In this world, it is best to learn from others. Even in Proverbs, this had been advocated extensively by King Solomon. It is wisdom to learn directly through experience, but it is greater wisdom to learn from advice or from others’ experience.
I am about to write a two-part series on learning from others. One would cover one’s personal life, and the other would cover career/vocation.
Today, I will talk about learning from others (being mentored), and mentoring others, in the context of personal life.
Being mentored about life is something we all long for. That is why children get fixated on teachers and adapt heroes and role models, aside from relying on their parents for their initial decisions. When I was younger, I was taunted for being the “teacher’s pet” because I liked hanging around them, simply because I wanted to learn more.
When you’re young, you tend to look for people to pattern your behavior upon. When I was younger, I had my teachers to thank for giving me the idea what kind of woman I wanted to be… Or didn’t want to be. As I grew older, I had fixated on a dormmate-turned-über-best-friend (she may be hard to deal with for most, but I love her and would slay demons for her. :p), a leader from the Baha’i Faith chapter in my hometown, and the people who handled me in church, including our senior pastor’s wife back in my hometown. This long string of women I wanted to pattern my life upon made me realize that I was desperate to have a blueprint of how to live my life. They had walked the road before me, and so I just follow the trail they blazed.
The best part about patterning your life upon mentors is that you get to see which way to tread.. Or not to tread. If you are observant and you keep an objective eye upon your mentors and not see them through rose-colored glasses, you will be able to walk the right path without making unnecessary mistakes. If ever you will make mistakes, at least you’ve been warned.
Yes, love your mentors unconditionally, but never look at them through eyes that deny reality. Because so many people have made grave mistakes because they followed their mentors even though their mentors had already gone astray. Humans were made with intuition for discernment and a brain for making logical decisions for a reason.
You may not realize it, but you too have a role to play, as a mentor. You may not be aware of it, but someone (other than God, if you believe in Him), is watching you, at any given time.
Take for example, you hang around your kid bro. Then when your friends come over and you start talking trash you catch little bro staring wide-eyed, but you just ignore him. Then later, in an unguarded moment, you catch little bro calling you the same four-letter words you and your buds called each other.
Or maybe you’re a teacher or someone else in a position of authority, like a pastor, or a rising leader in church, a civic leader, and you have a Friendster account. You want to be yourself around the Internet, and you like posting bulletin boards, answering surveys and basically revealing info about yourself. Some of your answers are naughty, and they reveal a little too much about you. It might be fine among your peers, but what if you have students and former students in your account? Or members of your congregation? Or people who follow you, basically? You may not be aware of it, but they actually form ideas that it’s okay to do the things you do, simply because you are in a position of authority.
It’s never okay to brush it all off and just say, “Do what I say, but don’t do the things I do.”
That is why I deeply regret some of the things I used to post online. I know my children may form their opinions later of how I used to live my life. The ravages of malicious video-scraping scripts and malicious individuals linking up my ranting and rambling videos onto not-so-wholesome websites (no I never posted porn, shame on you. :p) simply because I used to talk so explicitly about anything I wanted, still echo on Google. I wonder when on earth those results will clear up. But I’m not as worried as before.
Thus, as you learn in life, from others, bear in mind that others learn from you too. Set an example, be discreet, and if you have a crazy life like mine, use a personal blog such as Multiply, so you can set the privacy rules for some of your posts.
You’ll never know the impact your stories may have on others, and it’s best if you be able to tell them others of your mistakes personally, so that you can qualify the circumstances you were under, and clarify that you don’t advocate the mistakes you made.
I am in no way supporting hypocrisy and secrecy. But, I am all for discretion (now). Young people may model after the decisions you made, and it’s best that you be able to qualify what circumstances you were under. After all, at the end of the line, you do have to answer for all the people you influenced, good or bad.
A glorious 2008 awaits. 🙂
Note: I did not cite politicians because politicians seem to have no time for spamming Friendster bulletin boards. :p (But they do seem to have a penchant for spamming the News with their shenanigans. Oh well. :p)