In a few weeks, New Years Eve will mark the arrival of 2010. Another decade of my life has come and gone. I never seem to know how to answer the standard interview question "Where do you see yourself ten years from now?" In order to decide what I need to focus on during the next ten years, I suppose I should take an inventory of what I've done and where I have been this last decade.
Looking back I've accomplished quite a lot. I've travelled more places than I've ever imagined. I've been to London 3 times, Paris twice, Monte Carlo once. Spent two weeks traveling throughout Italy with an Italian boyfriend, which was amazing because we visited lots of little cities that I would have never know about if I had gone on my own. Considering my parents never visited Europe in their lifetime, the fact that I made it across the Atlantic as many times as I have thus far means that I have been pretty successful in fulfilling my childhood goal to go out and see as much of the world as possible. Visiting new places and experiencing how other people live has given me a much broader perspective in how I look at the world and how I approach living in it. Through travel, I think I've become less myopic in the last ten years. I've realized what a young country the United States is, and how we are still struggling to develop our own identity as Americans both internally and in our dealings with the rest of the world. I grew up hearing in school that the United States was a "melting pot", but I really didn't truly understand the meaning of this euphemism. Traveling to America's roots in these different European countries and experiencing their cultures has allowed me to appreciate how America, as a newer country, has been able to embrace the influx of disparate cultures and fused them together as one nation and to also understand why our country sometimes has difficulty coming to a consensus on various issues. In the end, it's our nation's diversity and our freedom to express our diverse opinions and insights that helps define us, as Americans.
On a personal level, I believe that travel has made me more tolerant of individuals who have opposing views to my own. I think I am more likely to listen to others who have opposing perspectives in order to try and understand their viewpoint, instead of immediately jumping into arguing my own thoughts on a matter. Recently, I have become close to someone who has a drastically different political viewpoint than my own. I'm a tree hugging liberal Democrat and my friend is not. I think ten years ago, it would be difficult to have this person in my life as a friend. It would have been hard for me to listen to his perspective on politics without turning our every conversation in a serious heated debate. Now, I'm the type of person who can listen to this friend and just appreciate his opposing viewpoint. Of course, I still engage in discourse and may voice my disagreement with his assessments of issues, but there are also times when I simply hold my tounge and just let him speak his mind. I have realized that having people in my life with disparate social and political viewpoints have helped me realize that sometimes issues are not so black and white. More tolerance and global consciousness; these are a couple of things I've learned this past ten years. In the next decade, I want to continue my exploration of the world and hopefully expand my understanding and appreication of the diversity of the fellow people who populate it along with me.
During three of the last ten years, I got my masters degree in entertainment and media law by returning to school part-time at night. Working full-time and going to school was a shock to my system, but I adjusted to the rigorous schedule and learned quite a lot. I have always loved being a student and I am always looking to learn new things to stimulate my mind. Because of this decision to add another professional degree to my resume, I was also able to take five weeks off of work and study comparative law in Cambridge, England over one summer. It was an amazing opportunity to temporarily walk away from my full-time employment to be a full-time student again for a summer. I was with a group of students who were all about ten years younger than I was. There was a lot of drinking, laughing, talking, sightseeing and an utter sense of freedom. I got up early and ran every morning before class. The whole trip was an invigorating experience, and a bit exhausting. I look back at this summer abroad program as one of the most cherished, memorable times of my life. I hope in this next decade to continue taking classes and never stop furthering my education. I'm not looking to add another degree to my wall, but you never know.
As for my work life and career, I've have been employed full-time and thankfully, self-supporting these last ten years. I've worked at three different companies, all entertainment industry related. One company I loved, but after 7 years I needed to grow and diversify. One company I tolerated, because I needed to take a step backward in my title and compensation in order to learn new skills. That was hard, on my ego and pocketbook. But ultimately that job lead to my current company, where I have a better position and greater compensation. I like my current place of employment quite a bit, and I'm keeping my fingers crossed that my employment at this company will last for quite awhile into this next decade. In furtherance of my career, in 2003, I decided to take the New York Bar exam on a whim, six years after I passed the California Bar exam. I studied for the NY Bar exam for about three months on my own, using a bar review book I bought used on the internet. I took a week of vacation time, and flew to NYC a couple of days before the exam and studied on the grass in Central Park. It was July and the Park was brimming with New Yorkers, who were sunning themselves and playing with their dogs and children. I sat and studied flash cards in Sheep's Meadow and quizzed my memory as I walked around the Lake, watching lovers and families in row boats. I then rode the Amtrak train up the Hudson River to Albany to take the exam. Two, six-hour days later, it was over. I had no idea whether I passed the exam or not, but there was really no pressure on me, because I was already a licensed practicing lawyer in California. I travelled down to the Jersey shore for the rest of the week to visit friends. That November I found out I passed the exam, and laughed for two hours in disbelief. For a lawyer, California and New York are the two hardest bar exams in the country to pass, and I passed them both on the first try. Looking back I think I've done quite well career-wise this past decade. For the next decade, I hope to continue to move forward in my career, with a higher position, more autonomy, and to continue loving what I do, contributing my small part in the making of movies.
I think the area of my life that was least fulfilling in the last decade was my personal life. Focusing on work, school and travel consumed most of my attention. It's not that I didn't date. I dated quite a lot. But no long-term commitments were made on my part. As a child, I beared witness to a very nasty divorce. I grew up in a household in which I was an only child and my parents were my whole world. When they split up when I was 11, it really was quite a trying experience. In my teens and twenties, I tried to stuff the hurt of my parents' breakup away and pretend it didn't matter. I forged on with my own life, determined that I would build a different life from theirs. Well I have. I've never been married and have no children. I could have, but I didn't. I'm really not sure if this was a conscious decision or not. I can make excuses, cite circumstances, blame the men in my life or chalk it up to fate, etc. But, perhaps I have been avoiding making a commitment, so as not to fail, like my parents did. This has been a powerful realization on my part recently. So what I hope to accomplish on a personal level in this next decade is to be part of a truly intimate, long-term committed relationship and to hopefully become part of a loving accepting family.
Phew, that was a long interesting decade and quite a lot to talk about in one blog post. I think this inventory has been useful. Of course there are a bunch of other things I want to take on in the next ten years including, learning the Argentinean tango, buying a new car and a house with a garden, finishing my novel (which I started about 10 years ago), losing weight, remaining healthy and a whole bunch more. But before this turns in the the most epic post ever, I think I will stop.
Well, I think I'm ready to tackle another decade, bring on 2010!
Copyright Romy Schneider 2009. All rights reserved.