Facing the Real World: A Letter From My 2011 Self to My 2012 Self


I’ve been thinking about blogging again, but from a more personal standpoint. This last year has been such a big turning point in my life and I just have so much to share with the world (Even though some of this should be private, really)! I’m also turning 30 in a few weeks and it’s been a time of a lot of reflection.

I spent this weekend putting together a shelf for my room and getting rid of the last of my cardboard boxes (Yeah, I still had them even though I’ve been in my new place here in North Beach since April). In one of them, I found a small notebook that my best friend had given me from her trip to Paris. I didn’t have a smartphone back then, so I used this notebook to record a lot of random information, such as where addresses for different places were. I also found that I used it to prep for my job interviews.

I ended up throwing the notebook away with a lot of other things, but I couldn’t do away without tearing out the first few pages. I saw that there, I had written a letter to my future self shortly after enduring my first year of post-college life.

It was dated December 26, 2011. I believe that was the day or close to the day I started a two-and-a-half year stint as an operations and support associate at Cardpool, which began my trajectory into the tech industry.

I imagine this was addressed to the version of Karen that would be alive on December 26, 2012.

Dear Karen,

I hope you are at the place in your life where I wanted to be. If you’re not, don’t stop fighting for it. Don’t stop dreaming and don’t stop doing. It’s okay to cry — it’s NOT okay to NOT try. I endured this entire year of searching, rejection, lost hope, very, very VERY low points. Your 2010 self had it just as tough despite the dreams coming true. We KNOW the feeling. But we also know that you are a warrior of the most resilient kind, and that your family, friends, blog / Twitter / Tumblr / insert social network here followers believe in you too. Sometimes things can only get worse before they get better. You may or may not have been through your “worse” but please please believe me when I tell you that things will get better.

But maybe you are doing something cool after all! Maybe you’re doing some internships. Maybe you got a full-time position at that company I started at late this year. Maybe you finally got an in with that company I applied to like five times already. Maybe you moved to LA or NYC (I hope you have a car if you’re in LA and that you’re confident in your driving!) Maybe you already brought Karen On to the next level. In any case, I hope you NEVER stop writing. I hope you continue to be inspired. I hope you are still HUMBLE even though you have the coolest job in the world. I also hope that you talk to every “celebrity” you can because if you don’t know them now, you will eventually. And you’ll go CRAZY over them. But don’t forget that they’re people too. 🙂

With or without your dreams coming true, just remember: Be kind, be polite, and always tell people “thank you.” Reach out to the people that I met and say hello once in a while. Love, respect, and CHERISH your parents, brother, sister, and family no matter how difficult things get. Don’t lose yourself if some handsome and charming gentleman actually wants to date you. Respect and love YOURSELF above all. Go to hella Giants games whether or not they have a good season. Most of all, make sure to SMILE. It’ll be easier since you’ll have that one tooth out soon enough.

I look forward to meeting you. I know you will blow me away with your awesomeness. 🙂

(BTW, the doomsday ain’t coming but if it does, at least you’ll have gone knowing that you watched The Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises.)

“Keep on dancing till the world ends” ~ The LEGENDARY Miss Britney Spears

Karen Datangel

PS Keep LEARNING. The mind and the soul should always stay hungry.

[1] The “company I applied to like five times already” was POPSUGAR. They were my dream company for the longest time and the company I really wanted to work for straight out of college. I think they pretty much ignored all of my applications since the summer of 2012, but I was still lucky enough to write a few articles for them in the last few years!
[2] Pretty sure I included that paragraph about celebrities in there because I had gotten into Breaking Bad at the time I wrote this and realized I had actually been around Aaron Paul during my Hollywood Life days the previous year, but had no idea who he was back then.
[3] “That one tooth” was located in the back of my mouth and had a terrible abscess in it. It was significant at the time just because it was so painful and detrimental to my overall well-being. Can’t remember if I got it extracted in 2012 or 2013.

Right after I graduated college, I had this mindset that I was going to be an entertainment journalist, live on my own, and take over the world. I had put so much pressure on myself and when I endured one rejection after another, I felt like a failure. And I fell into one of the more depressive phases of my life.

While I appreciate the overall message 2011 Karen was trying to convey here, I now feel that all the negativity didn’t really matter as I ended up totally changing career paths anyway! But to preface, 2012 Karen ended up doing pretty well. While I was working at both Cardpool and the law office I was employed at for most of my college years, I took a short internship with the Center for Asian American Media. On the side, I freelanced (Some for free, some for minimal pay) for various entertainment and lifestyle websites and magazines and continued to blog. The Giants also ended up winning another World Series that year, so life in 2012 was swell, even when everything wasn’t living up to my ultimate vision.

I often find myself talking about where I got to where I am now. Moving to LA or NY to pursue entertainment journalism ended up being a risk I didn’t want to take (Things like money or lack thereof, finding housing, driving if I were to live in LA, being away from my family and friends for a prolonged period of time, and generally going out of my comfort zone frankly scared the shit out of me at the time), but I did feel like there were similar opportunities that were available to me already here in SF. Think POPSUGAR, Fandom, IGN, Flixster, video games. even entertainment divisions for big names like Yahoo. When those didn’t work out, I simply used my writing skills to provide customer support at start-ups and from there, dabble into support through and creating copy for their social channels. That then helped me get roles with Google, the San Francisco Giants, and now Salesforce. And as a San Francisco native who really liked San Francisco, it simply felt natural to move into marketing (specifically social media) in tech!

Do I still want to watch movies and write about them? Interview celebrities? Honestly, not really. But if I were offered a full-time role to be a marketer or a social media manager in sports, that might be tempting to at least think about.

I’ve only scratched the surface of all that has happened in my career and life since I wrote this letter, but now more than ever, I feel content with the way things have taken shape. We are all on our own paths, and yours is just fine. Mine is just fine. So 2011 Karen, just relax — you’ll love the 2018 Karen more than Karen from any other year.

(Stock image: Pexels via Pixabay)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s