Mental or Mentor?


 I managed to get two of my favorite words in the title. The word ‘Mental’ opens up my door to the sky and lets me be swing my pen with no rules. I mean my signature workshop is called Let’s Get MAD! what more can you expect? But here is where the word ‘Mentor’ hops in and balances the madness putting my ‘feet’ on the ground and pausing my wheels.

On 10th of August at Serena Islamabad I got an opportunity to share space with renowned Pakistani women such as Rakshanda Naz, Simi Raheel, Moneeze Hashmi, Musarhat Misbah and Salima Hashmi. The occasion was to Launch the campaign ‘Pathways to Success’ which is a mentorship program for adolescent girls by World Learning.

Though I sat there quite posed and composed, I have to say I felt the mental in me jumping up and down on being so close to the women I had admired from afar but the mentor in me reminded me of the greater responsibility ahead.

As the panel went on, we all shared our stories on why mentorship is important to us and how we plan to contribute to the program. I have to confess I never felt the importance of the people in my life who had mentored me consciously and unconsciously until I reached I myself was asked to mentor.

By the time I was 16 I knew I wanted to do something worthwhile with my life. While many of my problems were pulling me down and making me mental enough to quit and give up. My mentors stepped in at many levels to lift me up. My first interaction was with my Painting Teacher, Mam Ufaq Ehsan. I joined her for a summer course and she opened doors for me that I never knew were in my own brain. She made me believe that there’s more to the Sky. It’s a Canvas belonging to Allah and Wallah! How He paints it day and night. She gave me books on Sufism and Pakistan’s history followed by discussions. She also made me read magazine covers and analyze on what the hidden message is. My homework was not just completing paintings but to research and write essays on subjects like, ‘The Big Bang theory’. She once stopped to congratulate me on my concentration while painting because I kept dipping my brush in the juice.

I had my second mentor in India while during a trip he asked me, ‘Tanzila how can we solve the Kashmir issue?’ I wondered why am I being asked these questions. I’m just a 20 year old who has yet to make a round chappati. I mean am I not just good enough to have had fought patriarchy and have come so far? But no! Here was a man who saw me more than who I thought I was and raised the bar for my opinions. He said, ‘You need to empower yourself to solve world problems. How else are they going to solve if you keep thinking about Chappatis’. His statement moved me to the core and since that day I raised the bar not only of my opinions but also of my service. I had a great shift in my choices, opinions and ideas. Suddenly I was thinking big because someone made me see the worth of my life.

I joined the program on invitation by Mam Moneeza Hashmi and saw this as a great opportunity to help girls raise the bar of their aims and goals. It’s very important to have a mentor or even mentors. To believe that you are guided you need to be guided. And while the mental is all set to hold you down, let your mentor let you free.

Outfit: Agha Noor

Venue: Serena Islamabad

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