Have you ever been asked who’s your mentor or who do you go to for guidance, and you are stuck? I have, and I’m constantly rattling my brain to figure out who it is. My answer? Everyone and no one. The most obvious choice for some would be their parents. Still, with the language barrier and lack of Asian-American cultural understanding, my parents aren’t the ideal choice to freely voice my concerns. My go-to’s were those around who could understand the dilemma and provide a different perspective to understand the totality of the question. The main advice-givers were my friends’ parents since most of my questions were always about goals, hopes, and wants, all of which my parents could understand but were not able to voice in a way that my younger self could understand and appreciate.
Sadly, to this day, I can’t think of a single individual that I could consider a mentor or define as a mentor, not from the lack of knowledge, but rather who I see as a continual teacher. I can’t come to a resolution of what a true mentor is to me. Am I the only one with this problem?
What Does A Mentor Look Like To You?
To be honest, I go to everyone for advice without having too many biases clouding my thoughts. Going to everyone could be a hit or miss, if you know what I mean. There are moments when all you want to hear is someone agreeing with your mindset, but sometimes people who offer advice against you can be so aggravating – however, necessary. Ironically, I was writing an article for ArchiHacks, How Do You Know When to Leave a Firm, where I shared that a sign to leave an architecture firm is a lack of mentorship or advocacy. These two are different but similar, and I won’t repeat what I said there. However, it was a good moment to think, “Am I just preaching to the choir,” and a hypocrite if I’m sharing advice to designers about searching for mentorship when I can’t visualize or pinpoint a mentor myself? I believed so to some degree, but I realized that others could have an easier time identifying a mentor than me.