I have the pleasure of being a part of a mentoring group, for young girls in their final year of high school. The call for mentors came and I obliged without a moments hesitation, as I understood the importance of building and harnessing the intellectual ability of our young girls. Girls who will be our future movers and shakers, young girls whom I believe need to realize that there are ample opportunities and the path to greatness is sprinkled with possibilities.
Back in my high school era I constantly went back and forth trying to figure out my career path and the expression ‘find the job you love and you will never work a day in your life,’ rarely existed. The concept of getting a career was merely to get a job that paid well, one that at least can be tolerated enough so that I can get through the 9 to 5, and one that will bring forth a sense of status and pride for my parents. Back then my options were limited and I had no idea, there were careers such as robotics, architecture or astronomy. I don’t remember being told I was smart, that I will amount to greatness or that should I fail, I should dust myself and try again cause quitting was not an option. I had to fend for myself, and I had to figure it out irrespective of the number of times I hopped from one career to the other.
I took a young girl under my wing as I understood the importance of having an individual who’s willing and destined in igniting that inner fire. What I had growing up was a guidance teacher, I couldn’t really share my challenges with, as I felt uncomfortable opening up to her and secondly I had to share her with the rest of the school. My parents didn’t see the corridors of varsity hence they were hardly the type of individuals who would share in my despondency, and how could they, when they were overwhelmed with commitments. I had to figure it out all on my own, all my dad knew was that he was paying a heck of a lot of money, for my school fees and that I should stop the whining and get my act together.
However what I picked up from some of the girls yesterday was rarely a contrast to the girl I was many years ago; they have no idea what career direction they intend to take, some are considering a gap year due to the career indecisiveness, a varsity qualification is taken lightly or sadly due to lack of varsity financing they are forced to get a job and save up for classes. From this I deduced that we may be in a different era but the challenges appear one and the same.
Tackling the pitfalls is all about mutual engagements with the girls, that bursaries and scholarships are available should one be faced with financial constraints and gap years should be considered pensively, and the importance of a varsity qualification can rarely be stressed enough. We constantly need to build our young girls, remind them of their sense of resolve, remind them of how smart they are, and how their success, stems from them being a better version of themselves. Like Oprah Winfrey once said “If you are surrounded by beautiful things and wonderful teachers who inspire you, that beauty, brings out the beauty in you.” and a teacher is hardly the conservative Ms standing by the chalkboard, the teacher is you or I who have grappled with challenges in our path to success.
Hence by womentoring we build a society where girls grow up to be self-dependent, self-reliant and self-sustaining. In so doing we groom our young girls to be strong women who can hold their own with honesty, integrity and grace. Young woman who can stand up for themselves in our sexist and misogynistic society.
To my young girls, my butterflies, my roses in the universe, I salute you all and to you I say; you should always remember you are loved, you are smart and you are beautiful. In the words of Robin Sharma, “take the stones people throw at you and use them to build a monument.”