Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Feels Like the First Time

Welp, the Powers That Be recently kicked off a formalized mentorship program at work. There's a little matchmaking questionnaire, some PowerPoint presentations, some billable time allotted, and poof! No employee left behind. Sweet, eh? Plus, they somehow decided I would make a suitable mentor. Me! This gives me a warm, fuzzy and mildly terrified feeling inside, similar to the one I got when I managed to trick the bank into giving me a mortgage - they think I’m a grown-up!
What gives me a decidedly less-fuzzy feeling is the actual mentorship process itself. I mean, the people are great, that’s not an issue, but the atmosphere of the whole thing is so... ‘ow you say?... awkward as all get out. It’s like I’m first-dating these people. But a very pointed first date: first-dating with a purpose, which is wildly different from any first-dating I’ve previously done. Historically, I’d say that I’m actually really good at first-dating. I realize this seems contrary to my purported social awkwardness issues, but it always seemed to me there was a well-defined set of parameters to work with for dating: it goes poorly, you bail. It goes well, you get naked. Easy! This new first-dating has no such tidy exit or move-forward strategies. And like I said, it’s so - purposeful. We’re talking about our resumes. We’re sharing five-year plans. We’re planning our next phase together.
This must be what first-dating is like when you’re in your thirties: Listen, my clock is ticking here. D'you want a big wedding or what?

By way of a timely tactical shift in my early twenties from aggressive sport dating to serial monogamy I thought I had managed to dodge that particular bullet, yet here we are, and I have to confess I'm at a bit of a loss for how to deal with this thirty-something purposeful-dating business. I had simply never considered the prospect. Plus I know they're going to talk about their experiences with other mentees in the company so now it's a competition on top of everything else. I find myself trying for super-cool-and-fun purposeful-dates. The cognitive dissonance is killing me.

And if it doesn't go well? No matter, we simply continue purposeful-dating, quarterly, for all eternity or until one of us un-friends the other person via an HR intervention (and you thought the dates were awkward!), whichever comes first.

There's one small way in which these purposeful-dates have the edge over other dates: don't tell my mentees, but I'm so not shaving my legs for them.

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