I recently had to write an article about mentors and their importance. Although I have always thought mentors were necessary, I never stopped to think why they really matter. Many people go through their lives without ever having a person to guide them, to teach them from experience, and to encourage them when they feel like giving up. But once you look around, you realize that the people who have reached success and felt fulfilled in their life have always had some sort of guiding figure to help them along the way.
As I researched who a mentor is and why they are important, I started to reflect back on my life and the guidance I have had. Mentors–due to some previously undisclosed rule–have to be people who are not related to you by blood. They have to be someone who can give you feedback objectively and guide you without a predisposed image of who you are. For this reason, we always look at teachers, employers, colleagues, or even celebrities to occupy the mentor figure in our life. I realize now that I have had many of those in the past; from teachers to celebrities, all guiding me in one way or another.
But why is a mentor important? Why do we need someone who can share their experience with us and teach us to do better? Why is their feedback necessary? Maybe we do not need them. Maybe their feedback is not absolutely necessary. However, the truth is our life becomes a little better when we have someone like that. Someone who can help us figure out why our career is not advancing the way we wanted it to. Someone who can teach us more than what the syllabus says.
In my previously mentioned article, I pointed out how finding a mentor can be tricky and that different types of mentorships can be created. You have the mentorships that form with someone you work with who takes you under their wing and teaches you the ropes. Or with a teacher who guides you through your academic years and helps you land the job of your dreams. Sometimes it can even be with a celebrity who looks like you, whose background is similar to yours, or who can open a world of opportunity for someone like you. Realistically speaking, mentorships can be formed with anyone you know who is in a position to guide you through life–whether it be personal or professional.
There are times in our lives when we lose sight of what matters, how good we are, and why we are doing what we do. In those situations, it can be extremely helpful to have someone who can advice you and show you where your value lies. Mentors will always do that for you. Based on their personal or professional experience, they will show you the best path for you while teaching you how to reinforce your best qualities. They will give you the feedback and the encouragement you need to achieve your goals and meet your own expectations.
Although not many schools talk about it or persuade students to find one, mentors will be the most helpful resource during your college career. Try to find that one person who you know will keep you on the right track. Connect with a mentor who has gone through a similar journey and whose experience can teach you more than textbooks. Once you find that guiding figure, I guarantee you will feel much stronger, capable, and unafraid to go after the kind of life you have always wanted for yourself.
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