What would you say to your 16-year-old self? This is a question I get asked all the time but a question I love to ask others who have experienced life more than I have.
My answer is always centered on reminding 16-year-old Aisha that it’s ok to not have all the answers. To enjoy HER process of life and to not be ashamed of who she is regardless of where life takes her.
One might ask what does that have to do with mentorship? It is the bedrock on which my idea of mentorship is built. It’s a constant reminder to myself but also to the girls I always get the opportunity to interact with. I couldn’t say it to 16 year old Aisha but I can remind other 16 year old’s to believe in themselves and their worth.
We all yearn for someone to talk to who understands us and our inner yearnings. As children of God, Christ does that for us on a daily basis, however we sometimes forget to be Christ in the flesh for the people that need it the most.
I used to say “if I had a consistent mentor in my youth I probably would have turned out different” And that statement is not far from the truth however the downside is that I wouldn’t be doing all the amazing things that my story has opened me up to.
The love, passion and heart I have for my girls at Power to Girls cannot be replaced by anything. My story is different; I know girls that just want to hear someone tell them how beautiful and intelligent they are, because at some point in their lives someone chattered that with words or pain. Mentorship can span from one on ones to, parental and sometimes something simple as reminding the young man or woman in the elevator that they matter. It’s in the words we say, how we say it and the little reminders we give to the people around us and in some cases our children. It’s about extending our light to others and igniting their light with ours. Sometimes we can’t do more because we do not know where to start or sometimes we get occupied with our daily responsibilities. If mentorship is something you would want to start doing, I have a question for you:
“What would you say to your 18-year-old self?” Whatever it may be say it to someone today. The key to any successful mentorship is recognizing that with Empathy you are able to change the direction of someone’s life.
If you happen to be have been mentored before, do not forget to extend that same light to others. Let your light Shine and remember there is always someone watching and waiting to be heard. Listen to your spirit and allow the spirit to guide you into being a blessing in someone’s life today.
Aisha Addo is the founder of Power To Girls Foundation, a recipient of the Young Black and Gifted Award for Community Service, named a Black Diversity Group Role Model, chosen as One of 100 Black Women to Watch in Canada and among the 150 Black Women making history in Toronto. She also founded DriveHER, the ride-sharing service for women by women.