Welcome back to “Tuesdays with Ana”! Today’s topic is saying good-bye.
Nah, I’m not leaving. Not that kind of good-bye. No one died, either. Not that kind of post.
But recently, I said good-bye and thank you to a professional mentor who has “been there” for me, in one form or another (a thorn in my side or a cheerleader on the sidelines), for the majority of my time in my current position. When I first met her, she was a godsend. She helped me navigate the intricacies of a truly idiosyncratic system, and especially in the early days I relied on her for advice, guidance, and wisdom.
I was only her second professional protege, and she rose to the occasion over and over again. She had a reputation as a cold fish, but with me fell over herself to give the best treatment. She took me home to meet her family, toasted my successes with wine, and cheered for me in one never-ending stream of encouragement and nitpicking.
I push myself hard, and in my mentors I look for someone who will push me even more. She was that and more.
Yet at a certain point, our paths diverged. My professional interests no longer lay in the direction that she was taking me. What worked well when I was an eager newbie didn’t work as well once I’d settled into my own path. She turned her attention toward other new, eager proteges who *wanted* to follow in her footsteps, every one of them. I realized that I no longer wanted to play follow-the-leader.
In my line of work, a mentor is the sine qua non of professional advancement. I struck out on my own, only to realize that I did need guidance. Darn it. I was sure that no one could help me with my chosen career path, and I was even more sure that I couldn’t mold myself into the approved career path of my mentor.
It’s the same pattern of my spanky writing…that I write from the heart and most determinedly will write what I want and most fervently believe in. It would be a lot easier for me if I could force myself to write according to conventions, but that can’t happen. Not that I choose not to, but that I physically am incapable of writing from a mold. I’d sell a lot more books if I followed the formula, I’d get a lot more reviews, and I’d make a lot more money.
But what I have learned over the past half-year is that I am who I am. Online and offline, kinky and vanilla. Learning to let go of this mentor in my offline vanilla life has helped me to realize how much I have grown as a person…through this online kinky life. I can stay in this moment, treasuring all that I have been given while acknowledging that I have moved on. People come into our lives for different reasons during different seasons, but they don’t always get to stay.
In changing to someone new, I’ve let go of a lot of my fantasies about a mentor. I don’t expect someone who will anticipate my needs, make me happy, ask me whether things are okay, or mentor me in the way I wish to be mentored. I want someone competent at his or her job who gives me the tools to succeed…and then gets out of my way.
Sometimes, when the people closest to us are not doing what we want them to do, it’s time to take stock of our own expectations. In what ways are our expectations for others built on fantasy of a perfect mentor/spouse/parent/child/etc.?
Since The Way Home comes out tomorrow, we’ll wait to discuss Kat and Natalie until next Tuesday. Kat loses her mentor and must learn how to adjust her own expectations. But for today, I’d like to prepare for that discussion by pondering this question:
I’d like you to go here to read this M/F story again…but be sure to come back! As you read, please think about the fantasy element. Would you like to have a spouse like Rick? Do you think Rick is realistic? Do you agree that this story is a fantasy? If yes, do you think that fantasies like these are potentially helpful or harmful for practicing a DD lifestyle?