He was his own harshest critic and judgemental toward others
Yitzchak was a talented adolescent. He was very smart, had an interest in music, and was a gifted artist. Yitzchak’s problem was that he could not recognize his talents. He was his own harshest critic, and he would never accept a compliment. He was also equally judgemental towards others, and would constantly criticize those around him. Yitzchak reflected his bad feelings about himself onto everyone around him, and this made him very unpopular.
Sometimes, Kav L’Noar will pair mentees with mentors that share similar personalities. However, Yitzchak was matched with a mentor called Aryeh who seemed to be his polar opposite. Aryeh was a hugely warm, accepting person who never judged anyone and could always see the good in people. Aryeh was immediately impressed by Yitzchak’s obvious talents and was excited at the prospect of working with him. Yitzchak did not share the same enthusiasm.
Yitzchak often found an excuse to avoid meeting up with Aryeh. One time he said he had to visit relatives, another time he said he had too much homework, and other times he told his mentor he just wasn’t in the mood. Aryeh did not give up. He kept calling, and kept trying to schedule time with Yitzchak.
During one phone call with Aryeh, Yitzchak let slip that he enjoyed drawing. Aryeh persuaded him to let him see his art. He convinced Yitzchak to give him some tips on how he could improve his own drawing. Once they started drawing together, the meetings became more consistent.
Yitzchak and Aryeh carried on meeting for a year and a half. During that time, Aryeh was consistently enthusiastic about everything that Yitzchak was doing and encouraged him to develop his talents. Gradually, Yitzchak started to believe what Aryeh was telling him, and to accept that maybe he wasn’t so worthless after all. As he began to feel better about himself, he started to relate to others more positively as well. He developed friendships with others in his class. He went from feeling like a loser and a loner, to being an active and sensitive member of his class at school.
In one sense, this was a complete turnaround. In another sense, all that happened was that qualities that had always been inside Yitzchak were brought out into the open, for everybody, including Yitzchak himself, to appreciate and to benefit from.
Thanks to mentoring, both his insides and his outsides reflected the positive attitude Yitzchak had developed about himself.
Several years have gone by since this all happened, but Yitzchak and Aryeh are still in touch.