Shimmy was bullied in school for over a year. The bullying only got worse after his father passed away. Children began taunting him for crying so often and missing school to spend time with his family. The bullying went largely unnoticed by the school and, subsequently, went on, unimpeded for many months. After losing the closest relationships in his life and associating that with being verbally and emotionally abused by his peers he has a hard time trusting or connecting with anyone. During all that turmoil, I became Shimmy’s mentor.
Someone recently asked me what it is that I’ve learned from my experience as Shimmy’s mentor. I responded that it is not about what I’ve learned but rather who I’ve met. The boy that I mentor has had a hard life, having experienced family-related tragedy and social isolation. He does not go to school, he does not have friends, nor does he leave his house. These are all things that might point to someone who is weak or unable to face the world. But I’ve met Shimmy and the boy who I’ve met is someone who does not give up. Shimmy may have not gone to school or leave the house for a while, but his spirit is strong. He’s keeping himself safe from things that have hurt him and finding ways to get back out of the house and into school. It is his resilience and the awareness to know what he needs which I admire so much. That’s who Shimmy is, he’s the friend I’ve met.