By Jenny Leigh Hodgins
I spent the past month carving 1 to 4 hours out of my freelance schedule four days weekly to teach a young woman to drive. Her personal experience of being in car accidents delayed her interest in learning to drive until her early 20s. I knew teaching her to drive would be a special challenge because of the psychological pressure she endured.
I did my best to guide her from the nervous, apprehensive state she had at the start, to become the competent, safe driver she is now. Watching her face her fears head-on, practice to overcome her weaknesses and master each new skill gave me a sense of personal satisfaction. She is a youth who represents the potential in all of us.
She is part of the generation whose task will be to lead our society out of the darkness we older humans have created. Doing whatever we can to find opportunities to raise a capable youth to feel empowered by her own abilities is a source of hope and strength.
Encouraging this young woman to acknowledge her self-slandering remarks as she tackled a completely new world, and deliberately let go of her doubts, while dealing with her fears from past experiences, was a constant in our driving lessons.
It was good to see her gradually leave the scaffolding of fear and doubt behind as she began embracing her competency as a driver. An emerging self-reliance, along with a rising sense of independence and courage have begun to grow in her.
This is only the beginning of her capacity as a powerful, strong, independent young woman who will do her part to contribute to a better world. A single, young person feeling good about herself has the ultimate power to impact others in profound and lasting ways.
Looking for opportunities to offer whatever we can to raise capable youth is the responsibility of my generation. It is time we help young people overcome their internal obstacles, as this is the key for their victory over inevitable difficulties in life. Each person winning over their inner struggle is a force for good, harmony and peace in a world that desperately needs mending.
None of this was easy for me; I gave up critical time from my business, as my workflow and productivity were severely interrupted. The daily sessions were mentally stressful for this 54-year old.
I racked my brain every step of the way to find adequate words to guide my unseasoned driving student toward a grasp of handling a vehicle for the first time in multiple scenarios. Giving up my daily routine toward helping someone else was a sacrifice. Now I must pay for it by working fast and twice as hard to catch up on lost business and productivity.
But the process taught me that each person, including myself, has something that can help another person. My personal relationship with this young woman developed based on her trust that I care about her. That trust, plus my years as a teacher made me the right person, with the right strategy, to encourage her.
This reminded me of my duty, as someone whose youthfulness is now in my rearview mirror, to find more chances to raise capable youth for our future. Now that we have another safe, capable driver on the road, I’m looking outside my box to encourage the next young person toward their limitless potential. Our world is in need of mentors. Young people are ready to lead. Let’s roll forward on that.
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