Republished with permission from Do Well Dress Well an Evio Community Partner
This is a question I have asked myself a lot lately as I navigate life after post-secondary education and work to move up in my professional life. Whether it’s presenting in front of a full room of students, helping a student find resources to support their mental health, or assisting women (often through my own experiences) with making career choices, my female mentors have become my team, my support system and the backbone behind my success. Their support does not diminish my independence; however, it seeks to strengthen it. It’s something that perhaps my male counterparts in life may not fully understand. It leaves me wondering about the countless women in my life who have inspired me in some way; where would I be without her
YOU’RE OFTEN HELPING EACH OTHER
This past summer I made a leap into the Ontario Government as a Policy Analyst; I was a new professional co-op student seeking to explore my career options and discover my passion for the first time beyond the classroom. This was my first year being fully immersed away from school since the age of four. It was an exciting period of time, yet one filled with a lot of uncertainty. I couldn’t help but wonder, is this what I am meant to do for the rest of my life? It can be a scary thought, especially if you’re someone like me who’s constantly striving to do more and help more people through your passions. I have goals that are constantly evolving, and I felt the desire to find someone who was feeling or experiencing the same.
It was almost if someone had heard all these thoughts of mine and created the opportunity for me right in front of my eyes. I signed up for a mentorship program that was embedded in my co-op program and was immediately paired up with an AMAZING woman who had the exact same passions and goals that I did, and we were two years apart. I couldn’t believe how similar our interests were! Sharing our passions for higher-education over coffee and iced-tea became more than a mentorship, it became friendship. Although I was considered the mentee and her the mentor, it felt like we were both supporting each other as we navigated our way through the public service. She was going through almost exactly what I was going through, and it felt more like a bond than a mentorship relationship. I was fascinated by the idea that she had signed up, out of the goodness of her heart, to mentor me. Since then she has continued to inspire me in her countless leadership endeavors and I always keep up with all the amazing things that she’s doing for the world (thanks social media).
I wouldn’t speak to mentorship, particularly female mentorship, without mentioning the unspoken connection that I share with many (if not all) women in my life. It’s a chain of support that ignites success well beyond seeking opportunities. What I mean by this, is that my true female mentors are the ones who look out for me, who PROTECT me. Navigating the world as a woman (might I add that I am only 4”11) has not been an easy task when it comes to my personal safety and boundaries. I cannot count the number of times where my professional boundaries have been pushed or my personal safety has been put in question and there was a woman there to protect me. Oftentimes I am deemed “too sensitive” or “naïve”, and unfortunately my kindness has often been taken advantage of. These women empower me to know that these are my strengths, not my weaknesses. These are the qualities that make me a fearless leader, professional, daughter, sister, colleague and friend. I will only continue to thank the women who tell me that they will always watch out for me, protect me and ensure to support me when things fall through the cracks.
It’s the women who lift other women up and take time out of their busy schedules to mentor others that continue to inspire me more than words can articulate. As I continue to grow in my professional and personal life, I seek to provide the same if not greater opportunities to the women I choose to mentor, and I encourage you to do the same.
I want to thank all the women in my life who have lifted me up, supported me, and encouraged me to be the best that I can be. I cannot wait to continue my own forms of mentorship and be involved with the next generation of women leaders as they too ask, where would I be without her?