Freelancing can be incredibly isolating. Unless you have partners or employees, you likely spend a majority of your day alone.
You can fill up your social tank outside of work, but there are some things that are harder to find when you work for yourself. There aren’t coworkers nearby to celebrate when you nail the difficult part of a project. You may not have a team to bounce ideas off of. And, perhaps most importantly, you don’t have any wiser, more experienced coworkers to turn to for growth.
In the podcast this week, Cam Lee Small, a clinical counselor, talked about the importance of mentorship. A mentor, he shared, can be a form of mental support that is less formal than seeing a counselor. No matter which area of life you want to see growth in, this trusted person can help guide you. Going through life with a mentor ensures you aren’t alone in the journey and don’t feel as isolated as you would have without them.
One of my favorite parts of this episode is when Cam talked about the different kinds of mentorships and how to find the right mentor. As someone who has often wanted to find a mentor, this was always the place I got stuck. There are so many people who might be a good fit, so how do I pick the right one?
Thankfully, Cam made it easy:
Figure out what you want first and then find the person best equipped to meet that need.
And this isn’t limited to work. You can look for mentorship in any area of life. Did you know that? It seems obvious, but I never really considered asking people to mentor me in the skills I admire, particularly for the small things.
For example, one of the most influential people in Cam's life was the pastor of a Korean church who invited him to join the first Asian American faith community he had ever experienced. This pastor was someone Cam was able to open up to and be vulnerable with, giving him the opportunity to learn and be sharpened by his mentor.
In the same way, we are all surrounded by people who can build us up and help us become better people. And they’re often happy to invest in us if we ask.
A mentor can be anyone who has something we want to learn. You may be a new parent who has connected with a parent of teens or a hobbyist that has found a master in your craft on social media. The person you choose doesn’t have to be someone in a position of authority or even someone older than you. If they have something to teach, that’s enough.
Some of the ways you can find mentorship include:
If you don’t yet have someone you trust as a mentor (and even if you do!), don’t forget about the power of self-reflection. Take the time to consider all of the opportunities you have, how they will affect the people around you, and what you can do to be or do a bit better. It will take a lifetime to fully understand yourself, but the journey will be so much easier and more rewarding if you start now.
Get the full story here, where Cam talks about understanding his identity, his hope for mental health support for future generations, and what he’s learned from his mentors throughout his journey.