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.
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.
These things happened nine months ago, and I’ve since moved back to my birth city, hustled like never before to break into the entertainment industry, made friends and fallen for a true gem. With an established career and a couple years on me, he could have taken one look at me and decided he needed a girl with more ducks in a row, and I wouldn’t have blamed him for wanting that, but he liked me for the person I was, one of the many signs that he was a winner and I’d been waiting my whole life for him. I’m thankful for every devastating mishap I endured in NYC — the work dismissal and “romantic” slight in particular — as they got me where I am today. I wouldn’t have met the love of my life had I not been so brazenly disrespected in NYC, and I would not be chasing an incredible goal had my plan to work in media forever not gone awry.
Do I have a cool-sounding job? No, but I’m hoping this internship can help pave the way for my dream career. Do I go to brunch every weekend to rant about the terrible time I had at bars the previous night? No, but I have toast, espresso and a smoothie with my boyfriend on Saturday and Sunday mornings and we discuss things that actually bring us joy, not misery. Do I live in a cute brownstone within walking distance of everything I need? No, but I’ve got a running vehicle and share a 100-year-old house with a delightful Arizona native and a couple friendly, harmless ghosts. Do I have dozens of acquaintances to call in case I want to go out drinking? Nope, but the handful of reliable people in my life are always there when I need them.
I don’t know what career satisfaction feels like anymore, but I’m finally seeing the absence of chaos and weirdness as a good thing. I’m confident it’s why I no longer sleepwalk or sleeptalk, both of which were huge problems for me (and my poor roommate) in NYC. I’d like to believe I’ll eventually have a stable job in entertainment, but if that doesn’t come together, I’ll do something else to survive. There are much worse fates than not having your dream career pan out, and I never would have said or even typed that sentence had I stayed in NYC. The two are not mutually exclusive, but for now, I’m so happy to have good things that I don’t mind the lack of interesting things happening in my professional life. Interesting things — the good kind of interesting — will follow if I’m patient.
Would you rather have good things happen or interesting things happen? Do you have both? Share in the comments section.