1 Awkward Conversation That’s Totally Worth Having

I realized a few weeks ago that I’d fallen into a surprising Wednesday routine: without intending to, I’d been scheduling chats with older, wiser women in the mornings, and chats with younger women who’d asked for my help in the afternoons.

Why am I talking with older women? I asked them to.

And why am I talking with younger women? They asked me to.

We all ultimately have to find our own way, but mentors–older and wiser women who have already walked the road we’re on–can help us navigate that road more smoothly.

Do you want a mentor? (Hint: You do.) Just ask for one. 

Yeah, asking is awkward. Do it anyway.

Here’s the thing about asking someone to mentor you: it’s awkward. It just is. It feels like asking for a date.

But once she says yes, you’re golden. And you’ll be glad you mustered the guts to have that uncomfortable conversation. So just ask.

What if you don’t know who to ask?

For a long time I was mentor-lonely because I wanted to find the perfect, 3-dimensional older female soul-sister whose life mirrored mine in every way. I never found that person (probably because she doesn’t exist!)

Maybe you’ve found that one perfect person. But for the rest of us, I’m giving you permission to get your mentors a la carte. Find a writing mentor, if you do that. A dating mentor. A parenting mentor. Find a mentor in your workplace. Whatever else you need. All different people. That’s fine.

 What if I can’t find these people in my city?

Look online! Find some older and wiser bloggers–women who are further down the road than you are, and who you think are doing Life well–and read their blogs. Read about how they’re navigating work and life and time management and parenting. Soak it all in.

When you’ve found these women online, then take the next step: ask them to mentor you. (Tip: Email makes it easier to ask. I’d much rather get rejected over email than face to face. But either way, just do it.) Be prepared to tell them what you’re looking for from the relationship.

Put that technology to good use, and schedule a time to Skype or facetime or phone chat.

All things being equal, a real life in-your-town mentor is better. But all things aren’t equal, so just find a woman you admire and ask her to mentor you.

Surprised by Yes

As I’ve started asking for mentors, I’ve been surprised at how many  yeses I’ve gotten. I’ve got two theories as to why:

1. We’re afraid of rejection, so we don’t even ask. This means that older, wiser women’s calendars aren’t already jam-packed with mentoring appointments.

2. We really, truly do want to help each other.

Do you have someone in mind?

Just ask her. Today.

Let’s talk about mentoring in the comments. Do you have a mentor? How did you find her? Do you want a mentor? What’s holding you back? Post thoughts to comments. 

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  1. Larissa says:

    Oh Anne! I am SOOO glad you covered this topic today!!! It’s such an important one, and one that I believe is lacking so much in today’s world … at least spiritually!! I don’t know many F2F people who have even mentioned *having* a mentor – or even the possibility of having one!!
    … After reading through your article, I think I am definitely at that point where I am searching out mentors for different areas of my life online – primarily spiritually. I am oftentimes getting more out of listening to podcasts & theological messages available online & in cd format, reading many of the blogs I follow, and participating in the bible studies (also with groups I have met online), than those around me in the physical. I am really taking on board a lot of what I am learning via these different technological avenues, and would love one day to meet and be mentored by a few of the different ladies (unfortunately I can think of only a few that I know IRL that I would consider asking).
    I DO really thank you for sharing the encouragement in this post though – maybe its something that I should start to think about and pray into over the coming months?!!

  2. In all honesty, I’ve never even thought of ASKING a mentor… I always just thought they sort of fell into place, and I just hadn’t “found” mine yet. This idea is scary yet empowering. Thanks!

  3. I’ve never intentionally sought out mentors, but I’ve been very, very fortunate to have some really amazing women just sort of cross my path at the perfect moments. I was blessed to be mentored by a very wise older woman (a military wife of 30 years, & mother of 8!) who has helped to change the permanent direction of my life for good.

    Never thought of being more intentional with mentoring–definitely food for thought, thank Anne.

  4. Karianna @ Caffeinated Catholic Mama says:

    I kind of have a mentor (met her through MOPS) but I really have not done well about scheduling regular meetings with her. I guess part of it is feeling badly about going to her (empty nester, but not a grandma yet) house with my toddler. And I am sure that’s just me internalizing it all, because I know she delights in kids.

    Plus there is the aspect of not sure what to talk about. I’d hate for it to turn into a gripe session.


  5. This is such a helpful post for me to read today. It’s funny – there is a blogger I would love to know as a mentor but I am afraid to ask. She is a big blogger, but she is so happy and walking with the Lord in her way and I want to know how she has done it but I am afraid to ask. This may be the push I need to send an email to say hi, how are you, and then to go from there.

    thank you.

  6. Audrey says:

    This is timely. Recently I went on a women’s retreat with my church, and one of the ladies in our small group was older, and her reason for coming was just that: she wanted to mentor younger women. In her first prayer over me, she prayed for safety and security, not knowing that I was in fear from living in (and recently escaping) an abusive marriage. Was that the Lord, or what?

    So maybe just maybe this is the push I need to ask her to go to coffee. Thank you 🙂

  7. I have been so blessed to have older women in my life who have helped me, rebuked me, taught me, and showed me by example how to teach, how to mother, how to be hospitable, how to serve, and on and on. Most of them would laugh if someone called them a mentor, but they certainly have fulfilled that role.

    My main goal for my blog is for it to be a place where my peers nod understandingly and younger women find a semi-cleared path toward their futures in Christ. Of course, I keep murmuring to myself as I think and write, “Not many wise…” and “To him [her] who thinketh he standeth, take heed lest he fall…” and “are confident that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness…”

    We are on this journey together, all of us, and I have much to learn in whatever years remain to me. Often I learn it from someone younger!

  8. Teresa says:

    I would like to find a mentor, and I would also like to be a mentor to a younger woman (I am 56). I just don’t know how or where to look.

  9. Tiffiny says:

    I used to work with a woman far older than me and I always thought of her as my mentor (more in life than in work). She always knew the right thing to do and never got caught up in the worldly types of behavior I can succumb to so quickly when challenged. A few months ago, I moved 2,000 miles away from her and have only texted her once, but think of her often. I miss her influence in my life. Your post has renewed my desire to stay in contact with her. Perhaps I’ll start with an email today! Also, I think it’s quite neat that our MOPS topic this week is “Asking for Help.” I wonder if someone is trying to tell me something. I’m so glad I came across your post. I’ll have to thank my lovely Sis-in-law for sharing it on fb.

    • Anne says:

      Hmmm, it does sound like someone is trying to tell you something! I hope you take the hint 🙂 Thanks for the kind comment and for stopping by!

  10. Z Parks says:

    What do you mean by “mentor?” Someone I can talk to? Ask embarrassing questions to? Turn to if I need a leg up to get over an obstacle? A female voice for when my hubby’s insight just isn’t cutting it? Is that what you mean? If so, then yes, I have my mom. She’s pretty great. I also have other women I can turn to if I need them, I just never thought of them as a “mentor.”

    • Anne says:

      By “mentor” I specifically mean someone who’s already walked the path we’re walking down, someone who has experience in an area where we don’t. A mentor can be a friend but a friend is not necessarily a mentor. It sounds like a mom can fill both rolls 🙂

  11. Anne! This is the EXACT topic that we have been exploring and discussing in my MOPS community this month! I shared your post with my MOPS group! Thanks for this insightful post as we (my friends) all agreed that it’s often awkward to ask to be mentored. But in fact, it’s by God’s design. God Bless! ~Bri~

  12. Sarah says:

    Really wise advice! I had this “awkward” conversation with my pastor’s wife and I’m so glad I did. Even though she may not fill the “mentor” role for me, ultimately, I feel like I will be more comfortable asking when the opportunity presents itself again. And I’ll be praying for the opportunity to be on both ends of that relationship!

  13. I signed up for my alma mater’s mentoring program that matches a current student with an alum. I’ll be checking in with my mentee long-distance once a month, but I got to meet her as well as her good friend at the program kickoff last week. It was SO much fun to talk to both of them! Mostly we talked about career stuff (the program is through Career Services) but I also ended up recommending my favorite book series, Couch to 5K, paperbackswap.com, and other random things they’d never heard of. I’m only 5 or 6 years older than them, but it made me feel like I have a lot of tips and advice to impart!

    • Anne says:

      Jessica, that sounds like a great program! I wonder if my school has one. Hmmmm….

      “I’m only 5 or 6 years older than them, but it made me feel like I have a lot of tips and advice to impart!”
      Love this 🙂

  14. I’m a little late joining this conversation but wanted to comment since this has been on my mind recently. I’ve been wanting a mentor who is a stage ahead of me in life but haven’t found one in my community. I hadn’t thought about asking a blogger mentor – great suggestion!

    When do you feel it’s appropriate to ask someone online to be your mentor? Do they need to know your blog and be a reader of it too?

    • Anne says:

      Steph, I’m just speaking from personal experience, as the mentor AND mentee. I don’t think the person you ask to be your mentor needs to know and read your blog. I do think making efforts to interact with them in their own online space before asking for something personal and individual from them is a good idea. So since we’re talking about bloggers, introductory steps could be blog comments, short “Hey, I like your blog!” emails, casual interactions on twitter, etc.

      • Anne, thanks for your insights! I’m going to start praying for wisdom on who this mentor should be, and I’ll take your advice and not let the awkwardness of interacting and eventually asking her get in the way. It’d be interesting to read another blog post from you sometime on what sort of conversations or questions you have with your mentors and mentees – just a thought!

  15. Elizabeth Kane says:

    So true, finding different people to mentor you in different areas instead of finding one magical perfect mentor. All of us have a different amount of expertise in totally different areas. Where I’m a beginner, you might be an expert and vice versa. I’ve started tuning into more conversations than I have in the past to ask and listen how other women handle situations I can learn from.

  16. Bethe says:

    My husband has had mentors for years, and I finally got the nerve to ask one of my favorite ladies to mentor me as part of my Summer Bucket List (http://texaslovely.com/my-summer-bucket-list/). It was a lot like mustering up the courage to ask someone out on a date, but once I asked, she said yes and it was no big deal. I’m blessed to be love don and mentored by a woman a few decades ahead of me who happens to be a fabulous, fun, wise woman of God with great fashion sense and a big heart. Her husband mentors my husband, and we’ve pretty much adopted ourselves into their family. We’re blessed.

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  18. Molly says:

    I’m still too scared to ask and do t know what to do. I just need someone to talk to other than friends and family you know.

  19. Louisa says:

    Hi Ms Darcy (Anne)
    I’ve seen reference to your blog and am just now browsing it for the first time. A pleasure! My experience with mentoring, which is mostly in business, is that a lot of women (and men, for that matter) get a bit nervous by the word because it conjures up images of someone wanting a lot of your time, a lot of hand-holding, and perhaps more commitment than you may want to give. So I advise people who want a mentor to ask for information, seek advice, request a coffee, etc.– in other words, do the behaviors that are intrinsic to having a mentor relationship– without saying, at least in the beginning, “Will you be my mentor?” Over time, the relationship may indeed blossom into that. As for me, I’m happy offering my insights as a mentor, & have plenty of life experience to share, but no one’s asked in awhile! Thanks for a good read.

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