Sunday, November 13, 2011

Young and Foolish

I had a little talk with my mentee the other day. A few weeks ago, a 34-year-old bus driver picked her up at 3 in the morning (it was closer to 4). I was extremely upset (and that's putting it mildly).

I told her that kind of behavior was very unlady like. I let her know that that old man had no respect for her by coming to get her at 3 in the morning and more importantly she was disrespecting herself by leaving at that time.

You need to date someone your age, I told her.

These young boys play too many games, she said.

And what does that 34-year-old man want with someone 23? You don't think he's playing games? I asked.

I don't understand it. She's a 23-year-old college graduate with her first professional job. She's smart. She's kind. She's a beautiful person. Why is she wasting her time with a 34-year-old bus driver - who has a kid ! (doesn't she know he probably picks up a lot of women on his route?)

But she likes him. He's got her nose wide open.

I want her to date a nice, college-educated professional her age - someone 24, 25. So I encouraged her to join the Urban League's Young Professional Network, where she'll meet upwardly mobile young men who are just starting their professional careers.

She rolled her eyes at me.

They're boring, she said. I'm young. I like to have fun. You don't know me. I like to party.

I do know her. She's exactly like I was at 23 - young and foolish.

Listen, I said, when I was 23 I partied. I partied hard.

"For real Lottie?" she said surprised.

I had to break it down to her: Girl, yes. I was in a new city. I had my own apartment. I had a car, a job. I was out all the time. I went to clubs, stayed out late, sometimes I didn't make it home til the sun came up. (I mean it's your 20s)

She couldn't believe it. I guess she thinks I'm just an old fuddy-dud who only goes to work and church. But at one time in my life I had a very active social life (and did things she will never know about - lol).

I wanted her to understand that I was her age once and met a lot of guys who I shouldn't have given the time of day, men who meant me no good. I want her to learn from my mistakes and make good decisions about the men she chooses.

Something I didn't do.

Like her, I had a long-term college boyfriend who was a good guy. Like her, I broke up with my good boyfriend after college because I wanted to be FREE. Like me, she's making all the wrong choices when it comes to men.

I am now paying for the choices I made at 23. I've been "free" for nearly 20 years now.

I know I can't tell her what to do, she's an adult. But I don't want her to be like me: Almost 40 and unsuccessful at love.

So, what do you guys think? Am I going about this the wrong way? What should I do? What should I say? Should I just leave it alone and let her go about her life? How can I get her to understand that this 34-year-old man (with a kid) isn't about anything real?

My mentee has so much going for her. Her life is just beginning. I don't want her to throw it away on a man who ain't about nothing.

Let me know your thoughts.


SingLikeSassy said...

I think it's good to talk to her and share what you can since your relationship with her is as a mentor and not a mom, but she may have to learn some life lessons from trial and error, too.

And yes, 23, 33, 43 -- anybody picking you up at 3 a.m. can't mean you no good. My mama said ain't nothing open after midnight but legs and jailhouses.

Sherri said...

She needs to learn from her own lessons. Everyone has a different life experience no matter how similar they may seem. She's young and not going to listen right now. It's great to give her advice but just make sure you're there when she needs your support... because she will.