I live in Los Angeles, California.
It is one of the most populated cities in the US and at the same time, it’s common to hear how lonely it can get. So many people and yet you still feel like a ghost.
Los Angeles isn’t the only place prone to making us feel like singular units. Maybe it’s this era that we live in. We have so much simulated connectivity through social media and email that it’s easy to assume we’re engaging with humans when in actuality all those things happen in the midst of our schedules and timelines. So what options are there to keep from being an island unto ourselves?
Something I believe in wholeheartedly is that we should both be being poured into and that we should be pouring out. Think of it in a three-part structure:
-There are mentors who pour into us. Ideally this includes people you can actually reach out and contact. Look for people a little further down the road you’re on, meaning they might be a mom with older kids than your own, or they might be someone in upper level management within your career field. They are the people who have wisdom to share about the direction you’re headed. That being the case, you can also be mentored by people you don’t know. Some of the best advice I’ve received came from blogs, podcasts and books of people I respect like Seth Godin or Bob Goff. You might never meet them in real life but you also don’t have to wait for permission to learn from them.
-There are contemporaries who are on this road with us. Look for people who are in your same place whether that’s age-wise or stage-wise. Is there a writer’s group you can join? A mommy group? A business breakfast? Look for opportunities where you can intentionally mingle with some people who can speak into your life from the same angle. It’s a way that you can gauge whether your experiences are actually as unusual as you think they are (they normally aren’t).
-There are mentees who we pour into. In the same way that we are seeking people to pour into us, there are people who are just getting started down the path we’re on. They’re looking for someone just a little ahead of them and there’s a good chance you are that person. So don’t forget to be aware of people who may be seeking you out. At a certain point sponges get so full that they stop being able to absorb water and in the same way, it is good for us humans to be wringing out some of what we’ve collected. I’m not meaning that you assume every person wants your sage-like advice. Just know that you are not the end of the road on the information train. Keep an eye out for who’s behind you. Who is new at your office? Maybe it’s a younger sibling, niece or nephew.
The idea is that in the overflow of your life, things start to make sense. It is in this cascade model that we get the chance to see just how much life is coming and going from us. When we’re alone, we get this feeling of stagnation. What are we here for? What is the purpose of me? But when you are actively seeking mentors, when you are active in mentoring, you are part of a flow, a rhythm. It combats the lie that you are by yourself. It gives you a starting place to develop relationships. It reminds you that not every person is meant to be a part of your life and that’s totally normal and okay.
So who are they?
Who are your mentors?
Who are your contemporaries?
Who are you mentoring?