My mom had five kids - numbers two to five are 6 to 8 years apart.
She raised us to take care of each other. Number 2 took care of number 3 and 4. Number 3 took care of number 4 (me) and 5. And I took care of number 5. We all took care of my mom too. And she took care of us.
The family is a microcosm of society, the macrocosm. In my school and work families, I draw from my family model to inform my relationships and take care of business. That is, instead of acting out sibling rivalry and competing ruthlessly for perceived diminishing resources, I believe that we can help each other and things will work out.
Not all co-workers or classmates operate from the same working model.
Fortunately, my PhD cohort of three does this beautifully. We have met regularly since day one of the program. We share notes, resources, ideas, support, drinks at noon on birthdays and whatever else will get us through sanely. When others romanticize the journey we are on, it's nice to know that we get it - the good, the bad and the terribly horrible.
It is the fourth year of our PhD journey and we are all done with coursework, passed all our comprehensive written exams, completed the required publishable paper, and are diligently working on our dissertation proposals. We also have families and jobs and other responsibilities. Ours is a model cohort in that we are all on target and genuinely care about each other. I know that we got here because of our relationships.
I have been mentoring since I was a girl. I get thank you messages from people that I mentored 20 and 30 years ago. My mom taught me to love and care about others. It has been my joy to do so.
I have been mentored by wonderful people my whole life too - public school teachers, Sunday school leaders, professors, supervisors and friends.
If I have accomplished anything it is surely because someone gave me support, advice, encouraged and believed in me, and modeled for me how to do it.
I wish us all healthy relationships with ourselves, people who are older, people who are younger and people our own age. It's amazing what we can do together. If we are not here to love each other, then what are we here for exactly?