Awhile back, I met a friend’s coworker; this coworker happened to be a creative writing major like myself. The friend had been, like, super-excited to finally connect us — the idea being that I, writing both creatively and professionally — would somehow be able to impart some wisdom or inspiration upon this person who, younger than me, had gotten a job, but one that was nowhere even remotely close to a writing gig.
Yes, there were a few things wrong with this picture from the get-go:
- My dear friend, while meaning well, had expectations that were almost guaranteed to implode into a black hole of doom.
- Millennial — need I say more?
- Did this coworker even want a writing job?
Although you’ve probably already guessed it, allow me to confirm that our meeting each other did not go well. I mean, it wasn’t a knock-down throw-out or anything — other people were present, after all — but it was rather awkward.
For one, I got the sense that this person was rather — well, for lack of a better term, I suppose — shallow. The conversation somehow got onto the topic of workplace gossip — she an advocate, because she thinks it’s “how females in an office bond”; me a stern rejector of this behavior for countless reasons, not to mention the fact that I was appalled on a feminist level by the statement.
Perhaps we just got off on the wrong foot with that.
But what’s kind of strange is that before this, I was having a conversation with someone among the group who’d studied literature. That was good times — probably two hours’ worth. I noticed, however, that gossipy coworker never once joined in.
Now, perhaps she’s the type that doesn’t join into conversations others are having readily…though I have to admit I’d find that difficult to believe, being that she’s predisposed to office-cooler talk.
Which brings me to the other conclusion: she just plain didn’t care. About literature or about writing.
Afterwards, I got the “So, what’d you think of my coworker?” question from my friend.
“Well, I’m not really sure she wants to be a writer. I mean, I know that’s what her degree’s in and all, but not everybody’s serious about it.”
“But isn’t it a waste of her degree to be doing XYZ job instead of a writing job like you? I just thought if you could talk to her about it — mentor her or something — she might be more inclined to pursue it.”
True or not, I’m never going to have that talk with her. And it’s not even because I’m not particularly fond of her; I’ve known plenty of fellow writers I haven’t adored and who haven’t dug me, either, but there’s usually still been a level of professional respect, and we’ve helped each other out nevertheless.
No, the reasons I’m not going to try to mentor this person are actually much simpler than that:
- It’s kinda not my responsibility, and
- I’m fairly certain she’s not interested.
Now, my friend isn’t a meddler, though perhaps an assumer. My friend has nothing but the best intentions here. And I’ve been very blessed and fortunate to have had quite a few mentors in my life who’ve made remarkable differences in it, so I understand how essential mentorship can be to living up to one’s full potential. But mentorship, like any other relationship, is quite simple: both parties have to be interested. And in this case, neither are.
This question of responsibility to one another, though, somewhat complicates this matter, and that’s why I’m writing this blog. See, when you really think about it, everyone is always looking for something — “interested,” in other words. And I’m of the spiritual belief that everybody’s here to give something to the world as well.
It’s good to be aware of when you’re not the right person to give another that thing you know they’re looking for.
But I wonder, is there any way that we can be the living example to those who seem blind to it? Should this even be something we strive toward?