Why I Finally Chose Good Things Over Interesting ThingsLaura Donovan

A year ago, I had an OKCupid account for a week before canceling my membership. I never met anyone on the site, which had way too much of a MySpace vibe for me, but I do remember the extensive survey I filled out to complete my profile. Though I expected to see many of the listed questions (i.e., “Do you prefer tall or short guys?”), one of the vague, non-dating related inquiries gave me pause: “Would you rather have good things happen or interesting things happen?”

As my mouse hovered the two possibilities, I considered my own place in the world. I was a 24-year-old writer/editor for a sophisticated startup in Manhattan, and while I had lots of great stories pertaining to work and city life, that didn’t mean life as a whole felt rewarding or hopeful.

In New York, I looked forward to something interesting and unusual happening every day. I’d be serenaded by homeless men on the way to Dunkin’ Donuts, catcalled by the simian Second Avenue construction workers on the trek to the subway or bombarded with confusing messages from other transplants pretending to make it on an island that didn’t want or need them. If I missed a weekend out on the town, it felt like I had no one, which is perhaps the reason I willingly flung out of bed at any 2, 3, 4 a.m. text from an inebriated, demanding Wall Street type who’d settle for me after nothing better came around at the bars. I’d kick myself for coasting off those pathetic, empty shared hours during the weeks and months of silence that followed, but I had already been burned a lot, so what was another dud to add to the list?

It takes more than a single instance to break a tough individual’s spirits, but small events can be the catalyst for unfortunate change. After being sacked at work — my fourth online media post in less than three years — I debated fleeing the East Coast to pursue TV writing in my home state of California, a better platform for my skillset and location for my personal preferences. But it took me two months to leave because I knew that once I checked out, I couldn’t come back, and the pride I’d developed over years of getting knocked around a city of fellow martyrs would have to die so I could start fresh in Los Angeles.

As I considered the pros and cons of departing the Concrete Jungle, I became weak, both emotionally and physically. I stayed up until 4 a.m. every night and completely lost my appetite, shedding 6-7 pounds off my tiny frame. I had little to show for, so when the aforementioned late night caller reached out shortly after my firing, I gave in without protest, hoping the company would distract me from the rudderless ship on which I was sinking.

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Though I knew I wanted to move to LA, nothing solidified my decision more than learning the truth about this person, who took another lady to his best friend’s wedding — at which he was a groomsman — a day after inviting me over. He swiftly made her his girlfriend, and made me feel even worse about my shattered NYC existence at that. His behavior amplified the pain of my ousting and proved I was no longer in a place that brought out the best in me. Yet my instability wasn’t the result of a failing career or guy who just didn’t like me. I was in trouble because I’d been seeking trouble and crazy stories all along, and it took a few substantial setbacks for me to recognize this, understand my worth, and relocate to a less toxic environment. I enjoy having unusual stories to tell, but I like having good stories to report even more.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=501101269 Michelle Tiffany Anderson

    Girl, you articulated so beautifully what I went through the past four years in NYC and how I feel now that I have moved back to Washington State.

    THANK YOU

    • Laura Donovan

      :) Thank YOU, Michelle.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1447946716 Angi Watson Dudas

    I just want my life and my mental health to be stable. I lost my husband about 2 years ago and I moved back to Pittsburgh,where we met and married before the military moved us all over the place. I want a place the really feels like home and that I am part of the community. My pot of gold at the end of the rainbow is peace, which I hope I find sooner then later.

    • Laura Donovan

      I’m so sorry :( I can’t even imagine what that must feel like. My dad died in high school and it was very hard for my mom to recover from that, but she’s with someone new now and has gotten on with her life. I hope that you can do the same. It takes time <3

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1075494390 Virginia Nov PA

    This article really spoke to my heart: big move, a broken heart, career undefined? Check! I´m still not quite where you are, but definitely feeling better and hoping that soon things will pick up. And yes, I have to start choosing good over interesting. I´m sick of having “funny stories” to tell. Thanks for sharing!

    • Laura Donovan

      Glad you enjoyed it. Thanks so much for reading and best of luck to you :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=501441546 Krista Beaven

    Living in the city sure can be difficult. At times you feel alone and alienated even though you’re surrounded by people. For the first few years, I would go out seeking adventure, trying to create the next funny story to tell, the next embarrassing moment (yes, those can be good too). After experiencing mostly trouble and harm, with some fun bits strung in between, I realized I didn’t need to seek adventure, stories, or trouble. I started to focus on having the life I wanted instead of the “city life” everyone else seems desperate to lead. 10 years later, I have a wonderful boyfriend, a small group of close-knit (real) friends, and still find time to visit my family in the country. I was able to have my cake and eat it too because I decided that no matter where I was, I could live the life I chose, and not one that my environment forced upon me.

    I really enjoyed your article and look forward to reading more. Well done, and best of luck! :)

    • Laura Donovan

      Thank you for reading :D I so agree with this part: “After experiencing mostly trouble and harm, with some fun bits strung in between, I realized I didn’t need to seek adventure, stories, or trouble. I started to focus on having the life I wanted instead of the ‘city life’ everyone else seems desperate to lead.” Glad your life is amazing now too!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=55300136 Erika Musselman

    Wow. I am so relating. Not as drastic a move, but I moved to a more urban area about 7 years ago and man, was my life interesting. But I was, also miserable and crying myself to sleep many nights, just feeling empty and alone, no matter how many of my girlfriends met me for happy hour the night before. I was also so out of my depth financially, which led me to the decision to move back in with my parents, in the sticks. Like really in the sticks. My life got pretty boring by most standards, but I started to feel less alone, and much happier. I met a dear man, who respects me and loves me (even if I’m a little more boring these days). But the good, and the love far outweigh what anyone could say is boring. :-) Great article.

    • Laura Donovan

      So glad to hear you’re doing well, Erika! Thanks for reading and sharing your own experience.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=19225938 Rebecca Rothkopf

    Wow! It’s really comforting to read about other people rising up after getting knocked down a few times. For me, learning to accept the unknown has been the most challenging thing. What I’m finding is that while it’s impossible to control everything that happens in life, putting yourself out there and continuing to try is the only way to move forward.

    Moving out-of-state to pursue a specific career path didn’t work out for me either, but it did inspire me to apply (and get accepted!) to grad school and land an awesome internship starting this fall in my hometown. Still working on the relationship part, but it’s all one step at a time, right? :)

    Best of luck in your future endeavors! Thank you for this article!

    • Laura Donovan

      Yes! Just when you think it’s all over, something better presents itself. One step at a time is right! Thanks for reading and sending your good wishes :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1117419432 Anamaria Davila

    I love everything about this article!

    I travel A LOT for work and trying to date men in Los Angeles as a plus size girl is not easy. I have a fun career, financially well & am always up for happy hour & nights of dancing w/ the girls, but the “you’d be so pretty if you joined my boot camp & lost a few lbs” lines were getting ridiculous! In February of this year that I finally got to work the biggest tradeshow in my industry in NYC. As fate would have it, I met an amazing man while working, 5 minutes after talking shop he asked me to dinner & I ended up spending every evening after work with him. I ended up staying an extra 3 days to get to know him & figure out if this was the real deal.

    It took a change of environment for me to meet my soul mate! We’re starting a new company and I’m moving to NYC at the end of the year. You can keep those wheatgrass smoothies girlfriend, I’m looking forward to Sunday mornings with the paper, my adorable boyfriend and fresh bagels & lox from the shop around the corner!

    Best of luck to you! :)

    • Laura Donovan

      I miss NYC bagels, so please enjoy them in my spirit! So glad things are working out great for you, and thank you for reading :D

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1140907967 Courtney Smith

    Our situation is exactly the same, but there are some similarities… I, too, want to be a television writer and I’m currently in NYC. I go to school here, but I’m originally from Florida. The weather is horrific here for me, and I fear that I won’t be able to pursue my true dream of being a television writer in NYC (currently I’m an intern at AMC, but in a department not related to development/production). So I think about moving to L.A. (warm weather, more TV opportunities) – but I’m not sure how to pursue that. I don’t know how to just pack up, after I graduate of course, and just move to a whole other city, with possibly no job opportunities.

    • Laura Donovan

      It’s definitely a big move, but you’re actually in a better place than I was when I decided to move to LA. I had no entertainment experience and took an internship in LA to build up my portfolio. You have credentials, which look a lot better than my resume did! I won’t say it’s easy or inexpensive, but moving here will definitely increase your chances of working in TV. I say get out here! The weather is better and the people are nicer for the most part!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=858605636 Kristina Vee See

    I love love love this post. I lived in NYC for a year while I got my M.A. (but couldn’t find a job while I was out there so I moved back to LA). I had such a similar experience while I was out there – never a dull moment, crazy stories to tell on the daily. But, I never met anyone of substance, except for the friends I knew from back home who were now also living in the big city. Dating was disastrous in NYC and everyone was always searching for someone or something better to come along. Even though my dating experience there was terrible, I fell in love with the city and its excitement. I was completely depressed when I decided to move back to LA to save myself from financial disaster. However, I now have a full time, salaried position that I enjoy and a wonderful boyfriend to boot. So, even though moving from NYC to LA seemed like a terrible (and super sad) decision at the time, it has really been the best decision I’ve made for myself in awhile.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=10135202 Laura Elizabeth Donovan

      So glad the NYC-LA thing is working out for you! It can seem like a crazy move at first since LA is so big and spread out, but ultimately the lifestyle here is much healthier. Traffic sucks though! Thanks for reading and sharing your story with me :D

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1419713384 Melanie Borges

    Beautiful. Thanks for inspiring me. I’ve changed my path as well, and, though it is hard, it’s so rewarding! There are, for sure, better things ahead than the ones we left behind.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=10135202 Laura Elizabeth Donovan

      Thank you, Melanie!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=515778544 Amanda Hatton

    Last year I lived with one of my best friends and she was very much in her interesting things phase. I am much more of a homebody than she and I just enjoyed some of the simple things in life and nights talking at friends apartments. I’ll admit I got a bit jealous of her and her crazy adventures. After moving out nearly 6 months ago I realized I was enjoying happy things. As an introvert the things that made me happy would never be the things that made her happy. And that her interesting things were not the same as my genuine love of my life. I just wanted to share and say thank you for your words. I need to remember more that I want happy things, not just interesting things.
    (Plus, loved all the bridesmaids stuff. Chris O’dowd is my favorite)

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=10135202 Laura Elizabeth Donovan

      Thanks for sharing! God I love Bridesmaids!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=585711094 Cinta Jebsworth

    Thank you.

    You have made my eyes well at work. I have had very interesting things happen to me. I lived out my NYC dream coming all the way from Perth, Western Australia. It was great just not for me and it is really great to be able to acknowledge it and move on to greater goals and now I know what I want, the good things.

    Just beautiful, thank you

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=10135202 Laura Elizabeth Donovan

      Aw shucks! That’s very nice of you to say. Thanks for reading and sharing your own story with me. Glad you’re looking for the good things now too!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=722399202 Raquel Aurora Rubio Porras

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! I read this just in time!

    • Laura Donovan

      Thank YOU :D

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=602178341 Allie Berry

    Thank you so much. I am just graduating college and starting grad school in the summer. I am overwhelmed and constantly worrying about my future plans and what will happen to me. After reading this, I feel a little better. I don’t need everything to be perfect, I just need to be patient and the good will come.

    • Laura Donovan

      Thanks, Allie! You’re going to be great! Don’t worry :D

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=557327237 Tabitha Langley

    This article sums up my thoughts perfectly. I have been living in Italy, but for a long time I couldn’t decide if it would be better to return to the US or to tough it out here for longer. Now I don’t feel like I’m letting myself down because I can’t “make it” in my dream country anymore. Maybe in the future I can return, but right now I just want to find the good in my life instead of the interesting.

    • Laura Donovan

      Life shouldn’t be about “toughing it out.” There will always be struggles but why make yourself a martyr when you can be happier and healthier doing something else? Best of luck to you and thanks for reading! I personally love Italy — the gelato and pasta are so good!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001835461291 Erick Eduardo

    I think in this day age this story is being told more often, though not all of them ending with the realization that patience and good things go hand-in-hand and that life is not a tv sitcom, our lives were not written out by a team of clever writers that will ensure the best results, no.
    Life is an experience worth savoring and I think we often dream with your eyes and not with our true heart. Steady as shes goes… Glad you made it.

    • Laura Donovan

      “[O]ur lives were not written out by a team of clever writers that will ensure the best results, no.” Truth. Feels great to be dreaming with my heart. Thanks for reading as well as the insightful message :D

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=571464159 Shelby E. Moore

    I’d much rather have good things happen to me than interesting things. That’s why I changed my major and settled on a place to live when I graduate. Instead of a tough industry in NYC, I’m going to be a teacher in Atlanta. It’s still something I love, and it’s definitely something that’s stable, plus the environment I’ll be in is something that’s safe and at this point in my life, I need safe.

    • Laura Donovan

      Same here! I’ve heard such amazing things about Atlanta. Warm and friendly! Glad you’re happy with your own choices and didn’t try to stick it out in NYC. I’m glad the city led me to where I am today, but the experiences were pretty traumatic at times. Thanks for reading and sharing your own story! :D

  • Laura Donovan

    Thanks everyone for the nice and supportive comments!!!!!!! I was pretty scared to publish this but am so glad you all seemed to appreciate it :D

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=76300039 Andrew Ryan Harvey

    Great post, Laura!

    • Laura Donovan

      Thank you, Andrew!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=692525102 Kate Rodman

    Great article, Laura! Very inspiring as well as an enjoyable read all together, thank you!

    • Laura Donovan

      Thanks a million, Kate :D

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