This year, I’ve enjoyed something so special about growing older. I realize that when I’m with my students, I know I bring to them a lifetime of accumulated resources, expertise, networking connections, and mentorship. This semester, more than any other time in my life, I’ve been able to look at students and say, “I can help you. I know exactly what you need. I know exactly the person you want to meet. I know what resources you need and how to get them.”
I joyfully spend more time writing strategic job and professional school recommendations, nominating students for key scholarships, editing professional materials, and sending emails to introduce students to the right professional people. I’m also the one promoting others on social media. (If you wonder why I’m always tweeting about Mike Watkins–our senior basketball player at Penn State–it’s because he was my student last year, and I want everyone to know how great he is!)
Outside of my teaching life, I spend more time than ever before helping readers who email me with writing questions. I know about agents, about proposals, about marketing, and about publishers.
It’s so wonderful to be this person.
What a change from my younger days! I used to need all the help and the attention. I used to crave the fame and the success. But now? Now I look at you, and I imagine your success, the attention you might have, and the ways I might help make your dreams comes true. Maybe it’s my age. Maybe it’s sanctification by the Holy Spirit. Maybe it’s because God sent me so many people who personally invested in my dreams–the teachers, speech coaches, the agents, the publishers, and the spiritual mentors–and I am inevitably following in their path.
I am. I really am. I’m now the person I once needed.
Last night, I marched down to the floor of the Penn State Basketball game right into the swarm of reporters, photographers, and videographers. (That was me if you saw it.) It’s because I once met the Big Ten Network announcer, Shon Morris (one of the absolute nicest people in the world) on a plane to Chicago. I have a student in broadcast journalism who will need an internship and then a career path. I had to make this connection for him. I tugged on Shon’s arm. “Do you remember me?” He did. “Will you do me a favor?” He would. “Will you let me connect you with my student?” He was thrilled. And I was so full of joy the rest of the night to help make someone else move a bit further down the road in the directions of their dream.
So my encouragement to you in this next phase of living with flair is to see who in your life needs more resources, more connections, more training, or more mentorship. You can be the person to make someone else succeed. What do you bring? What do you know? Whom do you know? How fun to go now and help the younger folks.