Thought Catalog

10 Questions To Ask Yourself When You Don’t Know Where Your Life Should Go Next

Posted: 20 Apr 2016 08:00 PM PDT


1. If you had the life you think you want, what would tomorrow be like? When you imagine the life you want, rather than focus on the elevator speech (“I am this, I do this…”) focus on the daily routine. If you had the life you think you want, what would you do tomorrow? How different would it be from what you’re doing now? What from that vision can you actually start doing tomorrow?

2. If social media didn’t exist, what would you do differently? Would you dress differently, feel bad about where you live, care about what your apartment looks like? What choices would you make if you didn’t feel they were being silently policed by the faceless mob of people that lie behind the screens of social media? What would matter? What would you do? Who would you be?

3. If nobody would know what you did with the rest of your life, what would you do? If your life wasn’t the slightest bit performative – if there was nothing you could get from doing something other than just the act of doing it, how would you spend your time? What would you be interested in doing? What would energize you?

4. If you died yesterday, what would you most regret? Forget imagining if you died tomorrow… what if you were already dead? What would you regret the most? What would you wish you had done differently, saw differently, responded to differently?

5. If you could choose five things that matter most to you, what would they be? Whether you realize it or not, your life will fundamentally be built off of the few things you care about the most. When it’s not, it will feel out of alignment at best, or off-the-rails at worst. Fulfillment is living in accordance with what we genuinely value.

6. To what in your life do you feel a subtle, unexplainable “nudge?” What gives you a feeling of subtle, unexplainable enjoyment? What do you like, even though you don’t understand why you like it? These are the things to pay attention to. These are the things that are real. Your mind is responding to what you think you like, your emotions are responding to what actually resonates.

7. If you knew nobody would judge you, what would you do with your days? If you would only be praised for your work, for your life, and for your choices – which would you make? What would you do?

8. What are you struggling with the most right now? Interestingly enough, the things that plague you the most deeply are signals toward where you must move next. If your deepest issue is not having a romantic relationship, the next phase of your life will likely need to involve at least trying to develop that. The things that you’re struggling with the most right now can tell you what you really want, and toward which direction you should step.

9. What do you already have going for you at this present moment? The mantra of any major life change should always be: “start where you are, use what you have, do what you can.” There is no other way to get anywhere.

10. If you had to live tomorrow on repeat for the rest of your life, what would you do? Or, put another way: if you lived today on repeat forever, where would you be? What would you have accomplished? Would you be thriving at work? Would you have made time for the people you love? Would you have written a book, or played music, or be spending your money in a healthy way? Would you be dressing like yourself, and enjoying the sunrise, and eating in a way that will sustain you over the long-term? Your life exists in it’s days. Not in your ideas about those days. Your habits accumulate, and begin to default. Imagining that you’ll never grow out of them is the fastest way to a reality check. TC mark

This Is What Your Go-To Alcoholic Beverage Says About Your Sex Life

Posted: 20 Apr 2016 07:00 PM PDT



You’re a kinky adventurer who likes to keep things interesting. You’re the opposite of predictable, and whoever you’re having sex with, is consistently surprised. When you pull a whip out of your treasure chest of sexual goodies, you have every intention of using it, and when you’re not having sex with someone else, you’re experimenting with every new toy on the market to have sex with yourself. You love sex, and you’re not afraid to try it in every way possible.

Cosmo (Cranberry Vodka)

You’re classy and sweet especially in the sheets. You don’t feel the need to get super freaky with your partners because you have enough sexual intrigue to keep them interested without doing backbends or cartwheels. You like to make love instead of fuck, and you can appreciate a nice cuddle session afterwards.

Jack And Coke

You like it rough. Gentle just doesn’t do it for you. You want to be thrown up against the wall and have your clothes ripped from your body. When you wake up the next morning, there’s shattered glass on the floor from whatever bits of furniture you broke the night before. It looks like someone broke into your apartment, but it was just the person you were having crazy, messy sex with.


You love drunk sex. Alcohol makes you feel more comfortable and loosens you up a bit. You wouldn’t pinch his butt if you were sober, but when you have a couple martinis, you’re not just pinching it, you’re sticking your finger in a place it’s never been before.

Pinot Grigio (Or Any Glass Of Wine)

When people look at you they wouldn’t expect you to have an active sex life, but you are a very sexual person, especially with partners you care about. You look like you’d leave the bar to go home, put a comfy pair of pjs on, and go straight to bed, but you’re the type of person who leaves the bar to go home and fuck. You’re hornier than people give you credit for.

Whatever Beer Is On Tap

Sex is sex, as long as you get off, you don’t care how you do it. You’re willing to have sex in public, you’d try a flavored lube you’ve never tried before, and you’d pretend to be a naughty nurse, as long as an orgasm follows, you’re willing to play along.

Gin And Tonic

You let your partner take the lead. You like to be told to turn around, bend over, and drop your panties. You like to be dominated and you get off from it. You don’t have the energy to be worrying about which position you’ll do next, so a partner who tells you what to do is exactly what you like.

Any Drink That Comes In A Bowl Or Bucket

You love role play. You may not have many forms of creative expression, but when it comes to sex, you’re a creative mastermind. You venture far beyond the traditional naughty school girl fantasy. You’ve most likely pretended to be an alien abducting a human into your mothership, and to you, there’s nothing weird about it.

Manhattan (Stirred Or Shaken)

You like to keep your sex life private. You’re not one to kiss and tell, and who you fuck, how often, or what positions is no one’s business but your own. It’s not that you’re embarrassed to talk about sex, it’s that you have respect for your partner, and while you can openly talk about other people’s sex lives, yours is off-limits.

Anything Sparkling

You buy extremely high priced lingerie and you like to fuck while wearing it. Your most cherished body parts deserve the best. You won’t wear underwear that isn’t quality, and you won’t have sex with someone again if it isn’t good the first time. You make sure your needs and wants are met, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with treating yourself right. TC mark

If It Makes You Feel Inferior Or Not Good Enough — Fuck It

Posted: 20 Apr 2016 06:00 PM PDT

Lauren Taus

Confidence is sexy. It feels amazing, and it attracts all the right attention. Unfortunately, many people – myself included – live with insecurity and a self-doubt that can be crippling at times. This disposition leads to competition, making it impossible to celebrate the success of others – and to enjoy your own.


That's my new mantra, and saying it gets me to remember that we're all pulling on the same side of the rope. If you can do something better than me, good for you! If you have something I want, congratulations! We are on the same team, and there's enough room for everyone to be a winner.

Last Sunday, a fellow yoga teacher and acrobat asked me calmly, "Do you ever get jealous?" She was referring to something very specific, something related to our relationships. I chuckled and replied, "YES. I'm a crazy bitch. I can't tell you how much damage I've caused my partner with my envy." But the truth is, I cause myself more harm than anyone. The jig is up.

I'm awesome, and I don't need to be the best to be great. I can kick ass hand in hand with countless others who rock. I can make a choice to marvel at more advanced asana without feeling inferior. Let it serve as inspiration. I can look at my friends in my field with bigger followings, and tip my hat. Maybe I can even partner with them and learn their ways! But nobody will like me, and I won't do any good if I take myself too seriously or try to bulldoze. That will only cause me to suffer, and it won't allow me to grow. FUCK IT!

Over the weekend, I spoke at length with my family about how to live with a full heart for myself and for others. We tested a few methods, and I discovered three tricks that fill me up and keep me happy. You can try them too!

  1. Know your special terrible. Know those pesky thought and behavior patterns that indicate a competitive, isolating drive. Do you check social media too often? Do you obsessively weigh yourself? Do you compare your life to your friends or colleagues? Say Fuck it. Remember you're awesome.
  2. See your old patterns as gifts. You can use them as sign posts to switch gears. Before you continue on the road of self-loathing, ask yourself: "Would I pay to do this/read this?" If the answer is no, stop. Do something that nourishes or grows you instead.
  3. Spend time with your Higher Power because he loves you (He loves me too, a lot.), and he wants us all to win.
  4. Say and write down what you want. Visualize it. Make it happen. Thoughts are things with power and you will attract what you focus on. Be smart and conscious.

My dad always says, you're here to be yourself, not compare yourself. I'm remembering. I want more than anything to feel good in my skin, in my offering ALL the time. Once that's in place, and I can move into that space with a simple conscious thought, then I'm positioned for exponential growth, deeper intimacy, and a lot more fun. So join me and let's all say FUCK IT. TC mark

50 One-Sentence Reminders For Anyone Who Is Having ‘One Of Those Days’

Posted: 20 Apr 2016 05:00 PM PDT

Natalie Allen
Natalie Allen

1. It's just a bad day, not a bad life.

2. Feeling sad or down in the dumps doesn't make you pathetic, it means you're a human.

3. Some great art came because of great sadness.

4. Depression is out of your control, not doing anything BECAUSE of it is well within your control.

5. Somewhere out there, someone is probably smiling because of you.

6. If you have a roof over your head and food in your fridge, you're already doing better than a lot of people.

7. "I just don't feel like it," is a perfectly acceptable reason to pass on something.

8. Being kind to yourself is never, ever selfish.

9. You can get out of bed because if you find it's too much, you can always get back in.

10. There is an expiration date on how long you will feel sad.

11. Tomorrow is another day.

12. Everything is temporary.

13. Finding your own strength is one of the strongest things you can possibly do.

14. Being self-reliant is an amazing feat that you should be proud of.

15. But asking for help is equally as admirable.

16. Sometimes you won't know why you're in a mood, and that's okay.

17. If someone doesn't 'get' bad moods, they're just completely in their own world and you don't need to pay attention to them.

18. There are so many people who deal with depression every day; you are not alone.

19. You don't have to run a marathon, you can just go to the store.

20. It's the little things that count.

21. "You is kind, you is smart, you is important."

22. It takes a certain amount of maturity to be able to say, "I'm in a bad mood but I will keep going anyway."

23. When you feel your pulse beating, it means you've survived everything and you're still here.

24. There is no shame in saying, "I can't do this alone."

25. But there is also no shame in needing to deal with it by yourself if that's what feels right.

26. It is totally okay and valid to be sad for no reason (or for a stupid reason).

27. But admitting this is what takes the power away from the sadness.

28. Being in touch with your emotions means you're self-aware, so congratulations.

29. There is no right way or wrong way to take care of yourself.

30. Sometimes even just drinking water, going outside, or even stretching can make all of the difference.

31. But sometimes it won't — and you aren't a failure if it doesn't.

32. Take care of yourself, others second.

33. It's okay (and even helpful) to laugh at yourself and your moods.

34. Even Obama has bad days.

35. If all you did today was shower, you're still doing better than a lot of people.

36. "If Britney can make it through 2007, you can make it through today."

37. Your pain is an excuse to be in a bad mood, but not an excuse to be cruel.

38. Apologize when you need to not only to other people, but also to yourself.

39. You are not selfish for saying, "I can only take care of me right now."

40. If something is making you feel worse, it's okay to remove it from your life.

41. If Zoloft helps you, that's awesome.

42. But if just going for walk does the trick, that's awesome too.

43. Sometimes just acknowledging what's bringing you down is enough to take the power away from it.

44. You will not be miserable forever.

45. It's okay (actually more than okay, it's empowering) to be able to laugh through your pain.

46. Sleeping it off is just as valid for sadness as it is for hangovers.

47. It's okay to feel like a rollercoaster — you're normal.

48. Crying about nothing is still a perfectly acceptable reason to cry.

49. Mental health and self-care are things that you have to work on forever.

50. So take it one day at a time. TC mark

10 Powerful Reminders for Loving Yourself After a Painful Breakup

Posted: 20 Apr 2016 04:00 PM PDT

Jati Putra

1. Your existence needs validation from no one but your own soul. Destroy any voice inside of you that says otherwise.

2. Nothing is worth destroying yourself over, but if you are going to destroy yourself, make sure it is for something spectacular, make sure it is for yourself. There is nothing worse than ruining yourself for people who aren't worth it.

3. There is an entire forest full of the most incredible flowers, plants and trees inside you, and you are ignoring all of it to nurture a single tree that they planted inside your heart and then abandoned. The people who left you this way don't deserve to become your favourite stories to tell. You are a massive forest full of beautiful and vibrant stories and every single one of them deserves you more than those that abandoned you to hell.

4. The day you stop longing to belong somewhere or to someone is the day you will finally realise that you have always belonged. To your body, to your soul, to your mind…your truest home has always been your self.

5. You can set yourself on fire for someone, burn every bridge for them, grow the sun for them inside your own body but for some people it will never be enough. Some hearts may be too cold to fully appreciate the gift that is your love. Your love is a passionate fire but there are hearts stone cold ice. So burn baby, burn like a comet, but like a comet, burn for yourself first, and for yourself alone.

6. Please stop destroying what is left of your heart by constantly thinking about things that have broken you.

7. Stop holding onto people who aren't afraid to lose you. Hang on for someone who knows you're worth the fear.

8. Loving someone who does not love you in return, is like pressing on the most painful of bruises even though you know how much it hurts. Stop making yourself ache. Stop being addicted to the pain. Let them go.

9. Don't lose sleep over someone who can sleep soundly after breaking your heart

10. Love nothing more than you love yourself. No one deserves your love more than you do. TC mark

This Is What A Good Lover Does

Posted: 20 Apr 2016 03:00 PM PDT


A good lover doesn’t just let their body take control,
or maybe they do.
But a good lover listens first.
A good lover asks questions,
and respects whatever answer they are given.
A good lover touches gently,
or roughly.
Maybe a good lover doesn’t touch at all.
A good lover pushes you against the wall,
letting their tongue discover every untouched spot
it can find.
A good lover holds you tightly,
lets you know you are safe here.
You are understood
A good lover says what they want,
they help direct if you get a little lost.
A good lover adores your body like the God/Goddess you are,
never letting you forget how worthy
of ecstasy you are.
A good lover kisses you softly,
or just in between your legs.
A good lover knows your heart,
or what your libido wants.
A good lover never lets you forget
that you are part of it,
you are as in control
as they are.
A good lover pulls you into a world
you didn’t think existed.
And now,
you count yourself lucky to be there.
You count yourself lucky to know
what good sex is.
A good lover leaves your head spinning,
but doesn’t leave you spinning,
chaotic and nervous.
A good lover reassures you of how good it was,
how good you were.
How good it will be
again. TC mark

Having It All Kinda Sucks

Posted: 20 Apr 2016 02:15 PM PDT

Okay first, allow me to check my privilege so you don't have to: I am a white woman with a college education. I am married. I live in a beautiful little town in the mountains. I have a career I genuinely like. I am one lucky bitch.

And yet. Here's what "having it all" really looks like, in my experience:

The other day I was walking down the street to get my mail, feeling pretty pleased with myself. I have a three-and-a-half year old and I had a baby exactly one month ago. In that month I have worked almost constantly and it has paid off: I have made enough money to pay all my family's bills and keep our business afloat. I have produced quality work that I'm proud of. And not once have I mentioned to anyone that I just had a baby.

Right about the time I was congratulating myself on these "accomplishments", a not unsubstantial amount of pee just came pouring out of me. I was wearing light-grey sweatpants, so it was pretty obvious. Kind of embarrassing when my neighbor walked by and waved. By the time I got home, it was time to dial into a conference call, so I had to sit in those pee pants for quite a while. Thankfully the baby stayed asleep and quiet during that call, but woke up screaming to be fed as soon as it ended, so another half hour in the pee pants. Burped the baby. Got throw-up in my hair, but no time to do anything about it so just threw it back in a clip. Boom. Quickly changed pee pants. Ready for more work. Throw it at me world, I am a strong woman and I have it all and I have got this. At 5, my other kid comes charging into the room, asking if I've made the brownies I promised him earlier. I have not. Then my husband asks what the plan is for dinner. So, I throw the baby into a sling, go downstairs, sort out dinner and brownies.


"Uh oh, what?"

"I think I popped a stitch."

"What? How do you know? Isn't that bad?"

"Well it definitely feels not right down there, and yeah it probably is bad, but realistically what am I going to do about it?"

Back upstairs. Shower, finally. The wound formerly known as my vagina is definitely stinging (seriously, at my postpartum checkup, here is what my doctor said "the stitches are almost dissolved but your wound is still healing. Gross.) Then back in bed, icepack on crotch, baby on boob, laptop on lap.

I have not left this room except to grab food from the kitchen in a month. I took precisely one day off to have a baby. Let that sink in for a minute. Lucky for me, this room has a full bathroom attached.

Here's the stack of laundry I'm staring at. (Look at my disgusting feet too, btw. That nail polish is at least two months old.

That's a bag of poopy diapers sitting two feet away from me. Right next to the other giant stack of laundry. It really smells like diarrhea in here.

I'm not a single mom. In fact, my husband helps out way more than the average husband or father. I'm not working minimum wage jobs, I'm not really disadvantaged in any way except that I am a working mother in the United States.

Here's what I think is going on: this whole "having it all" business has been grossly misinterpreted by our society at large. The purpose of all that bra burning back in the 60s was to give women choices. You wanna have sex without getting pregnant? Cool, hit that. You're pregnant but in no position to raise a baby (or were sexually assaulted and impregnated, or are pregnant with a severely ill or deformed baby, or any number of other scenarios)? No problem, you can choose not to have that baby. You want to go to work? Do it! You want to stay at home and raise kids? Great. You want to do a little bit of both? Groovy. You want to be stylish and wear makeup? Or frumpy and never wash? Hey, you do you.

Doing all of it at the same time was never the idea. By that definition, single working moms have been "having it all" for ages and yet society does not hold the single working mom up as the goal for women everywhere. No, no, that's just what happens when you're poor and have no choice. Except actually, that's what happens to all but the very very rich when you encourage women to work and have children but don't change any other part of the world they live in.

No woman (or man, for that matter) ever said, hey, you know what would be great? If I could get up at 5 a.m., make breakfast for everyone, then get dressed (with heels, natch), drop my kids off at daycare, go to work for 10 hours, pick the kids up, come home, cook dinner, clean up, put the kids to bed, work in bed 'til midnight so I don't get behind at work, then do it all again tomorrow on 5 hours sleep.

It's like we all said hey, let's change the narrative for women, but not change anything else. And then expected women to be so grateful that we're allowed to have casual sex and work now that we wouldn't notice that we're being pushed toward an ever less attainable and less desirable goal.

Here's what we tell women today: You not only can, but should have a career and children — because if you don't, you're basically a) lazy, b) weak, c) not a real woman. But also, you should do it without any support. Without government-paid maternity leave (what are you, a socialist?). Without too much childcare (because then you're a shitty mom) or falling behind on the job (because then you're a shitty employee — typical woman!). Without too much help from your husband (because then he's a pussy).

We applaud companies for paying for female employees to freeze their eggs, but don't push them to give women the space to have children during their actual child-bearing years and come back to work without losing their place in line. Instead of changing the systems, we tell women to lean in. Because of course, it's our fault for not taking initiative. Fuck you. I'm leaning so far in I'm falling flat on my face.

And yes, I know, men are parents too and paternal leave is also important. But there is a very real physical component to recovering from child birth and to dealing with a new baby (especially if you're breast feeding and are thus the only one that can handle night feedings) that we like to pretend doesn't exist in this country. It's okay to say that women may need more time off than men.

For the record (tune in here, men's rights advocates), this is not a rant against men, it's a call for society in general to do better. I have routinely had women pass me over for work because I'm pregnant, or complain that I can't make an evening meeting because I have kids. In fact, I've had more women penalize me for having kids than men. And it's only been other women who have called my parenting into question because I work. Sexism tends to play out in different ways with men, usually in the form of assumptions about my intelligence or grasp of a subject because I'm a woman, not because of any particular reproductive choice.

Nor do I think that the world owes me an easy life, or that I should get to make choices with no trade-offs, or have all these things without working really damn hard for all of them.

I do think, though, that we should cut it out with the fairy tales already. Stop telling women they can have everything without sacrificing anything. Here's the truth: You want to have a career and kids? You totally can, but both will suffer. You will never feel like you are devoting enough time to either. You will never feel like you are good enough at either. You will never get time off (at least for the first several years). You will always be choosing between things that need your attention, and you will almost never choose yourself. You will be judged for nearly every move you make and you will never measure up to anyone else's expectations.

If we're going to embrace a new narrative for women, we need to change some social norms too. We need to make it truly okay for women to opt out of having kids. We pretend it's okay today, but if it were, all my child-less friends wouldn't get asked about it all the damn time and I don't really think I'd be reading so many essays defending the choice to — gasp! — be a woman and not have children. Seriously. There are so. many. essays.

And don't even get me started on the legions of women dealing with fertility issues and feeling like the choice has been taken from them completely, but still having to field questions about if and when they're having kids. How about we just stop asking women about their personal reproductive choices, period? If they want you to know, you'll know.

We need to make it truly okay for women to opt out of working, too. Not sort of okay, but behind your back everyone thinks you're wasting your potential, so then you feel like you have to parent the shit out of your kids and run yourself ragged taking them to activities and teaching them things. But, like, really okay where you can have your friends over for mimosas in the afternoon and lock those little animals in the backyard for an hour if you feel like it, because Jesus Christ spending all day with a small child is exhausting and infuriating and any sane human would need an hour off.

Then we need to make it truly okay for women to opt in, too. Not in the way it is today, where you're supposed to basically (and in my case, literally) pretend you haven't had a kid and just take on all the baby duties without letting any other thing slip. But really, truly okay. Like, everyone knows you're pregnant but doesn't freak out and assume you're not going to ever do any work again or that you won't want to take on anything ambitious. Okay, like you don't have to freeze your eggs and wait until you're 45 to have a kid — unless you want to, in which case, freeze away — because otherwise your career will get derailed at 28 and never get back on course. Okay, like you don't feel compelled to drop your newborn off at daycare so you can rush back to work, and then regret the decision for the rest of your life.

And we need to provide that support for all women, irrespective of color or income level. The VP at a tech company is no more entitled to maternity leave, job security, and adequate childcare than the waitress at a restaurant. It's the price of not just allowing, but requiring, mothers to work. Which is what we do today. Working is not a luxury or a choice for the vast majority of mothers and we need to stop acting like it is.

I'm not talking about crazy special treatment here. I don't think we need to get all Oprah about it and coo on and on about how being a mom is the toughest job in the world. Nor am I saying, as one men's rights advocate put it to me recently on Twitter: "Give me money and special treatment. Because, vagina."

I'm saying let's make it okay for women to admit they're pregnant, or take a little bit of time off to recuperate from having a baby without having to worry about tanking their careers. Let's redefine "having it all," or better yet let each woman define for herself what the best version of her life might look like. Because when you think about it, reflecting back on the first month of my son's life and reveling in what a good job I'd done at covering up the fact that he exists is pretty fucking sad. TC mark

39 Brilliant Reasons Why Getting Your Sh*t Together Is A Totally Meh Idea

Posted: 20 Apr 2016 02:00 PM PDT















We Need More Female Writers Of Horror, And This Is Why

Posted: 20 Apr 2016 01:46 PM PDT

American Horror Story
American Horror Story

We need more female horror writers. I'd even settle for male horror writers who publish under female pseudonyms. I realized this after reading "Certain Dark Things."

First, it's a wonderful collection of short-stories, many of which are written from the first-person perspective of a female protagonist. Taking that book aside, how many horror stories can you think of that are written in the first-person male perspective? I don't know about you, but I run out of fingers and toes halfway through works of Stephen King.

That is not to say that all male authors cannot write in the female first-person. Stephen King does it very well. But who else? OK. You pulled out one or two names. Fine. How many horror stories are written from the first-person male perspective? In a word, most.

M.J. Pack's recent anthology of short horror fiction shows just how big that gap really is. Not so much in number of male/female first-person protagonists, but in where a woman can go with horror stories that a man cannot.

There are numerous stories in "Certain Dark Things" where women are treated really badly. And that is OK grounds for a male writer, although some stories might be pushing the edge of "misogyny." But many of these stories go further, where the female protagonist accepts (or god forbid) actually desires the brutality of men. And much of the male-on-female brutality is horrible in the truest sense of horror story: a horror story is supposed to contain something horrific (a bachelor is an unmarried man.)

Coming from a female author, I'm sure critics attribute this to M.J. Pack's willingness to explore her vulnerability as a female author. But I say, "Fuck that!" Horrible things happened to the women in these stories because these stories were about horrible things happening to women. M.J. Pack probably didn't sit down and say, "How can I depict female degradation today." She probably just sat down and wrote, and that's what came out.

Writing them in the first person is brilliant, because as an avid horror reader, I know that we all have those dark, secret places within us. As a group, I think horror readers are just more aware of it. And it has to be the case that women would have dark, secret places that most men never see, let alone experience in a story.

M.J. Pack's horror stories written in the female-first person gives the reader a glimpse into those dark, secret places that are unique to women. Regardless of what critics may say about the style, there is a visceral truth to these characters that few writers seldom achieve.

This idea really hit home when I sat with bated breath waiting for the female protagonists to win. When they didn't, I realized just how ingrained it is within the horror fiction audience to assume that women should not get hurt, raped, tortured, or killed in horror stories. Sure, all that can happen in horror stories, but it's always in the background.

I'm not advocating for snuff stories of female abuse. But I would like the community of horror writers to start pushing the literary comfort zone about what can happen to "sacred cow" characters. When I sat down to "Certain Dark Things," I wasn't looking for a story about a pre-teen girl getting raped by her stepfather. But if that's part of the story, and she's the main character, the author has a duty to communicate how that character experiences being raped. That she recalls the wallpaper in the bathroom during the assaults makes that character real. So many stories would simply gloss over that with vague references to a resented step-father and the loss of innocence.

The unspoken prohibition against depicting women who suffer and die is made even more obvious by the choice of narrator for the audiobook. It's read by a man, even though this man is often reading in the first-person voice of a woman. It's an auditory sleight of hand. It's easy to forget that these terrible things are happening to a woman when a man is speaking in her voice. I would imagine at the pre-production level, a female narrator was discussed, and someone said that it would just be too gruesome for the target audience.

Here's the rub. That's probably true. If there is a zone of comfort around modern horror writing, a female narrator for "Certain Dark Things" would have pushed it too far. I say this not as a sociological observer, but as a horror fiction reader. A female narrator would have taken the book from good horror to something grotesque in its honesty.

We need more female horror writers. It's the only way modern horror literature will ever show a mainstream audience how women actually experience that which is truly horrible. TC mark

A Shonda Rhimes-esque Monologue For Every Discouraged 20-Something Out There

Posted: 20 Apr 2016 01:00 PM PDT


So, you’re tired. Directionless. Frustrated. Maybe a little disheartened. Trying so hard to live your life in your own way, but still frequently weighed down by unavoidably comparing yourself to others. Wanting to not care what people think, and sometimes being successful and other times caring so hard. Watching people your age who seemingly have it all together and wondering what the hell is wrong with you. Living for the weekends and then drowning in anxiety every single Sunday night.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

It seems like you’re the only one to feel this way. The only one who’s constantly agonizing over what you should be doing next and how long is too long at this job that seems to be going nowhere and who you should love and freaking out if you don’t find anyone to be with or freaking out if you do.

But these feelings actually make you the opposite of alone. They make you human. They make you twenty-something.

You are meant to be confused right now – and lost and anxious and uncertain and totally overwhelmed. These are the moments when you are forced to look at yourself, forced to stare in the mirror at who you are and figure out who you want to become. You can’t stay unemployed forever and drink bottomless mimosas every weekend and joke about how you have no idea what to do with yourself and act like it’s all fine. In that way, you are doing yourself a great disservice.

But what you can do is forgive yourself for not having an exact plan right now, as long as you’re doing everything in your power to further understand and figure out what it is that you do want, where it is that you do want to go, and what kind of life you want to lead. You can travel if you are financially capable, you can explore your creative outlets in whichever manner you choose, you can experiment with different types of jobs (as long as you approach things logically rather than whimsically). You can read every book that you can get your hands on, you can visit friends in new cities, you can date people that add texture to your life instead of taking the brightness out of it. You can embrace every damn twentysomething stereotype that you can think of if you want – go to brunch, have a Tinder account, attend a music festival, keep in touch with friends via Snapchat, whatever.

Just know that doing those things, although they can certainly be fun in the moment, are not what make you a twentysomething. You are a twentysomething because you are vulnerable, uncertain, unestablished, hesitant, and inexperienced. You’re full of potential, but you barely know anything – which can be a good thing if you let it be so. You have a long way to go, a lot of space to grow, and a lot of work to do before you can expect to deserve anything. You’re meant to be at the bottom right now, to acknowledge that you are navigating this blindly and that as time goes on, you will begin to get more comfortable with yourself, with your mind, with your life.

Embrace the tired. Embrace the frustration. Embrace the lack of direction. This is who you are supposed to be right now, this is how you are supposed to feel. Just keep showing up, keep embracing the feelings of inadequacy and uncertainty, keep going after what you want. And if drinking a Bloody Mary on a restaurant patio on a Sunday afternoon helps, go for it. TC mark