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Mentorship and the Millenial Woman

Delali Ayivor

There has been much talk lately of what it means to be a “modern woman.”

I am told that I am a millennial, that I am part of a generation, a movement much larger than myself. This may be true for the purposes of the census but on a day-to-day level I am not overly-conscious of myself as a particular type of woman who is part of a particular type of generation. I owe that to my parents, who built a life for my sister and myself that meant that we could decide who we wanted to be, that we could fulfill most of our dreams if we had the ambition.

So this blog post is not about what it means to be a millennial woman because:

1.) I’m less concerned with “having it all” by myself as I am with everyone getting the very least that they deserve (give me a society with truly equal rights for all, then we’ll talk.)

2.) I’m 19-years-old and I cannot speak on behalf of an entire people.

I have refused to do this since third grade when, while becoming friends with the most popular girl in school, I was designated as the emissary to tell some poor girl who had done nothing that “no one” liked her; I’ve strayed away from the crowd mentality ever since.

What this post is about is mentorship.

This has been a pivotal argument in the “modern woman” debate: who does the next generation of women look up to and why? The landscape seems bleak. Those astute enough not to follow the Kardashian life plan seem equally as disinterested in becoming the high-flying corporate woman on the other end of the spectrum. So the millennial generation, my generation, has decided they can go it alone.

Coming from the perspective of a writer, the importance of mentorship being questioned is baffling to me. My high-school poetry teacher always used to say “everyone needs a guru” and this is a dictum that I take, truly, to heart. Everything that I’ve ever written is given in praise to someone or something: another writer, my family, a lover, nature. I figure if I allow my work to be influenced by my environment then I owe it a great debt. There is no such thing as a poem in vacuum.

If there is anything that my arts education has taught me, it is the smallness of myself; it has made me a steward of the world. I suppose this is not “mentorship” in the traditional definition but, like I said, I’ve never been that attuned to what the particular definition of something is and besides, this has become a personal philosophy of mine—to be in constant awe of the world, to take whatever it is willing to give to me and then to give praise in return.

I once wrote in an essay that I wanted to absorb the world, to become a vehicle of consumption, unhinge my jaw and swallow the world whole. This, I think, is my defining characteristic, what makes me part of some greater plan.

I think this is also what distinguishes me from a millennial woman, the want not to “have it all” but to consume it all. This is what makes me an artist, and I am more than willing to be a conscious part of that timeless generation.

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