It’s wierd that when people consider a mentor, they think of someone older than themselves.
Sure, the older you are, the more life experience you have to draw from when doling out advice. I think, however, that young people have so much more to teach us.
Kids approach life with little trepidation. Often, the younger they are, the fewer fucks they give. They have no regard for what the adult world deems to be ‘normal’ or ‘acceptable’ and that’s great sometimes.
There is a reason that the best time to learn a second language, or anything really, is as a very small child. The brain is so malleable, picking up every word, every concept, and soaking it in like a sponge. As time wears us down, we seem less able or less willing to learn new things. Who better to learn from, than those who are the most capable of learning?
My mentor happens to be a kid 9 years my junior! A freshman in high school that is equal parts nerdy and cool as shit. My mentor…is my little brother, Grey. The funny thing is, he doesn’t even know it.
From an outsider’s perspective, he’s a bit odd, maybe even downright weird. That happens to be my favorite thing about him. I used to be weird too. Then, somewhere along the way, the hunger for the praise and acceptance of my peers and the adults around me, I lost my weird.
It wasn’t until recently that I started to dip my toes back into the pool of creativity, drawing out every ounce of wild-child weirdo I kept locked up for so long. Grey, unknowingly has helped me along the way.
I know I am a bit partial, but he is the most badass 9th grader I know. He loves Pokémon, Zelda, retro video games, and graphic design. These things have unfortunately caused him to bear more than a little bullying in school.
When he was in middle school, he started a YouTube channel. This channel was dedicated mostly to Pokémon gameplay, unboxing, and funny skits with his friends.
I remember when he first told me about his channel, I was a mix of proud and envious of how easily he was himself. He poured all his time and talent into making what I considered to be pretty well-made videos for some kid in middle school.
Grey was careful to only share his YouTube channel with a few family members and friends outside of the online community he was starting to gather. The sad thing is, people, even friends, can be crappy.
At the beginning of this year, one of the friends Grey told, let’s call him…hhhmmm…Shit Head, decided that it would be hilarious to make fun of Grey. Not to his face, of course, that would require a little too much male fortitude. So Shit Head started going to his different classes throughout the day and playing my brother’s YouTube videos in front of the entire class so they could collectively tear him apart.
When Grey told me this, the amount of hurt I felt for him, and anger within me was palpable. At that moment, I didn’t feel that I was above giving this kid the wedgy of his life. I, being the mature, sophisticated lady that I am *eyeroll* did no such thing. I did what I felt was the most important thing, I talked it out with Grey.
He is so much stronger than me it’s scary. Something like that would have devastated me for weeks in high school. He was upset at first, more than anything because he considered Shit Head a friend, but he cut his losses and moved on.
He is unapologetically, wonderfully himself. One day I think he will look back and realize just how cool he really was. Where I look back and giggle and cringe at my futile attempts to be edgy or popular.
The YouTube incident really made me think,” Woah, I need to pay more attention to the attitude this guy has because, for a 15-year-old kid, he really has his stuff together.” I began to watch him more closely and invest in what was going on in his life, currently, he is pursuing graphic design. Watching him do what he wants to do when he wants to do it, and not giving a second thought to anyone negative is nothing short of inspirational.
Maybe I just happen have the coolest little brother in the world, but I think there is some value to be had through looking at the younger people in your life and remembering what it was like to just not care. It is so freeing. Last year I would have written this article with flowery wording and a concern for if Grey’s former friend were to see this and would his parents come say anything to me. Now, after adopting a bit of my mentor’s attitude, I can’t say it’s a huge concern what they or you or anyone else reading this may think.
Grey, I love you. You don’t play sports, you don’t get into much trouble, you don’t spend your days chasing stupid girls. You are the coolest, and I am so glad to have you as my mentor. You are helping me get my weird back.