Art of a Child

Nuri is 18 years old and a Global G.L.O.W. participant from Detroit, Michigan. This is her essay in her own words:

I grew up in New Jersey. As the oldest child on my mom’s side, I had to learn things very quickly in order to help my family. My parents guided me, but even they didn’t always know the answer to things that we were struggling with. Since my parents didn’t know everything, I had to search for people who were willing to fill the information gaps. At an early age, the only “mentor” I had was my teacher – I really didn’t have anyone outside of school, which was hard because I sometimes needed guidance and someone to talk to after school but I didn’t have anyone like that in my life. When I found myself in those situations, I felt isolated, lost, and unintelligent because I wouldn’t know what to do next. Growing up, people around me even refused to help me because they thought that I wasn’t worth their time, and sometimes it was because I didn’t have a high-end lifestyle. 

When even your friends don’t want to help you, it starts to feel hopeless. Having someone that I could go to when I needed help was very important for me and finding someone like that was hard. I knew deep down that I would eventually find someone or even a group of people who would be willing to mentor and teach me and wouldn’t make me feel bad because all I needed was someone to be there for me.

A New Perspective

During the summer of 2016, my family and I moved to Michigan, and I can honestly say that was something I do not regret because my life did a complete 180 and I was more than pleasantly surprised. As I started getting to know people and attending school, I noticed that I didn’t have to try to be someone I was not because people just wanted to help me, and for once in my life I felt welcomed. Over the years, I have met so many wonderful people who are willing to talk, help and guide me in a direction that I have been searching for.

Joining organizations like Global G.L.O.W. gave me access to a network of people who don’t shame me for what I do and don’t have – they pay attention to the important things such as my character, my personality, and where exactly I am struggling so that they can better assist me. 

From being a shy, isolated, and criticized South Asian/American girl to a passionate, confident, and strong young lady was truly a transition that I will never forget, but it never would have been possible without the help of my mentors. I never really recognized the things I was good at, I only focused on the things that I was bad at, and this completely ruined my self-confidence and my ability to cope with issues by myself, both mentally and physically. 

“From being a shy, isolated, and criticized girl to a passionate, confident, and strong young lady was truly a transition that I will never forget.”

When I started becoming more open with people about my experiences, my mentors showed me what it really means to have a support system. They helped me look for the positive side of the situations I was in and the ones I may be faced with in the future. However, my mentors did not “sugar coat” anything, which I appreciated because they were honest with me even if I didn’t particularly want to hear what they had to say. As I have received guidance, I have learned to do so much on my own and I will continue to learn more, and I can honestly say that I have seen such a change in how I view life and handle situations. I may not be perfect, but I really have improved drastically.

On Striving to be Perfect

One important thing that I would like to highlight from my experience of having mentors is that each one of them has told me, “don’t ever make becoming perfect a goal.” This saying has always resonated with me because I was constantly told by people around me that my aim in life should be to be perfect and know everything and I actually listened to them. When I heard my mentors saying don’t ever make becoming perfect a goal, it really made me feel some kind of way. At first, it wasn’t good, because one of my mentors straight out told me, “you’re not perfect, and you never will be, if that’s your goal in life then you never will be happy.” When I heard my mentor say that I had a sinking feeling in my heart but for some reason, I didn’t cry because deep down inside I knew that was true. When I stopped striving for perfection, I realized that by trying to be perfect, I was constantly burning myself out and feeling stressed and overwhelmed. I never would have realized that this was happening if not for my mentor teaching me differently. Sometimes we need someone else to say the hard truths because we can’t always see it ourselves.

With the help of mentors, I’ve grown to a point where I have people like my sisters who look up to me. Now, my two little sisters tell me that they look up to me and that I’ve inspired them to strive to do their best. When they say that to me, I feel overwhelmingly happy because despite struggling to find a mentor of my own, I can be one for my sisters and they don’t have to look as hard. 

Mentorship has helped me become a mentor to not only my family and the people around me but also myself. I now have a “branch of knowledge” to share with the people around me. Mentorship can come in all shapes and forms, but the outcome of happiness and a new understanding of something for both the mentor and mentee is so powerful.

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