What I learn from letting a great mentor slipped my life
As I hit the ‘send’ button, I let out a small cry – what have I done?!
After an hour of struggling, justifying, and switching between tabs, I finally sent an email titled ‘Can I work with you’ to a mentor whom I’ve never spoken to in 6 months.
Fear surged instantly as I did. I just opened myself up for rejection.
On a plane ride, I met someone who changed my life
I struck a conversation with a man sitting beside me on the flight back from Laos last year.
When he told me that his job was to travel around the world and organize conferences, I secretly thought it was the best job in the world. I took it seriously when he said he could invite me to his upcoming conference.
I dropped him an email a few days later, subtly reminding him about the invitation and volunteering to help out if he needed extra hands.
The next time I met him, he asked me about everything such as my like and dislike, interest, strength, weakness, what I enjoyed doing, who I wanted to be and so on. He got me thinking and assessing my life when I was hit by hard questions that never surfaced before.
At the end of it, I took up the offer to explore MICE industry with him while running my company.
Patient and opportunity
The second time I went to Laos, I sat in meetings with high level government personnel discussing about a forum that involved 10 countries. I was in awe with life thinking that I just went to Laos 2 months ago with a backpack.
My mentor brought me to meetings and events that I was not qualified for. He taught me the thinking and strategy behind high-level events, he taught me how to carry myself when I looked like a baby in these scenes.
Then he asked me, what do you want in life?
I went through a period of brutal struggle and withdrew from the company I co-founded eventually. At the blank page in life, I was offered an opportunity to work with him on an international project. The catch was, contract will be signed and sealed ‘soon’, but he couldn’t give me a definite time frame.
After a couple months of waiting, I accepted a job offer in coffee industry and plunged back into what I left behind.
When my mentor finally came to me with the contract, I succumbed to job security and showed doubt in exploring uncertainties. He told me that he had to reconsider giving me the opportunity.
I never heard from him again.
Know what you want to get what you want
Fast forward 6 months, I thought I finally found my place when I was able to make a living doing what I loved – to write.
However, the excitement of tackling new assignments subsided as I took on more and more corporate projects.
I started to ask myself, what is passion? What’s in my heart? What are the things that keep me writing all these whiles?
When I realized that writing is a skill with different applications, I also discovered that I was driven by connecting people and creating values. I wanted to create meaningful work that makes a difference in people’s life.
That was when I thought of my mentor and the project I missed.
Time is our best teacher
It took me 6 months to know what I wanted and felt the pain of missing the opportunity that I didn’t appreciate.
After 3 months operating a café, I was absolutely certain that I would never be tempted by security again. Then I started a content writing company which felt like a life’s calling. However, I soon discovered that there are two types of writing – write because I have something to say and write for the sake of writing.
6 months later, I couldn’t beat myself up because every experience gives us valuable lessons and propels us forward.
My journey brought me where I am today, to know my strengths, values, and to believe that I have a skill that could create value for people.
Don’t let ego hold you back
When I started writing full time, I thought I reached my destination. Despite feeling deep appreciation for my mentor, I accepted that losing connection was the way of life for us. I never thought I would reach out to him again.
However, as I progressed, I realized that I needed guidance and a bigger challenge to rise up to.
One day, the pain of not extending my edge became far bigger than the pain of being rejected, I pushed my ego aside and made the ask.
Security comes from someone who back you up
‘What do you want from me?’ my mentor asked me.
I told him that I felt hurt when he doubted me before. He said he never doubted me, but if I chose to do things that made me happy, he would not get in my way.
I told him that I found my strength in writing when I got paid to do what I enjoyed. He said that I should believe in myself and not let external affirmation define me.
It is important to know what I want so that I know what to look for. Having someone who understands my values, supports my growth and gives me time is the best kind of ‘security’ one could ever get.
I found a cause that I’m willing to struggle for, that’s a gift in life.