We’re all the heroes of our own stories, but the heroes we admire in literature and on the screen find themselves undergoing spiritual and emotional transformations more often than they find themselves using the bathroom. If all of us are heroes, each going on a continuous, limitless, and recursive journey throughout the stages of our lives, then where are you in your journey? How does it relate to your current struggles? What lessons are here for you to learn?
Your journey was never meant to be traveled alone.
When observing how our individual journeys reflect in the stories we share, the process of finding a mentor is one of the easiest to identify. Dorothy meets up with Glinda the Good Witch, Luke Skywalker meets Old Ben Kenobi, and (the once and future) King Arthur encounters the wise wizard Merlin. Even the most intrepid and powerful of our heroes need guidance and counseling through their struggles. You are no different.
If you’re undergoing this stage of your journey, it might feel as though you are groundlessly drifting through vast empty space. Your perspective at the beginning of the journey no longer holds the validity it once did, but your new identity has yet to form. You might feel detached from your creative output as you become more and more different from your past self. As you look towards your future, you might struggle to picture anything at all amidst the chaos of your emergent sense of self.
You’d think it’d be simple to find a mentor.
Just pick out any old wise guy, and do what they say, right? Would that it were so simple. Finding a mentor can be a tremendously difficult task, especially since the person who would best teach you how to go about it is necessarily in the process of being found. It’s scary not knowing who to trust. What does a good guide look like, and where are you supposed to search for yours?
As we grow out of the habits and attitudes that make us unhappy, it can be easy to put your mentor on a pedestal, while putting yourself in the gutter. It’s important to remember, your mentor is going to be someone a lot like you. Your mentor is somebody who chose to become the type of person you are choosing to become. Someone who’s gone on a journey or two of their own, and knows what the terrain looks like. They’ve experienced the descent into the unknown, and the ascent into enlightenment. Most importantly, they can hold onto the vision of the life you desire, even when you can’t.
It can be tempting to think that you don’t need the help.
Individualism can be a powerful demotivator for one who seeks the love and support of others. You might feel embarrassed to want or need help along your way. It’s natural to desire independence, but it’s also natural to need guidance beyond your own ability. Alexander the Great conquered what he believed to be the whole world, but even he needed a teacher like Aristotle to guide him on his path.
If you find yourself upset that you need the knowledge, support, or warmth of others, repeat to yourself: “How human of me.”
It may seem overwhelming, the task of finding, knowing, or trusting a guide, but the confusion on this step on your journey is the presage of exciting things to come. In the process of seeking a mentor, you will be accumulating knowledge and awareness of what you want, and what you need to do to get it. Your fear will give way to a greater trust in both your loved ones and your highest self.
If you find yourself getting stuck on this step of your journey, it can be helpful to seek a greater understanding of your relationship with your primary caregiver.
Often, our parents or guardians are our earliest teachers, and our relationship with them colors our relationship with personal growth for the rest of our lives. You can also get in touch with the mentors you’ve chosen in the past through journaling, artistic expression, or maybe even speaking to them directly. What you learned (or didn’t learn) from them can tell you a lot about what you’re seeking in a new teacher.
If you’re still searching for your mentor, here are three steps you can take to ease your passage through this leg of the journey:
Reach out in your community by doing volunteer work.
You’ll meet others who care about the same issues you do, and feel a sense of moral accomplishment. When we are kind to others, it is returned to us double.
Get in touch with your spirituality.
Find a comfortable relationship with the circling unknown around you. By being in touch with your relationship to the unknown, you can find comfort in your faith, and company in its commonality. This can be whatever ritual that makes you feel in touch with your higher power, whether that’s doing a meditation, saying little prayers, or even just having an enlightening conversation.
Book an appointment with a therapist.
Sometimes the guidance we need is of an emotional nature, and it can be wise to seek the help of a professional. Getting in touch with a therapist can be a boon for your growth, even if you’re not currently experiencing a mental breakdown. You don’t need to wait until the last minute.
If you’re in touch with your therapist while working through this phase of your journey, here are a few concepts to bring up that might aid your development:
If you are struggling with motivation, enthusiasm, or hopefulness, Willingness might be the DBT skill for you. A simple enough idea, but harder than it seems in practice. Willingness is about doing just what is needed wholeheartedly and mindfully in each given moment, as opposed to willfulness, which is refusing to tolerate the moment, and insisting on being in control. Recognizing whether you are being willing or willful can heighten your burgeoning awareness, and reduce the presence of procrastination.
This can be a vital skill for those who are seeking to communicate more effectively with their prospective mentor. DEAR MAN is an acronym which outlines a set of strategies to engage in more effective expression of your needs in a way that is respectful to yourself and others. If you need to ask for help, but don’t know how, DEAR MAN can show you the way.
Improving The Moment.
This is a distress tolerance skill, for when you feel overwhelmed by the gravity of your situation. If you find yourself feeling that this leg of the journey has been a tremendously lengthy and ultimately unfortunate detour, this skill is a panacea to your twinges of despair. Improving The Moment is about taking actionable steps to make existing right now better and more tolerable through imagery, prayer, meaning and more.
The journey is long. So long that you’ll be traveling along its path for the rest of your life, maybe more than once. The pace can be grueling because we don’t choose when we need to grow, only if. The rewards are countless, endless, ceaseless, and priceless.
Is this part of your journey too rough for you too take alone? Click here to send our office manager, Alli, an email. She’ll help you get matched to your perfect therapist.
Sunny Ebsary is a writer and singer-songwriter from Tampa, FL. When he’s not sing-songwriting or just regular writing, he’s probably drinking water with a lot of ice, having a staring contest with his cat, or giving people great ideas. You can listen to Sunny’s music here.