happy and whole. I can help my friends; I can offer a shoulder to cry on, some halfway decent advice – I can’t do the same for him. In a give-and-take relationship, I hate being the only one who takes. I don’t want to be a charity case.
I suppose I have some pride issues too.
Being in a mentor-mentee relationship – that requires a lot of trust.
I have to trust where he’s guiding me, that his decisions will help and not harm me. I have to trust that what he’s saying is correct. I have to trust that he genuinely cares about me as a person, as a mentee, as a fellow human being.
And sometimes, I just can’t.
Clearly, all of these issues can be solved if I just found some courage and talked to him, but I’m too cowardly for that.
So, we have discovered three things:
1. One must trust one’s mentor.
2. One must have good communication with one’s mentor.
3. I have failed at the first two things.
In Dr. Carson Pue’s book, Mentoring Wisdom, (ironically a book given to me by my mentor for this project), he says that “the relational chemistry between mentor and the protégé is at the heart of the mentoring process” (99).
Today (Feb. 11, 2017), I ended up talking to my mentor for two hours, after being encouraged by one of the two girls my age. I told him that every time I saw him, my anxiety levels spiked because I never know how to act around him. I feel pressure to be better around him, and while being better isn’t necessarily negative, I just don’t have that kind of strength right now.
Amidst buying ramen and pretzels and camping gear, there was one recurring question he posed to me: “What’s your plan?” He gave me several options, including finding a female mentor, opening my trust circle, and being fully and completely honest with him.
Distracting myself or “sucking it up” were unfortunately options he vetoed.
I’m not sure what I’m going to do yet. I still have to get over the feeling that I’m a burden on his shoulders. But it gets a little easier to trust him everyday, and although I’m hesitant, I know it’s best for me. I suppose this is why mentoring is a discipline. It’s a discipline to constantly open yourself up to someone else and it’s a discipline to be able to listen well and offer advice. I didn’t realize how difficult it’d be, but I’m getting there, one day at a time.
Wish me luck.
Feb. 11, 2017