Open Letters – From the desk of Melinda Mesiano
Account Director at M&C Saatchi, and NextGen Committee Member
22 June 2021
Dear Rookie Mel,
You’re growing up so fast and learning so quickly! You’re ambitious, yet wary; don’t worry – you’ll be bold and brave soon enough.
Spoiler alert: in the next couple of years, you’ll finish your degree and leave your part-time waitressing jobs behind. You’ll set your sights on the big wide world and move to Dubai and it will be one of the best decisions of your life (and will continue to be even into your thirties).
You’ll share a bedroom and house with strangers while you’re trying to find your feet. You’ll meet lots of people, apply for lots of jobs and feel a little lost for a while, but, eventually, you’ll get your first PR job and find your clique. It won’t always feel easy, but every high and low will teach you something.
After about one year of living in Dubai, you’ll realise that you’ve found yourself. Not the ‘you’ that you were at school, or the versions of ‘you’ that you tried to be over the years having been influenced by other people, but the ‘you’ that you were always destined to become. You’ll feel it in your bones and it will give you the most overwhelming feeling of certainty that you’ll wonder how it’s taken twenty-something years to get to this point.
The ‘you’ you will be happy, inspired, and, most importantly, help you to uncover your most intrinsic values. Once you figure them out, hold on to them tight and never let them waver. Life will test you and your ability to stay true to these values, but ignoring them will make you uneasy and only sticking to them will keep you on the right path.
Balancing time, emotions, responsibilities, work and friends – both physically and mentally – will be your biggest battle. Don’t take on too much or spread yourself too thin. It’s in these moments that you may feel like you’ve lost yourself. Acknowledge when you feel like you’re taking on too much. You’ll know when, as you’ll have a short temper and become uncharacteristically emotional. For a while, you’ll think that’s just who you are now, but you’ll come to learn that it’s actually burnout and that you just need a break. You’ll try to push through for fear of being perceived as selfish for not putting others first, but you’ll eventually learn that looking after your physical and mental self is not selfish – it’s essential for your survival. Take a step back.
You’ll still struggle with this balance and the misplaced feeling of ‘selfishness’ as you enter your thirties, but you’ll keep working on it and get better. The important people and things will still be there once you’re rested and recentred, and that knowledge will help you on your journey.
Your path will see you have the chance to work with incredible global brands and learn from even more incredible women. They’ll teach you phrases like “fail forward”, where mistakes are ok as long as you learn from them, something that a former client, the revered Amanda Turnbull, will say to you in your late twenties. I’m telling you now though, as it’s important and I want to give you a head start. Your fearless leader and friend, Amy Brill, will share her grandmother’s wisdom, “what’s for you won’t go past you”, and you’ll think about this every day as you navigate life and your career and ponder the choices you’ve made, and are yet to make.
You’ll carry these with you in your mind as you take on challenges – personal and professional – and your ambition will keep propelling you forward. Never let your ambition fade, but don’t let it be your demise. Don’t take on too much or spread yourself too thin. Life will be full of clients, pitches, laughter, stressors, overwhelming empathy, budgets, and the highs and lows of everyone around you.
Forgive yourself for learning and growing; hurdles and stumbles are essential building blocks to your best future and not something to condemn yourself for.
Little Mel won’t always be the kindest to Future Mel, but Future Mel will forgive you, so keep taking chances and following your instinct – it’s never let you down before.
You got this! Love from Future Mel x
PS. One day you’ll see an adorable puppy in a shelter and know in your heart that he’s meant to be yours. You’ll toy with whether you should adopt him or not. I’ll save you some time – do it! He’ll challenge you more than anything else, but he’ll also teach you to be more patient, caring and understanding, and will be the most adorable little sidekick you could ever imagine.