erriam-Webster may not recognize the word and true linguists may scorn it, but you have to admit “adulting” has become a widely accepted term for being a capable grown-up. The concept of adulting is a terrifying prospect for anyone, especially those lacking guidance from older, wiser adults. 

Urban Dictionary defines adulting as “to do grown up things and hold responsibilities such as, a 9-5 job, a mortgage/rent, a car payment, or anything else that makes one think of grownups.” A mortgage? A car payment? Concepts alien to the curriculum of any standard American high school. 

In lieu of a standardized education that holds adulting on par with algebra, we must develop our own toolbox for dealing with the confusion and conundrums of adulthood. That’s where a mentor comes in.

A mentor is, most simply, an adultier adult. An seasoned adult experienced in all matters of taxation, healthy eating, parenting, etc. But what is a mentor and how do you find one? Read on to find out!

  • What Is A Mentor--The Four Types of Mentor
  • How Do You Find The Perfect Mentor?
  • What Does A Good Mentorship Look Like?

What Is A Mentor (And Why Do You Need One)

How An Adultier Adult Can Help You Live A Better Life

a young woman sits with an older woman on a bench
A mentor can be someone you sit down with to discuss the latest relationship drama--or it can be someone you call when your car starts making weird noises and you’re not sure what to do about it.

A mentor can be anybody (even someone younger than you!), most commonly an older relative, coworker, neighbor, or professor. A mentorship is a long-term relationship--so don’t expect it to happen overnight! Mentors work to build rapport in order to establish trust so they can better guide you.

When you have a mentor, you know that you have someone to turn to with your questions (How do I clean an oven? What’s a W2 form?) no matter how silly they may sound. 

Mentors usually fall into one of four categories: the master of craft, the anchor, the sage, and the copilot.

The master of craft is the mentor with expertise, the mentor who has knowledge or professional skills that make them the ideal person to help with your professional development or technical skill set. The master of craft may be a professional in your field or a local handyman imparting skills to you.

The anchor is essential to your support system, helping you navigate adulthood by acting as confidant and a shoulder to lean on. The anchor is most likely your neighbor, an adult who knows how to cook and will remind you not to put dish soap in the dishwasher. 

The sage is generally a much older adult, perhaps a grandparent or wise, white haired neighbor. The sage dispenses advice in the form of platitudes and can be a source of wisdom and comfort. This is the person you turn to with deep life questions about relationships and long term decisions.

The copilot is a peer or colleague, someone who can act as a sounding board for potential decisions. The copilot, while adept at adulting, has not yet reached the pinnacle of adulthood. This type of mentor may also become a mentee, someone who you can be the adult for.

Everyone should have at least one mentor, whether it’s a professional or personal one. Mentors rescue you during that moment when you’re looking around for an adult and realize you are the adult… Identifying that adultier adult who will be your mentor and help you navigate adulthood is the first step to smoothly transitioning to a life of 401ks, brunches, and house hunting.

How Do You Find The Perfect Mentor?

Finding the Right Mentor Is An Essential Step

2 women in hijab look over some notes
Is there someone at your work who you feel would make a good mentor? Reach out to them and ask if there’s a good time you can meet up and chat!

There are a lot of misconceptions about the mentoring process--the biggest being that the perfect mentor will simply fall into your lap. Mentorship isn’t something that just happens, it’s a relationship that takes cultivation.

You may want a different mentor depending on the situation you’re in. For example, if you’re looking around for an adultier adult to show you how to file your taxes, you may not turn to the same person who would guide you through a breakup.

Finding a mentor can seem like a daunting task, but once you know the kind of mentor you need, it becomes a lot easier to figure out where that type of person can be found. 

If the type of mentor you’re looking for is a master, you have a few options. Reaching out to an older coworker or someone with expertise in your professional field is a great way to begin building relationships with potential mentors.

Because a master of craft mentor can also be someone who imparts technical skills, turning to websites and blogs can help satisfy the need for mentorship. Adultist has plenty of blog posts to help you learn relevant life skills as well as professional skills. 

Incorporating a mentor into your support system has a number of benefits and is pretty easy. You probably already have a good idea of the people in your life who you can count on to come to your aid when you’re in need.

Reaching out to your neighbors, fellow parents, and relatives is a great way to find a mentor capable of providing you with emotional support. Identifying these adultier adults is pretty easy--you want to look for the steadfast, calm, resilient people in your life, caring people willing to build the relationship required for mentorship.

A man and woman on an outdoor picnic bench
Why did you ever want to grow up? It’s not fun being the one expected to call all the shots--finding a mentor can help ease your anxiety around adulting.

When you picture a sage, it’s probably a wizened, white haired old woman nodding wisely by a fireplace. Your sage may not look like this, but should be a person in your life that you consider incredibly experienced and wise. This kind of mentor will help you feel centered and grounded.

Who are the people in your life that you consider wise? Grandparents, older neighbors, and professors may all fall under this umbrella. If they seem in touch with their common sense and able to pass accurate judgements, they could be the perfect person to mentor you through times of turbulence. 

The copilot is perhaps the easiest type of mentor to find because they don’t technically have to always be the adultier adult. A copilot is more like a sounding board for your adulting questions, someone who also hasn’t been to a dentist in over two years but is perfectly capable of convincing you to start going again.

Great copilot mentors can be found in your friends or even in online communities. Reddit has an adulting thread filled with questions about adulting and anecdotes about adulting fails that are sure to make you feel better about not knowing how to change your car’s oil. Ask your own questions and find a community ready to help mentor you through the process of adulting!

What Does A Good Mentorship Look Like?

Making The Most of Your Mentorship

Person writing with blue pen
Don’t be afraid to take notes if you feel like that will help you process a mentoring session better. 

Once you’ve identified a potential mentor, you may be wondering how the mentorship relationship will play out and what it looks like. 

Good mentorships require investing time and energy into building a good relationship--mentorship can be beneficial to both parties when done well, so this investment in time and energy is the responsibility of both you and your mentor.

It may be helpful to set boundaries with your mentor and to set expectations if your mentorship is more formal in nature. For example, if you have a professional mentor and master of craft helping you navigate a finance job, be open with what you hope to learn from them and your preferred methods of communication.

While mentorships do require time and energy, what they don’t require is a label. A mentorship isn’t a romantic relationship, you don’t have to sit down together and have “the relationship talk.” People can be your mentors without even realizing it. “Mentor” is just a term that can help you label the relationship yourself so that you better understand the relationship dynamic.

Young lady with grandmother making cookies
You don’t have to tell your grandparents that they’re your mentors in order to make it real--chances are there are already a few mentors in your life already, so don’t feel pressured to redefine your relationship.

It’s good to remember that, while a mentor can help you make decisions and can be your go-to adultier adult in difficult situations, you don’t have to (and probably shouldn’t) take every piece of advice they give you. There’s something to be said about developing the ability to sort through information in order to develop your own response to a situation. 

We’ve already said this, but it bears repeating: the perfect mentor is not going to fall into your lap. Finding a mentor will require you to take initiative. Be the first to suggest meeting up for coffee or reach out with your needs--don’t just wait for your potential mentor to offer you their assistance.

Last, but not least: respect your mentor’s time and their own personal boundaries. It can be tempting to find an adultier adult and rely on them in every situation, but the purpose of a mentor is to help prepare you to face the world on your own, not to coddle you every step of the way. Your mentor is a person too, and can’t spend all their time helping you.

No matter how old you are, at some point you’ll find yourself thinking “I wish I had an adult.” When you do, a mentor is someone you can turn to who will help guide you through situations big and small. Identify potential mentors and begin to cultivate your relationships today!

Sep 10, 2020