Happy Weekend, Kansas City! Our Mom Squad Ambassador, Sarah, has some great advice on the necessity of having a mentor. I think a lot of us can agree that life really does take a village, and Sarah has some great ideas on not only why we need a mentor, but how to find one. Check it out…
Why We All Need a Mentor and How to Find One
Do you ever wonder how someone else would handle this situation? What other parents would do to combat the crying child in Target? Maybe you just want to bounce ideas off another person at work; someone who won’t judge or criticize you for badmouthing the guy who keeps stealing your lunch! I think about these things all the time. With my best friend 3 hours away and my Mom, Aunt, cousins and other wonderful women a phone call away, it is really hard to get that much needed face time with them; unless you actually use Facetime, which we all know can sometimes freeze if we go into bad reception!
The human resource department in my office is always about us getting this person that we can talk with; the biz calls these people mentors. As I was listening to another presentation about how we all need one of these I started thinking about all the “mentors” in my life and the fact that I have needed several and at different stages.
To begin, let’s define what a mentor is so we are all on the same page. According to the dictionary a mentor is 1. Experienced advisor and supporter, usually older and more experienced who advises and guides a younger person. A counselor, guide, or teacher. 2. A trainer, a senior or experienced person in a company or organization who gives guidance and training to a junior colleague. So why is it that we need mentors…?
…At age 20?
What an age! Think about it you are going through so much. It could be college and then getting a job, finding love and having babies. And that isn’t even the order most of us go in! Those 10 years of your 20’s are so dynamic. And you can argue with me till you are blue in the face but everyone is going to change during this time. What a perfect time to have a person that maybe has been there before, or someone going through the same things that you are.
…At age 30?
Thirties stink! And I would have never said that in my 20’s. I was positive that when I got to the big 3-0 that everything would change. My colleagues at work would start to treat me as an adult instead of a crazy, drinking-all-night, coming into work hung-over 29 year old. I would be married by 30, have kids at 31 and 33 and we would be a perfect family. Ha! I am not too concerned with the timing of everything; it is how all of those things changed me yet again. Living with someone who saw me pluck my eyebrows and bleach my upper lip was a huge thing to get used to. Pretty sure I wore makeup to bed the first few months of our marriage. I won’t go into how kids changed me (we will save that for another article!). Work was still the same, only now I had this pressure of what I was going to do in 5 years and I had no way of knowing. This is when I was blessed with a wonderful boss who actually realized before me that I was floundering and talked to me about it. I hated crying in her office; but it was a breakthrough. She became my mentor that I still talk to today about everything. And she still has the best advice and “open door” policy. Does it matter that she is in an entirely different point in her life? No! She has been through what I am going through, she has had the arguments and heard the comments from the corner office, she has been at the point of force-feeding her kids (not really, but close!) and I get all the benefit from it! I get it, you still know it all in your 20’s so you don’t need someone to help you through; but take this advice—get a mentor in your 30’s!
…At age 40?
Made it through! A few more wrinkles, maybe a little extra weight that creeps in, a strange ache in your head after just one glass of wine—welcome to “over the hill”! If you have kids they are probably doing things on their own now or at least spending he majority of their time in their rooms! In any case you have a little more time on your hands. Maybe work takes up a little more of that time; and now that you have the time to devote are the options still there? This mentor (and maybe it is a totally different person than at age 30) will come in handy to have those conversations with about a possible reentering of the workforce. In your 40’s you are starting to get to that place in your life where you are taking care of two generations and possibly under the same roof! You still may have kids in the house but as parents get older they are going to need a caretaker as well. This is going to require some counseling and support from someone who has been through it before.
…at age 50?
Welcome to an empty nest! Oh yeah and for women that amazing time of body changing called puberty in your 50’s aka Menopause. And for men, these changes that are coming with this full 180 are going to change him as well! Kids are probably out of, or close to being out of, the house and now it’s just you and your spouse. You have been dreaming about this for years and what you would do! But on day one you are sitting on the couch just staring at each other! Most will run and hide, some may find a hobby, those still in the workforce start burying themselves in work. All these activities may seem to help for a while but it isn’t going to last long term and in actuality most people don’t want it to. Start having coffee once a week with your mentor and talk these things out. It gets you out of the house and gives some direction to the changes going on in your life.
So here are some of the things that I am sure you are thinking.
“I don’t need a ‘mentor’ I just need to talk to my best friend.”
Ever heard the term “It takes a village?” We need mentors (counselors, guides, teachers—whatever you want to call them) at every point in our lives. Best friends are great and are needed just as much, but they know what happened in the village before it became a village. In other words, they are too close to the situation in some cases. A true mentoring partnership typically is someone older who has been there and can be that unbiased opinion.
“No one is calling to mentor me!”
“I checked my email, made sure my cell was on and still no one is calling me to ask to mentor me!” Yeah because it is up to you to make your village! No one is going to probably knock down the walls to try and get in and vice versa. You are going to have to ask to let people in. Trust me, this gives me more anxiety than anything, but a great place to find these people? At school drop-offs, playdates, at work cafeterias or PTA meetings, you have a room of men and women who are there just like you with shut doors so they can’t get away! I would have to guess that most will be more than happy to talk with you. I probably would advise not starting too in depth but eventually getting up to that point. In the long run this relationship and friendship will be worthwhile.
From iFamily to Yours,