The Source


A Letter to My Younger Self


Dear Dan,

It’s time to get yourself together. You are 21 years old, at one of the best universities in the country, and you just woke up on the floor of someone’s apartment in a blow-up raft after a “Thirsty Thursday” night out drinking. As you squint and shake your head trying to rid the haze that has draped your mind with that thick cloud of uncertainty, I need you to realize that you’re better than this. You’re smarter than this. And you will go on to do great things. But, in this moment, take off that sweatband, remove the pool floaties from your arms and get yourself together.

I know you are going through a tough time right now. You are getting a degree in something that you don’t enjoy anymore and it’s a struggle to stay focused. Your grades have dipped, you are making excuses and you want out. You’re not alone. There are many students in the same situation as you… lost. Confused.

This period will be one of the most transformative of your life, but you won’t realize that until many years later. In this moment, as you lay on the ground trying to figure out who’s apartment you’re in and how you ended up there, it’s okay to take a deep breath and slowly pick yourself up off the ground.

The scary part is still coming. That time in your life immediately after you get handed a diploma and are no longer in your college routine. This is where I need you to pay attention, Dan. Like, seriously, pay attention. Wipe the beer-laced sweat from your brow and focus. Unlike some of your friends who graduated college with a career already tee’d up (you know, the engineering and finance majors), you will have absolutely no clue what you want to do.

I’ve got your back though, because I’m going to pass along some tips that I suggest you follow:

1) Find a mentor – This might be the most important one, so I listed it first. Find someone to look up to. Someone who is professionally where you want to be. A person who you can bounce questions off and get real answers. Oprah Winfrey stated once, “A mentor is someone who allows you to see the hope inside yourself.” Mentors are with you no matter what and offer the kind of moral support and structure that young people need and crave.

2) Listen – As you enter the working world, you will be surrounded by people who love to talk. They’ll talk with you, talk through you, and talk about what is right, wrong, and everything in between. Don’t be that person, dude. Listen to people. Absorb what they say. Listen effectively and master this skill.

3) Believe in yourself – This one might sound a little cliché but have confidence in your abilities. A friend once told me, “It’s who you know that gets your foot in the door, but it’s your talent and ability that blows the door down.” Believe in yourself and have the confidence to speak up with your own thoughts and opinions. Don’t be afraid to fail and fail big! You will be okay and grow from the experience.

4) Never stop learning – Read. Listen to podcasts. Absorb knowledge. Surround yourself with people smarter than you. Never stop the grind, because it won’t stop for you.

5) Have fun – Enjoy what you do. There will be some long nights and a lot of very early mornings. Find the fun in your work and savor each moment, because those moments will inevitably help you in your career. For every kick-ass project or campaign you complete, make sure to celebrate; but, remember to keep your focus and get ready for the next big thing around the corner.

So, get after it, Dan. It’s going to be awhile before you find some professional success. You still must go through that phase where you move home. And by home, I mean your Dad’s house. Yes, that house. The one you grew up in with your bedroom that still looks the same as when you graduated high-school. The room where your perfect attendance record from middle school still hangs on the wall. You will be living in that room, again, except this time you’ll be 23, single, and with no steady income. But hey, at least I gave you some tips.

Good luck, bud.

Dan Nasitka

Dan leads Rocket Science Media Group’s earned media, communications integration, and special projects for all clients. This includes story innovation, brand engagement and creating cultural movements through award-winning narrative campaigns. He is a thought leader and champion of great storytelling. Over the years, Nasitka has worked with top brands like the LA Kings, City of Los Angeles, Discovery Cube OC & LA, County of Orange, Disney Jr., Nickelodeon, Lucasfilm, Ltd., and Discovery Channel.

Previously, Nasitka worked for the Discovery Science Foundation where he was responsible for leading the day-to-day efforts and strategic initiatives related to giving the Discovery Cube brand a consistent and genuine voice. Dan was instrumental in leading the strategic efforts of a company-wide re-brand, communicating the opening of a new $56 million campus in the City of Los Angeles, the $22 million expansion in Orange County, increasing the presence of the Cube’s social media platforms, and garnering millions of dollars in earned media across all campuses.

Nasitka was named to OC Metro’s 40 Under 40 list and is a frequent speaker at universities around the region on topics of personal branding, social media and professional development.

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