Mentoring Matters: A Mentor Does Not Have to Look Like Dumbledore

About the Writer: Rachel Becker is a sophomore here at the College of William & Mary with a keen interest in leadership theory.  In her free time she likes to re-read Harry Potter, organize her organizing and apparently write blog posts. 

Rachel Becker, student blogger.

Rachel Becker enjoying time in Colonial Williamsburg!

My youngest cousin, Lauren, is the spunkiest fourteen-year-old you will ever meet. She loves to laugh more than anything, her wit absolutely does not match her age and she is probably the most outspoken person I know. The adults in our family actually ask for her opinion on things and usually will follow; it is quite impressive. One time I saw them leave a restaurant right after they sat down just because Lauren knew the food down the street was better. I also think she skipped an awkward middle school phase, because she dresses better than I do on a daily basis and she is a freshman in high school which is really unfair and feels sacrilegious. But besides Lauren’s vibrant nature, she also has this incredible trait of self-confidence.

She is not afraid to stick up for herself or others and because of this I really look up to her, especially given her age. I am nearly ten years older, but I would consider her a mentor to me because she has a way of telling me she believes in me without having to explicitly state it. Her compliments are very personalized, and usually make you tilt your head but nonetheless are very sweet. One time she told me that a boy was dating me only because I had great hair. It was honestly so flattering. People like Lauren remind me that literally anyone can be a mentor, and you should never be afraid to admire someone even if they do not have a lot in common with you, that really anyone can be someone you look up to.

When I am faced with challenges whether it be socially or academically, I think of Lauren’s fervent confidence in me and it reminds me that I am completely capable of what I am trying to accomplish. Surrounding yourself with people who believe in you is something that can make a big difference in your life, just as it is important to remind the people around you that you believe in them.

As my young cousin always demonstrates to me and in honor of National Mentoring Month, here are three tips that I would give to any mentor:
1. Sometimes listening can be just as valuable as giving advice, letting someone know that they are heard and their remarks are valid can make a tremendous impact
2. Do not be afraid to share your own experiences, often that is what someone will remember you telling them more than responding with blanket statements
3. Be yourself! Someone looks up to you for being YOU, try to avoid worrying about what other people may think or about comparing yourself to others, your uniqueness is an advantage!

This blog serves as a part of the Office of Student Leadership Development’s celebration of National Mentoring Month in our “Mentoring Matters” campaign.