Thought Catalog

She Taught Me What I Like In Just One Night

Posted: 13 Aug 2015 11:45 AM PDT


"You kiss like a gay girl,"

Maya pulls my hips closer to hers.

"That's a good thing."

I'm flattered, even though I don't know what she means.


Maya is confident and gentle. She runs her fingers down my side, brushing them lightly against my zipper. I have all my clothes on, but I imagine her fingers are warm.

"Have you done this before?" she asks.

She has grey eyes.

"I mean, I've made out with girls before…but, no. I haven't."

My thighs are shaking a little. I wonder if she notices.

"It's good to be a little nervous,"

She rests her hand on my hip.

"You're excited. So am I. But we should wait for your boyfriend, right?"

We sit up. He's not my boyfriend, but I guess we should wait.

"I'll roll a spliff."

I met Maya outside of Pianos, this bar on the Lower East Side, earlier tonight. I'd stepped outside for a cigarette with Kellam, a guy I've been seeing for a month or so, and Maya asked me for a light. She had a cool vibe—kind of quietly intense. I complimented her on her Top Tens—I recognize a girl with good sneakers. I live around the corner, so after chain-smoking for a half hour or so, I invited her for a drink at my place—"smoker-friendly when my roommate's gone." We've been alone for a few minutes—Kellam just ran across the street for some ice. We're drunk enough, but he wanted to make us Moscow Mules. I forgot to tell him I don't have ginger beer.

"Is Kevin coming back, though? Or…”

Maya's sitting next to me, her hand now resting in between my thighs. I think she knows his name's Kellam.


Kellam's back.

"I guess so."

Maya raises her eyebrows. She's smiling—so am I. I wonder if we're both a little disappointed.

"You don't have any ginger beer!"

Kellam's loud when he's drunk.

"Should we open this bottle of Merlot?"

"Sure," Maya and I respond in unison, quiet enough for Kellam not to hear. I light the spliff as he opens my bedroom door, balancing three fat, red goblets.

"Oh, you rolled it already."

"Yeah. Wanna smoke this is the living room?" I turn to Maya.

"Let's," Maya nods.

Maya sits next to me on the couch—Kellam takes the chair, facing us. He puts on "Late Night," a playlist I don't listen to often enough.

"Ooo shit, I can't lie, this is my song."

She turns up Research (Ariana Grande x Big Sean). I laugh.

"This is everybody's song, c'mon."

She nods as she french inhales. We're vibing.

Next song—French Inhale (Snoop Dogg).

"How appropriate."

She takes another hit as she gets up to dance. It's a slow song—I'm impressed she can move to it without looking awkward. She's about my height—maybe a little taller. 5'6" or so. Her hips are narrow, but her figure is full and strong—so is her hair, which is shiny. And black—maybe dark brown (the room is dim). She's got on distressed black jeans and a mostly-transparent white tank top—no bra, small breasts. She closes her eyes, smoking still—and dancing. One of her straps falls down over her shoulder. She's got a hot body.

With her eyes closed, she giggles softly as she traces her collar bone with two manicured fingers, pinching her strap to pull it back into place.

She opens her eyes.

"Get up."

I heed her playful command.

Next song—Ride (Ciara).

"Fuck yeah." (This is my song.)

Maya passes me the spliff as she grabs my hip. Other hand—other hip. I take a hit, pushing my ass back into her. Pressing down with both palms, she moves her hands slowly towards my crotch. I look over at Kellam for the first time since I got up from the couch. His eyes are wide and his mouth is slightly open—this must look as good as it feels, which makes it feel even better. Our eyes lock, and I smile. He lets out a long, deep breath as he runs his fingers through his hair. I look down—his zipper looks like it's about to burst.


"You get up, too. You didn't come here to watch, did you?"

Kellam gets up, half-adjusting his hard-on before moving behind Maya. I haven't been in a grind-train since seventh grade, but, let me say: the adult version is much more exciting. He reaches over, putting his one hand over Maya's, helping her press down into me deeper.

I turn around to face her. She takes off my top. I take off hers. She pulls me back in—both hands squeezing my ass.

"Damn, you’ve got a nice ass."

I let out a nervous giggle.

“I do? It’s so flat, though…”

She squeezes tighter.

“Nah. It’s nice,”

We start to kiss.

“Trust me.”

Kellam rushes to take off his pants and unbutton his shirt. It's cool in here, but his abs are shiny with a thin layer of sweat. His body's a little nervous, but as I watch him unbuckle his belt, he shoots me this primal, "I'm about to fuck you" half-smile. I realize I'm wet…very wet. I like that half-smile.

"Let's go to your room. Maya?"

She bites my bottom lip as she peels her mouth off mine.


I push Maya down on the bed. She smiles deep and sits up, grabbing me to take off my pants. As she unzips, she kisses my underwear, slipping a hand underneath as she uses the other to pull me on top of her.

"Take off her pants."

Salivating as I straddle her—her palm rubbing me—Kellam complies.

"And her underwear."

I start to kiss her neck, tugging her hair a little as I go. She smells fucking incredible—like cinnamon and sweat, or something. I curl her hair around my fingers, taking my time as I work my lips up to hers. We start to kiss again. It's aggressive this time—like it was before Kellam came. He gets behind me, slowly starting to rub Maya as he wraps his left arm around me to grab my right tit. A cool buzz runs down my spine—his cock is hard. Like, think Greek-statue-who’s-about-to-lose-his-virginity hard. Very hard. It's flirting with my ass a bit, which I didn’t know I like. A lot.

Slowly, Maya presses her middle finger into my vagina. Kellam mimics her. Excited, she holds her breath for a few moments as he places his thumb on her clit, moving it in light, quick circles. She arches her back as she does the same to mine. I can feel all three of our bodies vibrating. As I close my eyes, Maya takes her hand off my pussy, using it, instead, to lead Kellam's cock inside me.

"F—uck. Fuck. That feels good."

Kellam moves both his hands to push my hips back as he starts to fuck me. Very. Hard. He's usually good in bed, but not as aggressive as I'd like—but I never realized that before tonight. Tonight, though, he's on fucking fire. With every forceful thrust, he lets out a deep, lingering grown that melts into the next. And then the next. I start to shake my ass a little, my hips moving in steep circles.

"Slap my ass."

That's the first time that sentence has left my lips—ever.

He slaps it. I put two fingers on Maya's clit. He slaps it again—harder this time—as he puts another two fingers inside her. She starts to moan as I kiss her nipples, sucking a little as I go. I didn't think I'd want to go down on her, but I do. Badly. I push her up the bed, leaning down deeper as Kellam puts his hands back on my hips. My legs are shaking. I start to kiss her other lips.

I've never eaten a woman out before, but I navigate Maya like a goddamn vet. I suck on her clit, like I'd like a guy to suck on mine. I lay my tongue flat and warm, like I'd like a guy to lay his. I vary my pace, I use my fingers…I make quick, wet figure eights around her clit. Some of her moans are light and airy—others are long and deep. She sounds like good sex feels.

The three of us play for hours, switching positions, taking breaks just to feel each other's bodies, sipping on that Merlot, telling each other what we want—listening, and delivering. By the time the sun rises, we've all orgasmed more than once. Prior to tonight, Kellam hadn’t made me come.

Happily exhausted, I light a cigarette as Maya gets dressed.

"Sleep here," I urge her, "You're welcome."

"Nah, that's okay. This was fun. You guys are…fun. But I want to sleep in my own bed."

She pushes into my thigh as she takes a drag. Kellam's already snoring.


"My ├╝ber's here. Maybe I'll see you at Pianos again."

She runs her hand up my thigh, pushing into me one last time as she gives me a kiss.

"Yeah, maybe you will. Thank you for tonight—really. This was…"

She smiles.


“Bye.” TC mark

A Serial Killer Is Stalking The Greater Paducah Area And Its Residents Are Fearful Of Their Lives

Posted: 14 Aug 2015 10:57 AM PDT

Flickr / darkday
Flickr / darkday

The headline read, "The River Wolf Strikes Again." As with the other victims, a body was found in the Ohio River. The throat had been torn out and the arms and hands showed lacerations consistent with defensive wounds. The first body had been chalked up to an animal attack, but now, with six bodies in, the Greater Paducah Area realized they were dealing with a serial killer. Search parties walked the marshes along the river bank hoping to find something linking to the killer, but no evidence had been found. I’ve been keeping up with the case on Facebook, but I haven’t been too worried about my safety. All of the victims were young women, of which I am neither young or female.


I work as a third-shift janitor for a local high school. Every night between 11PM and 6AM, I push a mop and a buffer down the halls and empty the trash in the classrooms. It’s a living. I make a modest income that affords me a decent two-bedroom apartment downtown. Living over a bar has its perks. On my nights off, I’ll drink myself into a stupor and stumble upstairs for some sleep. I can see the river from my living room window. I can’t even begin to tell you how many mornings I’ve sat there with a drink in my hand staring at the water wishing I had a boat.

On one of my nights off, I was sitting at the bar putting away bottles of Amber Bock and writing in my Moleskine journal with a Pilot Precise Five. It was my Friday night routine. I’d write my thoughts and random prose with the hopes of eventually compiling it into a novel and occasionally I’d strike up a conversation a random woman. This was one of those nights. The woman in question, Janice, worked at my high school. We got to talking about fiction and literature and I mentioned that I cleaned her classroom most nights. She smiled.

"So, you’re the guy that keeps cleaning the chalkboard?" she asked.

I nodded and she continued.

"Thanks, I really like a clean board, it makes writing so much easier."

Our conversation continued on for most of the night. I subtly bragged, mentioning my Bachelors of Science in Mathematics from Purdue about a decade ago. She responded as most do, asking me why I was a janitor.

"Being a janitor affords me the free time needed for a life of luxury. I live upstairs, so I’m always next to my favorite bar. Besides,” I continued, “I used to work for a Fortune 500 company. I burned out by 25. I’d much rather write, drink and mop floors."

She ordered a tequila sunrise with a wedge of orange and I motioned for another beer as she slid closer to me and whispered in my ear.

“We should go upstairs after this drink."


Janice was a little out of my league. At 33, I hadn’t really taken care of myself. I’m tall, but overweight. Aside from filling a door frame to edges, I’m not going to win any beauty contests. In contrast, Janice was a slender and petite brunette with green eyes and a heart shaped face. She had a Masters in Secondary Education from Murray State and couldn’t have been more than 25. She was the kind of girl most guys would kill for. I was more than a little surprised that she was so eager to join me in my apartment.

We were halfway up the stairs and all over each other. I fumbled my keys in my door and we fell through on the floor. Forty-five minutes later we were both on laying on the living room floor smoking cigarettes and talking about Chaucer. We both proposed ideas as to what Canterbury Tales would have been like if Chaucer hadn’t died before finishing them. In the end she ended up joining me in bed for the night and I remember fading into sleep thinking it one of the better nights of my adult life.

Partway through the night, I remember waking up and hearing a rustling at my door. I strolled over to the door and looked through the peephole only to see darkness. I flicked a switch on the wall and turned on the hallway light to reveal a dark figure rushing away from the door. I opened it up and poked my head out just in time to see a red headed gentleman running down the stairs. I closed the door and made it a point to lock the deadbolt and put the chain in place before heading back to bed.

Janice was sitting up and shaking. I asked her what was wrong.

"I heard a rustling at the door. I’ve been hearing that at my house too. I was starting to think I was being followed by someone," she whispered.

I leaned over and kissed her on the forehead. She looked up with tears in her eyes.

"You would hard pressed to find a safer place on Earth,” I said confidently. “There aren’t many men bigger than me and even they would be foolish to break into this apartment. Let’s go back to bed."

She wrapped her arms around me tightly and we both went back to sleep.


I woke the next morning to Janice stumbling out of bed. She pulled her clothes on and was creeping away when I spoke.

"Want some coffee?"

She jumped a bit, startled by my voice, but nodded. I walked into the kitchen and popped a pod into the Keurig, making her some Arabic Blend coffee with cream and sugar. She nursed the mug as I prepared something similar for myself. We sat at the table in the kitchen and I thanked her for a lovely evening.

"I’m sure you think I’m crazy because of last night. No offense, but I mostly hooked up with you because of your size,” she said.

I paused for a moment. There was a tinge of guilt that came her statement. I smiled.

"Are you kidding? I might live the rest of my life without having another night like last night and I’ll still look back on it fondly. You’re amazing. I understand if you want to leave it at this, but I’d love to see you again,” I said.

She walked over to my fridge and wrote something on the attached whiteboard with a dry erase marker and kissed me on the cheek before heading to the door. Before heading out she turned to me.

“I’ll think about it. You were certainly a lot different than I would have expected,” she said.

I waited until she closed the door and rushed over to the fridge to read her message. It read: "Janice Stollman, 270-[number redacted], call me sometime."

I saved the number on my phone and spent the rest of the day in the bay window staring at the river and writing.


The Sunday paper was delivered with a new headline. It read: "The River Wolf Claims Another."

They called him the river wolf because all of the victims’ throats were torn out by what appeared to be teeth. As some who stared at the river, I couldn’t help but wonder if he was one of the many individuals I’d see walking down the by the flood walls at night. I had finished another Moleskine journal and didn’t have a spare handy, so I went to Hobby Lobby to pick up a new pack and in the checkout line. That’s when I bumped into Janice.

She was navigating a cart full of random art supplies and didn’t notice me. I decided to stand back and let her make the first contact. I stood in line holding a three-pack of journals and a pack of Pilot extra-fine pens when she tapped me on the shoulder.

"Fancy seeing you here,” she said with a smile.

"I needed more journals, but it was a pleasant surprise to see you in line ahead of me," I replied, grinning.

She finished checking out and she strolled out the door. In the parking lot, Janice waved me over.

"You should come by my place later,” she said.

I accepted.

"Sure, but I have to be at the school by eleven," I said.

I gave her my number and she texted me her address.


The three bedroom ranch house in Reidland was considerably nicer than what I’d originally expected. The hose was equipped with a two car garage and a huge wraparound deck. She was sitting on the deck sipping something from a glass when I pulled in.

"Would you like some Sangria?" she called out.

“Sure,” I said, and put the car in park.

I left the car and went to sit with her on her deck, where we ended up talking about Chaucer, eventually moving on to Poe. She was an English teacher and I was an aspiring writer, we could have talked about the topic for a century, never touching the same subject twice.

The sun was low in the sky and reddish-orange light danced across the scattered clouds when she invited me inside. With our drinks in hand, we moved to her living room and snuggled up on the couch to watch an episode of Dark Shadows on DVD. She had an appreciation for Gothic Horror that had me as intrigued as I was excited. Things were going well. Another night spent in the presence of my brunette goddess and I was off to the school. I skipped through the hallways as I pushed the buffer across the tile.

I spent the greater part of the night cleaning without making it to the gymnasium. I entered the cavernous hall and flipped on the lights. As they flickered on, I stumbled back and tripped over the buffer. In the center of the basketball court lay a body in a pool of blood. I inched closer to get a better look while trying not to step on the bloody footprints that led away from the scene. Admittedly, I snapped a picture with my phone before calling the police. It was the kind of gruesome thing that would inspire my nightmares for a while.

The police arrived shortly thereafter and were still there in the morning. The principal canceled school for the day as rumors began flying all over town. The victim, Mrs. Johansen, the school secretary, had her throat ripped out. The papers would later pin the crime on the infamous River Wolf. Janice texted me at around 8AM asking what was going on at the school. I gave her the bad news. She was already at my apartment by the time I made it home. After a short nap, I joined her in the living room where she was making use of my collection of audiobooks that a regularly played over the stereo. She was about 30 minutes into Tales of Suspense when I groggily stumbled out of the bedroom and plopped onto the couch next to her. She killed the stereo with the remote and nestled her face in my chest. I wrapped my arm around her and she buried her face on my chest.

After 20 minutes of silence, I wondered if I should do something, but she finally spoke up. With tears in her eyes, she spoke in a confessional tone.

"This has happened before. When I was a kid. Now it’s happening again. It’s all my fault. I can’t explain it, but it is,” she sobbed.

I ran my hands through her hair.

"Why don’t you tell me about it?" I whispered in her ear.


"When I was about 12,” Janice started, “my brother and I were playing in the woods. He was five minutes older than me, but always called me his big sister. We had this creek we played in for years and we even built a clubhouse on the bank that overlooked it. It was our castle. I was Queen Janice and he was King James. He had adventures and fought dragons. It was nice."

She paused and lit a cigarette. After taking a long drag she continued.

"One day, we stayed at the clubhouse a bit later that usual and it started getting dark. We were walking down the trail back to our house when we heard a rustling in the trees behind us. I got scared and clung to James. He told me everything would be fine. Right at that moment, a giant gray dog jumped out and tackled James to the ground and tore at his throat. It looked right at me. I stared into its eyes convinced I was about to be lunch. It look at James and that’s when I ran…I ran all the way home. The police never found my brother’s body."

Tears were streaming from her eyes as she flicked the ashes from her cigarette into the ashtray. She looked up at the ceiling.

"I remember — this was a couple of years later — I was walking home from class and I was about halfway to the dorm when I saw a redheaded man who looked just like my dad. He was lingering in the shadows near my dorm. I called out to him, but he ran away. Later that night, a girl was found mauled by a wild animal over on Miller Street just off of campus. I know it sounds crazy, but I’m convinced that it was my brother. I think he is killing these girls."

It was a lot to take in. I pulled a smoke from the pack and lit it. Sitting in silence, I pondered what she said and weighed my options. After a few minutes I had a thought.

"That first night you were here, I saw a red headed guy in the hallway outside my apartment. He was fiddling with my door knob. Whether he is your brother or not, I think I got a pretty good look at him. Lemme grab a sketchbook,” I said.

I pulled a pencil from the jar on my coffee table and worked up a sketch of the man I saw in the hallway. As I shaded the features on his face, she recoiled to the other side of the couch.

"That’s the man I saw outside my dorm!" she shouted.

I put down the sketchbook.

"Then I think we should call the police. If we explain this rationally, it will help them catch him. It’s really the only workable option at this point. I’ll be with you the entire time.” Crying, Janice agreed to it. I called the police.

The officer took our statements and I gave him my sketch. Janice told the officer her story. He sighed when she mentioned that it might be her dead brother, but he handled it professionally and continued taking notes. If she noticed his disbelief, she didn’t indicate it as she described the incident. The officer finished up his interview and I walked him to the door.

"You might want to get her to lay down,” the officer whispered to me.

I nodded and after locking up, I led her to the bedroom and held her in the dark until I had to go to work.


There was a patrol car stationed in the parking lot as I pulled up to the high school. He flagged me down as I walked up to the building. I showed him my lanyard and keyring, explaining I was the janitor. He called it in and sent me on my way. I strolled past the gym and checked it, hoping the body was gone. Thankfully, it was empty. I went to my office in the maintenance room and found a note from the principal ordering me to pay extra attention to the gym while cleaning. I was also told to report anything strange to the officer outside.

I spent most of the night cleaning the gymnasium floor as requested. I rushed through the rest of the work and finished up around 5 AM. With an hour to kill, I made myself some coffee and decided to take a mug out to the officer in the patrol car. As I approached the front doors, I noticed the red lights flashing. I slowly walked up to the car. I could make out the silhouette of the officer sitting in the driver’s seat. I made my way up to his window, when I noticed the blood. His head was hanging down at an awkward angle. I could tell that it had been savagely torn apart. I stumbled back and tripped over a concrete parking divider, hitting the back of my head in the process.

I climbed to my feet in a daze as I moved my hands around in my pocket searching for my cell phone. I dialed 9-1-1 and spent another morning giving statements and being interviewed. The police were a little more suspicious of me this time around. They took fiber samples from my clothes and scrapings from under my nails and told me not to leave town without letting them know. I had discovered two of the bodies, it only made sense that they would suspect me. I made sure to remind them I had spent half the night cleaning the mess from the night before and they said they would take it into account. I had my concerns given proximity to the crimes, but I knew I was innocent. One thing stands out in my memory when looking back at that morning, though. I could have sworn I saw a redheaded man that looked like the one in my sketch standing in the crowd, but when I looked again he was gone.

My Best Friend Moved In And Turned My Life Into A Complete Nightmare

Posted: 14 Aug 2015 09:43 AM PDT

Flickr / Samuel Cockman
Flickr / Samuel Cockman

I won’t blame you if you think this is fiction. So much of what’s posted here is believable, but not real. Obviously it’s a stretch for me to expect you to think something as unbelievable as this is real. But I’ve got to tell someone. And seeing as how I no longer have any friends, that someone is you.

I’ve had a pretty rocky past with alcoholism, ever since my freshman year of college, so I tend to be more understanding when it comes to other people’s substance abuse problems. I guess that’s why I offered one of my lifelong friends a room to crash in when he finally ran out of money — and the means of feeding his heroin addiction. He was pretty much burning through any notion of rock bottom.

His name was James, and I had known him ever since elementary school. He came from a good family, so I was pretty surprised that he was even in the predicament.

For the first week he was crashing at my place, I checked in on him as much as I could. It wasn’t nearly as often as I wanted to, but I had just started a new job and I was putting in over 60 hours a week. So checking on him pretty much came down to right before work at 9:00AM, and then again right before bedtime at 11:00PM.

For the first week I hadn’t gotten much sleep because he was always up, moaning and tossing and turning. It sounded like hell, whatever he was going through. All I could do was bring him soups and water Tylenol. He had asked me for weed, but I haven’t had access to that in years.

After the first week though, he started keeping his door locked. All of the time. He barely even replied to me when I would knock and ask him if he was still alive. I didn’t know a whole lot about withdrawal, but I knew enough to leave him as much space as he needed and wait it out. So I was satisfied to start each day asking him if he was well, and being met with a grunt as an answer. Then, I would leave food by his door and come back from work to find it gone.

It sort of became a ritual. I was too geared into work to deviate from the same daily routine. But at the start of the third week, things started getting really weird.

First, I started getting something they call sleep paralysis. It’s where you wake up from a deep sleep, but are unable to move your body or open your eyes. The first time this happened, I was pretty sure I was about to die or something.

Secondly, James started pacing in his room. Like a lot. His bedroom was converted from my office space, so it was all hard-wood floors. Strangely enough, it sounded like he had boots on or something. As I would be drifting off to sleep, I could hear the thud, thud, thud of his shoes on the floor. And yet he still would not unlock his door.

And third, after the third week I started catching slight glimpses of James, as though he was an exotic fucking animal or something. I would come home from work and see him barely slipping back into his room and latching the door shut. Or I would wake up in the middle of the night (after battling sleep-paralysis for God knows how long) to see him in the kitchen, without any lights on.

I would see his eyes like dim lamps floating in the darkness, his hair a mess. I would say hello and go to the turn the lights on, but by the time I reached the switches he would drop whatever he was eating and dash back into his room.

But even that wasn’t the last straw. The final breaking point for me, was when I woke up in the morning to find a large kitchen knife on my bedside dresser, with the tip of the blade pointing right at me. When I found that, I lost my shit and banged on his door until he answered. I was about to kick the door in, but then I heard him throwing up or something, making some kind of awful regurgitating noise.

“Relapsed,” he said weakly, in a voice that did not even seem to belong to him. “Sorry.”

“What the fuck does that have to do with the knife on my dresser?”

“Sorry. Got high.”

“Got high and stood over my sleeping body with a knife?!”

He started throwing up again and moaning miserably. Even his moaning seemed different from the first week that he had moved in with me. I felt a little bad for him, but then I remembered the whole point of the thing. It was all reaching a point of senselessness.

“You got high and ruined everything you’re supposed to be working towards?” I called, banging on his door again. “Open this up, you’ve got to get out. Now.”

“Out of the room?”

“Out of my fucking house. Okay you relapsed, but the knife was too much. I want you gone by the time I get home from work tonight.”


Work gave me enough time to cool down before I got home. By the time I pulled into the driveway, I was actually relieved to see his shadow hunched over through the drawn curtains.

“I’m sorry I got so upset,” I said through his door.

“I’m sorry I relapsed.”

So that night I cooked steak breakfast burritos, an old favorite we used to love in high school. I didn’t remember buying the steak, but I found it in a paper bag in the refrigerator. I left two burritos on a plate by his door and told him to eat them whenever he wanted, then went to bed.

That night I had a really bad nightmare about being locked in a room, punctuated with the incessant tap, tap tapping noise of boots on hardwood floor. Suddenly, I woke up and found myself, once again, unable to move. But this time was a little different. This time I felt like I had some kind of inexplicable vision of the room, even though my eyes were still closed.

I thought I could feel hard, rasping breaths being taken inches away from my head, as if someone was hovering over me, just breathing. Then I felt a sharp stabbing pain in my side. I immediately thought of the knife, but still I could not wake myself. I tried to scream but my mouth would not open.

“Thanks for the burritos,” whispered the ragged voice that was unlike anyone’s I had ever heard.

Then, it was gone: the inexplicable face hovering over me, the pain in my side and my paralysis. I opened my eyes to find the room empty. There was no one there. I checked my side and found that I was not being stabbed by anything. It was a little difficult, but I was finally able to fall back asleep.

When I woke up the next morning, I found the knife there on the dresser again, except that it was coated with a thin layer of blood along the edge. I scrambled back in my bed, as if withdrawing from some invisible monster, and instinctively checked myself for wounds. But there was nothing on me.

I flew out of bed and pounded on James’s door harder than ever. I was furious and scared at the same time, filled with this white hot kind of adrenaline. I pounded on the door more and more, but there was no answer.

Still filled with the adrenaline, I started kicking at the door. Still, there was no response. So I turned around with my back to the door, drew my knee up and slammed my foot into it as hard as I could. Little splinters of wood went bursting away from the frame as the door flung open.

Like a brick wall, the sick smell of decay hit me full in the face as I found James’s shrunken body lying on the bed. I could tell just by the look and the smell of him that he had been rotting there for what must have been weeks. His fluids were staining into the mattress in an inky black mess. There was a belt lying loose beside him, while his hand was still clutching a syringe.

Then it hit me. If James had been dead, then who was living in his bedroom all those weeks? A chill crawled up my spine and left me feeling naked and exposed. Suddenly I was swiveling around to look over every opening in the house. I was too afraid to move, so I just crouched down and looked frantically from one corner to the next.

Finally, I summoned the courage to move again, only to find his bathroom empty and the space beneath his bed empty as well. Methodically, I checked every cupboard and behind every door in the house. I made my way to the kitchen and found that the window was wide open. But as I made my way to the phone to dial for the police, I found a big chunk of meat on the cutting board, dripping blood over the counter and onto the floor.

Beside the cutting board was a small piece of paper, with a note written in a shaky hand. It read:

Here’s another piece of your junkie friend. You seemed to enjoy the first one so much. I did too. Have another round of burritos ready by the time I come by again tonight?

What little bile there was in my stomach threatened to come out as my stomach lurched and tied itself into knots. After dry-heaving over the sink for what felt like hours, I got to the phone and dialed 911.

When the police and the paramedics arrived, they only had to smell James to confirm my suspicions about him having been dead for a while. It took a lot of explaining to convince them that I couldn’t have known sooner. Sure enough, when they flipped him over, they found two large chunks of meat carved out of his back.

Even the police looked like they were going to throw up when I explained the burritos, the bloody knife and the note to them.

I had to take some time off work and move back in with my parents for a while. But sometimes I still get sleep paralysis, and I sometimes hear the breathing over my head. Sometimes I even look outside my window at night and I can almost see the two lamp-like eyes and the messy head of hair that I thought had belonged to my best friend. TC mark

12 Movies With Three Or Less Characters That Introverts And Shut-Ins Will Absolutely Love

Posted: 14 Aug 2015 01:24 PM PDT

1. Hard Candy

Prior to Juno and the terrible “X-Men: The Last Stand” this is the haunting role that Ellen Page is best known for. She and Patrick Wilson deliver an intimate performance that starts out with sensual implications before turning increasingly tense. Gentlemen, there are some scenes in here that will make you clench. Hard Candy is streaming on Amazon Instant or you can get it from Netflix DVD.

2. Open Water

Proving that taking an adventurous vacation in shark infested waters with your S/O can be a terrible idea, this thriller features a mere two characters for the majority of the film as they try to figure out how to survive together. The sequel, “Open Water 2,” doesn’t do the tension and originality of the first one justice. Stream the first one here.

3. Saw

Now considered a classic of the horror genre, Saw features only a handful of characters with three being the major focus of the film. Even one of those is just a voice. Everything about the film is isolating from the sets to the characters’ motivations to the terrible decisions they’re asked to make. It’s available for streaming on Amazon Instant.

4. Cast Away

“I’ll be right back,” Tom Hanks says to his true love. Of course Tom Hanks doesn’t come right back and we follow him as he learns how to survive alone on an island in the middle of the Pacific while battling crushing loneliness possibly akin to your Friday night. Of course if you can consider a soccer ball a character then he’s never actually alone. Rent it here.

5. Moon

The tale of a miner living by himself on the moon, Sam Rockwell does an amazing job of conveying the isolation and horror of a man who suddenly discovers he’s not actually alone at all. I don’t want to say much more than that at the risk of giving it away but Rockwell puts in an fantastic performance and Kevin Spacey’s voice role is just perfect. See it at Amazon Instant or iTunes.

6. The Others

A surprisingly original thriller that has an even larger message to communicate about the horrors of war, it focuses on the three members of a family alone in a stately countryside manor. There’s also plenty of turns as the family tries to figure out just who the “others” in their house actually are. Amazon Instant has it for rent and so does iTunes.

7. All Is Lost

Robert Redford may have been the artistic heart throb of your mother’s generation but he’s always been an amazing actor. And while the tale of a man encountering disaster while sailing alone may seem like just another solo struggle movie you’ll realize at the end it was never about that. Uplifting to say the least. Amazon has it available for all Prime members but otherwise you’ll need a disc.

8. 127 Hours

Who are you when the repercussions of your recklessness finally catch up with you? That’s the question asked to James Franco’s character when his rock climbing adventure turns horribly wrong and he’s forced to face his choices alone. Based on an absolutely true story. Watch it here on Amazon Instant.

9. Gravity

It’s easy to be alone in Space, obviously, but Sandra Bullock made it look action packed in a movie that doesn’t sit comfortably in either the SciFi or Action genres. Unfortunately it’s not available on any streaming format. If you’re one of those dinosaurs who’s still paying for a Netflix DVD plan (I am) then you’re in luck. Just add to queue.

10. Rear Window

While there’s more than a few characters in Hitchcock’s ‘Rear Window’ besides the main ones they’re mostly just plot devices, clues intended to fill out the room of the main three characters. Hitchcock set a high bar for tension in this one and laid the groundwork for nearly every small cast thriller that came after it. Plus, it has Grace Kelly in it which is reason enough to watch it if you ask me. It’s not on Netflix but it is on Amazon Instant.

11. Tape

Made by Richard Linklater, the man who brought you ‘Dazed and Confused’ and the critically acclaimed ‘Boyhood’, ‘Tape’ takes place almost entirely in a single hotel room and shows how the different perspectives of three people can radically change relationships and create grievances that can last a decade. It’s also on Amazon.

12. Locke

From the writer who scribed ‘Eastern Promises’ comes ‘Locke’ a story about Ivan Locke, a man whose life is falling apart. It takes place entirely within a car as Locke drives around trying to fix problem after problem with only a cell phone to work with. Tom Hardy, who seems to be able to deliver almost any character in a believable way, really nails his role here. Stream it here. TC mark

The Perfect Guide To Getting A Man: As Told To Me By A 9-Year-Old

Posted: 13 Aug 2015 09:19 PM PDT

One of my best friends is a kid in elementary school. And if I just ended my whole post there, it would have sounded way too stranger with candy, so let me continue. Her name is Kaitlin, she’s got beautiful baby-blue saucer sized eyes, a sprinkling of freckles across her nose and cheeks, and has an undying love for reptiles. She’s my step-sister and I could write about her endlessly.

I was always an only child growing up, so officially inheriting her a year ago as part of my family has been such a treat. Sure, it’s not always roses and pleasant Pokemon conversations (actually, anyone realize how messed up that show was? Capturing animals and forcing them to fight one another? UH OK) — but gaining a sister and witnessing her growing up has been one of my favorite things. Ever.

And, though I might be a bit biased, she’s probably one of the funniest human beings I’ve ever encountered.

I’m 23 and Kaitlin is going into 4th grade, so you could say we’re at slightly different stages in life. I date. She still thinks boys are generally pretty annoying. But that doesn’t stop her from having an opinion on my love life. She recently very generously mapped out an entire plan for me on how to meet and snag the right guy.

And, TC Readers, it’s only fair I share this flawless list with you as well.

1. Be nice, but not too nice.

I think this is just solid life advice, quite honestly. When I pressed her a little on what she meant, she almost rolled her eyes. Like, really? Ari, it’s so damn simple. Puhlease.

“You want to be nice to him, but that doesn’t mean he can be mean to you. If he is mean to you, you don’t have to still be nice.”

2. Learn about what he likes, unless it is hunting.

Not that you should ever abandon your interests, but learn about what he likes!

“If it is hunting,” she instructed, “You have to break up with him because I don’t want dead animals for Christmas or my birthday.”

3. Never kiss too much.

I tried to get a little wiggle room on this because making out is one of my favorite activities to do with another human being, but alas, she insisted.

“It looks gross. And you will get germs. Only do it on special occasions.”

I mean, she’s not wrong. Swapping spit is a huge germ party, but…but…it’s so fun…

4. You don’t have to make them sandwiches, but maybe offer to buy lunch every now and then.

There’s something inherently feminist about this sentence that I’m obsessed with. That’s right. Sometimes, he’ll be in charge of lunch. Sometimes, you will be. EATING DONE RIGHT!

5. Don’t waste time if they don’t like you. There are more.

IF THERE IS ANY ADVICE I WISH I COULD TATTOO ON MY BODY, UM, THIS. I ended things with a guy about a week before Valentine’s Day and was being a Debbie Downer. So Kaitlin, my wise lil’ angel, gave me this.


Translation — “To Ari, I’m sad that you broke up. It’s okay. How many other boys are in the world?”

Oh, what’s that sound? Grinch hearts all over the world enlarging because THAT SHIT IS ADORABLE.

Kaitlin has promised me she has a plethora of advice left, but she’s not ready to divulge the information all at once. So until next time, happy dating everyone! TC mark

Why You Can Never Prepare For The Moment You Run Into An Ex

Posted: 13 Aug 2015 09:51 AM PDT


Well, it’s over. Or shall I say, it’s been over for quite some time. The wounds have healed, but with your luck and the small world that we live in, you are bound to run into an ex. You’ve always known the day would happen. It was inevitable – it always is. You may have gone months or years without seeing them, but it will happen and it will happen when you least expect it.

Even if you are living in one of the largest metropolitan cities of the world, you still happen to run into someone you use to date despite never having crossed social circles. You wouldn’t even consider yourself to have dated many people in the last couple of years, but nonetheless – it is a constant. Whether it was a serious break up or a confusing fling, you manage to see them, or sometimes their friends. Nowhere is safe. Not your favorite restaurant, not your train stop, not even the tourist locations that bring in thousands upon thousands of people a day.

You will run into them, and you can’t quite prepare for what your reaction will be the minute your mind realizes that they are standing in front of you. They are right there within whisper distance, and your immediate reaction will always be completely unpredictable. This is the first time you have seen them since you ended your relationship. Or perhaps you have seen them since, but it was planned and you were prepared and everything was transactional. It doesn't matter if it is the first or second or twelfth time you have seen them since breaking up; it doesn't matter at all. They might be alone, they might be with their friends, or they might be with the person that they left you for. But in the end, it doesn't matter because you can prepare all you want and you still won't know how to react.

When you have finally moved past the worst parts of a breakup, you start to get an idea in your head about what it would be like to accidentally run into that person again. What they look like, your reaction, the conversation that you will have has all been imagined in your head. You rehearse scenarios and your speech that you would say to demonstrate that not only are you over them, but you are fabulous and are better than ever. You brace yourself for the day where you know you’re going to see them (but don’t). You mentally prepare for what exactly could possibly happen on that fateful day that you run into them, so that you are not taken by surprise. But the thing is, you always are.

Your hands might shake, you might choke on your spit, stopping dead in your tracks over the fact that they actually still exist. You might run away and hide from them. You might text your friends or call your mom right away. You might just ignore them.

Or, you might just say hello.

You might just say hello and it will be wonderful and happy. You will be able to catch up like old times and act totally normal. That would be ideal, but you can never really quite know what is going to happen until it does.

And then comes the aftershock. Did you really just see them? Did someone who you used to talk to all day, every day for months or even years just disappear in your life and then all of a sudden reappear in front of you? And it was…nice? Or was it? You see, you might keep your cool and play out your rehearsed reaction to seeing them. You might give them a whole list of facts about your life that prove that you have been having the best time since leaving them or since they left you. Maybe you handle it like a rock star. Regardless, you can't quite prepare for what you feel afterwards.

That unpredictable flood of emotions comes rushing in. Are you mad? Happy? Do you miss them? Are you sad? Do you find yourself holding back tears, but also wanting to throw up and dance from joy all at the same time? The epitome of mixed emotions just takes over. It is a matter of heartache and relief and exhaustion all rolled into a few moments in time. And the feeling might linger on for longer than those few moments after you say goodbye. It might leave you in a funk, it might leave you longing or frustrated that you haven't found someone else to dwell on.

There is really only thing you can know for sure, and that is that this is all temporary. It was a fleeting moment in time, and it might happen again…but it will get better with each time. Because you have lived through it – you survived! Think of it as a way for you to further move on from your past, grow into a more mature person, and live your life without worry that you will see someone that brings uneasiness into your life. The anticipation and the mixed emotions don't last forever. You move on again, but this time a little more easily, for this was just a few moments in time. It was a simple hello, a conversation, a welcoming hug from your past. Embrace that. TC mark

7 Things You Should Be Embarrassed To Say If You’re A Woman Over Age 25

Posted: 14 Aug 2015 11:09 AM PDT

StockSnap / Chelsea Francis
StockSnap / Chelsea Francis

I’m not the arbitrator of what women should and should not say. And while I am unapologetically all about girl power in a sexist global culture, I still cringe when I hear women say some things. Of course, words matter and so do their contexts. But if you come from a middle-class background and have some formal education to speak of, and you’re still saying the following, it’s a little embarrassing. Or a lot.

1. “Girls don’t like me because…”

Let’s just get this one out the way. The proliferation of the “cool girl” in pop culture has definitely had a hand in making many girls in society want to have tons of male friends because, “they just don’t get along with girls.” Think about this though. Do you know how insane it is to say that an entire sex/gender doesn’t like you? Chances are, the problem isn’t the entire sex/gender – it’s you. And really what is so special about you that makes you so dislikable to other women? Come on. Let’s just end this infantile attitude once and for all.

2. “I can’t cook a single meal.”

This is something I will say is specifically a Western phenomenon. Or at least I can say in many African cultures, out of sheer potential humiliation by your family, you will learn how to cook. That said there’s a certain segment of people in this part of the world that are proud of their inability to cook. And that goes for both sexes. It is not something to hold out as an achievement in the world when you claim to burn water on the stove.

3. “I don’t care what anyone thinks.”

[Insert eye roll here.] Nobody believes a 14-year-old that claims they don’t care what anyone thinks. The difference is at 14, everyone expects someone to have such a childish view of the world. When you’ve reached your mid-twenties, you should probably let that worldview rest in peace. You do care about what some people think. And you know what? That’s okay. The perspectives of intelligent, insightful, and wise people are invaluable. It’s about choosing the right opinions to care about not deeming all opinions equally irrelevant.

4. “I date for the free food.”

I personally cringe when (hetero-) women expect that they are owed guys paying for dates by virtue of their existence as women. I mean sure, the person who asks the other person out has more of the responsibility to fund the outing. (And men still do more of the asking out.) But nobody should feel entitled to a free meal or free anything where dating is concerned. And it is a thing that some women date for free food. While there is a part of me that wants to call this woman a hustler – after all no man is technically forced to pay in this situation. Still, it is truly a sad thing to essentially be using another human being in this way.

5. “I don’t read.”

This statement is usually followed by a bunch of coy giggles. And usually I am left gasping because I don’t understand what is so funny about being proud of not reading. Actually, I need someone to explain this one to me. Is there something “cool” about not reading that I’ve missed? It shouldn’t be heralded as an achievement that you don’t like to engage your mind in easily one of the best pastimes we have available to us as humans.

6. “Guys don’t like it so I’m going to stop…”

One of my all-time favorite Onion articles is commentary about a woman who changes herself to please a man and is reporting happiness in the relationship. At the age of 25, you’re a grown-ass woman or at least you’re on your way to being one. And if you choose to do things or not do things because you’ll think it’ll make guys like you better, you should probably question the kinds of people you’re around in general. All of us have things we need to work on, but to change yourself entirely to please what you think an entire sex wants is madness. Also, remember you don’t need “guys” to like you…maybe you just need one?

7. “Not going to be worried about my finances because I’m going to get married some day.”

Nobody actually says the above sentence so explicitly. But it is depressing the number of women I know or know of, who don’t think of themselves as responsible for their own finances. From not understanding the basics of credit to not “worrying” about their long-term financial well-being because they’ll think they’ll have some man eventually take care of this. I know: What the what?! The world of finance and banking can be an intimidating one – even if you are an educated person. But few things are more empowering as a woman than learning how to take of your money. Because trust that money does matter – you just have to have the right attitude towards it. Besides that, we promised Destiny’s Child ladies. TC mark

13 Potentially Embarrassing Things All Book Lovers Have Done At Least Once

Posted: 13 Aug 2015 04:45 PM PDT


1. You’ve wept over a book in a very public place. It’s okay. We understand. Sometimes you can’t help it when you’re smacked in the face by a particularly moving passage. Although, pro-tip: do not read the end of The Book Thief in public. So many tears, so many concerned strangers.

2. You’ve smelled your books. Some days you just want to crack open an old book and inhale that heavenly combination of paper and ink.

3. You’ve sprawled out in a very uncomfortable-looking pose to read. It’s a scientific fact that the most comfortable reading positions look absolutely ridiculous to non-readers. Whatever. You know that hanging off an armchair with your legs hooked over the back is an ideal reading spot.

4. You’ve just sat and stared at your books. You gaze at their simple beauty, recalling fond memories and fantasizing about the stories you haven’t yet read. It’s calming and wonderful, but if anyone were to walk in on you, you’d probably look like a forgotten character from The Shining.

5. Your facial expressions have matched whatever’s happening in the scene you’re reading. Sad scene? Your face will range from bawling your eyes out to looking moderately empathetic. The real problem comes when your characters are in the middle of a heated argument and to outsiders you look like you’re about to murder your book.

6. You’ve purchased a book to give to a friend… and then kept it yourself. It’s really not that big of a deal. You really wanted to read it, and it’s just sitting there. Plus, your friend doesn’t even know you got it for them! It’s the perfect crime.

7. You’ve gone multiple days without showering because you were too busy reading. It’s fine, really. You were on vacation, never left the house… literally no one knew. Plus, showering after finishing a particularly good book and pondering Life is one of the best things ever.

8. You’ve found yourself getting all hot and bothered by porn. Bookshelf Porn, that is.

Instagram Photo

9. You’ve thrown a book and then apologized profusely to it. You’re not proud of it, but sometimes your emotions get the best of you and you toss a book to the ground when something ridiculous happens. However, immediately after the precious book leaves your hands, the world moves in slow motion, and you watch in horror as it drops to the floor. You race to pick it back up, assess for injuries, and apologize, because it’s not the book’s fault the characters are acting irrationally.

10. You’ve gotten into heated arguments with friends over fictional love triangles. Katniss and Peeta 5ever. Anyone who says otherwise can go volunteer for the Hunger Games.

11. You’ve fallen asleep clutching your book. It usually happens when you’re in the middle of a chapter and decide to close your eyes for just a quick second. The next morning, you wake up with your finger still tucked in the book marking your place, because even your sleeping body knows that it desperately does not want to lose its spot.

12. You’ve packed for a trip, and realized that your suitcase was 60% clothes and 40% books to read. Did you also pack a Kindle? Possibly. There are just so many things you want to read, and you can’t pick just one!

13. You’ve walked into trees, light poles, etc while attempting to read while walking. You don’t think anyone saw, but you can never be too sure… oh well. Read on. TC mark

18 Things That Happen When Your Life Is Both Successful And A Total Clusterf*ck At The Same Time

Posted: 13 Aug 2015 06:19 PM PDT


1. You have a decent job, and you’re good at it. You work hard every day, and you always feel a sense of accomplishment when you leave the office.

2. But in addition to your sense of accomplishment, you also leave the office with a coffee stain somewhere on your outfit, papers spilling out of your bag, a phone that’s at 3% because you left your charger at home, and your coworker shouting at you because you left your ID badge on your desk again.

3. You’ve mastered the art of showing up to work looking put-together, but it’s only because you usually skip breakfast, you own dry shampoo, you put your clothes on while you’re still half-wet from a shower, and traffic has been on your side lately.

4. Your wardrobe would have a fighting chance, if half the crucial pieces weren’t missing at all times – under the bed, in a bag you still haven’t unpacked, in the dryer from when you did laundry two days ago, at your friend’s house, etc.

5. Even though you arrive to most places on time, you’re usually sweating profusely. This is because you’re always moving at a hundred miles an hour to make up for the fact that you always leave 10 minutes later than you should have.

6. You love doing your grocery shopping every Sunday and planning out all your meals for the week. But by the time you get home you’re usually tired, and half the time you end up ordering food for delivery and postponing your cooking until Monday.

7. Most of the time, you’re a highly productive person. But sometimes being highly productive means watching an entire season of a new Netflix release in a single weekend. In your eyes, this is a professional move because it gives you something to talk about at work on Monday.

8. People have told you before that your life isn’t real, and you’re pretty sure it has never been a compliment.

9. You’re great at taking time to yourself when you need to, and turning down a night out with your friends when you know you have a lot of stuff to get done. The only problem is that you never actually end up doing the stuff you planned to do. You’re usually so proud of yourself for staying in that you forget there was actually a reason for doing so in the first place.

10. You set really ridiculous, impossible goals for yourself. Which is why your desk tends to be piled up at all times with fifteen books that you’re half-reading simultaneously.

11. You love having a clean living space, but usually you can only give 50% of yourself to this noble cause. So if your kitchen and family room are spotless, your room is probably destroyed. And if your room is spick and span, your kitchen and living area could probably be classified as one big hazard zone.

12. On more than one occasion, a friend has texted or g-chatted you that they’re “bored” and that they’re contacting you because they know you can entertain them with a story of something embarrassing that’s happened to you recently.

13. Regardless of how well you pack your suitcase, you have at least one trip a year in which you forget to bring underwear. Or deodorant. Or everything.

14. Whenever you’re out with friends and someone needs something – ibuprofen, gum, deodorant, chapstick, tissues, whatever – you’re always the one that has it. But only because your bag is a black hole where convenience store items go to die.

15. You’re very diligent about saving coupons and awesome retail offers.

16. …But you never have them on you when you actually go to buy something at the store.

17. You have tons of Spotify playlists that you’ve curated for pretty much every single mood you could ever be in. But each playlist only has like five songs on it because you always get impatient and excited and end up moving onto the next one before you’re done.

18. You wish there was a word to sum up your existence of being consistently disheveled and levelheaded at the same time. “Hot mess” is the only phrase that has ever come close. TC mark

12 Struggles Of Being A Smart Girl Who Was Average In School

Posted: 13 Aug 2015 04:13 PM PDT

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1. You were always skeptical of how intelligence was traditionally defined, as most of your reason for not succeeding wildly was often, simply, a lack of interest. You couldn't bring yourself to engage with information that you knew would serve little-to-no purpose in your adult life (alas, you were correct) and while that may be a product of shortsightedness in some ways, it's also unfair to simply limit the measure of intelligence to how well you engage with and can effectively reiterate a few generalized topics.

2. Regardless, you still adopted the fear of "almost but not quite good enough" syndrome. Being average, or mildly above average, in school, doesn't translate to being unintelligent, it just means you have to try harder to be "okay." In a world where exceptional is average and normal is less-than, it lays a foundation to spend the rest of your adult life trying to prove yourself as a capable human being.

3. You had to learn that there are different kinds of intelligence, the least among them the ability to regurgitate information and call it understanding. Despite valuing your education as a concept, you realize that what you learn in the classroom is what everybody else learns as well – it doesn't set you up to succeed beyond the "norm." Excelling at what everybody else is learning is certainly a measure of one kind of intelligence and therefore success, but it may not be the kind that you value.

4. You still don't naturally think of yourself as an exceptionally "smart" person, even if you're very confident in what you do and how you think and so on. Our first brushes with self-awareness tend to have a lifelong impact on us. Strangely enough, we all tend to tell the same story: we were, in some way, almost but not good enough, and then had to spend the rest of our lives proving that wrong (or fearing that someone else perceives it as true.)

5. The idea that you weren't smart enough made you quick to second-guess yourself. The thing about not being exceptional when it comes to "intelligence" is that in a world that sees little beyond what the brain is capable of, it can almost feel as though it's a hit to your value as a human being.

6. You felt a bit of social anxiety growing up, as the fear that whatever you naturally thought or felt wasn't the most informed or accurate, so you, as a person, were somehow also "wrong." There's nothing wrong with being wrong. In fact, it's just as important as being right (you learn more from mistakes than you do from successes; milestones are goals along the journey, mistakes are lessons that push you along) but the reason you became aware, if not very self-conscious, of your inherent intelligence was that, most likely, someone made fun of it or questioned it or made you feel lesser than because of it. Hence the social anxiety. Hence the self-doubt. (Sigh).

7. You had to teach yourself how to trust yourself. In being taught that your instinctive, inherent comprehension was wrong, you probably started adopting and accepting other people's ideas and beliefs without realizing that you were. You eventually had to teach yourself how to trust yourself, how to believe in your truth even if it's not true for someone else at the same time.

8. You still tend to seek "reasons" for your success. It's not second nature for you to just assume that your talent and ability is responsible for whatever good things you're creating in your life, so you actually tend to talk them down in your mind all because you feel like they were a matter of luck or fate or good timing.

9. You ended up being more objectively successful than a lot of your once-thought-to-be-smarter peers, because you didn't want to waste your brain space with things that didn't matter, though for a long time, that was your downfall. This is often very true of "average," or just above average, students. They tend to succeed wildly in the "real world" in a way their peers can't quite match. Such is the typical success story: the kid who dropped out of college or didn't pass math but somehow emerged a tech genius or startup god. This is because a lot of varying forms of intelligence cannot be measured, or applied, to traditional academia, and truthfully, the only problem with that is how the system is structured, not how our brains work and vary.

10. You've really had to reconcile your fear of "what other people think," and learn to define yourself outside of other people's minds. The tricky thing about having other people measure and gauge your "worth" is that you become conditioned to look to them to define you. You naturally begin to seek their approval or behave in a way they would deem acceptable, because when you're a kid, you don't realize that you can give yourself acceptance, and you can measure your own intelligence. But as is often the case, it was a blessing to not be up to other people's standards – it forced you to recognize, and embrace, your own.

11. You believe yourself to be intelligent, but wouldn't flaunt it as you don't feel you have the "credentials" to "prove" it. The truth is that often, it doesn't matter how informed or well-spoken or interesting you are, people don't "believe" that someone is intelligent without some kind of definitive "proof," and worse, they assume that people who have the grades or what not to indicate their intelligence, are smart in any or every other way (when that is certainly not the case.)

12. You have a lot of resentment that your cognitive ability was measured – and your self-perception created – by such a limited, flawed, depersonalized system. You often lament the fact that if only people pointed out how intelligence is not one uniform ability or understanding, that you'd have more confidence in yourself, yet it was a blessing in disguise (and I don't use that word often) because ultimately, you didn't succumb to the ideas other people had of you, you redefined what you were worth on your own terms, and ultimately got farther than people who just let themselves flow with the most common current. TC mark