Hi there, mentee!
This essay is an attempt to talk you out of calling me your ‘sir’. I know you’ll feel awkward at the sound of it because you have been accustomed to this idea since childhood. But I’d rather, you call me by my name.
The not so grave reasons:
1. If you’ve seen me, chances are that it is hard to believe I’ll be mentoring you. I probably look more like your college mate than your mentor.
2. Being referred to as a ‘sir’ makes me feel old. Don’t do that to me!
The slightly more serious reasons:
1. I felt a great divide between the teaching fraternity and the students back in my days in formal education. It gave away an impression that teachers are superior owing to their subject knowledge and experience. Although there is no taking away the vast amount of life experiences they bring to the table, I’d like to believe we all have something valuable to offer- regardless of the positions we hold.
2. I’m by no means perfect. Although a teacher (or a mentor in my case) is supposed to know better, I can say with confidence that I may know better in certain areas I guide you in, but in most other areas of my life, I struggle. I have my share of anxieties and vulnerabilities and that’s okay.
3. If you still insist on calling me ‘sir’ out of respect, I’d urge you to respect me firstly as a human, in which case, just calling me by my name will do for as long as you have genuine respect for me. If you want to respect me for the position I hold, let me earn that from you first. And once I have earned it, I will demand that you still call me by my name.
Dear mentee, my job as your mentor is to help you cross a river I’m slightly more familiar with. And in this journey we’ll share together in the boat, I will strive to be more of a friend to you than a teacher. A friend who genuinely cares for you, wants the best for you. Urging you to call me by my name is just one of many little ways I believe will go a long way in making you feel that I will always be there for you as a friend through thick and thin.
Dai, I used to call you ‘sir’ intentionally, just because, I didn’t knew you were this serious about the word ‘sir’.