Yesterday morning I met with a colleague who has a consulting business. We were discussing Coaching (like after an employee’s performance review), versus Mentoring (less prescriptive). Mentoring needs a personal connection; a relationship. Coaching, not always. Bottom line, as my colleague and I agreed, a Mentor’s like the old saying about a ‘wife’:  “Everyone needs one.” In our never-ending search for our life path and purpose, few of us would say “Nah, I’m good!” if the perfect mentor appeared in our life.

As I left the meeting, I spotted a 30-something woman I’d had only one or two really quick and casual talks with. Mostly about her indecision. Enter grad school, or try to launch a career ? She was jobless at the moment. Confusion. Self-doubt. Fear of failure. I waved ‘hello’ to “Liza”. She smiled and waved back, then gave me one of those “Get over here!” arm wags. Liza introduced me to her friend “Amanda”. Both women were totally charming, but I had someplace I needed to be. I tried to edge away after what I hoped was a polite amount of chat but that was when Eliza gushed to Amanda how helpful I’d been as her mentor. Whoa. How and when did I do that?

As the two women spoke, I took a quick mental detour (trying to chill my impatience), just watching how well they clicked in their feelings , experiences and stories. They were both over-whelmed with options; and more than a little afraid of the Unknown (neither had settled into relationships or careers). But also, feeling a lot of excitement and optimism about their futures. While I listened, I had a revelation:  I grasped the inadvertant ‘mentoring’ that I’d, moments ago, been credited for.

At a certain point, if we’ve lived with awareness, intention and attention, we become the ‘diamond’ we’re meant to be.

Even if we’ve made a ton of mistakes along the way, rough experience hones our brilliance to perfect, dazzling clarity.

When I was much younger and I’d hear an older person say, “In my mind, I’m still 26 years old!”, I thought they were nuts. Maybe senile. For sure, in denial. But as I’ve aged-into my own certainty about who I really am, I now understand that feeling completely. When issues about who you are and why you’re here feel settled, the passage of time becomes kind of irrelevant. This, I realized, was the vibe emanating from the few, but wonderful mentors I’ve had over the years.

But how do we get to this ‘settled’ place? Each person’s choices determine when it happens. But the way it happens, in my own belief and experience, is one path. It requires engagement in your own life. Even in despair, there’s progress toward peace. How can we speed the process? By being as authentic as we can be, with ourselves and with others. Loving ourselves “warts and all”, as they say. Allowing others to “see” and experience who we really are. Not someone playing a role, or trying to copy what anyone else is doing.

If you haven’t seen the film “Avatar” (2009), it might be tricky to follow the next few sentences. There’s a scene where the lead character (Jake Sully) realizes that when he’s in Human/Na’vi hybrid mode (his mind enters the body of his Avatar), he has an amazing power that the human ‘Jake’ doesn’t have (besides being around 14 feet tall and bright blue, with a magic tail). In this state, Sully tells a fellow Na’Vi, “I See You”. What Sully realizes is that, as a Na’Vi, he has the ability to emotionally merge with members of his tribe in a way that the Human Sully envies. It’s a loving, supportive and nourishing connection that the very independent human-Jake reacts to — when his mind leaves the Avatar– like a painful physical loss. He quickly realizes that the the Na’Vi avatar is actually his own Inner Being and Inner Guidance, not a psychedelic hallucination or experience. Quite the commentary on self-love and self-acceptance.

You might feel disconnected from who you really are. You might be playing multiple roles in your daily life and really struggling to stop acting, and start being. The good news is that there are wise guides ‘out there’:  people who’ve gone through the same ordeal and come out on the other side. Your own guide ( or mentor) might be a family member; or someone you work with. Maybe you haven’t met them yet. But when you feel them say, I See You, it’s a moment on your path that you’ll never forget. I believe that being truly “seen” is what we all crave. What we all need, to finally figure out who we really are. And then, to feel time stand still in that utter peace and knowing. When You’re Ready to Reinvent Yourself

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