Sadly, motherhood wasn’t in the cards for me, and that ship has long since sailed along with any energy I might have had left for parenting.
As I was lamenting the fact that I have no one to guilt into taking care of me in my old age, I was hit with another reality—I also don’t have anyone to leave my “things” to.
Besides my friend’s kids, who I have watched grow up from the time they were born, I can’t say that I have had many young people in my life.
In fact, if I am going to be honest (and you know I am), somewhere between the rise of “cancel culture” and this irritating need to abbreviate every single word down to three letters, and being called “bro” by a generation of self-described self-absorbed people with an over-dependence and addiction to technology, I found myself intentionally avoiding people of a certain age group like they were the bubonic plague.
I just can’t sometimes with what I see and hear from people these days. It’s enough to make me wanna holler and throw up both my hands.
You should see me chuckling to myself as I type this. I guess now I understand what my elders felt observing the crazy shenanigans my generation got up to. But as the t-shirt says, “The 90’s so much fun. No evidence.”
But back to the young ones of today.
So, where is all of this coming from?
Well, recently, I purged myself of things I felt that I no longer needed to hold onto. I meant to do it before the end of the year, but that plan didn’t quite work out, so I spent the first two weeks of the new year fixated on getting rid of things. To date, I’ve probably shredded over 10,000 pieces of paper and freed myself of boxes and boxes of things that I hadn’t touched, used, or thought of in years. If you know, you know. It’s a process.
As I was going through my things, I couldn’t help but think how cool it would have been to have someone to give it to.
I am not dying anytime soon, that I know. But I am at that age where I think I have more years behind me than in front of me. And while I have done a lot of things in my short time here, mentoring hasn’t been one of them.
And really, that’s a shame because I would not be here today had folks not mentored and looked out for me. The list of people who gave me a chance, made a way, and didn’t let my age interfere with them getting involved with my life is exhaustive. Some have passed on, many are still here and still mentoring.
January is National Mentoring Month and as I constantly challenge myself to do better and do more, 2023 is going to be there year I start to spend more time with the young people.
Instead of avoiding them, talking about them, and having a general disdain for anyone younger than 35, I am going to start giving the same guidance and emotional support that I benefited from to some young people in my community.
I really am.
I have already signed up to be a mentor with the 100 Black Men of Greater Los Angeles’ community-based See Your Future Female Mentoring program.
It will be a new experience but one that I am looking forward to and I am long overdue.
We do have a responsibility to help our young people. Many young men and women really do just need someone to listen to them, give emotional support, and be a role model and positive influence in their life.
I can make the time to do that.
Some time ago, I started doing that informally with one young lady who I think is a very talented young journalist dedicated to telling the stories of Black Los Angeles. You may know her as Slauson Girl. I feel like the little things I have done and shared with her have made a difference in her life, and she always tells me how appreciative she is that I support young people like her.
My relationship with her is definitely one of the reasons why I am moving forward in my mentoring journey because I have seen the effect a positive, supportive influence can have on someone.
For my L.A. fam who can spare a couple of hours a month to spend with a young person, join me in the 100 Black Men of Greater Los Angeles mentoring program. You can sign up on their website at 100bmla.net. They are having an orientation on Saturday, Jan. 28.
Like we always say, it’s going to take all of us.
Thank you to all of my mentors, many, who still continue to guide me.
And all y’all under 35 folks, we’re working on ourselves, lol. Don’t give up on us yet because we aren’t giving up on you.
Jasmyne Cannick is a Gen X award-winning journalist and on-air contributor in Los Angeles. She writes and talks about the collisions at the intersection of politics, race, and social issues.