Thought Catalog

Dear White BrotherSisterLoverFriend

Posted: 01 Oct 2016 08:00 PM PDT


These days when I hear the news of the latest black murder-by-cop I rarely say anything and push forward through my day. It pains me greatly to say that I'm used to this type of news and the anguish that accompanies it. It's no longer a matter of what but rather when will it happen again and how will we cope. All of us, every one, need people in our lives who, if they can't offer advice, will at least listen and make it known that they care. This is Therapy 101.

For black people, more intensive measures should be taken as the images of black men, women and children being gunned down in American streets are undoubtedly wearing on us mentally. We handle the mental wear and tear in different ways. Some people internalize it. Some people invest in the people around them. Some turn to bad habits such as drugs and alcohol or violence. Some pray the pain away. As for myself, I go numb, but only temporarily to lessen the rage that I feel in the moment. Once the numbness fades I generally prefer to talk through the issues to process my feelings, to reaffirm that I'm not alone in my grief. In times of mourning most people turn to family and friends for this kind of comfort, and since all of my family lives in other cities my friends are my first line of defense against the blues. This is a perfectly normal practice, but here's the gag:

I am black. 

A lot of my friends are white. Like…a lot.

This is not necessarily of my own design, but rather a condition of being a minority in the United States who attended a predominantly white institution (PWI) for college or elementary and high schools with similar demographics. I'm not mad about it. We enjoy each other's company (at least I do) and I love them…but God bless the black child whose white friends don’t acknowledge the plight of the black American community.

Most people would argue that those aloof or apathetic friends aren't really friends, and to be honest I can't put up much of an argument against that. What kind of friend isn't concerned with your lived experiences?

I believe this is a testament to the concentrated insidiousness that is racism. Born from ignorance it is capable of stealthily penetrating and dissolving, however slowly, one of the holiest of human relationships: friendship. And, because at its core it is completely devoid of compassion and empathy, it often shutters off any chance of authentic bonding. In the black mind it renders a great number of white people, most of which are otherwise decent folks, insensitive or even hostile. It defines and widens the chasm between black and white communities. What is a friendship that doesn't allow room for your pain? What is a friend who isn't sensitive to your unique human condition? 

So when it happens I don't find myself wondering how a cop could shoot a 12- or 13-year-old black boy to death. I don't worry about trying to understand how a cop shoots and kills a black man while he reads or is having a seizure. I've already come to terms with that evil. What I do find myself pining for is an opportunity to petition my white friends who remain silent. I crave the conversation that would liberate both of us. I wrack my mind over how the white community can sit idly by without so much as a supportive tweet or Facebook post. I know there are some here and there, sure, but when racism affects all of us, black and white alike, "some" isn't enough. We should all be on one accord. I find myself, time after time, wanting to calmly sit down with all of the white people in my life and ask them the same thing: why?

Why do you feel okay not knowing black victims intimately, but are quick to presume that their deaths-by-cop are justified and above scrutiny? This is an unfair deduction of black people's character and it denies them due process of the law.

Why does challenging police brutality and instances of systemic racism anger you more than racial injustice and the ending of black lives? This is callous.

Why do you seem to only support black people when they're on the athletic field performing for your favorite college or professional team? This seems disingenuous and self-serving.

Why do your clergy and spiritual leaders remain silent? This invalidates the credibility of your religion, especially if it's centered in the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Why do you quote sermons about love and compassion and never acknowledge or seek to directly remedy the grief black communities regularly experience on a national level? This renders you spiritually fruitless.

Why is praying the only thing you do to address racism? Faith without work is dead, is it not?

Why do you get angry when someone points out a racist microaggression you may have committed? This makes you appear unreasonable and unapproachable.

Why do you only talk about modern injustices in hushed tones amongst yourselves instead of speaking out to help end them? Your full public voice can make a difference.

Why do you sit on the sideline and watch black people struggle without using your privilege and status as the majority population to push America forward? This impedes progress.

Why do you demand compliance from black people, innocent or guilty, and never demand that cops follow their own guidelines to deescalate hostile police situations? This is a huge, egregious double standard.

Why, when faced with the realities of modern racism, do you hide behind scripture and MLK or Gandhi memes rather than denounce it for the evil that it is? This makes you disingenuous.

Why do you ignore expressed narratives of black experiences with injustice and discrimination? This further oppresses the black community and denies black people their humanity.

Why do you ignore history and refuse to acknowledge the similarities between past struggles for civil and human rights and the struggles we face now? This makes you willfully ignorant.

Why does your brand of patriotism not allow room to protest or share grievances that would inform the betterment of our nation? This is liberty and justice only for a few.

Some of these questions may seem a bit harsh, but they are necessary. The gap has to be bridged. Trust must be built. But instead of continuously placing the onus of racial reconciliation on black people and their ability to "forgive and forget" it is high time that this country makes a true effort to address one of its many sicknesses. Though it seems I only ever have negative critiques of America to offer most people will probably find it ironic that I am, in fact, a proud American. However, you will find that my pride does not come solely from reflection on America's achievements past and present, but also from my dreams for America's future based on its immense potential for true greatness. Recognize that my patriotism is not of the brand that breaks when someone doesn't stand for the national anthem, but the kind that is sorely impacted by a betrayal of the altruistic American values that our country likes to proffer. My brand of patriotism is painfully embarrassed by every unjust killing committed by a rogue cop. My brand of patriotism causes me to weep with every cop that evades conviction because of the demonization of black people and the zealous glorification of the badge within our nation's ineffective justice system. My brand of patriotism acknowledges the breaking hearts of my black friends and family as they contemplate the fragility and perpetual endangerment of their lives. Can the same be said for you, dear white reader?

All too often jaded or self-preserving folk in America defer to the "there's no cure for racism" line and I've always thought that was an asinine position to take. Rather than honing in on the roots of America's problems, some of which are black Americans' harsh realities, white Americans and their apologists deflect or blindly defend. Try this. Instead of casting the issues to the wind start asking questions of your own. Investigate the "why's" and the "how's." Dig deeper and find out why things are the way they are, how they came to be. This is where the seeds of redemption can be found.

Let it be known, I don’t expect these questions to be answered overnight—the pursuit of racial reconciliation requires patience, determination and careful thought, but there is one question of which the answer I believe we should all be able to quickly agree on, especially all of the white people who have ever claimed love for their black brother, sister, lover friend:

Question: When would be an appropriate time to begin this quest for real solutions in order to save our country from an even more painful future?  

Answer: always a resounding “Now.” TC mark

I Want To Feel Like Your Friday

Posted: 01 Oct 2016 07:00 PM PDT


If I had it my way, I'd want to be your every day. I'd want to be your lazy Saturdays, your early Tuesdays, your Thursday afternoons when you can barely keep your eyes open.

If I had it my way, I'd be your favorite days. Your birthday, Christmas, maybe even Halloween, dressed in our matching costumes. I'd be the days you want to put on repeat, the days you'd never forget, the days you'd dream about when you'd rest your warm and weary head.

But I know I can't have everything, so I'm content with just this one wish. I wish to be your Friday, your long-awaited, can't-stop-thinking-about-it, counting down the minutes until that sweet, sweet bliss Friday.

Let me be your Friday.

I want to feel like the best damn thing about your week. I want you to daydream about me when your work drags on. I want you to get excited about all the plans, the possibilities when we're together.

I want you to ache for me as soon as it's our time apart.

I want to be the reason for the smile across your face, that little glow that sets in just above your cheekbones. I want to be that one day of the week you can't get out of your head, the day you get all giddy about with the simple mention of its name.

I want to be the reason for your happiness, the one thing that feels like freedom. I want you to fall into me, arms open wide, heart and mind suddenly rejuvenated and ready for adventure.

I want to be the day that makes you come alive. The day that's exciting and big and loud and all that you imagined it to be. The day that begins with the windows rolled down and the music loud on the highway and ends in bed, exhausted and so so satisfied.

Let me be your Friday.

The one thing you look forward to, the one thing you crave. I want to feel like that start of the weekend, the end of stress and obligations and the beginning of non-stop, guilt free fun. We don't have to be crazy, we can stay in and just bask in the simple peace of doing nothing. Or we can run and run until we run out of gas.

Regardless, I want to be that feet-up, arms-back, eyes-closed, this-is-perfection type of feeling. I want to be the day you can't stop thinking about; the one you wish for as soon as it's gone. TC mark

99 Telltale Signs You’re Dealing With A Grade-A Fuckboy

Posted: 01 Oct 2016 06:15 PM PDT

That Awkward Moment
That Awkward Moment

1. No job. His fuck-around lifestyle is mysteriously funded.

2. No car. TLC laid it down for us years ago ladies… "hanging out your best friends ride in the passenger side trying to holler at me."

3. But he's at the bars every night?? How does someone who works so little have an unlimited bar tab? Oh wait, he's never the one paying for drinks.

4. Something is always wrong with his cell phone or he doesn't have one.

5. He has a reputation. You know what his penis looks like and you haven't even seen it.

6. You know what his penis looks like and you wished you didn't.

7. Wears a condom that he reallyyyyyyy didn't want to put on, that you provided.

8. He slept in and now he needs a ride home.

9. He accuses you of stealing his $5 Wal-Mart t-shirt that he can't find.

10. Says he's texting his mom when he's Tindering.

11. Says he needs to use your phone to call his mom when really it's his drug dealer.

12. You know his ex-gf because she's messaging you on FB claiming to still be his gf… wait… damn it Fuckboy.

13. He's drinking a beer in his FB Profile Pic.

14. He posts pictures of cars frequently.

15. He friend requested your best friend before defining your relationship.

16. He's been in some type of legal trouble which he claims zero responsibility for.

17. His ex (or current) girlfriend hates him and is bat-shit crazy.

18. He's always asking for something while giving nothing in return.

19. He's posted a Facebook status along the lines of "If you believe any of this bullshit going around about me come fucking see me," or "I can't fucking believe my baby-mama…"

20. You've seen him in a fight or physical altercation at a bar, aka the fuckboy watering hole.

21. He’s posted a shirtless picture on IG.

22. He degrades the appearance of women and talks about them with disrespect.

23. He will literally fuck anything that moves… regardless of his relationship status.

24. He only ever wants to hang out in low-commitment environments aka watching Netflix or drinking a beer at his place.

25. He pressures women for sex because he feels like he deserves it.

26. He complains when people discuss politics because he's not registered to vote and/or a felon.

27. He swears he will "pay you back tomorrow."

28. Begs to play a song, it's probably from his EP that’s coming out ~ super soon. ~

29. Shows up to social gatherings empty-handed (aside from the minis he has in his pocket for himself.)

30. Constantly talks about things he's "gonna" do without making even the slightest attempt to fulfill his dreams or ambitions.

31. Exclusively hits you up between the hours of 2am-5am.

32. "I don't have the Uber app."

33. When you go out to eat he orders the most and pays the least. Never pays tip or tax.

34. Calls his ex "a bitch."

35. Calls his mom "a bitch."

36. Brags about accomplishments from ten years ago, e.g. he was the quarterback, he was the Prom King or he got suspended for an entire year! (Akin to a fuckboy medal of honor.)

37. Invites you over to watch him play video games. (During which he repeatedly cusses and throws the controller down…he's playing against 10-year-olds.)

38. Is ALWAYS on his phone. Looks at his phone and says "SHIT!" frequently without explanation.

39. Messages multiple girls on Facebook: "Hey ;)"

40. Uses his children and/or pets as a ploy for attention from the opposite sex.

41. Needs to borrow a cigarette.

42. Wants to cum on your face.

43. Begs you for nudes on Snapchat.

44. He mildly insults you while complimenting you. E.g. "I didn't mean to swipe right but I'm glad I did." or "You're a 8/10." Classic fuckboy fuckery = rating/judging women on a scale in an attempt to make them feel inferior. Don't listen to this bullshit.

45. He ONLY talks about himself and has no clue where you're from or who you even are.

46. He's flakier than a Pillsbury Buttermilk.

47. Rich Homie Quan is his IDOL.

48. Tries to hook-up with the drunkest girl at the bar (who he probably encouraged to get drunk by feeding her shots off his friend's tab.)

49. Has destroyed public/federal property in some capacity whilst drunk/and/or sober.

50. Pretends he's interested in a relationship when really all he wants is sex.

51. Every time you see him he's doing some fuck-around-shit e.g. getting wasted, banging a chick, selling weed, playing video games… nothing of productive value whatsoever.

52. He's called you the wrong name before.

53. Frequently starts texting and/or IRL conversations with "Yooooooo."

54. Been fired from a job in the past year.

55. Becomes agitated when people mention credit scores, college or mortgages and will respond with something along the lines of "Fuck all dat," or "My dick has solid credit."

56. Always down for a scheme to get free shit. He'll spend days sampling the free shit at Costco without buying anything. (Wait, how did he get in here?) Free Beer at the neighbors BBQ? He's there and he's taking it to-go. Free Slurpee Day at 7/11? He got five.

57. He lied about his age on Tinder so he could bang younger chicks.

58. He sports a man-bun and it makes him kind of hot and less white trash than when he used to wear it all down. Fuckboy check: YOU ARE NOT TARZAN, YOU JUST HATE PAYING FOR HAIR CUTS.

59. Had an illegitimate child that he won't take responsibility for, calls the baby mama "crazy" and says they "never even banged."

60. Swears the blister on his lip and/or penis isn't herpes.

61. Blames his messy apartment on his roommate (s) /and/or parents.

62. Ask him what he got his mom for Mother's Day. If his response starts with an "n-o," and finishes in some lame excuse about how he will take her out to dinner… FUCKBOY.

63. The day anyone hears him apologize will be the day when he actually gets off his fuck-couch and starts being a man.

64. He doesn't introduce you to anyone, even as a friend he's hanging out with. It becomes quite humiliating when you go to bars, restaurants or social gatherings with him.

65. Hits on chicks who his friends like/or are dating and tries to fuck them. Also becomes angered when chicks go for his friends instead of him. Anyone who won't fuck him is damaging to his precious ego therefore he lashes out against both parties involved.

66. If he does you any type of favor or decent human courtesy, he makes sure you feel like you owe him. No matter how small or how long you've been friends, he's throwing that shit in your face every time he sees you. And now you're buying him a drink…

67. He tried to add you on Snap before he tried to get your phone number.

68. He just got your phone number so he could add you on Snapchat.

69. When he invites you out, he makes sure to clearly say some shit like, "Let’s go out for drinks, not on a date or anything." That's some mother fucking fuckery right there.

70. He's overly concerned with the bar specials for the evening because he only has $10 in his account and wants to make the most of dollar beer night. (Don't worry, he's going to have 10 beers and he's not worried about the tip. You got that, right?)

71. He carries around business cards for a place he doesn't work anymore and furiously scratches off and re-writes his phone number when he's trying to pick up tang, whilst explaining how he's waiting on "new cards to come in."

72. Baits you and other people around him into commenting on his fresh kicks or new fitted hat. (But his electric is about to be shut off.)

73. Tries to say he "knows the owner" so he can score free shit from a local establishment.

74. He ignores half of what anyone says because he's too busy thinking about what kind of bullshit he's going to lie about next.

75. Frequently says things like "Lets go smoke a blunt," but never has any weed.

76. He's like the town dumpster. Anything you don't want, take it to his place. He'll take it even if he doesn't need it and try to make a quick buck off it. (HE LOVES FREE SHIT)

77. His refrigerator contains half drank beers, full beers and soggy chicken nuggets from two weeks ago that he wouldn't let his friends eat because he's an egotistical bastard and chicken nuggets are life to him and he threatened to murder anyone who touched them.

78. He's never folded his laundry, just be thankful that he did it.

79. If he can't keep it up it's DEFINITELY not his fault. It's the condom, the whiskey or something that YOU are doing wrong. But not his fault at all. Fuckboy Fakery. He's probably been drunk since noon.

80. Leaves condoms all over the place instead of disposing of them properly in the toilet or trash can.

81. Becomes aggressive when the bartender tells him he's had too much to drink.

82. Instead of asking for head, he pushes your head down toward his dick.

83. Tries to grind on you in the club without warning or permission.

84. Actively searches for ways to bring the conversation back to himself.

85. Ignores you when he randomly sees you in public because he wants to scam on as many bitches as possible.

86. Private snaps you ALL the time even though he has a gf and you guys don't talk.

87. Claims he's breaking up with his girlfriend, claims he's "separated." (Always bullshit.)

88. Screenshots your selfies on Snap and profusely denies it. Says your phone must be fucking up and making up some bullshit about how his phone 'always fucks up.'

89. Asks for anal sex. If we want you to do that, we'll ask you.

90. Is part of a "group" on Tinder. What's worse than a fuckboy? When they unite.

91. Has a poster on his wall of some half-naked bitches, he's nicknamed them and is remotely more attached to them than any other female in his life.

92. Totally freaks out whenever anyone steps on his shoes. IDGAF if they're Jordans, chill tf out and don't wear them on your feet if they mean that much to you.

93. Likes every single picture of every girl ever on Facebook because he's "trying to keep his options open." Scum bag.

94. Snapchats himself driving and singing. Fuck-boy-sing-a-longs garner the fuckboy attention and reveal his talented side, like a fuckerous modern day mating call.

95. He openly and publicly announces his sexual exploits with various women.

96. He thinks his landlord is joking when he comes home to an eviction notice on his door.

97. He thinks poor hygiene can be resolved with a little axe spray.

98. Other fuckboys have called him a fuckboy.

99. He denies being a fuckboy. TC mark

The Uncomfortable Truth About Discovering Your Sexuality In Your Late Twenties

Posted: 01 Oct 2016 05:15 PM PDT


“The only thing I’m 100% certain of in life is my heterosexuality.”

That was my mantra. My catchphrase. The thing I told people to put on my tombstone. It was what I boldly stated whenever someone asked me if I wanted to try something in bed, and it was what I said while shrugging off giving a guy I was seeing permission to have sex with other women, only to clearly let him know that I would not be participating.

I was proudly the “Samantha” of my group of friends. Basically if you needed sex advice, I was your go-to woman. You wanted to know about swallowing, I would teach you how to with a shot of tonic water. You wanted to hear about sex toys, I would pull up Adam and Eve on my phone and go through each page in detail with reviews. You wanted to know about masturbation, I was there for you with both manual and vibrator suggestions. If there was something you were wondering about it was basically a given that I had seen it, done it, tasted it, mounted it, reviewed it, thought about it, watched it, vetoed it, or at the very least, tried it.

But when it came to sleeping with women, I would verbally and affirmatively state my “no thank yous.”

“I had sex with a girl when I was really young and it was honestly just awkward.”
“Kissing girls is fun and all, but I’m not into the idea of doing anything else.”
“The only thing I’m 100% certain of in life is my heterosexuality.”

But only one of those statements was actually true.

Because while I marched around proclaiming that I just LOVED men (I do) and couldn’t possibly imagine myself with a woman due to a drunken/sloppy encounter at 17, continued to definitively state that I was 100% straight, the only thing that was 100% was my own questioning that centered predominantly around my own sexuality.

Shaming bisexuals is not new.

“It’s just phase.”
“She’s doing it for attention.”
“It’s a layover on the way to Gay-Town.”

I will be the first to admit that in the past I have said all of the above and more. I have. A bisexual woman sat in on a panel for one of my Human Sexuality courses in college and I rolled my eyes as she gave out everything from flirting techniques to talking about how she considers herself hypersexual and used a fake business card that said, “My favorite number is 3 so have sex with me!!” to pick people up at bars. I chalked her up to another girl who just loved making out with her friends to get attention from guys, and wrote her off.

Bisexuality, even today, is still somehow frowned up.

And I, for the majority of my twenties, was one of the people doing the frowning.

I just wasn’t willing to admit that there was a possibility of being attracted to multiple genders. It’s greedy, it’s selfish, it’s for people who don’t want to pick a side. It’s a tactic that people use to soften the blow of coming out before just going full blown Kinsey six gay. It’s something girls use to look cool and guys use to look “straighter” than they actually are.

I full-on bisexual shamed. And I’m not proud of it.

But (drumrolllllll *shocker*) the main reason I was not willing to admit it was real, was because I was experiencing it myself and couldn’t find a comfortable place to stand with that identity. 

Because while I was marching around, waving my “100% Certain Of My Heterosexuality” flag, I was harboring some crazy feelings about women and people who identified as agender.

One of my childhood best friends, a college roommate, girls I was in dance shows with, people I saw at festivals, women I saw at comedy shows, people on panels at conventions, celebrities, even just random girls at bars. The feelings I was experiencing were less, “I want to know where she got her top and go to brunch” and more, “I wonder what she’d be like to wake up next to.”

But I didn’t believe in bisexuality, or at least, not for myself.

More damaging than the idea that I didn’t believe in it, I didn’t know how to accept it. And even worse, I didn’t feel I was allowed to.

The average age for coming out is 16, compared to between the ages of 19 to 23 in the 1980s. Most of the people in my close circle of friends had come to terms with their sexuality before the age of 20, and come out soon after that. They seemed happy, healthy, in love, well adjusted.

So for me at 25/26 to be saying, “Okay maybe something is up,” felt like an invasion. It felt like I was navigating uncharted territory with no guide, and had crashed a party that I’d previously turned down an invitation to. And not only turned it down, scoffed at it. Even belittled it.

There was a little voice in the back of my brain that told me over and over and over again, “This is bullshit. And you are bullshit for feeling this way.”

So over winter break one year, when I go out with some friends and end up shamelessly flirting with a woman, going home with her, spending all night with her talking, laughing and doing stuff I know I would have been damned for in Sunday School, I don’t know how to tell anyone. When I go to a gay bar by myself and kiss a girl in the alleyway memorizing the way her hair smells and the way her fingers feel on my wrists and find myself sobered up by the idea of holding her hand in public, it feels stupid and self-indulgent and attention seeking. When I finally admit that maybe, just maybe, I’m not as straight as I thought, I find myself silencing my own identity at the idea of being anything other than the quote en quote “Samantha” of my girlfriends.

This is just another layer of your “try-sexual” thing, I tell myself.

Rather than just full on admitting, “Kendra. You’re not straight. And it’s going to be okay.”

I’m starting to realize that my years spent saying, “Bisexuals are this and that,” were really years spent not knowing what to do with my own identity. I could not wrap my head around the idea of being wholly in love with a man, but still being able to be attracted to someone who identified as a women or agender or anything other than 100% male. The part I played in denying bisexuality as valid and real was less about squashing someone else, and more about squashing myself.

And admittedly, I may not/have not have fully figured out how to love myself and my sexuality yet, but I’m getting better.

The thing about figuring yourself out is that it’s not necessarily going to be a steadily increasing graph and once you reach the top a bell goes off, confetti flies out of the air, and you’re awarded a metaphorical gold star for winning the game of loving yourself. There will be dips and falls, plateaus and spikes. You will have days, years even, where you say, “Omigod I LOVE myself and I know who I am and I am my own best friend.” And then there will be months, sometimes years, where you don’t recognize the face staring back at you in the mirror and cannot find your identity to save your life.

And for me, figuring out my sexuality, even at almost 27, has been one of those more zig-zaggier parts of life.

I wish that all of this had some Eat, Pray, Love-esque ending and I could tell you that I figured everything out, came out to accepting and loving arms, and was currently living happily ever after with a partner who knew everything about me and accepted even more. But that’s not exactly the case. I still don’t quite know what I call myself or how I identify (I fall somewhere along the bisexual or queer spectrum I think), I’ve never talked about these things extensively with anyone other than 3 close friends (and now the internet, heyyyyy), and I think that sense of feeling late to the party and permanently apologizing for the part I played in bi-erasure for years will always be a part of my life I have to check in with.

But, even just in writing this, I’m one step closure to being comfortable, happy, knowing who I am and loving who I am.

It hasn’t exactly been a smooth uphill battle, but maybe that’s how life is supposed to be. Full of dips and divots, straight lines and less than straight lines.

And maybe my line is less straight and more curved. Maybe it’s more Kinsey 3-ish, less Kinsey HARD 0. Maybe it didn’t figure itself out until after 25, but at least it’s started to comes to terms with itself.

And, more than anything, at least it’s mine. Flaws and all, acceptance and apologies and more. It’s mine. TC mark

3 Foolproof And Simple Ways To Become The Most Interesting Person In The Bar

Posted: 01 Oct 2016 04:15 PM PDT

Lan Pham
Lan Pham

It takes a certain kind of work to be boring, whereas in order to be interesting it's mostly a question of habit—and the true secret of habit is discipline, and that your habits are what you choose them to be.

1. Cultivate your desire for knowledge.

Work to want it more. Knowledge is at home in any public house, coffee-shop, diner, saloon, or bar. Strive to become the unstoppable learning beast of unslakable thirst that you know you are.

How? By generalizing. Specialize, yes, that too, but read a little about a lot—or, if you don’t like to read, listen.

Take a course. Attend a lecture. Plug into a podcast. Take in a play.

Most importantly: seek to integrate the new things you learn into the full body of your existing knowledge. In this way, your web of learning will become interconnected, contextual, hierarchical, and sweeping.

2. Learn to listen in a charismatic way.

People love to hear themselves talk.

Attentive listening is an infallible hallmark of magnetism and manners. By being an excellent listener, slow to speak and swift to hear, you’ll go far in developing a kind of irresistible fascination.

Brilliant listeners focus sincerely on what the other person is saying. They never participate in a conversation with the mindset that they'll listen only until it’s their turn to talk. If the whole time you're listening, you’re thinking about what you’re going to say next, it will show on your face.

If you’re fidgety, this, too, will show invariably.

In your patience possess ye your souls. Learn to be patient. Patience and presence are signals of extraordinary listeners.

Good listeners do this:
— Pause before they respond.
— Never interrupt.
— Allow (in total silence) people to interrupt them.

3. Become a passionate storyteller.

Create stories around subjects that you’re truly passionate about. If the subject of your story is something you’re genuinely interested in, your personality will BLAST through, and you’ll be exposed as the ferocious creative force of insatiable appetite that you know you are.

Those who speak well speak briefly.

And remember:
— Talent is meaningless.
— There’s not even really any such thing as talent.
— Ambition is everything.

The truth is that the overwhelming majority of successful people aren’t particularly gifted or educated or blessed. They become successful, rather, in any given endeavor, because they will it. Because it’s not how smart you are.

It’s how smart you want to be. TC mark

You Meant The World To Me, And I Wish I’d Meant The Same To You

Posted: 01 Oct 2016 03:15 PM PDT

Dayne Topkin
Dayne Topkin

I know I shouldn’t hold back to your memories but I thought what we had was special, something that most people wish to have, but hardly achieve, in their lifetime.

You were my best friend and I fell in love with you. It felt like as though I knew I was at home all these while but it was at that moment when I finally found a ground under my feet.

But ever since that day, you’ve taken me for granted. You drew me a masterpiece of our eternal love, but it only echoed my thoughts back and forth, each and every minute of the day, because you were never there; not even to frame up that picture of the feeling you called love.

And I’m so caught up in the past that it seems impossible to move on with the wind of the present and swim towards the future. Even when I was preparing to leave you a rather tedious speech before going away, it wouldn’t be too wrong to say that I was hoping that you’d ask to stay.

But at the same time, I knew I wasn’t sure of it because you’ve never done that in these few years that we were together.

It’s so hard to convince myself that only one of us is unhappy about the parting. The other person would still have the strength to start considering a substitute for my body and soul.

Very soon the remains of my crumbling spirit would disappear into the thin air and all I’ll ever be is a distant name of one of your old flames. It’s a pity that I could never rise up to be the goddess of your dreams when you meant the whole world for me. TC mark

I Don’t Understand Casual, But I Promise I’m Fearless When It Comes To Love

Posted: 01 Oct 2016 02:15 PM PDT


"I just want casual," I say, twirling my hair around my finger in a way that I hope seems relaxed, playful. "No rules. No obligations. No silly commitments. No promises that we can't make."

The words come out of my mouth easily, but only because I've rehearsed them in my head a hundred times. I've never been a good liar. But this time I mean it. This time I've thought through what I want. This time I've really listened to my heart, to my mind, to all the little signs I've ignored in the past telling me that what I really need is to be on my own right now.

"I think this is for the best," I say with confidence, "I'm just not ready to make any type of commitment."

The conversation goes the same, me letting him in on the secrets of my wandering heart, me telling him that I'm not quite ready for love and that I'm not sure when I'll be, me explaining that I don't want a relationship right now and insisting on casual.

Because casual is good, right? Because casual makes sense.

But I've never been a casual type of girl. And I'm not sure I know how to be.

I've always been the head-over-heels girl, the all-in girl, the girl who isn't afraid to hold her heart in her hands and freely give it to the man that treats her right. I've always been the strong girl, finding confidence in vulnerability, in letting good men in.

I've always been the girl that believes in love and that fights for it.

But now I've found my heart on a different path. It's not that I don't want love, because I'm sure when I peel back all the layers of myself, I do. It's that I don't want love right now. For the first time in a long time, I've found comfort in my solitude. I've found passion in my career. I've found happiness at every turn I've made on my own. And frankly, I'm too selfish to let anyone into my life right now.

So what am I doing? I'm doing casual.

I'm pretending that I'm okay with easy-going encounters, laid back text messages and dates that may or may not mean anything. I'm acting like I don't care and that I'm not interested. Not interested enough, that is.

I'm holding hands, I'm kissing, I'm smiling and enjoying myself. But then when it gets too far I'm pulling away because I don't want to cross the line. I'm acting like it might mean something, but not letting it mean anything.

I'm feeling confused.

I know that what I want is to be independent, to not have strings attached anywhere, to not fall into the arms of a man when I can list a million and one reasons why I'm not ready. And I'm not ready.

I'm not ready for love, for a relationship, for anything that entails the slightest bit of serious.

I know this, and yet, I can't help but enjoy another's company. I can't help but want to go on dates, to dance with boys, to get drinks and talk about our lives and spend silly moments together. Is that so wrong? It's not like I'm leading them on; I tell them upfront where my heart is.

But I can't help wonder, when I close my eyes at night, if I should even be doing this at all?

See, what I've never understood is the point of casual. What is the point of engaging in something that doesn't mean anything? In spending time with someone when you know a relationship isn't what you want?

Are you trying to trick yourself, trying to make it so that one day you'll change your mind? Trying to convince your heart that 'pretend love' is real love?

Because it's not.

I told myself I could do casual. That because I don't want a boyfriend, I could just date guys and have a good time. I could go for pizza and laugh and kiss and enjoy their company. I could be happy and they could be happy without all the complicated rules of being a couple.

I thought it made sense—fun without all the commitment.

But then I started panicking when a guy got too close, when he tried to take too much of my attention, when he started wanting to spend more time with me, even under the guise of, 'taking things slow.'

It started to not make sense anymore—spending so much time with someone but not having a label. There was no security, no promise, no guarantee that he'd be there. It started to feel fake. To feel pointless. To feel like we were messing with each other's hearts. And if we could never fully commit, then what were we doing?

We were pretending. And I can't pretend.

I can't have this halfsies, this sort-of-love, this relationship without a relationship because it's not real. I can't act like I understand this whole 'casual' thing, like dating for mere fun and nothing else makes sense to me. Because it doesn't at all.

I'm fearless when it comes to love, and I've always been. I've never been afraid to jump in, to give my heart away, to trust another person. But maybe what I need to realize is that I can't do that right now. So in the meantime I can't settle. I can’t settle for casual.

I don't understand casual. I can't do casual. And maybe that's okay.

Maybe I just need to give my heart some time. Let it construct and reform on its own before letting anyone get too close. Maybe it's not about leaving the door halfway open, only allowing someone step inside partway, but keeping it fully closed until I'm ready.

Maybe I'll never be a casual girl.
But maybe that's nothing to be ashamed about. TC mark

10 Things I Wish I Could Tell The Girl I Was In High School

Posted: 01 Oct 2016 01:15 PM PDT


Stop seeking validation from other people. Your worth is not, and never will be in this life, based on what others think about you.


Beauty is based on the interior. Seriously. The word itself means full of beauty. You can wear the right makeup, and have the right accessories, but if your mind and heart continue to be ugly places, nothing will change.


Being in love cannot cure an already broken heart. Take the time to heal before jumping into a relationship head first. You are more important than a relationship status, and love will always wait for you if it is meant to be.


Just because you were invited to the party does not mean you have to go.


Under no circumstances is it okay to judge someone based on unmerited rumors, opinions, or prejudices. Keep your mouth closed and your heart open. Everyone needs a little more compassion, why can that not start with you?


Sex should be reserved for real, true, brilliant, blinding love. Wait for it.


Studying is cool. I swear. It means you care about your future.


Your parents are not out to destroy you. (though they will likely ruin an unimaginable amount of fun between freshman and senior year) But it is all done out of love.


No amount of alcohol should ever lower your standards. Recite them to yourself if necessary. Remember your worth.


It will be okay. You are so loved. Four years is not forever. I am so proud of you for surviving. TC mark

Alison Malee is a poet and the author of the book Shifting Bone.

Shifting Bone is available as a physical and electronic book. You can buy it here

I’m So Over Being The Girl You’ll Hook Up With But Never Date

Posted: 01 Oct 2016 12:45 PM PDT

Bianca des Jardins
Bianca des Jardins

Four years ago, I got out of a relationship with someone I truly cared about, who I know cared about me. We broke up; it was mutual. We weren’t each other’s “forevers,” and I think we both learned that around the same time. So we started to unravel, and finally went our separate ways.

For a while, I was excited about being single. It had been so long. I could have anyone, whenever I wanted, and that feeling built my confidence. It made me feel desired by many, instead of just one, and when you’re newly single, that’s a good feeling. It was exactly how I wanted to feel, in fact.

But what followed was a series of “almosts,” and after a while, that really starts to drain on you. I learned all too quickly that I am not a one-night-only kind of girl. I am not interested in seeing someone for one night and then never again. I never have before, and while I don’t judge other people for going that route, for me, if there is no longevity to our hook up, I don’t want to bother.

So instead, I picked people who I felt that I could get close to, which seemed like the right choice. After all, even if I wasn’t looking for a relationship, I knew that I would not be satisfied hooking up with someone who made me feel nothing. But that will always lead to a standstill, because ultimately, if you want to only hook up to people you can get close to, but neither of you wants a relationship, there has to be an expiration date. And that’s been my problem…for too long.

I used to come into a hook up situation brimming with confidence, wanting to make a connection with someone but not build a future with them. I would make it clear that all I wanted was a casual (but recurring) hook up, a fling, or whatever you want to call it.

But now I feel like I’ve sectioned myself off into being the girl you hook up with, but not the girl you have a relationship with. And after four years, I’m over it.

I have had conversations with men I’m hooking up with, who were my friends before any of that, and had them tell me to my face that they don’t want to try having a relationship with me. And I truly just don’t get it. We share things with each other, we have amazing physical chemistry, we are close, we make each other laugh. And I don’t understand how that doesn’t qualify us to even try to have a relationship?

For so long, I feel like I’ve been done with being the relationship-adjacent girl. But even now that I’m actively trying to be upfront about the fact that I’m looking for a relationship, and only moving forward with people slowly, who I could actually see something with, I still hit a snag every time. I wait to bring up my feelings until the time is right, and still, men seem to say “oh, well, I didn’t know you were looking for anything serious,” or “I just don’t think this is the right time for me to have a relationship,” or whatever the hell they say when they, apparently, want to hook up with you but not actually have anything real with you.

I am just fucking sick of it. I am sick of putting myself out there and having someone not want to move beyond a certain point with me because they suffer from Maybe The Grass Is Greener On The Other Side syndrome. I’m sick of connecting with someone who I thought was just a friend, building feelings for them, only for them to tell me they only ever want to be “just friends.” I’m sick of dating and dating, but never moving beyond that point. Never going from Seeing Each Other, to being In A Relationship. And I’m frustrated, because I can’t tell if I put myself in this corner, or if the men I am with are the ones who push me into the Hook Up Only zone.

By either way, I know with certainty that all I want to do is say FUCK THIS. I am done with “just talking” to guys. I am done telling them my exact intentions, and then having them flake on me when we start to get serious. I am done being there for guys who say they want support and a relationship, but really just want me to be available whenever they want me in their bed. I am done going along with their timeline, and putting my own agenda on the back burner. I am done with being the Casual Girl. It isn’t me anymore. TC mark

This Is Why I Can No Longer Love You

Posted: 01 Oct 2016 12:15 PM PDT

 Bianca des Jardins
Bianca des Jardins

I can no longer continue to love you because I am tired.

I am grossly, ridiculously, overwhelmingly tired of being my own masochist. I'm tired of tying myself to the memory of a man that doesn't even give a shit. A man that doesn't even care about my feelings. I'm tired of the frequent bouts of distance and the way my feelings are thrown into a state of worried unbalance always wondering when we are going to reach our permanent ending.

I am tired of the nervous anticipation lodged in the pit of my stomach enacted by the slightest indication of disinterest I feel emanating from your resistance. I know that I am only hurting myself in the process and I am tired of this.

I am also tired of the wishful thinking that bubbles forth from my overactive imagination as I keep on replaying hopeful scenarios in my mind of better times between you and I when things were fine. Even now as I write, I imagine you looking over my shoulder, discovering how bad I want you and you wanting me equally if not just as obsessively as I want you. It makes me feel good to think of you wanting me this way. Somehow it quells the hunger temporarily.

I'm tired of the queasy anticipation I feel in my tummy waiting for you to text or call me. I'm tired of pretending I don't remember you cheating hoping to run out of these feelings while at the same time hoping to go back to the beginning. I still feel so many things for you, even this strange need to protect you, even from yourself.

However I can no longer continue to love a figment of my imagination because it does nothing to address the very real loneliness that rests somewhere between my intuition and my happiness.

I know that you will never be mine as you admitted to being polyamorous with a penchant for fucking different people all of the time. Just knowing that I have no one to call "partner" in this battlefield of love and life makes me feel sad sometime and I'm tired of feeling sad ALL THE TIME!

I'm tired of being my own stranger as I no longer recognize who I am anymore.

I think of you in everything I do and it's not that I am in love with you, but more so in love with the idea of loving you and how less alone I would feel by having you love me too.

It would make me feel like I am getting somewhere in the continuum of my arrested development as I have struggled to negotiate the isolation vs intimacy stage of my psychosocial development. Despite continued efforts and negotiation of prior stages, I have not been able to secure this stage. I want so badly to achieve this stage and you loving me meant that I achieved this stage but fuck that stage as loving you proved to be a downgrade that degraded me.

When I think of how I loved you, it made me feel weak, like a love sick, pathetic pulp of a man. Loving you and missing you feels like I am replaying my betrayal over and over again. Like a worn out needle scratching thin tendrils of vinyl off a broken record.

See the thing is, I can no longer love you because I am falling in love with my life and I no longer see you in it like I once did.

My emotions are starting to grow and take on a slightly logical tone. I now know that sometimes it's better to be alone than to love someone who does not love you at all. Sometimes you are the person you have been looking for all along and you don't need the partner that society tells you you do.

I am the love I have been seeking, the feelings that I felt were missing.

This doesn't mean that I won't miss who you were in the beginning but everything is ending. Everything! And endings are ok as they make room for more beginnings. Better beginnings. I will always cherish the time that we spent laughing and kissing and holding and eating. I will one day grow to make fun of these feelings as time has the tendency to add comic relief to the most painful aspects of our once upon a times grown stale by the reality of our here and now.

All I was to you was a pit stop in your exploration, a post adolescent experiment that ended as quickly as it began. This is why I can no longer love you. Just thought you should know this. TC mark