I live in the Nashville area and over the last few weeks, we have gotten absolutely hammered with rain. I moved to Nashville after the 2010 flood, so I’m told this past week has been nothing in comparison. Aside from that though, it’s rained nonstop for the last four days.
Amidst all the rain, I’ve had to make a couple of long trips, and those trips took me on some unfamiliar backroads. The rain doesn’t freak me out like some of my fellow Tennesseans when they’re driving. Growing up in Pennsylvania, a little rain is nothing compared to the snow I grew up driving through. So when it rains, I keep on moving along and make sure the windshield wipers are keeping up with the onslaught of rain.
But without those windshield wipers, it’s a whole different story. The rain on the windshield obscures everything in my view. Everything in front of me gets blurry and my depth perception is gone. Soon enough, I’d surely be in a ditch if I’m lucky and wrapped around a tree if I’m not.
As a millennial navigating my way through a new and unfamiliar space known as the “real world,” I keep finding more and more value in having people in my life to act as windshield wipers. These are the people that help me keep my head on straight and keep the path ahead of me clear in my mind. Sometimes it’s not evident right away, but these people know the questions to ask so that the blur gets wiped away and the next step is clear.
I’ve noticed three people that I need in my life that keep my perspective, path and life questions clear:
1. The friend who tells the truth
My reaction when a friend of mine is harmed is to be 100% on their side and hate whoever has done them wrong. And I know that I need that in my life, as well. However, there are friends for me that will sometimes take my side, and sometimes, they’ll drive me over the edge. They’ll tell me that maybe I’m not 100% right! You’re supposed to be my friend and you’re telling me I’m not in the absolute and total right?!
And while I get annoyed in the moment, I know having that friend in my life is important because a friend like that wants the absolute best for me, even if it means telling me something that I don’t want to hear.
This is the friend that will help you recalibrate when you’re being kind of a jerk.
This is the friend that will give you an honest opinion when you’re trying to decide between a job where you’ll make a ton of money being miserable and a job where you’ll be happier making less. This is the friend that clears away the rain.
Friends like this won’t have all of life’s questions answered for you, but they’ll be there to listen to yours and ask questions that can help you answer them for yourself. They’re the friend that will share what they’ve learned and always give advice with your best interest at heart.
2. A mentor who’s been there
Sage advice is seemingly always in short supply when life’s crises hit. It doesn’t have to be that way, though. If you find a mentor who’s a little older, you’ll have that person who can fill that void for you.
There’s been much written about finding a mentor, so I encourage you to do a quick Google search for some of those articles, but when life’s skies open up on you, you want someone who’s been there.
Mentors can take a lot of different shapes and forms as spiritual guides, marriage and dating guides or career guides. There are a lot of areas to seek advice in, so cover all your bases!
When it comes to your career, look to someone who you want to be like. Find someone who works in your field, has the job that you’d want some day, and knows what it takes to get there. Chances are their journey wasn’t smooth-sailing. They’ll be able to not only share how they navigated the road to where they are now, but they’ve probably also watched many others traverse life’s bumpy roads. Lessons learned by experience are lessons you can’t afford to miss.
3. Someone who is in the trenches with you
Forty-plus hours a week are spent with the same crew. Your co-workers are a huge part of your life, and you can’t ignore that. Whether you get along with your team or not, chances are you have at least one person you like who’s in the daily trenches of work with you. Investing in that relationship so it becomes one filled with trust is hugely important.
Your mentors and truth-telling friends don’t experience the boss, co-workers, frustrations, joys, etc. as the people who are right alongside you. The details and the nitty-gritty of moments in your career that seem cloudy can only truly be understood by someone who experiences them with you.
Find that person at work that you can trust and build that to a relationship of trust-filled conversations. If you have someone at work that you can get perspective from, it’ll clear off the final few raindrops to give you a clear view. This co-worker can tell you if your questions are just cloudbursts or socked-in thunderstorms without a clear ending. This is the person that can tell you if you’re reading too far into something or if it really is a big deal. This is who can give you insight into how you’re perceived by others in the workplace.
We feel lost sometimes without a clue of what’s going on, but these three people can help us find our way again. When these three people are already in place, and the skies of life decide to dump confusing, blurry rain on us, we just call on these “windshield wipers,” and they help clear our vision, so we can see what’s coming next.