Saturday, January 02, 2010

2009 (and Earlier) in Review: Looking Ahead to 2010

EAST BRUNSWICK, N.J.—2009 has officially come to an end, and so has this week of "2009 (and Earlier) in Review." Onwards to 2010!

I don't know if this is necessarily a good thing, but guarded optimism has been my approach to many things in my life. If you don't expect too much from the beginning, you won't experience quite so much disappointment if something doesn't work out, right?

This year, however...well, I'm not quite ready to cast off my guarded optimism. Old habits die hard, after all. Nevertheless—at the risk of experiencing bitter disappointment in the future—I'm feeling genuinely positive about the possibilities that lie ahead for me this year.

As I tried to suggest in my introductory overview to this week-long retrospective, I think I was able, in 2009, to lay the groundwork for positive outcomes ahead. Professionally speaking, I'm getting more involved in film-related writing outside of my day job at The Wall Street Journal, and it's even gotten to the point where I'm occasionally asked to take on assignments, if I can. That sounds like some kind of progress to me, suggesting that I'm making some of the right connections at the workplace, that I'm impressing someone at the office with the work I'm doing. As far as connections go, I've made some inroads in at least knocking on the door of the cinephile community both in New York and online. And, of course, I'm trying to ramp up my blogging output here at My Life, at 24 Frames Per Second, and see if maybe I can build up a sizable audience with this here online journal. (Now, I just have to get better at self-promotion. If you all like what you read here, tell your friends!)

But, of course, my professional life isn't my whole life; if that was the case, I would be a very shallow person indeed. No, my personal life could probably use some improvement. If I have resolutions for the new year, the bulk of them would be related to changes I'd like to make in my way of living, my personality and my interpersonal relationships.

For one thing, I could probably stand to have better relationships with my parents. They've sacrificed a lot for me as I've been living under their roof for the past two years or so, and I could certainly stand to show more explicit appreciation for said sacrifices. I mean, who else is going to drive out in a blizzard just to bail you out of making a big mistake with the spot at which you parked your car the next town over? My stoic but loving dad, that's who. I'm not sure if even my best of friends would be willing to go that far and risk life and limb for me that way (although, that said, I don't think I've asked my best of friends for that kind of massive favor, so who knows?). And, of course, with my mom...well, longtime readers of my various online journals over the years will know about the varying degrees of love and frustration I have towards my mother. But even when she's at her most oppressively single-minded in her belief that she knows better than I do what I want/need, I can't accuse her of not being, at the very least, well-meaning. And sometimes—nay, let's be brutally honest, often—she's more right about things than wrong. If I sometimes have an unfortunate tendency to be much too short-tempered with both of my parents—a short temper perhaps cultivated from years of grudge-holding and such—this is as good a time as any to try to cast off buried anger, change that nasty side of me and exercise more compassion and understanding. Sometimes, with my parents, they just know not what they do.

As for me, where to begin? I could start with my tendency toward shyness. Really, I just can't sit back and expect people to come to me; I just have to reach out to people, especially strangers whom I might be interested in interacting with.

Passive-aggressiveness is something I need to work hard to overcome, also. If something is bothering me about something/someone, sometimes I just have be confrontational about it, and not try to bury my frustrations deep inside until they simply burst out at inopportune moments. My parents have bore the brunt of my penchant toward passive aggression over the years, and in the end, it simply isn't constructive; not only does it never come close to getting at the root of a particular problem, but it also just exhausts me.

But if there's a general area of self-improvement to work hard to overcome from now on, it's an excess of self-consciousness. To put it simply: I have a strong suspicion that I often worry too much about how people think of me. Thus, I may hold off on talking to a stranger—especially one of the opposite sex—because I'm too afraid of looking and sounding stupid; and I may avoid confronting someone—especially a close friend—with a particularly bothersome issue out of fear of making that other person angry. Granted, some situations require a careful calibration of image, especially when it comes to matters of the workplace; you wanna make a good impression on your employers, right? (Especially in this business we call print journalism?) I guess my challenge in 2010 and beyond is to try to strike a careful but beneficial balance between being careful with people's perceptions of you and simply being myself. (But, of course, what is self? I think Todd Haynes may have some ideas about that...)

Other resolutions? Generally, I could be much more well-rounded than I am. Read more, write more, watch more films and television shows, sure. (Classics by Michaelangelo Antonioni, for instance, remain as yet unseen by me...yes, that includes L'Avventura. I know, I know...) But also, I need to start going to more art exhibits and Broadway shows (or, at least, as much as I can fit within a budget).

On a non-art-related matter, it'd be good for me to get back into a more regular gym habit after shirking it the last couple weeks of 2009 in favor of holiday food-gorging. (As I'm trying to see more films in press screenings outside of my daily work schedule, though, this may become rather difficult to do...but persist I shall.)

And in general: I'd just like to resolve to be as happy and healthy, physically and mentally, as possible. Get out more and have fun. Don't let relatively minor personal challenges bring me down; try to take those frustrations in stride, and don't react like it's the end of the world. Above all, try to keep a sane perspective on things. Because, really, things are going pretty well for me, if I step back and consider the details of my existence right now. People are far worse off than I am. I should be grateful. I still reserve the right to complain about certain things not going my way, but as long as I always maintain that sense of perspective, I should be thankful.

(Oh, and one last resolution to make to myself: Move out of your parents' house. As soon as you're willing and able—which I suspect is very, very soon. Enough talk; action!)

To 2010 and all that is in store! Even amidst this recession we're all in, I wish you all a fine new year as well.

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