Everyone wants someone to validate their journey. At the age of 24, I know I do. While myself and several women around me wake up each morning and manage to convince our peers and colleagues of our astute progress and linear path to success, I suspect we are all small wisps of anxiety and self-doubt when night falls.
So when I entered the house on Sydenham Road, what I wanted was for someone to look at me as a whole – aggregate even. I wanted my mentor to sum up all my shortcomings and strengths and curiosities and then tell me the precise and definite formula I must apply to lead the rest of my life. In the kitchen, where we all eyed and inched slyly towards the wine, we also peeked at the labels on each others chest. In bold black permanent ink, we wore badges and crests of our insecurities that stated our most imperative fears. And while all different, it felt as though everyone was ultimately terrified of not being good enough. By extension, many of us were there, to secretly be given the answer to what keeps us up at night: ‘how do I fix myself?’
Finally sitting down to formally begin the evening, I watched Brenda Finley without blinking. Our keynote speaker had all eyes on her as she magnificently conveyed her story of being a young journalist in the Middle East, who was unlawfully arrested and questioned for one terrifying night. I’m certain that none of us in the room had been in her situation, and yet we looked at her like she held all the answers we so badly needed. We leaned in, holding onto her every word and gesture like it contained the deep truths relevant to each of our narratives. And in some ways, it did. If we all came in looking to be given a toolbox on finding order, direction and betterment, we instead were told to embrace the manic quality of our own story. When Brenda revealed the small milestones of her career with grace and humour, we learned that success and fulfilment are not the consequences of always knowing what to do – they are instead the result of following your instinct, and discovering who you can become in the process.
Connections: Mentorship Circle is a curious space of learning. It is more than anything a place to catch the lessons and details in the stories of women who are wiser and also the ones who are young and fervent. It is a space to be candid, reveal your deepest fears and be confronted with the idea that perhaps there is value in moving forward without knowing the ‘entire plan’. And in sharing that sentiment, alongside our uncertainties, our truths and our realizations – we are also in a space of comradery and alliance. A budding lawyer stands up and tells us of her inability to ask for more at work when she deserved it. Someone from the back of the room responds that fear and self-questioning often lead young women to not ask for enough at the moments that count. A year later, the budding lawyer has changed and walks into her company with more ownership of her value. I’m not this young women, I have never worked for her law firm. And yet, her story is mine, and my story hers. All of our stories are each other’s after the night ends, including Brenda Finley’s. We are all growing lawyers, inquisitive consultants and plucky journalists. We are connecting – and through the process we find ourselves and each other when we share our truths. Much more valuable than the answer to ‘how we should fix ourselves’ is the realization that we might not need to.
Written by Priya Ramesh
Connections: Mentorship Circle was founded by Finley & Associates with a simple purpose: empower and support young professionals who may face discrimination in a positive environment, while discussing relevant issues.
Our next session is scheduled for June 4; if you are interested in learning more about our group, please do not hesitate to connect with me directly or email us: firstname.lastname@example.org