Lately, I've been getting some really helpful advice and connections from persons of authority or just people further along in their careers. I've come to recognize those people as mentors. It could just be coincidence or luck. It has certainly helped that I've gotten better at communicating about ideas. My definition of a mentor has also evolved to be more inclusive. This was partly from reading the chapter about mentors "Lean In," by Sheryl Sandberg. She wrote about shifting the focus to being an interesting person with good ideas rather than having a goal be to get a mentor. It was also helpful to participate in a discussion about mentors at AdaCamp, which was a conference for women and open technology. I used to think a mentor would always be someone in some obvious position such as a professor or someone on my own career path. These days it's never so obvious because everyone is changing careers or has additional interests you might not know about.
There was a more internal change, too. I feel that I am more open now to accepting advice. I think I have been waiting this whole time to have more completely formed opinions, perspectives, and ambitions. I am realizing that in the meantime I may have been avoiding people I thought were potential mentors because I didn't want to be influenced too much. I also didn't want people to be offended if I didn't take their advice so it was in fact a form of conflict avoidance.
On the whole, I am glad I did that, but I am also excited to be entering a new phase now.