Thought Catalog

Can’t Sleep? 14 People Reveal How They Mastered The Art Of Sleeping Like A Baby

Posted: 10 Sep 2015 10:32 AM PDT


1. Get Away From The Computer

“I used to stay up watching YouTube videos for an hour, two hours, whatever before bed and before I knew it I’d stayed up until 2am and was tired the next day. I told people and myself that I had trouble sleeping but let’s be real, I didn’t have a sleeping problem, I had a YouTube/stay up doing stuff until 2am problem. I had to plan an hour ahead to start getting to sleep on time and shut down my laptop so I could get my head off the internet, off Facebook and Twitter, and just settled down for bed. You can’t go to sleep if you aren’t really trying to.”

—Abigail, 26


2. Don’t Stay In Bed

“This makes a world of difference to me. After tossing and turning for an hour my bed used to feel like a prison and after a few nights like that (during a particularly stressful time at work) I dreaded going to bed. If you can’t sleep after 15 minutes of going to bed then get up and go read or something. Don’t keep lying in bed getting frustrated because that only wakes you up more and being frustrated is just a second problem to deal with.”

—Darren, 25


3. Get Something Done

“I actually get up and do something useful but sort of mindless and meditative when I can’t sleep like fold laundry or doing dishes by hand. It’s better than just lying in bed and it occupies your mind if it’s racing which is usually the reason I can’t sleep. This way, when I wake up the next morning I’ve got one or two less things to do.”

—Talia, 24


4. Plan Ahead

“Getting to sleep in under a half hour used to be pretty hard for me so I have my Pocket app populated with dozens of long-form articles I’ve collected over time for this specific eventuality. After about ten minutes I fall dead asleep and then I just pick up where I left off the next time I can’t sleep. Seriously, Pocket should be marketed as All-Natural Ambien instead because for me it’s basically the same thing. I also like catching up on reading knowing that it’s helping me go to sleep. I get both things done this way and it’s super chill.”

—Marcus, 22


5. Kill The Lights And The Electricity

“I have blackout blinds and I apply duct tape around the edges of the blind so light doesn't sneak through. I've also applied duct tape over all the LED lights on my air conditioner and don't let any electronics ever enter the bedroom. For sure these are extreme measures but if you can isolate your bedroom as only a bedroom, a dark and cool place to sleep, free of technology and light, you are going sleep better. My wife and I are are in the process of building our dream home too, and there we have told the builders to have no electrical plugs in the bedroom. What about the alarm clock question? Our bodies wake us up, and if we have a flight in the morning we will cheat and put an iPhone under the bed.”

—Chris, 29


6. Get Snuggly

“I used to approach going to sleep like I would being on time for a date or for work and I think a lot of other people do too. Sleep doesn’t work like that. You can’t keep yourself stimulated right up until 11pm and then robotically ‘shut down’ and go straight to sleep. You have to ease into it and create a warm and inviting atmosphere. A half hour before I go to sleep I change into sleep clothes, put on some gentle music that doesn’t require much attention and read anything nonfiction on my Kindle. Within a half hour I feel more soothed and when I’m ready I go to bed.”

—Michelle, 28


7. Make Your Bed In The Morning

“There’s just something inviting about a made bed and I’m a big believer in this. Before, when I didn’t make my bed I’d go to my bedroom at night and be confronted with this messy bed that looked like a battle had been fought in it. It just oozed chaos and I’d have to over and straighten everything out so that I could get under the covers. I think it’s subconsciously discouraging whereas now when I get ready to go to sleep I have a nice and smooth made bed that’s very inviting and calming. It 100% puts me in a good mental space to relax.”

—Cynthia, 21


8. Pick Your Reading Carefully

“Don’t ever read anything exciting when you’re trying to go to sleep. I used to read a lot of Thrillers in general and all these kinds of books are designed to keep the plot moving and keep it exciting. If you stay excited, always wondering what happens next then you’re never going to stop reading and it’s going to actually keep you awake. Read something dense.”

—Jill, 23


9. Filter Out The Blue Light

“I basically do all my reading on my Samsung tablet and you’re absolutely not supposed to do that if you’re having trouble sleeping because of the blue light that LCD screens shine into your eyeballs. To get around this I use Twilight from the Google Play store and that will change the light on your screen to cut out the blue light that will keep you awake. There’s also F.lux for your computer if you’re a bedtime laptop user. It does the same thing and I really recommend them both. They work!”

—Valerie, 23


10. Cut The Mid-Afternoon Coffee

“I used to have trouble sleeping and discovered it was because drinking coffee at 4pm as an end of the day pick me up was keeping me awake. Caffeine stays in your body around eight hours and your reaction to it can change over the years. When I was in college I could drink a cup of coffee at 7pm and still be asleep by eleven but not so much now. That ‘one simple trick’ just meant that I quit drinking coffee late in the day. If you know you’re going to need coffee in the afternoon then drink a cup after lunch so it will have worn off by bed time.”

—Jake, 27


11. Have Story Time

“I’m a worrier and so I use my imagination to clear my head and help me go to sleep. You can’t imagine how relaxing this can be. I think of a setting that’s comforting, usually it’s the same one now, and sort of imagine myself going through the day or doing something I enjoy and haven’t ever done. I’ve even imagined myself on other planets and making up features and animals. I’m usually asleep really quickly and the next day I can pick up where I left off. I’ve actually written a few short stories out of what I came up with at bed time which is a fun bonus.”

—Aaron, 23


12. Use A Healthy Chemical Solution

“Don’t drink because all that will do is make you an alcoholic who gets bad sleep every night and feels terrible in the morning. When I used to work a rotating shift I’d take Melatonin for the first three days of the shift switch and it would train my body to know when it was time to sleep. If you’re one of those people who’s really messed their sleep schedule up with staying up too late or you just have trouble sleeping then take a Melatonin tab an hour before going to bed then go to bed. The stuff will set you right but don’t take it every night, just for two or three days.”

—Gabriel, 26


13. The Lost Art

“I take a hot bath and lay in there for about 10 minutes. By the time I get out I’m usually so ready to go to sleep that I barely make it to the bed. No one I know seems to take baths at night but it really works for getting you relaxed and ready to sleep.”

—Irena, 28


14. Sleep Is An Inactivity

“Trying to go to sleep doesn’t make any sense. Going to sleep shouldn’t feel like work. If you’re in a position where you’re mentally trying to go to sleep then you’re not relaxed and you’re probably wide awake. As soon as I quit thinking of sleep as a problem to be solved it was easier for me to relax and just let it happen.”

—Sabina, 25 TC mark

18 Things You Do With Your Girl Best Friend That You Can’t Do With Your Boyfriend

Posted: 10 Sep 2015 07:26 AM PDT

Twenty20 / amyjhumphries
Twenty20 / amyjhumphries

1. Talking about sex…that you have with your boyfriend.

You could talk about this to your boyfriend, and it would probably make you both better performers in the act, but similar to how you wouldn't want to hear his complaints about your sex life, he probably doesn't want to hear yours. It often leads to hurt feelings rather than constructive criticism. This is what your girl best friend is for. Tired of his weird method of foreplay, or his tendencies to make it a quickie? Tell your best friend. Talking to him about this is a touchy subject, but your girl best friend often has great advice to help.

2. Complaining about relationship problems.

When your boyfriend is driving you absolutely crazy, you always have your best friend to complain to. Whether it's his boxers he leaves on your bathroom floor, or the toilet seat he never puts down, your daily relationship annoyances can't be talked about with him because you'll just be nagging. Your best friend hates it, but she listens anyway, she is all ears, or at least pretends to be.

3. Sharing makeup.

Your boyfriend most likely doesn't wear mascara or eye shadow, at least not on a daily basis. Your best friend's long lashes, rosy cheeks, and full lips are extremely impressive, and she is more than willing to let you rummage through her makeup bag so you can achieve the same beauty. Your boyfriend can tell you you're beautiful, but your best friend can lend you the makeup to make it possible.

4. Seeking hair advice.

Even if you boyfriend has long luscious locks, chances are he doesn't run them through a straightener or curling iron. Your best friend always has tips on how to make your hair look more like you stepped out of a shampoo ad, and less like you just finished having sex.

5. Borrowing hair accessories.

You turn to your girl best friend when you need a hair tie, not your boyfriend, even if he does have a man bun, his hair bands probably aren’t up to your standard of quality.

6. Watching rom coms.

Sure, you can watch rom coms with your boyfriend, but then you have to listen to him complain about it later, or you owe him something in return. Your girl best friend will sit and watch a rom com with you even if she hates them, and she won’t force you to watch a horror or action movie afterwards because of it.

7. Shopping for clothes that aren't about sex appeal.

If you go shopping with your boyfriend he either picks out all turtle necks and oversized sweaters, or skin tight v necks with leggings and/or yoga pants. Your boyfriend thinks about clothes in terms of how much of your body will be showing in them, but your best friend thinks about fashion. She doesn't pick out the oversized sweater because she wants to hide your sexy curves, she picks it out because she thinks it's cute. Even if you are shopping for sex worthy clothing with your BFF, there's less pressure when you're with her. You'll try on that weird low cut top that snaps on and off by your lady parts because your best friend won't judge you for it.

8. Sharing clothes that you can actually go out in.

There’s nothing that compares to your boyfriend’s soft cotton t-shirt, and as much as you wish you could wear that out to the new dance club that just opened, you can’t. Your girl best friend has those short skimpy dresses hanging in her closet that are perfect to borrow for that one night a month (or week, or year) when you need them.

9. Talking about periods.

Your boyfriend doesn’t want to hear talk about discharge or how heavy your flow is, he just needs to know when you’re on it and when you’re not. Your girl best friend is more than happy to listen to your female irregularities, and she can definitely relate to them.

10. She has tampons.

Your girl best friend has tampons when you need them (ideally); your boyfriend doesn’t.

11. Having emotional vent sessions.

Speaking of periods, you know those moments when you cry at absolutely anything for no apparent reason? Your best friend is more understanding when these moments happen. Your boyfriend just thinks you’re being an emotional weirdo or head case, which you kind of are, but your girl best friend gets it. You don’t need to explain to her why you’re crying over the extra salt in your morning omelet, she knows.

12. Referring gynecologists.

Your girl best friend has a vagina. Your boyfriend doesn’t. She can refer you to good gynos when you need them.

13. Talking about vaginas.

See above. Your boyfriend knows about them (hopefully), but he doesn’t have one.

14. Talking about pregnancy.

This would probably just freak your boyfriend out. Even if you know you are 100 percent not ready for a baby, or you know that you 100 percent never want to have one, your girl best friend is open to talking about it, and isn’t scared to do so. You two can discuss anything on the topic, your immense fear of labor, how your life would be different if you had a mini-you running around, or how you’d raise them to be the coolest kid alive. The point is you and your girl best friend have fun discussing these things, while your boyfriend is probably squirming in discomfort.

15. Talking about marriage and weddings.

It’s risky to talk about marriage to your boyfriend, especially if you don’t see yourself marrying him. With your girl best friend you can discuss anything and everything to do with marriage because you’re definitely not going to marry her. You two can imagine your dress, your cake, what you’d be like as a wife, or you can talk about how stupid you find the idea of weddings and marriage altogether. Whether you two imagine being single cougars or wifed up MILFS, marriage talk doesn’t freak either of you out like it does your boyfriend.

16. Waxing recommendations.

It can be embarrassing to talk about waxing with your boyfriend, plus he won’t have any personal recommendations for where to go for the best services, your BFF will.

17. Boob talk.

Complaining about your boobs to your boyfriend is tiring for the both of you. He thinks of your boobs as fun additions to your body that make everything more enjoyable, and he’s just happy they’re there. With your girl best friend you can talk about all aspects of your lady lumps and she’s not going to get aroused or try to touch them while you’re doing so. When you wiggle them around as you complain about the fit of your bra, or wipe the sweat from between your cleavage, she just relates and laughs because she has them too and understands, no matter how big or small.

18. Talking about guys you have a crush on.

Telling your boyfriend about other guys you’re crushing on is not an enjoyable experience, even if they are unattainable like Ryan Gosling or George Clooney. He doesn’t want to listen or watch you oogle over other men. Your girl best friend on the other hand, doesn’t mind at all. You’re not cheating, you’re just admiring the cute bartender who poured you a delicious shot of Fireball, and your best friend doesn’t become jealous when you talk about just how cute he really is. TC mark

Why Refugees Should Be Welcomed Everywhere

Posted: 10 Sep 2015 03:07 PM PDT

Flickr / Rene Dana
Flickr / Rene Dana

The United Nations defines a refugee as follows:

The 1951 Refugee Convention spells out that a refugee is someone who “owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality, and is unable to, or owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country.”

The definition also ought to include refugees of war, famine, and the complex and varying reasons one may choose to leave a country to flee persecution – to maintain one’s dignity, and to stay alive.

There are words and entire concepts one has to consider in the context of leaving a place in search of a better life other than refugee. Migrant, economic migrant, immigrant, expatriate, etcAll those words problematic in different ways and depending on context, are socially located in one important one – foreigner. Foreigner is a term to remind the individual who bears it that wherever they find themselves, they do not entirely belong.

I have often said it and I say it here again: God made the world, and people made countries.

I have never been a refugee but I have been a foreigner. I am a foreigner. Even in the place that I’m supposed to call home (Nigeria), I am foreign due to not growing up there. I have written about the freedom of being foreign. The greatest freedom is the notion of patriotism to a place that is an accident of birth – escapes you. At least for the most part. Although I am not patriotic to places, I am loyal to certain ideals.

And one of the ideas I am loyal to is the recognized dignity of all persons, who by virtue of their humanity, ought to have freedom of movement. I believe in a world without borders.

I understand this is a radical belief to some people. I also understand that it is one that would be entirely difficult to enforce because of history and culture and politics and economics; because of differences and ideology. I have often said it and I say it here again: God made the world, and people made countries.

To the refugee however, I have a special love for in advocating for their plight. To leave the place one calls home is not easy for any person, regardless of circumstance and even in the face of dire threats. Warsan Shire put it best: No one leaves home unless home is the mouth of a shark.

I have not been a refugee but I am the daughter of a man who wrote against a dictatorship government, and who would have to live in exile because of it. I am the daughter of a man who knows what it is when your home does indeed become the mouth of a shark – you seek ‘home’ elsewhere.

It is a privilege to consider any place on this earth a home. People who have patriotic attachments to lands of their accidents of birth, often call this a right. Despite my understanding of the function of the nation-state and its political consequences in the modern world, I still choose to call this a privilege instead of a right. Language matters.

If we stand idly by as someone – as many someones – ask for a place to call home to retain their humanity, how can we possibly retain our own?

The refugee seems to have lost the privilege to call any place home. Being a refugee seems to mean being a person who not only doesn’t belong, but also has to beg for the privilege of not belonging wherever they may go – to maintain their dignity; to stay alive. How do we call ourselves human and not look after those who are looking for a place where they might be human too?

The idealist in me wants to contend that if any of us don’t belong, then none of us belong; we are all just foreigners on this earth. Politics and social constructs argue otherwise. But still I contend that refugees should be welcomed everywhere because they remind us of our ultimate humanity, of the fragility of circumstance, and the unpredictable reality of the human condition.

As we see the images of refugees from Syria, from Eritrea, from Libya, from the many parts of the world, do we see their humanity, and do we see ours by seeing us in them, and them in us? If we stand idly by as someone – as many someones – ask for a place to call home to retain their humanity, how can we possibly retain our own?

#RefugeesWelcome TC mark

Writer’s Note: Consider making a donation to the following places:

Catholic Relief Services

Doctors Without Borders

Islamic Relief USA

Migrant Offshore Aid Station

World Relief

The Night I First Knew I Loved You

Posted: 09 Sep 2015 04:57 PM PDT


The night I first knew I loved you was the kind of fairytale bullshit that most people, including me, would make fun of.

We were the stuff of Hollywood romances with cliche dialogues and a stopped car on the side of the road, Frank Sinatra playing from the stereo. Right there in the middle of nowhere, you asked me to dance.

And see the thing is, I had always been the hopeless romantic. As a kid, I would position myself outside in the backyard beneath cobalt skies and stand atop overturned garbage cans, singing songs about my heart, my blues, my desire to love. And love, and love, and love, until my mother would finally come out and tell me it was time to come back inside.

I was always too busy shouting at the man in the moon. I wanted the Nora Ephron. I wanted the It Takes Two. The can’t-eat, can’t-sleep, reach-for-the-stars, over- the-fence, World Series kind of stuff.

But I never knew what I really wanted was you.

My adolescent heart crusted over for a minute. I was starting to get sick of feeling like I wanted love to kiss me in the face, but it never turning out quite like I thought. The mouths I met came equipped with a funny after taste. It wasn’t anything like I’d hoped. Until you.

And sure, you might not have been my first time. But Baby, you were my first time. Alone, on that empty street was the first time I let someone see me completely. The first time I ever loved so fully. I came home in tears because it was the scariest thing I had ever felt. I told my mother, “I’m in love with him,” and cried in her arms. Because love is terrifying. Love had me up all night thinking about the way you looked at me as I walked into my house, and how I wanted to auction off all memories before knowing you just to have us play on repeat.

I said take my fuck-ups because I know you won't judge me for them. Take my irrationality, my crying at Google commercials or dead squirrels on the side of the road, because I know you love me for it all.

You gave me a spot inside your ribcage so I could always know how it felt to finally be that close to another human being.

Maybe I’m still waiting there.
Maybe that’s why it still hurts when you breathe out my name.

Tonight, I listened to I'd Rather Go Blind and finally understood what Etta James meant.

Tonight, I gathered up all the pieces of our love that I still have plastered about my room, put them back in our box, but left it out. I couldn't bear to have it out of sight.

Tonight, I saw Robert Downey Jr. on the TV and cried.

You are my Iron Man. You are my glass of wine that I'm sipping from because they say we would only get better with time, with age. So I'm ducking into the cellar to give it a try.

Tonight, I wore your checkered boxers that I sleep in most nights and couldn't remember the night you gave them to me.

Tonight, I said,"I'll be okay."

And I almost believed it.

Darling, I almost believed it. TC mark

15 Men Confess The Body Issue They Secretly Struggle With

Posted: 09 Sep 2015 01:51 PM PDT


1. “I’ve got an average body and I work out around three or four times a week. I eat pretty healthy food for the most part but for the most part, the little bit of belly fat that I have makes me feel fat. I think it has to do with where I live in New York. Everyone seems impossibly thin and it seems effortless. I sort of feel damned by my genes.”

—Marlin, 22


2. “I have a concave chest. The medical term is pectus excavatum and although it’s a cosmetic issue and not the life threatening kind where you could die I’m constantly self conscious about it. I literally dread having to take my shirt off and have avoided beaches my whole life. I also got made fun of for it growing up so that didn’t help. The first time I had sex I kept my shirt on.”

—Jamie, 24


3. “Men have generally been able to get away with having ‘normal’ bodies and that’s been well represented in movies and TV. I tell you all that has changed now that Chris Pratt went from doofy normal looking guy on Parks and Rec to intergalactic ripped hunk in Guardians of the Galaxy. None of us are safe from criticism now. It’s funny, I always thought that equality would move the other way where women’s bodies would gradually be more accepted for being whatever shape they were but instead it seems like those unrealistic standards are just moving to make sure everyone, everywhere is constantly body shamed. I’ve been husky all my life, called pudgy at various points, called cuddly by friends that were girls. I didn’t mind until the last few years but now I’ve started to feel like it’s no longer acceptable.”

—Scott, 21


4. “If you look up the word ‘ectomorph’ online, the first 300 pictures you see will be of me. I’m the prototype for the waifish, skinny guy with zero fat who can’t gain any muscle to save his life. That was fine when I was 18, 19, or even 20 but at 26 I generally feel like everyone looks at me and thinks I’m a boy. I also don’t grow much facial hair which doesn’t help either. My parents always said that I’d be glad for it when I’m 40 but in the meantime I just don’t feel like I look very masculine and I feel like I’m taken less seriously overall.”

—Greg, 26


5. “My eyes are too close together and my nose is pointy. I feel like it makes me look shifty and untrustworthy, like a villain or something.”

—Chad, 23


6. “Porn has destroyed my ability to think of my average penis as normal and acceptable. I don’t think I’m the only guy out there with this thought but I don’t think most would admit to it. I know intellectually that I’m an average, normal 25-year-old but psychologically I’ve been seeing literally the biggest dicks in the world on screen since I was thirteen years old being presented as the norm.”

—Mike, 25


7. “Definitely my height. I feel like if you’re under 5’8″ in the U.S. then you’re basically considered a child by a lot of girls, instantly called cute, etc. I don’t want to be cute. I want to be handsome.”

—Johnny, 26


8. “I have old man eyebrows and I pluck them. I also get ear hair which I tweeze and have to trim. I am 24 years old…”

—Gavin, 24


9. “I think guys probably have a whole bunch of body issues that they don’t talk about cause they’re told body issues are for women. If you go into a gym locker room today you’ll see dudes don’t even undress until they’ve walked all the way to the showers are nervous to get dressed again without a towel tightly wrapped around their waists just in case somebody might see their pee pee. Older guys don’t worry about this stuff. You’ll see some 40 or 50-year-old just letting it all hang out while humming Foreigner and putting on his deodorant and this dude won’t think twice about carrying on a conversation with other people totally naked. Yeah, guys have body issues now that they didn’t have before and I have no idea what’s caused it.”

—James, 32


10. “I’m short, not like minuscule but I’m short, 5’5″. I cannot tell you how many dates I’ve been on with women of average height who’ve looked at me with a kind of restrained disappointment that I wasn’t at least 6’3″ even though I never claimed to be. I can tell you the only women that I felt like didn’t care how tall I was were all over six feet. They know my pain.”

—Richard, 25


11. “I used to be the kind of kid that wore underwear under his swimming trunks. I was in the military and I can tell you that any body issues I had before I went in were chewed up, burned, and then burned again by the time I got out. After a month in the Army you’ve seen more naked men than in all of the eighteen years that came before.”

—Steven, 24


12. “Mine’s a bit different because my body looks great, I think. But I also work out almost every day and run every day. The thing with me is that I started doing all this because I have really terrible social anxiety and I figured that working out and looking good was easier than getting rid of the anxiety especially if I could overcome the hurdle of just forcing myself to go to a gym and work out in public. It’s helped me a lot and at least now when I get that nagging feeling that everyone is noticing me I know that what they see looks good and fit. I still have the anxiety though so you could say that my body is totally a way of compensating.”

—Hudson, 24


13. “My beard isn’t full. That probably sounds lame but I have enormous gaps in my beard that are super obvious. I used to worry that it was a testosterone problem or something because all the beards I saw were full for the most part. I even went to the doctor for a T test that came back normal. When the doctor heard my reason for being there, he, an older guy in his 50s, said it wasn’t anything worth worrying about and totally normal. It still bothers me though.”

—Jerry, 27


14. “I grew up watching action movies with huge muscle dudes. I always wanted to look like one of those guys but I was heavy (fat) and my whole family was the same way. They ate badly and so I ate badly. When I got older I definitely got into shape and I exercise daily but in my mind I’m still a fat kid with fat parents. Like, if I don’t go to the gym every day I have this image of myself as a young fat kid dreaming of being an action hero and shudder. It’s definitely something I’m always running from by working out. It might not be healthy mentally but I’m at least healthy physically. For me it’s a trade off.”

—Rick, 25


15. “I now realize that a lot of the body issues I had when I was a teenager weren’t body issues at all. I was skinny, I’m short, I’m not particularly good looking. All those things made me nitpick specific things about myself like my eyes, my nose, basically everything. I finally figured out that I didn’t have body issues, I had one big self image issue. I thought of myself as lame and ugly so I felt that way. It’s taken me years to get the confidence to care less and I also take care of myself so I know I’m doing my part for my health and looks.”

—John, 28 TC mark

12 Things That People Who Are Constantly Overwhelmed By Social Media Understand

Posted: 10 Sep 2015 12:12 AM PDT


1. The number of ways a person can communicate with you is EXHAUSTING. Your sister’s texting you while your best friend is Facebook messaging you and your boss is emailing you and that friend from high school is tweeting at you and now your Instagram has a notification and CAN WE PLEASE JUST TAKE A BREAK???

2. You truly have a love/hate relationship with your phone. You LOVE having IMDB and YouTube at your fingertips, but you HATE being tied to a device for pretty much everything you need during the day.

3. As a result, you’re well known among your family and friends as someone who’s particularly hard to get ahold of.

4. …And you have a long list of pre-planned excuses as to why you couldn’t return your sister’s phone call for an entire week. Oh sorry… work has been really crazy this week, and I kept forgetting my phone at the office, and then when I remembered it, I forgot the charger, and it’s just been a MESS.

5. Days when you ignore your phone completely are BLISS.

6. …Okay, let’s be honest. Unless there’s an emergency, you’ll go weeks without paying attention to your phone.

7. People that are on top of their social media baffle you. AREN’T YOU TIRED? DON’T YOU NEED A BREAK FROM THE ENDLESS NEWSFEEDS?? TEACH ME YOUR WAYS.

8. You’re always the last to join any popular social media, because UGHH Why do I need a Facebook AND an Instagram??? What’s the difference? (Apparently there is one, but I have yet to figure it out.)

9. While other people are planning elaborate vacations to exotic locations, you’re just really excited that you have a socially acceptable reason to ignore your phone.

10. You contemplate deleting all of your social media accounts daily.

11. …But then realize that you do kind of like to see what everyone’s up to, so you always end up keeping them. For today at least.

12. You’ve very seriously considered switching back to a flip phone, where the most advanced technology on it is an 8-bit Kelly Clarkson ringtone and Snake. The sheer simplicity of it thrills you. TC mark

What I’ve Learned About Failure

Posted: 09 Sep 2015 11:41 AM PDT

adrien field
adrien field

I was watching the news channel in India last night as I drifted off to sleep. There was a story about a farmer who had commit suicide because after a bad season, he could not repay a bank loan of 5 lakh rupees, or about $8,000. He felt that he had lost his honor, his respectability and the only recourse was death.

I thought about my own debts, nearly triple this man's, accumulated over six years of self-employment and entrepreneurship. By financial standards alone, I am certainly a failure. I have never made much money at anything and the anxiety and stress of debt have nearly driven me to suicide, or at least entertain the morose notion at times.

But I am still here. I refuse to give up, to admit defeat, to lie down and die before my time. When my previous business ran out of money and it was apparent there was no way that I could continue, I faced an internal crisis. I owed money; I saw no path forward, no way to repay debts, let alone any idea of how I was going to support myself. The best way of dealing with it was to be honest about the situation – that provided a sort of liberation from the shame and embarrassment. I told my friends and others the reality of my situation: I was nearly bankrupt.

What to do? I could kill myself, fall on my sword like a defeated samurai – or I could pick myself up and start again. And so I did. A month after my last sale, I had found the inspiration and possibility for a new venture, one built out of the rubble from the previous. In a way, I had transformed the failure into something else – it had been an education, a necessary hardship on the path to something greater.

In a way, failure freed me from fear. I had experienced the worst already and it was not so bad. The sky did not crumble around me, nor did the Earth open to swallow me whole. My anxiety had been self-induced and I saw there was a way to go beyond it. It was only my ego that had been wounded from the embarrassment, but this too was a welcome event. The more my ego shrank, the more at peace I became.

Starting any business is a gamble. The odds are often against you. But you can only win if you're willing to bet the house, if you're all in. These are the stakes necessary to really play.

Owning a business is like walking a tight rope – it can be perilous, deadly even – but it is also thrilling. For some, it is the only way of life. All else is a sort of bondage. Only with your own business, living from your own intelligence and creativity, can you be your own master. It can bring you the highest peaks of joy and the lowest depths – this is the law of nature: however high the mountains, the valleys will be as deep.

Some may find the ride is too bumpy, the twists and turns, ups and downs make them sick and dizzy. They would prefer the smoothly paved road with its signposts and speed limits. But this life is predictable; it lacks adventure. Be fearless in life and business; not trying is the only failure. TC mark

Here’s The Most Important Thing You Can Do After A Break-Up

Posted: 09 Sep 2015 08:54 AM PDT


After the brilliant writer and thinker David Foster Wallace hung himself, his wife, Karen Green, tried to make sense of the loss by turning to her art. What she created became what she called "The Forgiveness Machine," a seven-foot-long twist of yellow plastic and tubes whereby you'd insert a piece of paper with your forgiveness wish into one end and it would come out the other shredded – forgiveness granted.

The machine eventually broke at the number of people who came to it desiring forgiveness.

Most interestingly, Karen never actually used the machine herself. Perhaps loss is just too complicated; perhaps part of the irony of a forgiveness machine is just that. Karen has said that David used to lie in bed next to her at night and say, "Don't die." Perhaps this was someone for whom the idea of loss was so paralyzing that he needed her to lose him.

Loss is a knotty, difficult experience. I imagine the death of a spouse is a pain unlike any other – and the suicide of a spouse even more throwing – but the people who we grow to love who die in our phones can bring about a pain that is no less real. No matter the nature of loss, the grieving process seems to be the same. There's anger, frustration, hurt, waves of gratitude, crying in the shower, new hobbies, new art, new recipes, new shoes, self-loathing, self-blaming, crying in the car, an attempt at getting rid of all the reminders of them, an attempt at holding on to all the reminders of them, shame, crying at work, deciding to seem fine, deciding to be honest about not being fine, a whole slew of emotions and ideas and hours on hours that we exhaustingly try to sludge our way through.

Romantic loss is especially interesting, because forgiveness when it comes to an ex is especially challenging. Those who come to define love for us and then become distant strangers can turn us vengeful and angry – or at the very least helpless and confused.

And so we have a variety of coping mechanisms for when we or someone we care about has been hurt and experienced this kind of loss. And one of them it seems we turn to – unhealthily – more often than we should. It looks a little something like this:

"Fuck him, he's a total piece of shit who doesn't even deserve your time. He's such a child. How could someone actually be that big of a jerk? What a raging dick." – your best friend, about the person who hurt you.

Or this:

"Fuck you, you're a total piece of shit who doesn't even deserve my time. You're such a child. How could you actually be that big of a jerk? You're a raging dick." – you, to the person who hurt you.

What's worse might be how we talk about the people they now seem to be with, as if it'll actually make us feel better to put someone entirely innocent down:

"She's not pretty. She sort of has a pig nose. And she's kind of fat. Like, just shaped really weird. She has no waist. Yeah. Not cute at all."

Maybe I exaggerate slightly, but maybe I don't. I've had friends show their support for me by doing a not-so-toned-down version of this, and when it's happened, a part of me has felt frozen, blinking, unsure of who to defend, while another part of me has become swept up in the rallied and unified energy built around the animosity. There's something thrilling about it, falsely consoling. There's something about it that lets us scream out all that we're feeling in a defunct mix of empowerment and rage. There's something about it that temporarily relieves us of the burden of our pain.

The thing though, of course, is that it's just that: temporary.

We tend to like to make external attributions. It's easier than holding the mirror up to ourselves, and something about blaming another seems as if it will fix us. External attributions protect us and our insular worlds because they take culpability off of us and slide it onto another. They try to trick us into believing that this is how we'll move on.

But this isn't how we want to handle anything. This isn't how we want to feel about the people we once loved, or maybe still love. Hearing a friend call our ex a piece of shit isn't going to make us feel any better; shaming the person an ex is now with, someone who's likely kind and wonderful, won't either.

Because what we really want is forgiveness. What we really want is to feel that we're able to forgive those who have hurt us, entirely and with love, and to then move forward, entirely and with grace.

What we really want is to see our forgiveness wish shredded and granted.

But forgiveness is complicated. It's such a complex and confusing thing that it's taken me six weeks to try to write this; each time I sat down and tried to understand it further, stacking lines of disjointed thoughts that didn't quite feel right, I'd get stuck and frustrated and X back out again – Maybe I don't know how to forgive, I'd be left thinking, blaming myself further for all my shortcomings.

It's such a complex and confusing thing that, though we might like to, it's not what we naturally turn to when we're hurt, because we simply don't know what forgiveness entails, because there just does not exist a concrete and calculated set of steps we can follow, and because the payoff is so intangible. How do we know when we've "achieved" forgiveness?

Most of all, forgiveness is a challenge because it requires that our kindness be louder than our anger, and often in the wake of getting hurt, our anger is just too loud.

But maybe there's something immensely important to learning to make our kindness louder than our anger. Maybe there isn't such thing as good or bad, just hurt creating more hurt. Maybe the person we most need to work to forgive we first need to work to understand. And maybe when we approach our pain with empathy, we allow ourselves to start the process of forgiveness.

It seems that forgiveness comes down to empathy, compassion and love. How difficult it can be to want to give empathy, compassion and love to those who have hurt us. But it's important. Because while revenge and putting others down might make us feel better in the smallness of a moment, it's unalloyed love that'll heal us in the long run. It's looking at the ways someone hurt us and being able to say, unequivocally and sincerely – even if it's just in our own head or out loud to an empty room – "I forgive you," that'll fix us. It's looking at ourselves in those times after our anger drives us to think or say something hateful and being able to say, "I forgive myself," that'll fix us.

Many who used Karen Green's Forgiveness Machine reportedly cried. Perhaps this was because they had held their secrets and rage and desire for empathy inside of them for so long; perhaps seeing their wish granted was a release.

Perhaps this was because they'd so wanted forgiveness but hadn't known how to have it; maybe seeing it broken down into such a simple process, one that could be touched and seen, was all they'd needed after all.

Or perhaps this was because they felt supported, cared for and loved, in the wake of having felt left and lost. Finally, finally, they didn't have to use their hurt to create more hurt.

Maybe that's the big thing about forgiveness. After we've been left and lost, all we really want is to feel supported. All we really want is to feel that it's okay and good and safe to support everyone else.

And so in the wake of loss, it's up to us to find our footing again, lovingly, kindly, compassionately. It's up to us to reduce our external attributions, to give ourselves and to ask from our friends support that's sympathetic and understanding. It's up to us to have a forgiveness wish and to practice acting on that wish every day until the anger inside us rolls back, until there's nothing left but agendaless love and kindness, so loud there's no room for anything else. In the wake of loss, it's up to us to harbor our own forgiveness machines.TC mark

What Running A Half-Marathon Taught Me About Body Image

Posted: 09 Sep 2015 11:53 AM PDT

Ryan Moreno
Ryan Moreno

Is it just me, or is everybody you know running? Whenever I scroll through Instagram, it seems like yet another person is posting a map of their latest completed route courtesy of MapMyRun or Nike+, or a photo of themselves standing at the finish line of a race, grinning broadly, holding up a medal, creepily happy for someone who just exerted a couple brunch's worth of energy pounding the pavement. Some of these friends have always been athletic, and I get it. They were the ones who played on every sports team and who always got picked first in gym class. Of course they're still hitting up the race circuit in their twenties. But others have only recently gotten into the gig, transforming themselves from binge-watching couch potatoes to competitive athletes in a matter of months. And if they could become runners, I thought, so could I.

I have always been more of a scholar than an athlete. Growing up, my one goal each year for the President's Challenge Physical Fitness Test's mile run in gym class was to not finish last. Not finish in under 10 minutes. Not finish somewhere in the ambiguous middle of the pack. Just don't be last. I didn't always succeed. Running for me was physical torture. I lumbered around the track with sweat leaking out of every orifice. My clothes stuck to my body in the most unflattering places. Often, I had to stop running to catch my breath, and the trimmer kids would lap me and laugh. That kind of thing is emotionally damaging to an eight-year-old, and it's not something you easily forget, even as you're about to turn 26.

But you know what? Quarter life crises can inspire you to do more than freak out about the uncertain state of your life. And in an age when people take selfies with bison, social media can also inspire you to do even crazier, stupider, more outlandish things—like sign up and train for a half-marathon.

Earlier this year, I started running with real, solid goals. Instead of following my whims (you know, jogging a short distance in slow-mo and generally not pushing myself too hard), I began following an actual training plan. On Tuesdays and Thursdays I did a medium-long run at my desired race pace. On Wednesdays, I'd cross train on an elliptical and lift weights. On Saturdays, I'd go for a long, leisurely run and tack on another mile every week. And on Sunday, I'd do an easy run for a set amount of time rather than miles to loosen up the muscles and facilitate their recovery.

This was a beginner's training schedule, and it was hard. It was also painful. A lot of people rhapsodize about running, but unless it comes naturally to you, or you get used to it quickly, running long distances can feel a lot like self-inflicted punishment. For the first few weeks, it took all of my concentration and willpower to keep running beyond half an hour. My legs cramped and chafed. My insides churned. Blisters blossomed on my feet. Everything hurt. So many times, whether from soreness, or fatigue, or boredom, I wanted to stop, but somehow I summoned the resolve to keep going. A few things to note if you do want to get into running (because let's be real, running is for everyone): sweat-wicking gear, a good pair of running shoes, and Body Glide are your friends. Pro runners may disagree about listening to music while running, but I find it helpful in maintaining motivation because training is both mentally and physically draining.

Soon enough, after a few weeks, the running became, not easy, but less outright excruciating. The more I ran, the more I looked forward to running—to a certain point. Around seven or eight miles, my body settled into a familiar rhythm, and I was pretty pleased with myself. After that, I'll be straight with you, I just didn't want to do it anymore. But the practice of setting time aside specifically for running and for the uninterrupted block of thinking time accompanying it was almost like a weekly treat for myself. Sometimes I counted steps. Other times, I philosophized on life. Always, running sent my mind into an almost meditative state, a likely precursor to runner's high. I didn't love running, but I liked it enough.

With all the strenuous exercise, I began to view my body as a machine. What I put into it directly correlated with my performance. When I ate junk, I felt like crap and I ran sluggishly. But when I nourished it with lean proteins, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, I ran like a well-oiled engine. It sounds like some "body as a temple" mumbo jumbo, but when I came back from my runs, muscles aching and exhausted, I started feeling thankful for the way I was built—big bones, large calves, broad shoulders and all. The body I was given was the body that could put up with all the stress I threw at it and that could carry me 13.1 miles to cross a finish line on a muggy May day.

Did I take a selfie with my finisher medal? Of course, but the expression on my face was not ecstatic joy, but grim determination. It was a face that knew hardship and overcame it, but not without struggle, so I don't know how many other potential runners I actually inspired. I was proud, but also extremely grateful it was all over. After I finished the race (barely—I almost quit midway through a couple times), I chugged three bottles of water, dumped the contents of another on my head, and tried to cram a bagel and a banana into my mouth, but my jaw was too exhausted to chew. So I went home, drank an Oreo milkshake, and didn't move for the rest of the day. My body, this beautiful, strong machine, had earned the rest.

Running, alone, did not change my life. Training made me better, but still not necessarily good at running. The experience didn't result in sudden weight loss or a complete conversion into an exercise evangelist. It didn't negate all my bodily insecurities and transform me into a svelte, ultra-confident athlete, but it did show me just how strong I could be when I tested my body's limits. Running a half-marathon showed me that with the audacity to try and the will to succeed, you can accomplish great things—maybe not perfectly—but great things nonetheless. And maybe in life that's all you need. TC mark

Don’t Believe Anyone Who Tells You Your Past Doesn’t Matter

Posted: 10 Sep 2015 11:36 AM PDT

Twenty 20 / momothexplorer
Twenty 20 / momothexplorer

People love clichés. (Is that a cliché?) People especially love clichés that are centered on not focusing on the past, their past. “Yesterday is a history, tomorrow is a mystery…” You can finish that one on your own. Or perhaps think of another phrase that emphasizes that the here and now, or the future, are the only things that matter.

I disagree. In fact, I think it is dishonest to pretend your past doesn’t matter. I would even go as far as saying that people’s lack of attentiveness to history – both their own, and human histories entirely – are why many fail in understanding themselves and the parts of the human experience available to human comprehension. The past is powerful.

The past makes a difference for many reasons but two, I think, are most important. The first is that our histories – our pasts – greatly shape who we are and what we believe. The second is that we can (and should) utilize the past to determine who we want to become. Interestingly, or maybe uninterestingly, the future and present are better approached when the past is understood.

Consider your childhood. How did your parents relationship with each other affect your views on love and commitment? How did the way your parents handle their finances play a role in how you handle money? The adults you were surrounded by – their interests, their conversations, their behaviors – how did they affect you? Ponder this carefully and you will realize the role of your past environments.

The past reminds us of what we have overcome, but more importantly, that we can overcome.

Then of course, there are your individual experiences. Things that occurred to you specifically once you existed in different environments; took on multiple identities, and found yourself being you. The failures you have experienced, the joys you have encountered, the love(s) you have enjoyed, the rejections you have endured – all these things have made you, you. Your past is a part of you and pretending it isn’t, is futile.

Many people never make peace with their past. They don’t come to terms with the trials that have made them weary or angry or cautious. Or they re-imagine the past with a romanticism that forgets the their past was probably as much a time of suffering as it was of joy. Regardless of time and space, one can be certain that there will always be suffering and joy.

The power of the past is that it can teach us how we approach the suffering and joys of our existence. It teaches us where we have fallen – and where we can avoid falling the next time. It can teach us how to obtain the things that bring us happiness in new ways. The past reminds us of what we have overcome, but more importantly, that we can overcome.

In my personal life, I have found the past useful in times of facing new trials – often reminding myself of a certain state of mind. The state being I have been through this before, I can go through it again. The this is not specific to whatever challenges are present or sure to come, but rather whatever the challenge, my past has likely prepared me to meet it. The past then becomes my source of bravery, the armour I put on; the past become my faith and my hope. The past is my strength.

The past, however, must be put in its place. I propose to let it be a guide that serves your present convictions and your future desires – not inhibit either of these things. Your past, after all, is a collection of fictional memories. But memories matter very much. Indeed, memories are all that we have; memories are all that we eventually become. TC mark