Lost? Find a Mentor

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by Ryan Berhar |

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Refined By Fire Ryan Berhar

After I graduated high school, I had zero ideas of what I would do from there. The paths that young adults typically take were not workable for me.

I couldn’t simply move into an apartment and get a job at Starbucks. I couldn’t go off to college, and community college wasn’t viable, either. The only assistance the college was prepared to offer me was a note taker, which doesn’t come close to cutting it.

For me, the ticket was finding a mentor — someone who could identify and help me refine one of my skills. I talked about my writing training in a previous column, “My Writing Has Blossomed from Hobby to Passion and Hope,” but I wanted to dedicate this column specifically to my mentors.

My weekly meetings with Michael began about two-and-a-half years ago. He’s an elder at my childhood church and is knowledgeable in many fields. At first, our sessions purposely lacked structure so he could assess what I needed. While meeting with no particular plan was great for a while, developing more of an agenda was key for the long-term sustainability of our mentorship.

After about a year of minimal structure, we started focusing on writing. This was a life-changing development for me.

After writing practice articles for about a year, I started my sports blog and was brought on as a columnist here shortly afterward. The biggest flaw in my writing was an over-usage of, as Michael puts it, “trite” words. And commas are still my nemesis. My writing was fraught with “verys,” “reallys,” and errant commas. Thanks to Michael, I cringe every time I see trite words now, but mastering commas still eludes me.

I’m thankful for Michael, because he’s generous with his time. For the last few years, he’s taken time out of his schedule pretty much every single week to meet with me. You won’t find many people who are willing or able to do that. He’s the biggest reason I have this job.

I also have another mentor, Trevor, who’s a pastor at the aforementioned church. While he hasn’t trained me in any one area, he has been a good friend, and has given me great life advice in general.

For me, it has been fruitful to have different mentors who can help me along in various areas in life. If you are a young adult with SMA who’s feeling directionless, find a mentor or two, and you’ll likely be amazed by the results.


Note: SMA News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of SMA News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to spinal muscular atrophy.


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