When I first joined Girls Write Now (GWN) as a mentor in 2010, the veteran mentors all talked about how GWN would become a big part of my life and I would find myself “spreading the gospel” of GWN at cocktail parties, networking events, family gatherings and any other place where people converge. The GWN folks seemed great and I was excited to meet my mentee, but I was a bit skeptical about the organization becoming that much of my life.
I was wrong.
I was instantly enamored with the girls of GWN and humbled by the talent and kindness of the mentors. Six years later, I’m still a GWN fan girl and so is my mentee Ida. She’s the only mentee I’ve ever had with GWN. We met in 2010 when she was a junior in high school and I was a managing editor at a women’s lifestyle site. In the two years that we were officially mentor and mentee, we did lots of cool things. We performed (with much adorableness) a poem we co-wrote at a CHAPTERS Reading, we met up at various cafes, bookstores and parks for our weekly face-to-face, and most important of all, we got to know each other better and became very invested in each other’s happiness and well-being.
It was great to offer Ida whatever guidance or insight I could, but Ida also gave me things too, most notably a sense of purpose. I went through some pretty significant professional and personal changes during that time period and I found our weekly meetings to be a wonderful, stable bit of scheduled joy in my otherwise hectic weeks.
When Ida graduated from high school, we both became GWN alum. We decided we would for sure stay in touch, especially since we both lived Uptown. I became a part of the Program Advisory Committee (PAC) and Ida joined the Youth Board. I didn’t want to commit to a new mentee at the time because I knew I would still be pretty involved with Ida and taking on a new mentee seemed like it would be too much. I figured being a PAC member would be a nice way to make a substantive contribution to the GWN community.
So, for a while Ida and I would see each other at GWN functions (we sometimes coordinated to volunteer at the same events) and we occasionally met up. We never really stopped texting and we’re Facebook friends too, so there’s that. Ida would tell me about how college life was and I would fill her in on whatever cool projects I had in the works.
But last summer, we kinda lost touch. We were still connected on social media, but plans to meet up never quite came together and texts were few and far between. Before we knew it, it had been a few months since we’d last seen each other. I had given up my post on the PAC because of work obligations and she had stepped back from the Youth Board to focus on school and her other activities.
Luckily, we somehow reconnected and got our schedules straightened out last fall. We had brunch at a cute little café near my home and we took a nice long walk afterwards. It was great to see her. It was so great in fact that we took a selfie to memorialize the occasion. Now we are back to texting regularly again and I’m helping her shape up her graduate school applications. Ida is in her senior year in college and is about earn a bachelor’s degree in psychology.
I’m very proud of Ida and we are both committed to staying in touch and being active members of the GWN family. I can’t say exactly what my relationship with Ida and GWN will be in the future, but I know both will continue to be important parts of my life. If I see you at a cocktail party, I’ll tell you all about it.