“Lots of people limit their possibilities by giving up easily. Never tell yourself this is too much for me. It’s no use. I can’t go on. If you do you’re licked, and by your own thinking too. Keep believing and keep on keeping on.” – Norman Vincent Peale
A powerful quote with deep meaning. We must always believe and we must never give up. This quote is very relevant as I face the challenges of a being a mentor. I have been involved with Big Brothers Big Sisters as a youth mentor for almost three years. I enjoy the role I play in impacting the lives of children. The experience is very rewarding and, at times, very frustrating. My little brother Ty’ere and I have been matched for almost three years. During that time, I have watched him grow and mature from a boy to a young man. We have overcome behavioral concerns. The school referrals have been reduced and eliminated. We have eradicated hygiene issues. The days of terrible body odor and bad breath are behind us. We have learned about the consequences of our actions and the importance of making good choices. We have accomplished a lot together since we being matched in 2009. So why do I feel as if I am failing?
This week during my time with Ty’ere I received the update on his school performance. I learned that his recent report card featured one D and four Fs. Four Fs, really? Instantly, feelings of major disappointment came over me. We have been talking about and working on study habits for many months. His grades have fluctuated from failing to barely passing since I met him. I have worked with him on homework and I have helped him study for tests. I have read with him and helped him write papers. I have challenged his effort on more than one occasion. I believe that this is at the core of the issue. He just doesn’t want to invest the effort or the time needed to be successful. I will not let anyone use his ADHD as an excuse for poor performance. I want him to succeed and so does his mother. She has sacrificed so much over the last few years to put him in a situation where he can develop as a student. She enrolled him in a small Christian school so that he could get more one-on-one teaching during the school day. She has given up hours at work to transport him to and from school since there is no bus system. She could barely make ends meet before, what about now? In some way, I feel responsible for Ty’s inadequacies at school. I know I should not feel that way, but I do. Why can I not get through to him? Why can I not motivate him to work harder in school? I am at a loss for answers. I am disappointed and frustrated.
The role of mentor is a challenge. I knew that when I signed up. I have experienced many highs and lows over the years as a mentor. I have mentored students, athletes, and business leaders to various degrees of success. With the highs come the lows. I am at a low point now with Ty’ere’s school performance. It is times like these that I remember the words of Pastor Peale. I will always believe in myself and my friend Ty’ere. There is no situation that we cannot overcome. I will not give up on him. Unfortunately that is what happens in our society today. Teachers, school administrators, parents, and communities give up on young people living in poverty who face many life challenges. I refuse to fall into this crowd. I may be disappointed and frustrated, but I am also inspired. I am driven to overcome this obstacle. As a mentor, it is my task. As a friend, it is my commitment.
If you possess a passion to impact others I encourage you to become a mentor. It is role that you will enjoy and cherish. You will lead, teach, and coach while learning lessons along the way. Thrill seekers will enjoy the roller coaster of emotions, accomplishments, and challenges you will encounter on the journey. There will be challenges and obstacles along the way, but I promise that it will never be too much for you. It is not too much for me!