So far you guys read a lot of success stories and today is another one. Some successes are not only on a professional side but they are also very personal. One of my friends is a true example of that. I met Mike during the summer of 2015. We had to work together at the Rotterdam The Hague Airport to help tourists find their way. 8 hours long of waiting on tourists and being extremely bored. We instantly had a connection. Mike is one of the most outgoing people I have ever met. However, he struggled. Today I want to share his story with you. A very personal story that is a reality to a lot of people.
When I met Mike Willeijns in the summer of 2015 I thought he had no care in the world. He makes jokes all the time, he seems happy and is very out going. He has a strong social-life going on for him and it seems that things come easy to him. His style comes easy, his talk comes easy and it just kind of seems that life comes easy for him. Boy was I wrong.
Mike and I have a strong connection. Which was strange to me because I don’t see myself as extremely funny or outgoing. I am more on the serious side, always friendly and open but not extremely noticeable when in a group of people. He is. Even if there are 50 people in the room, Mike will still catch your eye. Later on my perspective of him changes. He is more complex than he seems and he has experienced some things that you don’t want anyone to experience.
A year ago, Mike just started his studies Leisure Management at Willem de Kooning. A year before that, when we became friends, he told me he had just quit his other studies and has a leap year. We become close and we talk a lot. At some point we just talk about what he wants to do in 2016. I tell him that he should study something similar as I did. I studied Media & Entertainment Management and can totally see him doing that. A mutual friend of ours, Lotte, studied Leisure Management. She went to both the open houses, of the studies, with him to see which one fits him best. Finally, he chooses Leisure Management.
We have seen him struggle, both a bit worried at times. Now, two years after I have met him, he is more sure about everything. He seems happy and knows what he wants. I ask him how he has turned things around: ”By moving around for a year. It sounds a bit sad but it’s really true. Two years ago I really really didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. I just quit my studies International Lifestyle Studies in Tilburg (a Dutch city) and had no expectations on what this leap-year would bring. One thing I did know was that I had to search for myself. That didn’t happen without any setbacks. I found out that I wasn’t the person I pretended to be. I was completely the opposite. I didn’t know why people wanted to be friends with me because I wasn’t my own friend.”
These words kind of make me sad. But there is a positive side to it. Mike found a way out. I asked him how: ”I started thinking about what my talents are. I asked my friends, my family and other people around me. Everyone said the same thing: I am someone who always organizes stuff. I am social and bring all my friends together. That got me to thinking. I love parties. Why not organizing them myself? In The Netherlands, there isn’t an a type of studies that teaches people how to throw parties or events but Leisure Management comes pretty close. Besides that I can study Leisure Management in the city I love most: Rotterdam.”
A clear path
A lot of young people struggle with what they want to do in the future. What kind of education should they choose? Should they even go for an education at all? I wrote about it before with Veerle. It’s a very important subject nowadays. So what can Mike recommend if you don’t know what to do with your future? I asked him for his advice and he shares something very valuable: ”People are full of prejudices. I know it might sound a bit weird but it’s really true. If you truly want to figure stuff out about yourself, drop all of your prejudices. They will only hold you back. Who knows, something you might have a prejudice about will actually be your greatest advantage. Go talk with other people that know you well and just listen to what they have to say. When you have talked to everyone about it, make a list of the things they say. People have an opinion about you for a reason. It is something you project into this world. Everyone has a talent and sometimes others can see it better than you. That’s why you ask them.”
He adds that there are also things you really shouldn’t do: ”Leave all of the jealousy behind. Nowadays you only see people on social media that have everything figured out. Jealousy is a real vibe killer. I am not a jealous person at all. I think that if you want something, you just need to work for it. It just doesn’t come easy. If someone has something you really want, you need to work for it too. Nothing is impossible, as long as you believe in it yourself.”
Mike is currently studying to work in the event industry. I asked him his opinion about it: ”This industry is hard life. Everything is done already. A new concept in parties or events is hardly ever done. In my opinion it is better to copy something the right way then to create something new that sucks.” How Mike got into this industry? ”I was online a lot and showed my face at a lot of parties. It’s a combination of on- and offline. You have to make sure that people see you, maintain your contacts and make sure to make new contacts. You can’t be afraid to go and talk to people. Another important thing is that people need to like you. You need to work hard to work in this industry. I went to a lot of parties in Rotterdam and slowly people started to notice me because of my outfits. It sounds corny but your outfit is very important. I tried to look different every time, I tried to surprise people. I think it kind of worked.” he explains.
Mike has his own party called ”Kitss”. He tells me: ”I’m not there yet but I got a really nice opportunity to help create my own party in Rotterdam. I got this opportunity because I showed up at the parties and festivals that I really wanted to work on. Be very selective on which party you go to and make sure you speak to the right people. It is important to be the center of attention.”
So you might want to know his tips on how to network like a pro: ”Networking is the most important thing there is, trust me. Without my network I wouldn’t be doing what I do today. I wouldn’t study what I study right now and I wouldn’t work where I work now. I even wouldn’t have the same friends I have now. You can see it as the base of everything you do. If you won’t network, you won’t get to where you want to be going in the future. It is important to be yourself. Always try to approach the people you think will be interesting for you. It is not a one way street though. A good network is one where people need you and you need them. It is an interaction between two people so it’s important to have a good balance.”
Mike has a lot of interesting things going on for him next year. He is going into his second year of his studies. ”Next year will be very chaotic but very fun! I am going to start my own company with a project group. Besides that I will continue to work on Kitss. I hope I can make it into an even bigger party than it is already. Also I hope to have even more opportunities to work in the event industry in Rotterdam and to form the city to the way I would like to see her. Next year will be a huge challenge.”
It is very interesting to see how someone so lost, now is so confident in what he does. I hope this will help people who are a bit lost themselves. There is nothing wrong with being a little lost. As long as you work to getting back on track! Don’t forget to follow Mike on Instagram: @mikewilleijns
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