I am fortunate to have some truly incredible people in my life. When I met my mentor, I had no idea how important or influential of a person he was. However, I think if I had, I wouldn’t have dared to ask for his help. After I finished the project I needed to complete for graduation, I lost contact with him for a little while. He would sometimes tag me in things he thought relevant to my interests, but it would be months before we had an actual conversation again.
I reached out to him recently. Summer is approaching rapidly, and I had decided to give this writing thing a go, but I realized I would need something to write about. I wanted some work that would help me build up my portfolio, so I messaged him. I asked if he had any projects I could work on or people he could connect me with and we arranged for a phone call the following weekend.
He offered me several opportunities to work, all of which were incredibly interesting and inventive. I was immediately taken aback by the complexity of the projects. He seemed to genuinely want my help with programs that appeared far beyond my comprehension (they’re not, but it felt like they were.) Perhaps I had read the conversation wrong, but I couldn’t help but be happy with the level of trust he still had in me. As I said earlier, we had not spoken in a substantial amount of time, so this level of respect felt unwarranted. After the call was over, I had some exciting future work and a new question – what is it that makes me wonder if I am deserving of respect?
I think there are many reasons I may feel as though I am not as deserving of respect as others, but the primary cause is my age. Twelve years of public education has given me this idea that I am too young, too naive, too inexperienced to receive any kind of genuine esteem. I see why so many young people are afraid to initiate conversations, to speak highly of themselves, and to seek out opportunities.
The quote in the header of my blog, “If you never ask, the answer will always be no,” is something I believe in but have only started living by recently. At the time, the act of messaging my mentor was a source of anxiety. I am barely beginning to understand how valuable my skills are, but disregarding the idea that I don’t deserve or have respect is helping.