Mentoring Shouldn’t Stop After Graduation

I have been on a bit of a break recently if you haven’t noticed. Though it hasn’t been THAT much of a break, it was just a break from my writing about cooking and life so I could catch up on writing about sex/labor/drug/weapons/body parts trafficking. I got A LOT done given all the research I had to do for each post but it left little time for me. Of course add in massive preparations for an epic bridal shower and I was spent. Thankfully I am back to my normal routine (for now).

As I was working diligently this past week, I couldn’t help but think about how important it is to have role models and mentors in my life. I find that the farther away from grade school I get, the more and more I forget just how important these people are.

When I was young I looked up to the star athletes, actresses, and powerhouse women like most other girls my age did (oh yes, girl power was big when I was young. Spice Girls – need I say more?). Whenever someone asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up I would say something like “I want to be an Olympic ice skater like Michelle Kwan” or “I want to be the first female President of the United States” (can’t really see either of those happening now… child dreams die hard, don’t they?). Yet the famous persons I looked up to never had as much influence on my life as the mentors I had. Usually these mentors were teachers, but on a few occasions they were close friends who always drove me to better myself.

As I grow older, my friends continue to be an important influence in my life but when my academic world dissipated after graduation, the mentoring influence in my life seemed to fade away. I had never considered the importance of a mentor in my professional life until I stumbled upon one when I started blogging.

There’s something about the support of someone you look up to that gives you that little “oomph” you need to get through the times when you are pounding your head against your desk, tearing your hair out, trying to force yourself to write because you finally made the time but NO IDEAS ARE COMING. It is what gets you back on track and keeps you (somewhat sane).

In case you haven’t noticed yet, my mind goes about a million miles an hour. Nope, it’s not A.D.D. (shocking, I know), I just can’t stop thinking about everything at once. I am the girl who runs through lists in her head about 20 times a day. If I am only focusing on one thing at a time, I feel like I am  being lazy and wasting my time. Even as I am writing this I am thinking about the work I have to do tomorrow, the recipes being featured on Food Network that I have blaring in the background, and finding a way to make my puppy stop digging up the backyard (not like I have a garden or anything, I just hate all the damn dirt she tracks in on her paws…). So with everything in my head, it’s hard to find that little push to focus at times. Enter my mentor….

It’s like she (Jen) has this freakish radar that knows exactly when I am at my wit’s end and am trying to figure out what the next step is. For example, just the other day I had finished writing the pieces I wanted to and I was sitting on the couch wondering what to do next for my Buried Truths project. There are still 5 million things left for me to do, but at this point I am not sure which takes first priority. A few hours later I checked my messages and out of nowhere appeared a message from Jen (seriously, it’s almost scary how she picks up on these things without me even telling her I am stuck). She swept in, fixed my problems, gave me the perfect pep talk, and dashed out like some delightful spring storm. I was left feeling refreshed and ready to start another week of intense work. Seriously, WTF? How did I get this freaking lucky? Pretty damn awesome, that’s all I can say.

The most important piece of this whole mentor relationship is that yes, she does guide me, but she also inspires me to believe in myself. She’s not the type to hold my hand and take me into detailed steps of how to do every little thing. She is the little push, the little reminder in my head that keeps me on track, the accolades that chime in right when I need to hear them most. Just like my teachers in school, I learn from her and she gives me the constructive criticism that can only come from experience.

The best part is I only have to give her a glass of wine every now and then to make sure she sticks around. Score.

Only kidding! Well kind of… ;)

I am sure many of you already have this checked off your list, but if you haven’t I highly recommend finding a professional mentor. Sure your friends and family are always helpful resources, but they won’t tell you the things you don’t want to hear (like when you are slacking or aren’t being responsive) and they may not be the plethora of knowledge and experience you need to advance your career. So go forth, make those connections, and ask someone to mentor you. It’ll rock your world. Trust me.

“A mentor is someone who allows you to see the hope inside yourself.” Oprah Winfrey

Check out my featured post on Blogging Fearlessly! Another wonderful show of support that makes me giddy with excitement (thank you Jen!).

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