Thought Catalog

Why Your Fear Of Dying Alone Means You’re Not Really Living

Posted: 16 Jul 2016 08:15 PM PDT

Lena Wandjo
Lena Wandjo

Everywhere around me even in modern day 2016, it seems like as a single person I’m confronted with the same message.

“Here’s how to find the real love of your life!” Some old guy in a tuxedo exclaims at me from an eHarmony commercial.

“You’re totally like Carrie Bradshaw,” my friends say over drinks when I talk about my job and how I’ve gone out on dates with a few different guys this month. “Now you just need your Big.”

We just don’t want to be alone the countless submissions I read every day proclaim in their honest, heartsick words and in their desperate and painfully lonely headlines.

I’m afraid of a lot of things. I hate driving and am always convinced a semi-truck will run me off of the interstate and send me plummeting to my death. I love paddle boarding but have a weird anxiety about going too far out where the water is a certain level of deep because realistically – who knows what’s down there. The idea of my dog dying when I’m not home makes my eyes start watering just typing it out.

I’m afraid of a lot of things, but dying alone isn’t one of them.

One of my best friends told me a story about how her dad always used to tell her that no matter what, she had to like herself because she was the only person who ever really would ALWAYS be there. And that’s the truth. Some people would say that’s cynical and glass-half-empty, but I say it’s simply honest.

Think about it. Even if you do fall in love, madly in love, the kind of love that people write sonnets about and songs about and paint all over a building as a mural – eventually you’re going to die. And even if that person has been there day in and day out, holding your hand and kissing you despite your morning breath, the only person who you’ll have in those final moments is yourself. All you really have, is you.

So you’d better like you.

I think what we’re really not saying when we say we’re afraid of dying alone is that we’re really not afraid of the alone part, we’re afraid of only having ourselves to hold onto. We’re afraid that somehow, we won’t measure up. We won’t be enough. That somehow, we’re an incomplete puzzle without some else’s edge pieces.

When we say we’re afraid of dying alone we’re really saying we’re afraid that we’ll never be happy with just ourselves, and that we need someone else to dictate that level of completeness to our lives.

But you know what? The little secret that no one wants you to figure out – that the man in the suit hopes you never realize, and anyone writing a “Here Is How You Find The Love Of Your Life And Never Eat Alone Again” book hopes you don’t come to terms with?

A fear of dying alone is really just a fear of not living a life you love. A life you’re excited about. A life that makes you feel enough.

And they never want you to know that crushing that fear is simple. All you have to do is refuse to let it in.

So when you’re worried about eating alone, grab a book that swallows you with its characters and its story and go treat yourself to some Alfredo and wine and give it no second thoughts. If you’re scared of your life being empty, make friends with people who never cease to make you smile and challenge you in the ways you need. Fill your days with a job you love, with travels that blow your mind, and create a life that bears no need for another person other than yourself.

That way, if someone comes alone, they’re just and enhancement, not a requirement.

Your fear of dying alone isn’t sign of being an incomplete or unlovable person — it’s simply a sign that you just need to love yourself enough to stop being so afraid. TC mark

I Am Afraid Of Terrorism But Not As Much As Muslims Are

Posted: 16 Jul 2016 07:15 PM PDT

Matthew Wiebe
Matthew Wiebe

My usual city bus ride to work consists of trying to carve out my own two inches of personal space and burrow into my music to drown out the school kids yelling. But in the aftermath of yet another attack on innocent people, this time in an airport in Istanbul, the mood was decidedly different. Or maybe it was just me who felt different. Regardless, the bus was somber, quiet. Interactions on the bus were laser-focused. There was a sense of: “it could happen to us right here, right now.” We could be the next victims of a terrorist attack.

On the heels of Orlando, any layer of security we may have felt about being in America and hence removed from the epicenter of terrorism, has been ripped off like a big bandage from a hairy arm. Even those of those who witnessed firsthand 9/11 have some amnesia, the pain and fear dulled over 15 years’ time.

But the vulnerability is palpable now. You don’t have to be on the battlefield or attending a protest or committing a crime to be shot dead or blown to bits. You could be at the airport heading to visit your mom, at a nightclub dancing with your friends, at work.

That fear is very real. And I can’t help but feel it acutely right now. And yet, as a white, American woman, I have far less to fear than my Muslim and Muslim-looking friends and neighbors.

When I boarded the bus this morning, I sat across from a young Muslim woman. She was wearing a head scarf and a long skirt and held a Nature Valley bar in her hand, fumbling with the wrapper, but not opening or eating it. I watched as a bulky white man got on and walked towards the back of the bus, where we were both sitting. I saw his eyes scan her, his energy was aggressive, suspicious. The young woman visibly shifted in her seat, clearly nervous. She had good reason to be scared; the man easily outweighed her and could have snapped her in half if he wanted to.

Thankfully, the man proceeded to take a seat and didn’t engage. The woman relaxed a bit, but I realized that the resolution of that potential situation was not the most disconcerting part of her day, it was just the beginning of what may have been little acts of targeted, bigoted microagresssion that didn’t stop until she got home at night. Every time she walks out the door, she likely has to fear for her safety and over compensate to show that she’s not a terrorist. It’s possible that she’s an American citizen, born and raised here. It’s possible that she’s already suffered through unspeakable horrors in her home country and took her first free breath when she was granted asylum here.

The more we fear someone with brown skin might attack us or our families, the more likely it is to happen because we’re marginalizing a group of people.

When we point fingers and direct negative energy and surveil, spy, arrest, torture, blacklist and kill innocent people in the name of freedom, not only are we responsible for furthering the same violent environment that allowed existing terrorist mentality to form, but we’re also lowering ourselves to their level.

In this era of heightened terror, our best defense is love. We must protect the young Muslim girl on the girl so she doesn’t become a victim of a hate crime, or a body in an unmarked grave, or a deportation that sends her back to a living hell. If you won’t do it for the sake of saving humanity, do it so that her brother doesn’t seek revenge when we do something awful to her and become yet another man with a gun and a hateful agenda.

Violence and hate will never end suffering. We must turn to kindness and compassion. We must put ourselves in the shoes of the young Muslim girl, the gay Latino man, the Iraqi child who watched American bombs kill his parents. We must love our neighbor no matter their skin color, religion, origin or creed, and seek to learn about our differences, which will help us realize just how similar we are. A human being is human being, a life is a life. No one is more valuable than another. TC mark

41 Hilarious Ways To Spot The Asshole In Your Friend Group

Posted: 16 Jul 2016 06:15 PM PDT


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TC mark

This Is The Idiocy Behind Anyone Who Proclaims #AllLivesMatter

Posted: 16 Jul 2016 05:15 PM PDT

Jorene Rene
Jorene Rene

I broke my foot when I was 15. I was playing basketball, jumped up, shot over someone, scored (obviously), and then I landed on their foot. I tore a ligament as well, but not before that ligament tore a bit of bone from my foot. It hurt.

When I limped into the hospital, this is what I said:

"My foot is swollen and red and really painful. I need you to take a look at it."

Do you know what they said?

"Yes, of course. Take a seat sir and we'll sort you out."

Do you know what they DIDN'T say?

"Your other foot matters too, you know."

If they'd said that I would've been somewhat frustrated, as I'm sure you can imagine. I probably would've replied with something like this:

"Obviously it matters. But the foot that's swollen and red and in pain is what matters right f***ing now."

I wasn't going to get involved in #blacklivesmatter but I feel compelled to. I'm white, so I don't understand what it's like to be black, and I definitely don't understand what it's like to be black in America. I'm white, so I'm privileged. I've been out with my black friends and seen them be refused entry into a club while I get in with no problems. I've seen taxis avoid me and my friends for no reason other than my friends are black — I've never had the same problems with my white friends.

I don't understand what it's like to be black, and I never will, and I'll never claim to. But I have experienced why the #‎blacklivesmattermovement needs to matter.

Like I said: I'm white, so I'm privileged. There's no point pretending that isn't the case and there's no point apologising for it, because both of those things achieve nothing. I wish it weren't that way, of course — but at the moment, it is. So the best thing I can do is to USE that privilege. Use it to say that yes, all lives matter. Obviously all lives f***ing matter. But that right now, black lives don't seem to matter as much.

It's not necessarily the ignorance of people that I mind. Everybody has beliefs they've never questioned. I respect someone who realises they're wrong and then changes. What I have no time for is someone who won't even question their ignorance. Someone who won't even think twice about why the #blacklivesmatter movement is necessary. Someone who's so entrenched in their own opinion — and being "right" — that they won't even bother to listen to anything else.

I'm a wholehearted supporter of #blacklivesmatter and I will be until I die. Anything less means I wouldn't be doing my duty as a human being. TC mark

11 Ways Your Partner Is Subtlety Saying ‘I Love You’, If Their Love Language Is ‘Receiving Gifts’

Posted: 16 Jul 2016 04:15 PM PDT


According to the best-selling book The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts there are five different ways in which people like to give and receive affection towards their loved ones. Problems arise in relationships when we don’t realize that people have these different ways of giving love. One person may feel unloved if their partner doesn’t tell them explicitly about their feelings every day while another could never hear “I love you” but be totally blissful as long as they spend hours together watching Netflix every week. If you or your partner’s love language is receiving gifts, here are some things to keep in mind.

1. They would never dream of going on a work trip without picking you up some token. It can be a cheap little souvenir that doesn’t cost much, but you both know it means “I was thinking about you.”

2. They make a big deal out of special days like birthdays and Christmas. It might seem cheesey to you but spending weeks planning and picking out the perfect gift for you is how they revel in their love for you. They do their best to give you something that genuinely makes your life better, because they love you.

3. They keep things you give them, like, forever.

4. You’ve actually referred to them as a hoarder because they hate throwing away what you view as trivial gifts from years ago. But they can’t help but want to be surrounded by all the physical representations of your love.

5. You find that the gifts you give them that they treasure most, are small trinkets you bought to express appreciation — not the ones that cost the most.

6. In the same way, they love when they can tell you treasure something you’ve given them. It means they understand the thoughtfulness behind the gift.

7. They help you pick out gifts for your family and friends. What can be a boring task for you is an exciting opportunity for them to help you demonstrate love to the people that are important to you.

8. They wrap gifts. It’s a small thing, but they want your gift-opening experience to be an event, not something hasty or poorly planned. They’ll put thought into all aspects of a gift-giving event.

9. Likewise, they’ll want the gift exchange itself to be an event — no pulling out gifts at the last minute. They want to sink into the moment of both giving and receiving gifts.

10. You find gifts you’ve given them displayed in places they look at every day — their jewelry box or desk, inside the medicine cabinet. These memories make their everyday life better.

11. They love to surprise you. For them, the anticipation of getting a gift is as much fun as actually receiving one, so they’re intent on giving you this joy as well. TC mark

If You Take A Chance On Me I Promise I Won’t Wreck This

Posted: 16 Jul 2016 03:15 PM PDT


I am not very good at falling in love —
I can leap into it like a rocket vaulting into space
My feet are meteors that heave themselves from the ground up
but the fire beneath them burns out before they reach the top
There is no other way to say this
so I tell you I love you in Braille when we are on the couch
scrawling the alphabet into each other's tongues
I say,
"You are the most beautiful thing I have ever laid eyes on"
But I am an exit sign with a light that never goes out
and there is a kind of wildfire within me that you will confuse for desire
What I mean is
I never quite learned how to take things slow
I always count the ashes before I have even ignited the flame

But this time I don't want to run
There is something about you that makes me want to plant my feet on the ground so that they don't act as skyrockets
hurling upwards and then subsiding
with an eventual rapid downfall
I want to know how it feels to walk beside you in a normal pace
I want to tread around you like you are open water
and then dive in without thinking I am going to drown

I guess you could say I am romanticizing this
because I am blaming the planets and the moon and the stars for their alignment, for leading me to you
and because my bones have turned into a shooting cannon
constantly flinging themselves towards you
I know it's pathetic
But my lungs have become an open casket
and I am folding inward like a dead spider,
a moon flower,
all the metaphors that collide inside of me
all of a sudden make sense

Because you see,
I am not very good at falling in love —
No, I launch into it like missiles darting into open air
I sink my hands into boiling water until they deteriorate
because lukewarm tastes a lot like melancholy
in silk sheets
But you
There is something about you
There is something that makes me want to stay
And I want to learn how to become the ocean
instead of the flame. TC mark

8 Ways Dementia Becomes A Beautiful Metaphor For Life

Posted: 16 Jul 2016 02:15 PM PDT


I love my grandpa and he has dementia. This is what it taught me.

1. Dementia makes your brain change, too.

For your whole life, you have lived in a world that praised objective reality. Something is or something is not. But, when dementia knocks on the door of someone you love, you learn that subjectivity often wins. You don't lie to that person, but you don't always knock down their perceptions of reality, either. You start to realize that even though what they think may not be what is actually true, it is true to them. You begin to meet them where they are, instead of only seeing that what they are saying is incorrect. You make sense of the nonsensical and you learn to live in another person's world. And once you start doing that with someone with dementia, you begin to see how every person deserves the chance for someone to try and understand them, even if we think they are incorrect… Especially when we think they are incorrect.

2. Dementia is not like the movies.

One day, things are really good, and then you learn that someone you love has dementia. You remind yourself of The Notebook and other stories where things have a sad, yet beautiful ending and you feel okay about that. You create your own story in your head in which you are the protagonist and all will be sorted out in the end. Until one day, the realization dawns on you that life is actually very different than the movies. Movies end in two hours, but life goes on until someone reaches their end.

3. Dementia makes you really, really sad.

Life is full of an infinite amount of dependent variables, but sadness is a variable independent of all others. It is indescribable to watch someone no longer able to be who they are. Not only does your body betray you, but your mind betrays you as well. A helpless type of sadness creeps in, and questions about the meaning of life abound.

4. Dementia makes you really, really happy.

Having enough bad days can make a person forget what good days are like. And then, when you are about to resign to the fact that this person's life will forever be a string of bad days, you get a good day. Sometimes, a person just seems to be like who they once were. Other times, circumstances are still bad, but you are able to bring a smile on their face. You finally know what Taylor Swift meant when she sang: "you got a smile that can light up this whole town." There is something that surpasses understanding, when someone you love is so sad, but you are able to make them smile like they used to, before all the sad things happened. A bit of happiness can be a lifejacket until you get to the next bit of happiness. It pulls you upstream right as you thought you were destined to be a sad, downstream fish for the rest of your life.

5. Dementia makes you lose hope.

The very essence of dementia is that things will not get better. It is a progressive disease, and while progressive thinking may be fun, a progressive disease is no fun at all. Proverbs 13:12 (NIV) offers, "Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life." Your heart starts to grow sick, because your longing for life to be good and kind to someone you love is gone. Some hopes in life don't get to live; some hopes must die.

6. Dementia gives you a new type of hope.

While you may have been forced to give up hope that a person's memory can be fixed, you find something new to hope for. You have resigned against your old desire for life to be good and kind to someone you love, and you start to find ways to bring goodness and kindness to their life. Ernest Hemingway once said, "The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places." Life has broken someone's brain and probably has broken your heart. But, in the brokenness, you make new hopes. Hopes like making someone feel as loved as possible and noticing the love already around you. The biggest choice you have left is to create as much love as you can in life, and that is the hope you can hold on to forever.

7. Dementia shows you the truest compassion.

Mother Teresa once said, "I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love." I haven't quite gotten there in my life, because I love hard and hurt hard. But, I got a glimpse of what she was saying. When I am able to feed my grandpa ice cream, when his face lights up when I tell him he is handsome, when he sings with me, and when people laugh at his jokes, I feel only love. I feel a little of what hurts, but I feel so much more of what is love. My heart feels more like a star on fire than an organ beating inside of me, and yours can too.

8. There is no 8. It's a paradox because when dementia comes, you don't get the ending you wanted or planned for.

But, when dementia comes, you make the ending as loving as you can. You also find that dementia, in a weird and somehow paralleled way, is a huge metaphor for life. The cryptic lessons that dementia taught you bring you back to the most basic building blocks of humanity. Life is messy and hard and nonsensical, but love is the only thing that makes sense of it all. TC mark

Why #BlackLivesMatter Should Matter To ALL Of Us

Posted: 16 Jul 2016 01:15 PM PDT

Gerry Lauzon
Gerry Lauzon

I am struggling with the current state of gun violence in the United States, as well as the inherent racism that flows through our cities, even into Canada. Watching the videos of innocent black men being gunned down by white police officers has become a norm within our society and we need to stop desensitizing ourselves to it. Watching the videos of Alton Sterling's and Philando Castile's murders  terrifying, watching those two men murdered brought tears to my eyes. We should feel the pain of those suffering around us and not take this as the status quo.

As a White Female, these situations make me feel helpless. Because our society has taught us inherently that we should not get involved and avoid the topics of race and violence, as if they are just some passing phase. I worry about speaking out on social media or taking a stand to show my support because I don't know how others will react.

Not just my friends and family, but also the fellow human beings I am attempting to support.

This fear of being told that my voice doesn't matter and that I should know my place is with being a woman.

I by no means think that my suffering for being a white woman compares to anyone, especially not minorities within our society. White privilege is real, and I am aware of it based on the experiences of those around me, and the ease at which I pass through life.

If we want our society to get better we all have to stand together. Which is why when someone says All Lives Matter, they are clearly missing the point, and they are most like a middle class white person. Of course all human lives matter, but if the situations were reversed and it was black police officers killing innocent white men, then obviously there is something wrong with those police officers. How did they even get on the force? etc etc. But why is that not the case when and innocent black man is killed by a white police officer? Our automatic assumption (based on our institutionalized racism) is that the man was obviously threatening the police officer or doing something completely wrong.

The color of our skin shouldn't dictate whether or not we have a right to have a voice.

We should be standing up together to protect other innocent lives.

It almost seems like all of the "progress" that we claim has been made, is all just a lie to make us white people able to live with ourselves and what our ancestors did. Many people may argue that this comes from a place of White guilt, that I'm probably some suburban middle class white girl who has never experienced hardship. And that's fine if you think that, but you don't know me, yet you judge me. Just like you quickly judge all the innocent people who have been murdered at the hands of police brutality.

I grew up in a predominantly low income housing complex. Someone was murdered in broad day light across the street from my house. The tactical unit came to arrest a drug dealer in my neighbourhood. I've answered the door to police officers more than once. This shaped me into the person I am today. I went to school to be a teacher, who helps immigrants and visible minorities learn English to become hard working meaningful members in our society. My whole goal in life is to do as much good as possible while I'm here.

And that means not standing by and pretending that Black Lives, and subsequently Black Lives Matter, is not our problem simply because we’re not in the minority. 

Face it: Black Lives Matter should matter to ALL of us. TC mark

To Live A Full Life, You Need To Stop Being So Afraid

Posted: 16 Jul 2016 12:15 PM PDT


There’s a lot of things to be afraid of in this world. I could write a whole article just listing all of my fears. But for the most part, those fears are either not so bad after all, or are never going to happen.

I’m petrified of first dates. I usually end up canceling on the poor guy before they get to my door because my hands are already shaking uncontrollably. But for the times when I actually do go through with the date, I’m usually pleasantly surprised. And most importantly, by the end of the night I feel proud of myself. Because I did something that I was scared of. And I survived.

It’s empowering as hell to dive into waters that you’re scared of. Because usually, you’ll swim anyway, without a struggle.

I’m scared of planes, scared of heartbreak, scared of losing my relatives, scared of dying a terrible death, but, what I’ve come to realize, is that worrying about these irrational thoughts takes me away from actually living.

These fears that we think and panic about constantly, are ruining what we have right now.

And what we have right now is the now.

If today was your last day on this earth, would you have wanted to spend it in a panic? Would you have wanted to spend it isolated from everyone you love, in fear of stepping outside?

The media likes to put all these fears in our heads. They like to make us freak out, and fear doing any other activity that isn’t just standing still. And while awful things to happen to amazing people all the time, and unjust tragedies happen all around the world, this shouldn’t stop you from living how you want to live. These tragedies should not stop you from living your life.

Your fears should not define who you are.

And I know awful things happen very second of the day, but thinking about that constantly will put a huge cloud over your life. Your mind will soon be burdened with anxiety about “what’s next?”, and your lungs will collapse from hyperventilation.

If you’re scared of planes, get on one and see what happens. If you’re scared of first dates, go on one tonight. If you’re scared of fire, pick up a match. Go run that marathon. Go up on that stage. And go move to a big city. Each time you do something you’re terribly afraid of, you will feel that rush of joy. A rush of pride. Because you survived. You did the impossible.

Please don’t let your fears keep you from living a great life. Don’t let the “what if’s?” control your mind.

Don’t continue running from the monsters that you only imagine are under your bed.

Stop pressing pause in your life. Start pressing play. No matter how scary it may seem, it’s better than not living at all. TC mark

White America, It’s Time For Us To Shut Up And Listen

Posted: 16 Jul 2016 11:45 AM PDT

via Facebook
Philando Castile, via Facebook

In the last 72 hours, we have heard about the killing of Alton Sterling, Philando Castile at the hands of police, and then, the murder of at least 5 police officers in Dallas, Texas.

Alton Sterling was selling DVDs and CDs outside of a convenience store — where he had permission to do buisness — when police confronted him after a 9-1-1 call claimed someone with his description had threatened them with a gun. The police brought Sterling to the ground, and somewhere in the altercation, fired multiple bullets into him. An emotional press conference with Sterling’s family shook many of us to the core, and the video of Sterling’s killing, for many, appeared to resemble more an execution than a police intervention.

And what about Philando Castile? Police pulled him over in a routine traffic stop where he promptly informed the officer he had a conceal carry, and then immediately complied with the police by reaching for his license and registration. Then he was shot dead, in front of his partner and daughter who were also in the car.

And then, if that was not enough death and violence for a week, there was a sniper at a Dallas protest who killed at least five on-duty police officers. It’s a lot to process. It’s a lot to understand. And it can be tempting to find a reflexive, knee-jerk reaction filled with ill-considered rhetoric  and stick with it — because that’s a shortcut from critical thinking.

Twitter (Deleted)
Twitter (Deleted)

But for us White Americans, who are used to having easy access to the metaphorical microphone, I think we need to take a little bit of time to mostly listen. And this has nothing to do with the “right” to speak. Of course everyone has the “right” to speak at virtually any time they wish. However, before fully considering an issue we have to realize that our experience is not the only valid one. And if you don’t believe that different identities have had drastically different experience of “American freedom” in our country’s history, please ask early 19th-century African Americans what’s its like being valued at 3/5ths a person, or 20th century African Americans what it was like being required to sit in the back of buses.

Our nation is more politically divided than we have been in a while. Because in the past, oppressed identities were forced to accept that institutions were rigged against them — but now they’ve had enough. They are standing up.

Division isn’t always bad. Indeed, division is infinitely preferable to coerced unity, and forced compliance. That’s not to condone violence in any form, but merely to say that passionate public debate and public protest can be necessary to reveal key truths about ourselves.

My fellow White Americans, we have to realize — we have to realize — that our country’s most sacred institutions have been totally rigged in our favor from the outset, and by deliberate design. This isn’t about hating the police, or hating ourselves, this is about being aware. This is about living in a country where a white man who sexually assaulted a woman behind a dumpster can get three months in jail because prison “would seriously affect him” but a black man gets shot dead during a routine traffic stop because he was reaching for license and registration after immediately and lawfully telling an officer he had a conceal carry.

Racial inequities did not dissipate with one speech talking about one man's dream. They will end with us all tying our dreams to the fate of our "other.” That means we have to hear this out. And for us White Americans, it’s uncomfortable, because we think, “Nothing was wrong before!” But that’s because we did not experience what was wrong before — and what is still wrong today. We have to listen to our black neighbors, friends, teachers, and mentors. We have to realize that the story of America written by white, straight men into our whitewashed textbooks is not the only history of our country. And once we do that, and once we find equality in our institutions and our hearts, then we can call ourselves the land of the free. TC mark