What to look for in a mentor?
- Someone you find interesting.
- Someone you look up to as a role model and want to emulate.
- Someone who challenges you spiritually.
- Someone who is available.
- Someone who can empathize with you.
Every relationship you have has a different affect and role in your life. Friends are there for encouragement and to challenge you to see things differently. Parents are there to show you unconditional love and guidance throughout your life. Mentors are friends who give you advice from a more seasoned point of view. Mentors are a blessing to have in your life. However, like any relationship, there needs to be healthy communication to run smoothly. Here are a few ways to ensure healthy communication with your mentor:
You mentor wants to listen to you and give you advice. For her to be able to do this, you have to be transparent with her. If you’re telling her about a conflict you’re having with a teacher at school, you have to be totally honest. You cannot leave things out of the story to defend yourself or somebody else. A mentor, like most people, becomes frustrated when she feel like she’s not being told the whole truth, which can build unnecessary walls. Be honest and open.
There has to be patience on both sides of a mentor/mentee relationship. Remember that your mentor is older than you with life experience and you may not like what she has to say. On the other side, your mentor has to be patient with you. Sometimes adults forget what it’s like to be your age, and that can cause impatience when talking to you. However, before projecting this onto your mentor, check yourself to make sure you’re being fully engaged in the relationship. If an imbalance is generated it’s totally appropriate to start searching for a different mentor.
Relationships with a mentor are interesting because they tend to be more about the mentee than the mentor. In most relationships there needs to be an equal give-and-take, but since this relationship is based on the idea of an older person giving you encouragement and advice, give-and-take doesn’t apply the same way. You cannot give advice to your mentor, but you can give her your support and interest. Your mentor is interested in you, so take some time to show interest in your mentor.
Sometimes a mentor naturally find you: the teacher of your favorite subject, your youth leader, your aunt or an older sibling. All these people can be a mentor to you and they come to you naturally as you go about your day-to-day life. When a mentor does not come into your life inherently, you may have to initiate finding one. Talk to your guidance counselor, youth pastor and leaders of your extracurricular activities to help you connect with a mentor. It doesn’t have to be someone you already know. An outside person may introduce you to the best mentor.
Finding a mentor may take some time, but it’s worth the time. These relationships are meant to uplift you and help carry you through both hard and good times. Your mentor wants to share these moments with you because she has walked through similar moments in her life. Take some time to encourage your mentor (if you have one) by telling her how much she means to you.