Role models and mentors

You learn from what you see around you. You learn from those people you spend time with, those books you read, those movies you watch and those news stories that make headlines. You learn an awful lot as you grow into what can be considered an adult, and during that time, your influences are largely parents, friends and school.

School is a wonderful thing, but also lacks in so many areas. You are taught how to learn. You are taught various things within a range of subjects. However, you are taught very little about life itself. How to manage finances. How to be a parent. How to deal with relationships. What getting a job is like. How to interview. All very important things, but not taught at school. Then again, is this the job of a school? Probably not, but if the education isn’t coming from there, you’re left with the education coming from home.

I grew up in a house on benefits. Not working class. Benefits class. Neither parent worked. The government paid money each week for my parents to buy food, clothes, and whatever else was required. The home we lived in was supplied by the local housing authorities, which they upgraded in size as the ages of myself and siblings increased. I lived in an area where many of those living around me were in a similar situation. The areas I lived, especially in my early years, aren’t those which people would choose to walk through at night, and probably not even during the day.

Both of my parents were good as far as I can tell. They did their best, though far from perfect. They focussed on the importance of education and wanted us all to do well. However, they didn’t really have a frame of reference of what “doing well” was. Neither had the life experience to provide those things that school doesn’t. My mum gave birth to me at 18 years old. She’d not even lived a life, moving from her family home to live with my dad. My dad was a lot older, but had grown on in the days of London crime, where he managed to spend his time with a family reputation to uphold, and therefore getting into trouble. Neither had any experience in the world that I now find myself living.

I grew up without role models I could hold up as something to work towards being. I knew I wanted more than I had. The trouble is, that education piece has always been missing. I find myself in a position where I know I want to be more, but have no idea what that actually means. I’ve made decent career progress, but have no frame of reference, no guidance, and no idea how to influence the rest of my journey. A mentor would certainly be helpful, but you generally need to have some kind of direction and seek advice or assistance for your already thought out plan. I’m not even close to that. I need someone to be the dad I missed out on having. The person that can throw around ideas, have suggestions, and help steer me towards something I don’t know exists, or never thought of.

There are a lot of very successful people that came from nothing. Less than me. However, they largely have an influence that they can point to that took them under their wing for a time. Maybe working class parents, or more likely, someone you would call a mentor.

I’ve done quite well with my life so far. Better than I could have hoped for when I was in my teens, for sure. However, coming this far, I know that there’s more. I just need to learn how to find it.

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