Anyone who has been on Facebook in the last couple of months has undoubtedly seen the decade challenge, where people post a snapshot of themselves (and their lives) from 2009 vs. 2019. It’s been a fun look at just how much can change in a decade!
So, as this year — and decade — come to a close, I thought it’d be fun to do my own decade challenge, both from a professional and personal standpoint.
Ten years ago, I was still a relatively recent transplant to the Bay Area. After dropping out of my Museum Studies graduate program at NYU the year prior and moving back to California, I was feeling pretty lost — in my career and in life. And being in the middle of the recession, professional opportunities were few and far between, especially in the arts.
So, my career — if you can call it that — began with whatever I could get. And in the summer of 2019, I started in the fundraising department at a health-focused non-profit. It was by no means what I had imagined myself doing professionally, but at least it was something.
In my personal life, I was single and living in San Francisco for the first time. I had just gotten back into theater, having done my first show in the Bay Area early in the year. By the end of the year, I had gotten cast in a production of Man of La Mancha at Altarena Playhouse — a show that would change my life forever.
This was also a time in my life when I still felt the pressure to follow a ‘typical’ path: graduating college, going on to graduate school or entering the workforce, and working my way up in the field, gaining higher and higher job titles and making more and more money. I felt embarrassed for dropping out of my graduate program and quitting my job at an arts center in New York. It didn’t matter that I hadn’t been happy with that path — all I could think about was that I had given up the prestige of a Master degree and an impressive job title (Assistant Director).
It was a year of new beginnings but also a time when I was still figuring so many things out.
Ten years later, and it is interesting how drastically my life has changed while I simultaneously find myself in a very similar place.
2019 was also marked by new beginnings. Having quit my job the year before and being essentially unemployed for the first time in ten years, I found myself exploring different fields and taking on new creative projects. Among other things, I helped launch a podcast, I went back to school, and I dedicated myself to maintaining this blog to document my journey.
My personal life couldn’t look any more different. In the last decade, I met Ryan (during that life-changing production of Man of La Mancha), got married and had my first child (welcome, Artie!).
But the biggest change would be in my philosophy on life and career, my priorities and my definition of success. In 2009, I was focused on the prestige of job title and salary. I was a perfectionist who saw criticism as a sign of failure rather than an opportunity for growth. And I was pretty risk-averse, too scared to pursue the unknown.
Ten years later, I put passion over prestige. Mistakes are valuable lessons. And the unknown is still scary but also very, very exciting.