Why I'm Still Choosing Interesting Things Over Good Things
“Everything you worked for is right in front of you. Solid relationship, quality job prospects, low profile existence. Or does all that just bore the sh*t out of you, Veronica?” When Veronica asked herself this question as I was rewatching the Veronica Mars movie this weekend, I immediately thought of Laura’s article about choosing good things over interesting things. I love that Laura’s choosing the good over the interesting, and I hope to have more of that in my future. But for now, I’m on the ‘interesting’ side of the coin after too many years of choosing the good and the boring. I realize the two don’t have to go hand in hand, but for me, they did.
In high school and college, I was someone who did things for the stories – I rarely turned down an opportunity or an invitation, figuring if nothing else, it would lead to an interesting tale to tell. By the time college graduation rolled around, I thought I was ready to give up doing things just for the entertainment value, to settle down and be a grown up. I moved to California for what was supposed to be the dream job and the dream life with the person who was, at the time, my dream man. I had high hopes for what was going to be my exciting new adult life, but my reality was anything but exciting. Everything was good – I had a well-paying job in the field I wanted to be in, a great apartment, a responsible boyfriend, but the reality was it felt like I had fallen into my 30s ten years too soon. Instead of BYOB and beer pong, my parties had gourmet appetizers made by my boyfriend and adult conversation with his grad school friends. I knew I had it good, and I knew I shouldn’t complain, but the reality was that I felt bored and lonely. I wanted the real early 20s experience, to go out and take chances and make mistakes, but instead I was settling into what could have been a good and boring life.
It took an extended business trip to New York to finally shake me out of my rut. I was a mere hour’s train ride from Manhattan, the exciting young adult city of my dreams. Free from the influence of my good, stable boyfriend, I took the chances, made the mistakes – I stayed out too late with new friends, lived out my Gossip Girl fantasies, started inadvisably dating an older coworker. It felt like I was finally living the life I’d dreamed of, something out of the movies, or at the very least, The Mindy Project.
Of course, all good (or interesting) things come to an end, and this one did with my inevitable return to California. Back in suburban LA, it became apparent that dating someone older wasn’t always full of illicit thrills, it meant dating someone who was in their 30s and wanted to act like it. I wanted to go out and have fun with my friends, his ideal night was a home cooked meal and some nice wine and watching TV on his (very nice) couch. There was nothing bad about the situation, it just wasn’t what I really wanted, and it took me awhile to figure that out. The fact that things were so good was why it took me another year to walk away from him, and a year after that to finally leave southern California.
You’re not supposed to leave kind, good men who treat you well and take care of you. You’re not supposed to leave the job a million girls would kill for. You’re not supposed to leave the most perfect weather in the world. You’re also not supposed to spend too many nights on your couch with your cat, watching reruns and wishing you felt like you were in control of your life. You can be in a situation that any outside observer would deem to be ‘good,’ one that people would tell you you’d be a fool to leave, but if you can’t shake the gnawing sensation in the pit of your stomach that something just isn’t right, then it might be time to walk away.
I moved back to the east coast almost two years ago, and within a month felt more at home than I ever did after four years in LA. Gone is the sense of impending doom to a safe but dull life. I now have a job I love, friends I adore, four walls to call my own, but no longer a clear idea of where I’ll be in five years, or ten. I’ve forsaken the good and chosen the interesting; said yes to too many invitations, to challenges I’m not sure I’ll succeed at, to things I wasn’t sure I was ready for. I’ve taken the risks, and some things have succeeded spectacularly, while others have fizzled. Not everything’s been good, but nothing has been boring. I’ve felt fulfilled, and, as cliche as it sounds, alive.
While this is all well and
good interesting, what I’m not quite sure of is where it all ends. Watching the Veronica Mars movie (spoilers ahead), one can’t help but wonder if Veronica’s making a terrible mistake, throwing away her grown up life in Manhattan to return to the darkness and the drama of Neptune. I understand Keith’s frustration with his daughter, throwing away a life she worked so hard for to return to old habits and the oh-so-handsome but oh-so-troubled Logan. At some point, it seems prudent to figure out where the line is between ‘interesting’ and ‘dramatic’ and at what point we’re too old for either. The movie features Veronica’s ten-year high school reunion, and my own is rapidly approaching. Is this the point where we’re supposed to give up on the thrill of the chase or the allure of the unknown, and settle into our safe, stable grown up lives?
The phrase “May you live in interesting times” is referred to as a curse, but I still see it as a blessing. I see no reason good and interesting need to be mutually exclusive; to me, they’re synonymous. I reject OkCupid’s false dichotomy; I refuse to believe I have to choose between good and interesting. I’ve done the good things, I’ve done the interesting things, and for my next project, I’ll be searching for the things that are both.
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