I got to see one of my mentors the other day. He was my first teacher in my college major, and the first to show me that I could make a career out of... what I do for a living. It's a competitive field, and, because of that, many of my classmates ended up doing other things.
(Do you enjoy the vagueness? It makes for some awkward writing, that's for sure!)
Anyway. When I first met him, he was pretty intimidating (though I'd later learn he's really just a big softie underneath it all). He had high standards, and expected a lot of us. It was a huge deal when he chose me to manage the student staff of... the thing we all worked on (awk!). This was a paying job, and being selected for it was a big vote of confidence. I added a year to my time in college because of the opportunity.
Mind you, this was more than two decades ago, though we've stayed in touch all this time. He's been a really important part of my life.
So it was truly wonderful to hear him say that when people ask him about who his students were, I'm second on his list of the "most accomplished." (Number One is high-profile, and is well-known in certain circles.) Because I just realized this is the closest thing to paternal approval I'll ever get.
I may have lost my father when I was young, but I've been really fortunate to have some very special teachers/mentors in my life, and I'm really lucky that some of them are still in my corner.