WWMAD: A Queen expands her horizons

Each Sunday, Marie Antoinette (yes, that Marie Antoinette) runs a weekly advice column. She shares her hard-won wisdom on a plethora of topics including your own. If you have a problem, an etiquette issue or a question on anything at all, please send her an email at whatwouldmarieantoinettedo AT gmail DOT com.

Dear Madame,
I have an opportunity to travel to Greece for a magazine internship with a very prestigious magazine. It’s through a family friend and I’d like to go. However, I always thought that I’d live in Manhattan after college and feel like I would be giving up my dream. Also, my friends will be sharing an apartment and having the fun that comes with girls living together in the city and I’m afraid I’ll miss out on that too. What do I do?

Me in my horseback riding gear, one of the ways I amused myself at court and scandalized my mother and advisors.

My darling girl,

Did you know, that even though I was the most glamorous queen (I think) of all time, and my fashion sense spread throughout Europe, I never traveled at all? I loved  theater, gambling and shopping, but my horizons were extremely limited. I never left France after my arrival in 1770 and barely traveled within the country when I did get there. As biographer Stefan Zweig has noted, if you plotted the points I’d visited on a map, including trips to royal retreats such as Marly, Fontainebleu, St. Cloud and Rambouillet, and zoomed out even the slightest bit, the points would merge together into a single dot.

My lack of exploration made it difficult for me to be more informed about the world. I’d never seen the coast, the mountains or seen regular French people beyond the Parisian opera or market. I mostly knew the people at court and was never exposed to a wider range of people to understand and predict their thoughts and feelings, contributing to my misunderstanding of the problems fomenting in France.

Your internship is not a life commitment. Do the internship and tell your friends you’ll be pitching in on the rent in NYC when you are done. In case you’re looking for other ways to expand your horizons in the meantime, I’ve listed a few below.

A Queen Expands Her Horizons

  • Commit to exploring one new place or spending time with one new person each weekend.
  • Make a list of 12 activities you’d always wanted to try, like performing at an open mike night at a comedy club, camping or skydiving. Arrange to try one each month.
  • Poll your friends for their favorite breakfast lunch or dinner meals and try those instead of your usual fare for one week.
  • Volunteer to meet new people and learn new skills. Tutor for your library’s drop-in homework hours, pound nails for Habitat For Humanity or dole out meals at a soup kitchen.
  • Switch iPods with a friend and listen to her music for awhile.
  • Consider  Marie’s favorite activities for some old fashioned thrills: Learn needlepoint, horseback riding or acting.
    Let’s all suggest our own favorite activities in the comments for us all to try, to help us modern Maries learn from each other.

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