Updated: Mar 7, 2021
By: Bianca Rae, Spectrum News LA Anchor, Bianca Rae Foundation Founder
I once heard someone compare mentors in life to bowling bumpers, and I remember being intrigued. I’m not a great bowler and I need bumpers (and even then, I may still accidentally cross that line and slip). It’s these bumpers that keep my ball on track, out of the gutter, and down the lane to the goal: a strike!
In life, I too have been blessed by these “bumpers” -- people who have kept me on track. These bumpers have come in the form of my parents, my big sister, older girlfriends acting like big sisters, teachers, or others I’ve met along the way who saw something in me and took me in under their wing. When I really think about it, I’ve actually had a lot of mentors in my life. And while I do give myself credit for my hard work, I absolutely believe the success I’ve had in my life is because of the guidance I have received. That’s why I feel so strongly about every child having that same guidance. Though not everyone may have this support system at home, there are SO many people out there who want to be your mentor.
Why is having a mentor so important? Well here’s the hard truth: hard work alone is not enough. You also need opportunity. One of my favorite quotes is by author and motivational speaker Zig Zigler, “Success occurs when opportunity meets preparation.” Here’s what you need to know about hard work: YOU control how hard you work, how much you prepare. You can find your passion (something you’re good at and enjoy), and you can keep working to be even better at it. And here’s what you need to know about opportunity: the opportunities that you get in life -- or don’t get -- will depend on the people you surround yourself with and the situations you get yourself in. While you’re busy working hard and preparing, having a mentor will automatically help you get in better situations, and therefore have a better chance of getting opportunities.
Ok, so now we need to find you that mentor! Here are some tips on how to do that:
IDENTIFY what makes a good mentor: A mentor is defined as "an experienced or trusted advisor". This is a person who already has qualities/success you want, and/or someone who can truly help you develop qualities and achieve successes you want. Hint: only take advice from someone who is in some sort of position you’d like to be in. Try as they might, friends your age often do not give the best advice. They are still learning themselves! Think about your goals in life: where you want to go to college, what kind of job you want, what kind of qualities you admire in a person. Someone who has similar qualities or experiences that you want would typically make a good mentor.
ASK. I promise all of you that you have at least five people in your life right now who would give anything to be able to help you. Whether that’s a relative or a teacher at school, there are people whose mission in life is not just to help people, but specifically to help young people your age. It can be as simple as going up to a teacher you feel connected to after class and simply saying “would you be able to give me some guidance and mentor me a bit?” Out of all the careers and jobs in the world, teachers choose to work around kids because they have a calling to better kids’ lives. Your mentor may already be in your life; all you need to do is ask. Be brave and ask. So many of the kids I help and give advice to have simply emailed or Instagram-messaged me.
BE BOLD about what you want to accomplish in life. Want to be a brain surgeon? Go to the moon? Be a famous news anchor? A lawyer? Great, great, great, and great. Say it, be intentional, own your dreams. The more specific you are with a mentor, the more they will be able to help you. Don’t be afraid to share your hopes and dreams. Sometimes if you say them out loud, you secretly trick your brain into holding yourself accountable to make them happen! If you feel confused and don’t know what your dreams and goals are yet, that is OK, too. Make two handwritten lists: one full of things you like and are interested in, and one full of things you’re good at. Notice anything on both lists? Focus in on that!
SHOW DEDICATION. Chances are your mentor is someone who has a lot going on in their own life, but they care so much about your well-being and success that they make time to fit it all in. Because of that, it’s so important to show that you are serious about bettering yourself. People want to help people who want to help themselves. Showing up a few minutes early to a meeting with your mentor, or making sure you always follow through with things you say you are going to do will show them you are really dedicated to growth.
5. FIND PROFESSIONAL MENTOR ORGANIZATIONS.
Organizations like Bianca Rae Foundation or Big Brothers Big Sisters can connect
you to people who can help you!
a. Bianca Rae Foundation: Looking for advice or need some guidance? Reach
out to us here at Bianca Rae Foundation at email@example.com
b. Big Brothers Big Sisters: Did you know there’s something called Big Brothers
Big Sisters, and they pair you up with a mentor to be your “big bro” or “big sis”?
They will give you good guidance, even do fun activities with you in the
community! How cool is that! They actually just told me they have a long list of
mentors just waiting for kids like you!! So ask mom or dad or your trusted
guardian to sign you up! They can call (760) 568-3977 or go to this website to
learn more about Big Brothers Big Sisters and how they can connect you to a
Final thoughts.... I want to leave you all with a list of the best advice and wisdom I have
learned from mentors over the years. I know I am blessed to have had this guidance from them, so I want to pass it along to you.
-- You’re not a tree. If you’re in an unhappy situation, move.
-- Don’t “should” yourself. Remove the word should from your vocabulary.
-- As hard as it is to believe, it doesn’t matter what other people think of you. If you like who you are, you will be free.
-- Slow down. You have your whole life to wear makeup, tight clothes, high heels, etc. But you're only young once.
-- After a job interview/getting a gift/someone doing something really nice for you, always send a hand-written thank you card.
-- If he really loves you, he won't ever ask you to do anything you're not comfortable with.
-- If you get a guilty feeling in your tummy when you're around certain friends when they say or do certain things:
1. they are probably not good friends to be around and
2. it's best to distance yourself from them as much as possible.
-- You'll have all kinds of "friends" in your life: The one who is loyal and a solid true friend. The one who is up for anything. The one who is fun to go dancing with. The one who is fun to eat bad junk food with. The one who comes and goes, etc. Know the difference between all of them.
-- Your mom makes the best best friend. If you don't have a mom, try and build this relationship with a sister or aunt or other family member.
-- Your mom is. always. right....!!!! It can be frustrating, but of this I am 100% sure.
Example: When your mom tells you to wear panty-hose or tights to the school dance
because it'll look classier even though you know you'll be the only one wearing
them, do it. She is right.
-- A firm handshake sets you apart. Make eye contact and be confident with it.
-- When sitting, it's most lady-like to cross your ankles instead of a leg over a knee.
-- Always do the right thing, even when no one is watching. Especially when no one is watching.
-- Be kind to animals. They are at the mercy of how humans treat them. Adopt a shelter pet - it will change your life, I promise.
--Take care of your body - work out and eat foods that make you healthy. Strength is beautiful.
-- Have a favorite quote to give you strength. My two favorites: "I'm not settling for anything less than everything" and "Aerodynamically, the bumble bee shouldn't be able to fly, but the bumble bee doesn't know it so it goes on flying anyway."
-- Invest in your education....no one can take that away from you.
-- Always have a "To Do" list. A teacher once said "You write things down not so you remember, but so you can forget."
Get it out of your head and onto a list. I find things actually happen when you plan for them to.
-- Start early on your college applications. Those essays take time!
-- Don't let anyone make you feel like you're hard to love. You're not. You two are just not meant to be together.
-- Don't harden. Life and people will throw some sadness and tough times your way. It'll be easy to get cynical and doubt life and love and joy. But don't. Believe in the goodness out there. Light is stronger than darkness, and it takes a person with a strong heart to believe this.
And if all the above fails (I promise it won't), you all have me. You can get ahold of me personally on Instagram @BiancaRae or email firstname.lastname@example.org. I am always here for all of you.
Bianca Rae is the anchor of the 5pm and 6pm news on Spectrum News LA. She also founded the Bianca Rae Foundation in 2013, with the goal of advocating for children and animals. You can find her on social media (@BiancaRae), and you can follow the Bianca Rae Foundation’s work there as well (@BiancaRaeFoundation)!