What is a mentor?
mentor \ˈmen-ˌtȯr, -tər\nounone who teaches or gives help and advice to a less experienced personverbto guide people in a way that allows them to maximize their potential, develop their knowledge and skill set, and improve their performance
I am an Allergy Mentor. Not a coach. I think the difference is really important. But most people look at me quizzically if I introduce myself as such. I never get a puzzled look if I say I’m an allergy coach.
Let’s talk about the difference I see. I see a mentor as someone who has lived in a situation, who has gained knowledge and experience in walking through the challenges, and who wants to offer the benefit of their journey to someone else.
I see a coach as someone who has studied the situation and who has a strong intellectual understanding of it. That person knows how the game should be played, and can offer suggestions and guidance on what play will be effective.
The difference is subtle. As a mentor, I’ve been there. My understanding is more than intellectual. I can empathize, or sympathize, and relate with personal insight. No standing on the outside offering coaching. Standing right here in the game, offering you a hand to pull you toward your goal.
With allergies, I feel this is a massive advantage. I know that when I talk to someone in the allergy community, the connection over shared experiences is instant. The emotions, the struggles, the daily life… we are speaking a shared language. There is no intellectualizing. There is understanding.
If you are new to the world of food allergies, I know it can feel overwhelming. I also know there are other allergy moms and dads out there who get it, and who want to help you. I want to make your transition into this world easier than mine was. Reach out, find a mentor. The buoyancy that comes from sharing your struggle with someone who has walked the same path is worth reaching for, and can save your sanity.
If you need a mentor, speak up. If you want to be a mentor, reach out. The world works better when we can lean on each other.