It’s wonderful to have supporters and admirers, but you also need people who will give you constructive criticism. You need to develop relationships with people who can provide you with honest, but not brutal, feedback. You need someone to help you identify the areas where you need to improve your skills, and help you make a plan to achieve your goals.
A mentor doesn’t need to be older or even in the same field as you, but they do need to have the wisdom and experience to guide you in your journey.
It takes a lot of courage to ask someone to be your mentor. I have had some experiences where I have asked people to mentor me and it hasn’t worked out all that well. I think I was partly to blame as I probably didn’t make my expectations very clear.
A lot of people don’t really know how to be a mentor and think that they need to solve your problems for you, or tell you where you went wrong. A really effective mentoring relationship is based on mutual respect and a real desire to help the person try things without judging them. In the perfect mentoring relationship, the mentor gets as much out of the relationship as the person being mentored. The conversations can provide a way for the mentor to pass on their wisdom and knowledge or just articulate their ideas.
If you are looking for a mentor and you have someone in mind, I suggest that you start by being very specific about what you want, and make it absolutely clear that you are not going to take up too much of their time.