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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  1. I really needed this.

    Thanks for sharing your experience, Laura!

  2. This is a really great article, like so many of the other commenters, I can definitely relate! It can be so difficult to let something go, when you’ve wanted it for so long and it takes a lot of courage to take that step and try and figure out what will really make your heart sing. Best of luck with everything!

  3. This article is getting bookmarked so I can come back to it later – I’m definitely at a stage where I’m trying to experience all the interesting things that are going on around me. It’s got to a point where I can’t fully enjoy any of them, although they’re all good on their on. Thanks for putting these thoughts so nicely, and the excellent bridesmaids pictures!

    • Good luck to you, and many thanks for sharing your anecdote and reading my post :D

      Laura Donovan | 4/24/2014 11:04 pm
  4. I love this piece so much, Laura. Your experiences parallel those of so many other young women out there today; I know the frustration of having to figure out whether what I was doing was for me or for what everyone else deemed suitable or “interesting”, and though it’s been a long time coming, I’m much happier with my decision now.

    Fantastic article!

    • Aw thanks, Mels!! Glad you’re doing well now and enjoyed this post!

      Laura Donovan | 4/21/2014 08:04 pm
  5. Our dreams inspire us but our expectations (and not meeting them) can be beyond depressing. So this is so necessary for so many people – thanks for posting Laura!

  6. This is so necessary for so many people – thanks for posting Laura!

  7. Great, honest post! I’m so glad you’re embracing the changes in your life as positive ones.

  8. That is definitely a hard question to answer: interesting or good? It’s so vague! But I love what you took out of it, and I’m glad you’re in a better place now. I think you are in both a good and an interesting place. :)

  9. Great article! It really got me thinking and it was very inspiring.

  10. Sounds like you made a good choice in moving- I hope it continues to be what you need!
    I’d choose good over interesting any day ;)

  11. Laura,

    I think you’ve come to a great place, and I’m happy you’ve continued to share all of this as it comes to you.

  12. Great article! :-)

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

  14. Great post, Laura!

  15. 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

    Laura Donovan | 4/15/2014 10:04 am
  16. 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.

    • 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 | 4/15/2014 10:04 am
  17. 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.

    • “[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

      Laura Donovan | 4/15/2014 10:04 am
  18. 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.

    • 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!

      Laura Donovan | 4/15/2014 08:04 am
  19. 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.

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

      Laura Donovan | 4/15/2014 07:04 am
  20. Thank you, thank you, thank you! I read this just in time!