Thought Catalog

Here’s How To Buy The #ImWithHer T-Shirt Rihanna Was Wearing Tonight

Posted: 19 Oct 2016 09:23 PM PDT

Thought Rihanna is still a citizen of the Barbados and can’t vote in the U.S., she has still taken a stance on who should be elected on November 8. Before the debate took place tonight she was seen walking around New York City in a Hillary Clinton t-shirt.

The shirt is made by Trapvilla and is available on their website. She complemented the outfit with Timberlands and a $4k Louis Vuitton bag.


As of now it’s still available for purchase here. Even if you’re like Riri and can’t vote, you can persuade those who can. Grab your #imwithher shirt while they’re available. TC mark

18 Men Reveal The Tinder Messages That Immediately Turn Them Off

Posted: 19 Oct 2016 08:00 PM PDT


Data gathered from real Men on Reddit


I got invited over after about 20 minutes of messaging late at night. I’ve never done the random app hookup before (I’ve only ever gone on 2 dates even), but this girl was smokin, so I was thinking about it.

I had her tell me where to find her twitter or FB to confirm she’s real, and after I agreed to meet up, she mentions, “Oh, and it’s okay if my boyfriend watches right? He might want to trade out some, but you wouldn’t have to do anything with him.”

I’m ashamed of how long I considered it before unmatching her. I hope she was a troll…

— 91Bolt


We match, she’s really pretty and a freakin’ doctor. Cool. Send a few dozen messages back and forth. She always responds with very short answers, and in dozens of texts she hasn’t asked me a SINGLE question about me. She’s not interested, whatever, I take the hint and let it die out (not too hard in this case).

A few days later she asks her first question: Why haven’t I been messaging her lately? I told her there wasn’t any natural flow to the conversations. She then tells me I must be a horrible conversationalist, because she’s always very easy to talk to.

Oddly, if somebody had just outright insulted me or similar I’d be less irked by this. But the idea that she genuinely believes the problem lies elsewhere, to me, says a lot more about a person.

— vbnm345


“Idk lol” in response to every question I asked :/ why match with me if you’re not going to talk?

Ironically, she put in her profile that she was after a good conversation first…

— Nobuta


Opening message, “What height are you?”, shitty question as is but I already have my height in my bio to weed out the ones that care.

— DarkangelUK


“I am looking to meet single men! Please visit my profile at [url shortened link] to message me! remember bring credit card!”

— SAIUN666


It was OKCupid, but I did get a woman ranting about how much she hated hats and how every man was trying to rape her, so that was interesting.

— JaronK


Work a $30k admin assistant job but only date guys making over $150k.

— so_dope24


Was living in one of the suburbs of Toronto (Mississauga), woman responded about 2 months after I first contacted her to ask if I was REALLY in Mississauga – because I was otherwise perfect, but she’d rather stick a rusty fork in her eye than date someone from outside the city.

— Cockalorum


One chick spoke to me eloquently and we chatted for two days about life. On the second night, says she’s super turned on and wants to meet for drinks. I was out with friends, I picked the closest bars within 10 minutes of me and told her I was game. Send her the info. She scoffs and calls me a desperate small dick Asian. Sad thing is she’s not the first racist I’ve come across. Really turned me off to Tinder.

— awkwardnubbings


Her – Do you have any aids?

Me – No, I fired my last one.

— youreallmeatanyway


“You’re very cute and any girl on here will be lucky to have you”

Grandma for the last time get off of tinder!

— HombreUltima


“You want to come over? Right now.

Before my boyfriend gets back.”


— Stratisphear


“I am OBSESSED with Disney movies”

Seemed like a trend. Shit is creepy.

— ShrubsLI


Grown women who wear Disney character clothing freak me out. You are 41. In no way should you be wearing a Pooh-bear hoodie.

— endergrrl


After a bit of mindless swiping, I matched with a female bot who sent me the delightful message: “Want to fuck my dick hole”

— NightKnight11291


I had a match ask me to buy her a 30 rack of beer. That was her opener. I responded with “Hello to you too…”

Her response to that was “Sorry, Hi! So are you gunna buy me that 30 rack or what?”

I ignored her.

— Loverboy_91


“I want to wrap my legs around your face and have you wear me like a feedbag.”

— TimetravelingGuide


When people expect you to respond immediately to their messages. Here’s my story:

I just got one from a girl I went out on a date with last night. The date wasn’t fantastic but she was nice. She sent me a message last night after the date thanking me for a nice night. I woke up this morning and wrote her back at about 8:30 a.m. saying I had a nice time then went about my day. She wrote me at 9 a.m. asking me to hang out again, but did it in that weird way where they ask you to hang out but also include a “unless you don’t want to”, which is kind of off-putting in itself.

I had seen that she sent me a message but I hadn’t checked it because I didn’t have time to respond because I’ve been incredibly busy. Twenty minutes ago (about 9:30 p.m.), I finally got a chance to sit down for the first time all day and just checked my phone. She wrote me at about 9 p.m. saying that she didn’t think she had given that bad an impression that I wouldn’t respond. Then she wished me “good luck” and told me to “take care”.

This is incredibly off-putting because it’s so passive-aggressive, demanding and accusatory. Sometimes people get busy and they don’t respond because a person they’ve been on one date with demands it. Just because I have a cell phone doesn’t mean that responding to text messages is a priority of mine. I’ll respond when I get around to it when I have the time to respond thoughtfully. This shit is so off-putting, like my silence was meant to wound her and she’s somehow taking a high road.

I have a buddy who does this shit if a girl doesn’t respond according to the timeline you could reasonably expect if you knew them as more than a Tinder person from one date. I have talked him out of hastily responding with some passive-aggressive “Or no?” type of text message after he’s already asked for another date. And in almost every instance where I’ve talked him out of it, the girl has responded by the next day saying “Hey, sorry, my phone was dead” or “hey, sorry, I was out of cell reception area visiting family” or something like that, and they usually say yes to another date because he didn’t let out his inner crazy person.

(Just to finish the story, I wrote her back and told her that I wasn’t trying to ghost her, I’ve just been too busy to respond. But then I followed it up by telling her that I’m not interested in a second date.)

— 3ryanisland TC mark

Confirmed: Playboy Model Katie May Was Killed By A Routine Chiropractor Visit

Posted: 19 Oct 2016 07:42 PM PDT

Katie May's Facebook Page
Katie May’s Facebook Page

Katie May had it all going for her. She was a Playboy model and TV host who was called the “queen of Snapchat” by Sports Illustrated and GQ. On her website she described herself as the “ultimate triple threat”: sexy, smart, and funny.

Then, at a photo shoot she pinched a nerve in her neck. As many of us are inclined to do, she got it adjusted by a chiropractor, as confirmed by these haunting tweets:

A few days later on Feb. 1, 2016, she died of a stroke.

People is now reporting that a spokesperson for the Los Angeles County Coroner is confirming that her death was a result of her chiropractic visit:

Los Angeles Assistant Chief Coroner Ed Winter tells PEOPLE that a chiropractor shifted May's neck, tearing her left vertebral artery. The tear blocked blood flow to May's brain and caused the stroke.

Her cause of death is listed as "infarction of brain" and has been ruled an accident, Winter says.

"She had some clotting and went to the hospital where they tried to do some procedures but she passed away," he tells PEOPLE. "I personally have not seen this before."

Katie’s brother Stephen confirmed the results to People:

"To the best of my family's knowledge, and we are fairly but not totally certain of this, Katie did not seek medical care prior to Monday evening; if she had, it seems reasonable to conclude, the subsequent days would have unfolded very differently"

We’ll wait to see if an investigation into Katie’s chiropractor will take place.

Katie is survived by her daughter Mia. There is a GoFundMe page set up for Mia’s education and best interests:

Through the courage, drive, spirit, and heart she showed in dreaming big and working tirelessly to realize whatever she set her mind to, Katie May—mother, daughter, sister, friend; star—inspired all of us, in Pittsburgh, Los Angeles, and the world, to be better, stronger, bolder, to do more.

Those closest to Katie have created this fund to keep her spirit living on in support of her soul mate and daughter, Mia, in the days, months, and years ahead. Given the centrality of Mia in Katie's heart, we are certain this is what Katie would have wanted.

All monies donated will go to Katie's daughter's education and best interests, now and in the future, in celebration and honor of Katie's life and remarkable spirit.

TC mark

How To ‘Re-Wire’ Your Brain After A Breakup To Ease Your Pain (And Stop Wanting Them Back)

Posted: 19 Oct 2016 07:00 PM PDT


Want to know how to feel better after a break up?
But just can’t get those thoughts of your ex out of your mind?

If you want to know how to feel better after a break up, it's important to step back and take a look at the relationship and why the break up is hurting so much. So lets do just that…

The reason people suffer so much after a break up is because people have a misguided idea of relationships and what to expect from them. Ideas such as “the one” and “soul mate” cause pain that is completely unnecessary.

Why? Well these are manufactured ideas. Ideas that are manufactured by the world around us such as in Hollywood movies and love songs. They are not real concepts. Thinking you lost “the one” would cause anyone to suffer but understanding that this is just a made up idea, will make it easy to recover after a break up. There are many “one”s out there.

Psychological Viewpoints That Ease Break Up Pain

I want to show you a set of areas that you need to take a look at and see how they fit to your situation.

  1. I need my ex back so badly! It's a little known fact that a lot of people enter relationships to compensate for some part of their lives that they aren’t able to deal with. If a person doesn’t have any friends they can talk to intimately, they will be eager for a relationship so they can have someone to share their world with. Some people seek relationships from a mindset of being lonely or from a need to show off. The problem with this is that the person is looking for a relationship because of problems related to themselves instead of actually loving the other individual for who they are. These people need to address any unresolved personal issues before entering a relationship otherwise the pain felt after a break up is much more severe because they were dependant on their partner not only for a relationship but also to wall-paper over issues related to themselves.
  2. Emotions cause pain after a break up, not the other person: As I've gone through in other articles, the things that hurt most after a break up include: your bruised ego, knocked self confidence, worrying about if you’ll ever find another partner that you can be happy with etc. These emotions have actually nothing to do with the other person but to do with you and your personal worries. If another person came along that was just as good as your ex or better, you would soon get to like or love your new partner and forget about the old one. Understanding the root of the pain after a break up is important to recovery and feeling better.
  3. Cant stop thinking of your ex after a break up?: In my book “THE ERASE CODE: How To Get Over Anyone In Less Than A Week Using Psychology” I go through the area of anchors and how they can be broken. An anchor is something so that when you come across it, it triggers a memory of something else. An example of this would be if you hear a song which you and your ex used listen to, hearing this song would cause you to remember your ex. The longer the relationship you had with your ex, the greater the number of these anchors that would have been created. However, after a break up when you hear that song, instead of thinking of your ex fondly, you should think of some of your exs negative qualities. This would cause you to de-anchor the song from a happy memory of your ex to one that points out things that make you dislike your ex and promote quicker recovery.
  4. Acceptance after a break up: The main reason some people fail to recover and feel better after a break up is because they hold onto a 1% chance that they can get back together with their ex. If you have this hope, you must find out from your partner if your relationship is definitely over. If your mind doesn’t see that it is definitely over it will not allow you to recover after a break up. Understanding this concept is probably one of the biggest ways to feel better after a break up easily and quickly. TC mark

16 Real Ladies Share Their Unedited Feelings About Donald Trump’s Comments On Women

Posted: 19 Oct 2016 06:30 PM PDT

Flickr / Gage Skidmore
Flickr / Gage Skidmore

While browsing Reddit, I found this thread in R/AskWomen about the comments of Republican Presidential candidate Donald J. Trump. Trump was recorded on a hot mic discussing sexually predatory behavior in 2005. His comments were followed by accusations of sexual assault from over twelve different women.

The media and politicians are discussing these issues, but what about everyday women? In their own words (edited only for grammar or spelling), this is what they think:


Mostly exhausted. Like, I’m not surprised, it’s Donald Trump. Anyone who is shocked must have spent the past year living under a rock. I’m outraged by his current scandal because it’s so repugnant, but it’s feeding into the constant outrage I’ve felt for the duration of the campaign, and now I’m exhausted and feel sad/scared for my American friends and family that this piece of shit is one of their presidential candidates.

— snapkangaroo


I think he’s a vile garbage person who is unfit to lead. Those comments are just part of why. He’s a danger to women and he’s making other dangerous men feel justified in their behavior.

Also I don’t understand how men think they’re helping by saying “all men talk like that.” because they’re damn sure quick to scream not all men when women complain about men behaving this way.

— ladyintheatre


I’m sorry if this has been discussed here already. I scrolled down for awhile and didn’t see it.

A male friend who I consider extremely close and important to me just said “that’s just how men talk” and he then refused to acknowledge that there’s any difference between talking about someone attractive who you want to have sex with and saying things like, “When you’re a celebrity you can do what you want, no one stops you” and “I just start kissing them, I don’t even wait” (Trump’s quote was close to that). He’s extremely stubborn and I got pretty bummed out to hear him say this. He would have me believe that all men are like this, which I know is not true.

— melcrawmeow


Weirdly, I don’t care that much anymore. I think my capacity for outrage at Trump and his supporters is already maxed out, so any new scandal is just “yep, Trump did a Trumpy thing, and now the news will talk about it incessantly until he does something else.” Anybody with the slightest shred of human decency already knows that the things he says are inappropriate (although, sadly, they’re not uncommon).

— shinkouhyou


Not even American, but I feel tired.

It’s nothing new, it’s just the same old shit. It’s no worse than what I expect of him. It’s not remotely shocking and that’s what’s depressing about it.

It’s also depressing how many people feel the need to defend him every time he says something abhorrent (he’s just saying what people are thinking/he’s honest/that’s just how people talk).

It reminds me of all the hateful rhetoric around the UK vote on leaving the EU. Normalising acting like an asshole isn’t good for anyone but assholes.

— standstagger


My opinion of him hasn’t changed.

He is a narcissist who thinks he can do whatever he wants. It is disgusting.

— JoyfulStingray


It’s disgusting, plain and simple. I don’t give a fuck about vulgar comments, but sexual assault jokes are beyond vulgar.

To quote Hermione Granger, “You foul, loathsome, evil little cockroach!”

— 7timesaday


It promotes rape culture and I don’t want a president that is so backwards and disrespectful like that.

— Itsthelegendarydays_


Disappointed, ashamed, exhausted, not surprised.

— jonesie1988


It’s just very sad that some people are defending those comments by saying that all men say shit like that. I’m certain most of the men in my life are higher caliber than that.

— cassanthrax


As far as the fact that the words came out of Trump’s mouth? Completely not surprised. This is just one thing in a long litany of moronic, “say what they wanna hear” bullshit that’s come out of his mouth. If you look back at his history with women, it should not be a surprise. At this point, I’ll consider it “news” when the man actually says something eloquent and intelligent, and ignore everything else. I get the feeling I’ll be waiting an awfully long time for that to happen.

The part that frustrates and scares me the most, though, is wondering how on earth he still has so many supporters? I live in rural America and so many people around here still rabidly believe that Trump is going to be their savior, and that the “liberal media” are being unfair to him and making all these things up. Has the American education system actually become so bad that this many people are incapable of critical thought? That is what truly frightens me.

— Anonymous


His party is trying to justify sexual assault, and while that’s pretty vile, it’s not surprising to see this defended by the religious right wing.

I’m more concerned about people who take his comments and think it’s ok to behave this way.

— JoJoRumbles


I’m almost more pissed about his comment today that “most women have heard worse”.

Like….yeah? And?

— Jon_hamm_wallet


I think his comments on just about everything are vile and disgusting, so I wasn’t surprised. I find it funny that THIS is what his GOP friends drop him over. Of ALLLL the horrible things he says about Muslims, immigrants, Mexico, etc, THIS is what does them in, a comment about white women. LOL. Also, I have a feeling that lots of the people who have denounced him over this were looking for a way out – and this was the thing they chose because it’s the easiest to be offended by (if you’re a racist, that is.)

— R0seb0mb


I’m no longer surprised when he says hateful shit because aside from all the churlish tantrums it’s all he ever says. He’s a demagogue and a joke; a morally repugnant fuckwit. I found him disgusting before he got into politics, and now my opinion of him is even lower.

— thegroundwontcatchus


I think they’re disgusting. Do comments alone make someone unfit to be president? Not necessarily. They don’t compare to Hillary’s actions. However, he has proven time and time again that he is hot headed, vile, and disrespectful and very unfit to lead a country.

We need a president who respects all people.

— BourbonBaristaBelle TC mark

50 Turn-Offs That Will Instantly Make Him Lose Interest In You

Posted: 19 Oct 2016 06:00 PM PDT

Twenty20, Boris79
Twenty20, Boris79

1. Criticizing another girl for what she’s wearing or how much make-up she has on.

2. Complaining about the waiter, the taste of your food, and the price of the menu items.

3. Acting desperate. Men want strong, independent women.

4. Expecting him to pay.

5. Leaving the house with unwashed hair and dirty clothes.

6. Fishing for compliments.

7. Getting completely wasted every time you see each other.

8. Putting yourself down by referring to yourself as ugly and stupid.

9. Staring at your phone while he’s talking.

10. Reapplying your makeup after every bite of food you eat.

11. Pretending to like his favorite show, even though you’ve never seen it before.

12. Snapchatting the entire time that you’re out together.

13. Showing up to a date late without even giving an apology.

14. Flirting with other men in front of him.

15. Cutting him off in the middle of a sentence.

16. Bragging about your ex.

17. Cancelling plans with him at the last second.

18. Leading him on.

19. Forgetting to thank him after he holds the door open for you or buys you dinner.

20. Lying.

21. Freaking out when you spill a tiny bit of food on your outfit.

22. Giving him one word answers.

23. Smoking.

24. Expecting him to do all of the work in the bedroom.

25. Acting like you’re way out of his league and he should be lucky he even gets to talk to you.

26. Ordering a salad instead of getting what you actually want.

27. Taking hours to respond to his texts.

28. Judging him based on the car he drives or the job he has.

29. Wearing so much perfume that he can’t breathe.

30. Having dry, chapped lips.

31. Asking him how much money he makes. 

32. Constantly changing your mind. 

33. Acting like a little girl instead of a grown woman. 

34. Trying to change the way he looks or acts. 

35. Having sex with him when it’s not what you really want. 

36. Agreeing with every single thing that he says. 

37. Having bad breath. 

38. Starting pointless arguments over every little thing. 

39. Acting overly jealous. 

40. Wearing granny panties. 

41. Talking nonstop without giving him a chance to add to the conversation.

42. Giving him ultimatums. 

43. Getting pissed when he takes a little too long to text back.

44. Being a bad kisser. 

45. Sending texts with typos. 

46. Drifting off while he’s speaking.

47. Constantly posting about the relationship on Facebook. 

48. Being mean to animals. 

49. Being racist, homophobic, or sexist. 

50. Treating him like crap. TC mark

Here’s The 3rd Presidential Debate Drinking Game That Will Absolutely Kill You

Posted: 19 Oct 2016 05:15 PM PDT

Flickr / Rich Girard
Flickr / Rich Girard

After the popularity of our FIRST Presidential Debate drinking game, we decided that we needed to update some questions. A lot has happened over the last month, and there is certainly a lot of new stuff that we can get intoxicated over.

WITHOUT FURTHER ADO, let’s get f*cking wasted America.

Take a drink when:

Hillary Clinton

  • Mentions Trump’s taxes
  • Mentions someone that Trump screwed over in his buisness
  • Says “fact-checker”
  • Has an answer so long and policy-ridden you get bored
  • Mentions the importance of “temperament”
  • Mentions something sexist Donald Trump has done / said
  • Brings up some failed Trump business
  • Brings up her work at the Children’s Defense Fund
  • Casually mentions her mother or daughter Chelsea
  • Brings up polling that supports her in some way

Donald Trump

  • Says “Believe me!”
  • Interrupts Hillary
  • Says “China” or “Mexico”
  • Says someone accusing him of sexual assault is a liar
  • Says “Benghazi” (two drinks if it’s a totally unrelated topic when he does)
  • Obviously has no idea what the question is about, so pivots to some random topic
  • Talks about how America is “losing”
  • Says “bad deals” (or “terrible” deals)
  • Brings up Hillary’s health
  • Brings up Hillary’s emails
  • Uses more than two superlatives in a sentence
  • Mentions “the establishment” or “political elite”


  • Brings up “Putin”
  • Says “John Podesta”
  • Mentions “Wikileaks”
  • Brings up Twitter
  • Mentions President Obama

Finish your drink when:

Hillary Clinton

  • Mentions “”
  • Laughs off allegations of corruption or Bill Clinton sex scandals
  • Mentions Republicans who have disavowed Donald Trump
  • Invokes being the first female President

Donald Trump

  • Uses “ISIS” to deflect a question about his personal conduct
  • Brings up a conspiracy theory on stage (i.e. “the election is rigged!”)
  • Brings up a Bill Clinton sex scandal (stop after 2x)
  • Brings up Paul Ryan


  • Says the word “disqualified”
  • Talks about the Supreme Court
  • Clearly struggles with answering a question about their personal conduct
  • Chris Wallace (the moderator) clearly loses control of the debate

Finish Your Bottle When:

  • You want another viable candidate
  • This debate makes you wish you were drunk
  • You don’t want to exist on this planet anymore

Good luck and God Bless! Remember to vote on, or before, November 8th! TC mark

Legal Disclaimer: We are not liable for any death, injury, or hangover resulting from playing this game.

50 Heart-Punching Quotes For When You Just Can’t Move On

Posted: 19 Oct 2016 05:00 PM PDT

Flickr lookcatalog
Flickr lookcatalog


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TC mark

The Truth About Why Most Men Can’t Handle Strong Women

Posted: 19 Oct 2016 04:00 PM PDT


Let’s get this out of the way, I love boys. Ever since I was 6, they have been an important part of my life and identity. You could have even called me boy crazy from that time all the way up to college. 

But, growing up, I have noticed a trend that seems to keep going and going. I’ve seen the type of guys who holler at women across the street, making them walk faster and pull out their phones just in case. I’ve seen men call women ‘bitches’ and puff up their chests laughing with their group of guy friends.

I’ve witnessed these so called ‘men’ humiliate women, calling them out on their sexual tendencies and slut shaming them for sleeping with guys for fun. I’ve seen the double standard way too often that I care to admit. I’ve seen the sexism. I’ve heard it. And I’ve experienced it. All of us women have. 

And the truth is, some men just can’t handle the fact that women are growing stronger. They can’t seem to grasp the idea that women weren’t born to serve them.

They can’t come to terms with the fact that women nowadays aren’t going to treat them like kings.

Even in the year of 2016, sometimes it feels as if we have made no progress whatsoever. What about those group of guys who still think they own the world? What about those men who think women have to have the house cleaned up and have dinner made by 6pm with their makeup and hair done perfectly?

At the age of 23, I have met men who scare me with the way they talk to women and the way they talk about women. I have met men who think that the world revolves around them, and who talk with so much confidence in their voices, that it could make anyone else tremble.

I know this isn’t every guy. I know there are feminist guys out there who truly want us to have the same rights as they do. I know there are guys out there who know how powerful women are. And I know it isn’t every single guy that I have come across.

But the truth is, some men can’t handle strong women.

A strong woman doesn’t need a man to help her with anything. She doesn’t need your help with carrying a bag of groceries inside the house. She doesn’t need you to hold the door for her. She doesn’t need you to punch the guy who hits on her at the bar. She doesn’t need you to defend her honor. She can do that by herself.

Men are so used to being the protector. To being the guy that saves the girl. But truth be told, we don’t need saving anymore. And we never did.

A strong woman won’t wait for anyone. She won’t wait for her crush to finally ask her out. She won’t wait years pining for a man to love her back. No, she will move on with her life. She will get what she wants, when she wants.

And she won’t apologize for it.

A strong woman won’t do anything that she doesn’t want to. She isn’t going to have sex with you on a first date if you pressure her to. She isn’t going to date you just because you ask her to. She isn’t going to keep on dating you just for the sake of comfort. She is the lead character in her own story.

And you are not her prince charming.

To date a strong woman, you need to have confidence within yourself. You need to be ‘man’ enough to hold your own. You aren’t made of steel and neither is she. You need to be able to show your emotion and vulnerability to her, and you need to be able to be truthful with her. 

You don’t need to prove yourself with physical strength anymore. You don’t need to show us how strong you are by protecting us, or giving us financial security. You just need to be there for us when things get tough. And you need to recognize that we are strong. And we are capable of so, so many things.

So, to all you men out there who want to date us?

Just treat us with respect. Listen to us. Comfort us when our hearts are in pain. And we will do the same exact thing for you. I promise. TC mark

How Being A Special Ed Teacher Has Completely Transformed My Life

Posted: 19 Oct 2016 03:30 PM PDT

Jenn Richardson
Jenn Richardson

I reach over and turn my radio down, as I watch him limp through the muddy grass towards his trailer. It's a drizzly Monday afternoon. I wanted to wait and make sure he got inside safely, but something about the view I'm taking in is more poignant even than safety. He's a scrawny fourteen year-old, with big brown eyes, and hair he bleached blond over the summer.

He carries his book-bag on one shoulder, and holds his coat over his head. As I look at him, I see the things I know about him. He's the second of five children. He and his older brother live with his dad in this pop-up camper. He will stay here alone until they get back from work in a few hours. His shoes and backpack are new, gifts from a local church. His coat is old, tattered, dirty suede. It was his dad's, and it's his prize possession. For him, the sun rises and sets on his father, even though the man literally steals food and clothes from his children.

This kid. He is brave, he is bold, he is deeply loving and sensitive. I make a mental note to look up his birthday later… He's probably a Leo. He has lived through tougher things than most people can ever imagine, an overcomer by any standard. As he climbs the step into the camper, he slings his bag inside, turns around and flashes me a grin. That is a visage I fought hard to know. Then, he holds up his hand with his thumb, forefinger, and pinky up. I smile, repeat the sign back to him, truly meaning it, and put the car in gear.

Driving home, I reflect on the impact he's had on my life. This child is my student, for the second year. He's one of sixteen this year. Of the bunch, he is not unique in his poverty, family situation, or difficult past. Our rural school district serves hundreds of students in situations akin to his. The first time that wide grin was directed at me, I determined myself to be a champion for this boy.

He was not an easy student. Last year, it seemed to have been his personal goal to make my transition to the school hell. He challenged me like no other student ever had. Nothing I'd been taught in college or my previous teaching could have prepared me to deal with his behaviors, and lack thereof. I did everything I could think of to connect with him, searching for any avenue of forming a meaningful attachment with this surly, broken teenager. He usurped the majority of my time at school with his shut-downs and constant need for supervision while walking the halls. It must've clicked somewhere along the line.

After a full year, the turn-around he's made in school is remarkable. His general attitude is improved, he controls his behaviors and no longer shuts down on a daily basis. He participates in the general education curriculum, and hopes for a future. He wants to go to college, have a career.

This school year, I have barely paid attention to him, in favor of de-escalating one crisis after another, and because he's fine. Last week, I had a meltdown of my own after school one day. I haven't spent an entire day teaching my self-contained students yet. I haven't gotten to know my sixth graders. I'm burdened with feeling purposeless.

Today, watching this boy, a bold reminder of an answer I had in college resurfaces. Someone had asked me "Why do you want to teach special ed? Don't you think it will be hard? Don't the risks outweigh the rewards?" My reply resounds with me in this moment. "I know I can't be everything for every student. I'll want to change everything for everyone, and I won't be able to. It will probably drive me insane at times. The reality is, to make a real difference for just one student, is enough reason for all of the trouble."

So maybe I've made a lasting impact on this boy, who really only needed to feel loved.

And just maybe, I haven't totally fulfilled my difference-making quota for a lifetime. TC mark