Misha knows firsthand how we can draw strength from shared experiences; it’s what motivates her to help people going through situations that were once her own. Today, she teaches self-care techniques to women in a domestic violence shelter — techniques passed to her by her mentor, Charlotte.
When Misha was 25, she joined LIFT’s mentorship program looking for ways to manage mental health issues and the challenges of being a single mom. LIFT works to break the cycle of poverty by empowering and investing in parents, and they soon matched Misha with another mother, Charlotte.
Charlotte partnered with Misha to create a space of mutual support, encouragement, and understanding. Misha persevered and accomplished multiple goals throughout the mentoring experience.
Sharing Experiences Without Shame
Having had mentoring relationships in her own life, Charlotte knows the impact this support system can have. As a young, single mother, she fought to find her path and relates to the social and economic hardships many parents face. Now a legal administrator, her desire to help people in underserved communities is what drives her to mentor through LIFT. When she met Misha, in many ways, she felt like she was seeing herself, she says.
The pair immediately realized they had a lot in common. Both were mothers committed to making a better life for their daughters and themselves. However, Misha didn't feel comfortable sharing some of her experiences for fear of being judged. When Charlotte spoke about her own background, Misha’s reservations were relieved, and she began to open up.
“The best thing about having Charlotte as a mentor is feeling that I am not being judged or looked down upon because I know that she went through a similar situation as me, so she understands me,” Misha explains. “Charlotte sees herself in me and now I know that I can be in a position like her, become a professional and mentor others.”
In being matched with Misha, Charlotte learned that a good mentor must take the time to get to know their mentee well, she said. This patience is essential to build trust and feel confident that you’re offering the best advice.
Learning New Tools
After just a month of speaking together, Misha started to believe more in herself and others. She passed all her classes and received her driving permit: a goal that boosted her confidence. She also grew as a mother, finding that she had more patience and could create enjoyable experiences for her daughter. Utilizing the self-care techniques she learned from Charlotte, she developed a different mindset to protect her space and energy while maintaining a healthy environment. Crucially, despite still dealing with challenges, she learned not to be so hard on herself.
“The situation that I am currently going through does not define who I am as a person,” she noted.
“Holding Space Together”
Throughout the pandemic, Charlotte and Misha’s relationship developed in a virtual environment — one that didn’t stop them from developing the strong bond they share today. They describe their many months “holding space together” as a powerful experience that continues to help both women in their lives. Misha considers her mentor a role model and someone she trusts like a mother figure. And when asked where she would be without her mentee, Charlotte’s response is simple:
“I would not be who I am in this moment,” she says.
To learn more about the benefits of peer mentoring, check out our Best Practices for Peer Mentoring webinar. If you think you could support a young person to overcome challenges in their lives, join the mentoring movement today.