Thought Catalog


Maybe I Want Him A Little Dangerous, Too

Posted: 03 Dec 2016 08:15 PM PST

Twenty20, jmarsol
Twenty20, jmarsol

I've never wanted the perfect man or a perfect love. I've always known those weren't real, didn't exist, only a fantasy. Sure, I've dreamt about a 'good guy,' the one who will treat me right and love me tenderly, but I've never wanted perfection, because frankly, perfection is boring.

And none of us live up to perfect anyways.

I've always wanted a man who could love me fully, but drive me wild, light a spark in the depths of my belly, make my heart sing and dance and do backflips.

That, to me, is real love. Beautiful. Passionate. Real.

I've always wanted a man who was strong, strong enough to match my strength, strong enough to handle my sass, strong enough to love me without drowning me.

And strong enough to know that no matter how deeply I love him, I will always be my own person.

I've always wanted a man who would treat me right, but skirt on the dangerous. Not always do the right thing, not always let me win the argument, not always be so damn good, but make mistakes and raise his voice and pull me towards him and kiss his apologizes onto my lips.

I don't want someone who is static, who thinks that he has to be cautious with me, who thinks he can't express his true feelings for me or reach for me when he wants me close.

I don't want a man who's too afraid to love me that he withdraws.

I want a man who isn't afraid to love, to feel, to be emotional and vulnerable. But maybe I want him a little dangerous, too.

I want him to kiss me fully, grab my hand in public, say things that he knows he shouldn't just because he wants to. Because he's not holding back anymore.

I don't want perfect, I want open and raw and scary and passionate. I want real.

I want the ways he doesn't do the right thing, the ways he will fail, the ways he will make me angry and make me question, because that's what real love is—all the ups and downs and pain and craziness of two sinners falling for each other.

I don't want to idolize him, to put him on a damn pedestal and try to live up to his expectations. I don't to spend my life trying to please him, or for him to feel that way about me. I don't need him to be anything other than who he is—a flawed child of God who will forever struggle and forever be sinful. Because that's what I'll be, too.

And maybe it would be wonderful to imagine the man for me as blameless, shining in the sun and all I've ever dreamed of, but that's not real. And honestly, I don't want that.

I want a love that's big and broken and beautiful.
And I want him just as his is— and maybe a little dangerous, too. TC mark

It’s Okay To Be Single And Selfish

Posted: 03 Dec 2016 07:15 PM PST

Larisa Birta
Larisa Birta

This time 2 years ago, I distinctly remember telling myself that I was ready for a relationship and all that it would entail. I was ready to accept a partner with all their faults, baggage, and short comings. I was willing to put the work in. I was very aware of my own short comings as well as my strengths. I knew that if the right person came into my life I would recognize him in an instant because of vision of myself and what I wanted was so clear. My wish was granted and I met a great man, we had a short relationship and both grew in the process, but ultimately it didnʼt work out.

Two years later, Iʼm in a very different place. In some ways it feels like Iʼve regressed but in other ways, Iʼve come so far. For the last few months, Iʼve been dating casually and have been enjoying the moments without expectations of anything more; more time, more dates, etc. I have learned the art of living in the moment. Itʼs been a liberating experience for me to date just for the purpose of dating and without the expectation of a relationship. Iʼm somewhat ashamed to say that in the last few weeks, Iʼve met men, gone out with them once, and never returned their calls or requests for another date.

I guess you could say Iʼve been ghosting. Most of these men have done nothing wrong, they were perfectly good people, but Iʼm at a selfish place in life right now. I donʼt have the same "relationship mentality" that I once did. Iʼm highly focused on myself and my business right now and I lack patience for anyone or anything that takes time away from my business.

I have no desire to participate on "how are you?" texts or pointless pleasantries that dating requires. My ultimate relationship goal right now is to just grab a drink with a cool person once in a while when I need a break, and then Iʼd like to be left alone until the next break; selfish, I know. My mother told me that she becoming increasingly annoyed with my unreturned calls and texts. I told her sheʼs the "person I speak to most, so imagine how other people feel."

At this point Iʼm just not willing to put the work into anyone but myself. I donʼt expect anyone to be perfect but Iʼm also not here to try to help anyone get there right now. A guy I was seeing recently told me he was uncertain about where things were going because he had circumstances going on in his personal life. Normally I would want more answers and pressed for more info, but I was actually relived because although he was a great guy, I simply didnʼt have the patience to try to fix things or attempt to make them work.

One thing that Iʼve had to adjust is how I communicate with the people I date. I was so used to looking for relationship oriented men and preparing myself for a relationship that Iʼve had to learn how to articulate that I donʼt want that. Whether youʼre ready to be married tomorrow or simply working on yourself, itʼs important to know where you are on the dating spectrum because you are involving other peoples hearts. TC mark

On Pain And Excuses

Posted: 03 Dec 2016 06:15 PM PST

Felix Russell-Saw
Felix Russell-Saw

My mouth is full of canker sores.
A friend says, “Babe, shouldn't you be tested for those?”
I say, "You're thinking of cold sores."
And then give her some half-assed speech on shaming those with STDs.
She says, "You're always righteous about things that don't affect you."

I agree, I guess. I am the very picture of white privilege, pissed at everyone for things that do not hurt me. Does that make me good or another liberal with white-guilt? I don't have the answer.

I drink too much instead.

My mouth is full of canker sores. A doctor once said there is a genetic component and my aunt suffered in her twenties. I am twenty four.

Canker sores are not contagious. Trust me, I've googled that shit. They're like tiny ulcers. Frankly, I'm surprised I don't have more. Think my entire body is a giant ulcer at this point. Feels impossible to be this nervous without acid tearing a hole, somewhere.

My friend asks where it hurts and I point to the roof of my mouth. And the back of my throat. Basically anywhere, take your pick.

Lately, it hurts everywhere.

I blame the canker sores.

It's easier that way. TC mark

The 50 Best Things About Being Single AF

Posted: 03 Dec 2016 05:15 PM PST

@alastairdavey
@alastairdavey

1. You don’t have to answer to anyone, ever.

2. You can have sex with whoever you want, whenever you want.

3. You get the whole bed to yourself.

4. No one is there to steal the blankets.

5. No one is there to call you out for doing stupid shit.

6. You never have to suck anyones dick, unless you want to (of course).

7. Your problems are just your problems.

8. No one will make you feel guilty about eating pizza at midnight, then again for breakfast.

9. Your vibrator can get the job done better than some men.

10. You can go out every night of the week if you want.

11. You never have to feel guilty about flirting.

12. Tinder.

13. Drunk make outs at the bar are totally acceptable.

14. Friends with benefits relationships are totally an option.

15. You don’t have to worry about impressing his family.

16. You don’t have to listen to snoring or deal with someone trying to touch you while you sleep.

17. You never wake up next to someone trying to get you to jerk him off.

18. You can always work on improving you.

19. No jealousy.

20. You can watch as many chick flicks as you want with no one to complain.

21. You also never have to watch sports unless you want to.

22. You don’t have to explain your relationship with your guy friends to anyone.

23. You have way more friends since you can devote your time to them.

24. And your friends don’t hate you for only using them when you’re fighting with your boyfriend because you’re single.

25.  You are in complete control of your happiness.

26. You aren’t co-dependent on anyone.

27. No one will get mad at you if you end up not coming home for the night.

28. You save money only buying things for yourself.

29. You can eat an entire carton of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream and no one is there to judge you.

30. You don’t have to deal with someone always being around you.

31. You don’t have to clean up after anyone else.

32. No gross pubes on the toilet seat and facial hair all over the sink.

33. So much time to focus on your life goals.

34. You don’t have to worry about someone being mad at you.

35. Total freedom to buy plane tickets and travel all over the world.

36. You can always hangout with your friends.

37. There aren’t endless hours of watching him play video games.

38. You can binge watch Netflix with no interruptions.

39. No compromises.

40. You don’t have to worry about impressing someone.

41. The toilet seat will always be down.

42. You don’t have to shave if you don’t want.

43. You don’t have to worry about getting your heart-broken.

44. No one will fart in bed with you.

45. You can devote all your time into improving yourself.

46. You get to learn about who you are as a person.

47. You can wear the same clothes all weekend without showering and there’s no judgment.

48. You can delivery and not even leave your apartment the entire weekend.

49. You can be naked freely in your home alone.

50. You don’t have to be embarrassed by his drunk decisions. TC mark

70 ‘Boyfriend Versus Best Friend’ Questions To See Who Your REAL Soulmate Is

Posted: 03 Dec 2016 04:15 PM PST

Elliott Dunning
Elliott Dunning

1. How old was I when I had my first kiss?

2. Without looking, what color phone case do I have?

3. How many times have I gotten pulled over by the cops?

4. How many beers does it take to get me drunk?

5. How many times have I gotten my heart broken?

6. What does my current profile picture look like?

7. What color do I wear the most often?

8. What day of the week do I usually start my period?

9. What password do I use for most of my accounts?

10. What face do I usually make when I take selfies?

11. Who is the most famous celebrity I’ve ever met?

12. What song do I turn off whenever it’s on the radio?

13. If I could get plastic surgery on any part of my body, where would it be?

14. What type of makeup do I refuse to leave the house without wearing?

15. What nickname do my parents have for me?

16. What’s my favorite store in the mall?

17. What drink do I order whenever I go out to eat?

18. What age did I lose my virginity?

19. What’s my all-time favorite Disney movie?

20. What was the name of the first person I ever went on a date with?

21. When’s my half-birthday?

22. Where do I want to get married?

23. How many times did I take my road test before I passed?

24. What job did I want when I was a little kid?

25. What did I dress up as for Halloween last year?

26. What was the scariest dream that I’ve ever had?

27. What was the last concert I went to?

28. What book changed my life?

29. What poster is hanging on the wall in my room?

30. What was my first pet’s name?

31. Have I ever gotten dumped?

32. What’s my favorite girl name?

33. What’s my favorite boy name?

34. If I could be famous, what would I want to be famous for?

35. Have I ever seen a ghost before?

36. Have I ever won a contest?

37. Who am I named after?

38. What’s the stupidest thing that I’ve ever done?

39. Have I ever voted in a presidential election?

40. How many people have I slept with?

41. How many times have I broken a bone?

42. What television show have I never missed an episode of?

43. What was the brand of my first car?

44. What size shoe do I wear?

45. What celebrity did I have a crush on when I was a kid?

46. Who do I look up to the most in life?

47. What do I usually eat for breakfast?

48. How long was my longest relationship?

49. What’s my favorite board game?

50. How many different people have I kissed?

51. How many pets have I had over the course of my life?

52. What does my dream house look like?

53. What sport did I play when I was little?

54. Which celebrity do I wish I could sleep with?

55. What website do I visit the most often?

56. What was the name of the elementary school I went to?

57. What’s my least favorite chore to do around the house?

58. What was the longest period of time I’ve gone without having sex?

59. Which family member do I love the most?

60. What was my best subject when I was in high school?

61. Who is my favorite YouTuber?

62. Have I ever snuck out of my house?

63. What was the worst movie that I’ve ever sat through?

64. What year did I graduate high school?

65. Where is my favorite vacation spot?

66. What is my biggest regret in life?

67. What was the best birthday party I’ve ever had?

68. How many children do I plan on having?

69. What’s my favorite movie quote?

70. How much do I love you? TC mark

Maybe You Should Hook Up With The Asshole

Posted: 03 Dec 2016 03:15 PM PST

How To Be Single
How To Be Single

So what’s holding you back? Did your friends tell you to stay away from him? Did they advise you to ignore his calls and texts if he reaches out? Did they warn you that you’d be better off without answering him? Is this guy known for being a certified douche? Do you know of multiple people he’s already slept with? Does he tell you straight up that he’s an asshole or a fuckboy? Has he warned you that there is no way he would ever want anything serious with you?

Maybe you consider him an asshole. Maybe you consider him a fuckboy. Maybe these labels are what your friends consider the guy. Then again, maybe he isn’t any of those things. But that’s not important right now. What is important is to ask yourself, what do you want to do?

I am not asking what your friends think you should do. I am not asking how you interpret the opinions of others. I am not asking you what makes the most sense to other people.

I am asking you, what do you want to do? Right here and right now.

So maybe it’s never going to go anywhere this guy. You need to fully acknowledge and accept this.

But once accepted, why the fuck not?

So you probably aren’t going to get anything long term with this guy. That’s real. But do you feel captivated by this guy?

If the answer is yes, why not enjoy the company of someone you have undeniable chemistry with?

I think a lot of females can get into trouble when they don’t accept this. They become hopeful and think of ways that would change the scenario down the road. They think things will change and become disappointed from expectations they have set. And trust me, I get it. I’ve been there before. You are not alone.

But listen. If it hasn’t happened yet with the guy, it’s probably not going to. Things are most likely not going to change.

It is possible to have just a physical connection with someone. And that can be confusing, especially if you don't feel that chemistry often. But it is possible and it just may be the case with this guy.

But you’re both single. Why should you cut yourself off from lust and affection just because you don’t happen to be in a committed relationship?

People in relationships shouldn’t be the only ones getting laid. And guys shouldn’t be the only gender getting laid.

Once you accept that nothing is going to happen with this guy, there’s no reason you can’t still embrace an infrequent sexual relationship.

So go ahead, hook up with the asshole. And then leave. Don’t look for his attention but if he reaches out or you end up at the same spot, what happens next is up to you. Do what you want.

Down the road, you may end up with someone for the long haul. But that time is not now. So enjoy the time you have now learning everything there is to know about yourself. The focus should be on you. Be self-aware. Try not to take things personally. Embrace your flaws and imperfections. Conquer your insecurities.

Love when you can as often as you can. TC mark

If You Love Your Pet, Why Do You Eat Animals?

Posted: 03 Dec 2016 02:15 PM PST

via Flickr - Iris
via Flickr – Iris

"All Animals are equal, but some are more equal than others." This famous quote from George Orwell's The Animal Farm shouldn't of course be taken literally, but let's be beautifully ignorant for a moment and take the line at face value.

First people were gatherers and hunters. When animals or food/vegetables were scarce, our ancestors moved along to a new, uninhabited place and lived there until all the resources ran out. Once those were gone, they moved again. Nowadays such an existence is hard to fathom for various reasons, but I want to stress one: there's just no uncivilized places left to discover. Our life is organized. Instead of hunting we shop (although sometimes it's hard to spot the difference), while those who travel are frowned upon, as they invade spaces inhabited by someone else. As promising as a long discussion of migration is, especially in regards to what's happening in Europe, the topic of this article is the modern version of hunting and the morality behind it.

Shopping is the organizing element of capitalist society. To eat you must buy. Even when wanting to grow your own food, you need to pay for the land, the seeds, the water, etc. Obviously, that's the hard way. The easy way is to just buy food in eye-pleasing packages and containers. The food in our shopping basket is emotion- and labor-free. The Marxian division of the worker and the product of his work is nowhere truer than in the food industry. This also applies to meat, as the suffering is hidden from our eye, so it's easy to assume that no sacrifice was involved in the production of a delicious chicken wing or a strip of bacon.

via Flickr - Tim Massey
via Flickr – Tim Massey

The de-personalization of meat is in great opposition to the very individual character of pets. Specialists urge us to think twice about making the right decision regarding our future dog or cat. The decision should obviously be character- and not looks-based, yet people are often unable to handle the dominant Yorkshire Terrier who pees in their bed, or the American Staffordshire Terrier who eventually bites someone because they did not raise him to be a loving and cuddly dog that it naturally is. In result, pounds are overcrowded with dogs and cats, whose owners failed them.

Still, these dogs and cats are at least given a chance. This chance is completely people-dependent, often based on pure luck, and yet, it's more than other animals usually get. Cows prefer to live in herds, and they form strong social relations with other cows. A cow is only able to constantly produce milk by staying in the cycle of pregnancy-birth-pregnancy. That's why usually after just four years the cow is "useless" and sent to a slaughterhouse, despite being able to live up to twenty. After being born, the calf is almost immediately taken away from his mother and dependent on its sex, sent to slaughter (boy) or grouped with other calves (girl) to repeat the same cycle as its mother. When their child is taken away, mothers cry. Very loud. The same is true for sheep and goats. Chickens also live in flocks, but it's hard to decipher their emotions. And don't even get started on fish, who clearly don't suffer, because if they would, they would find a way to inform us about it, right?

via Flickr - #L98
via Flickr – #L98

Unless you're able to hurt kittens or puppies – in which case, fuck you – try taking them away from their mothers just as they were born. Their mothers would fight for them tooth and nail. Since cows aren't able to do that, it's safe to assume that they don't care that much for them. As for their children, in what way is eating veal that much different from eating a kitten or a puppy? Because they are bigger? Or maybe dumber, because they don't react when being called by their name? If that is the case, my dogs must be among the dumbest pets in history.

Historian Eric Baratay in Le point de vue animal. Une autre version de l'historie tries to present history from the point of view of animals. He focuses on the artificial classification and control exhibited by humans. For example, before domestication, pigs were very mobile, while today's pigs can barely walk. The same is true about today's cows or horses, which are the result of crossbreeding, genetically modified to fit man's purposes. According to Baratay one of the most visible examples of the change of attitude toward pets/animals is the way they are buried, as once an animal is seen as an "actor" it's impossible to simply dismember its corpse and throw it away.

It's estimated that people eat around 146 billion animals a year. In the United States 99 percent of annually slaughtered animals come from factory farming. They're confined since birth, often not seeing the light of day throughout their short, suffering-filled lives. It's safe to assume that not for one moment do their experience happiness. Words like "factory" or "industry" farming hide the fact that they feel and live. If someone would treat cats or dogs the way we allow pigs or chickens to be treated, he or she would be sentenced to prison just like Michael Vick. The football player was universally ostracized, because he treated pets like other people treat animals, and it was only because he was raised in a culture that allowed for that type of classification. I'm not a member of his offensive line to defend him, but his case proves that there's something very wrong in the way we classify beings.

via Flickr - Caleb Roenigk
via Flickr – Caleb Roenigk

The division between "animal" and "pet" is very artificial and culture-based. In some parts of Asia dogs are animals, because they're food. In Polish language a different word applies to the death of a human (zmarł – died) and an animal/pet (zdechł – dropped dead). Language allows us to feel safe in the world – if we're able to name something, we know it, hence have no reason to be afraid of it. When something is unknown – hence has no name or classification – it's something to be afraid of or, in the case of animals, ignore. We'll never be able to fully understand them, as they never allow to be fully understood. They don't want to get to know us, spend time with us or simply like us, and quite frankly, it's hard to blame them.

William S. Burroughs was right in claiming that "language is a virus from outer space." The language that we speak also influences our morality. Julie Sedivy's article in Scientific American shows how people's perception of events changes when the events are presented in a foreign language – generally, people tend to be less moral. Since no one speaks "animal", it's safe to assume that morality must be actually foreign to animals. If that is the case, why should we even care?

In her book, Status Moralny Zwierząt (Moral Status of Animals), Urszula Zarosa introduces the idea of "potential sensing" referring to not only animals or pets, but people who're in a comatose state, little kids and the elderly – so those who lack a fully-formed conscience. There's just no way to differentiate between all of those living beings, so why should they be treated differently? Animals have no obligations towards humans and vice versa. The best thing we could do for them is to simply let them be and accept them for who – not what – they are. What we call them shouldn't be important, as opposed to what they feel. TC mark

Why You Should Stop Using the Word Privilege

Posted: 03 Dec 2016 01:15 PM PST

https://thought.is/
https://thought.is/

If you think accepting your privilege and checking your ego at the door is important – even necessary – to improving social justice and harmony in our world, hear me out. I agree with you. But let me tell you where I'm coming from and why I think we need to stop using the word privilege.

Life in an MFA program in Creative Writing sometimes feels more like constantly being reminded to check my privilege, speaking excessively politically correctly in order to keep spaces safe, and striving to be liberal enough to fit in. When I came into the program, I had three focuses: reading, writing, and teaching. A discussion of privilege was not what I'd signed up for. I am not criticizing my specific program at UNC-Wilmington. I love it, and I have learned more about my own privilege in the past year than ever before. It's forced me to look hard at what I've been given in life rather than what I've earned and to reach out to and fight for people who didn't have these opportunities and had even more setbacks from the very beginning.

I want to note that this emphasis on privilege doesn't apply to all of my colleagues and professors at all. There is a circle of us who share our issues with this and want to focus more on writing as art than the way in which it's carefully presented so as not to offend anyone. Whereas our far left colleagues are outspoken about their views, the majority of us who disagree with them (to some extent) are afraid to speak up and only do so with one another, behind closed doors. When I spoke up, one colleague left the room because it wasn't a safe space. In doing so, she shut down the conversation and shut me out.

The majority of us in this circle are white, male, and straight. Does it make you like me more that I'm female and bisexual? Will that help my argument more? We'll see. It is important to remember that the majority of us are white, male, and straight and aware of our privilege (and I know you're rolling your eyes at me because you hate white, male, straight people). But it's important to your own cause that you understand their perspective and stop rolling your eyes.

Here's why.

Too often, we as academics, writers, and social activists turned social justice warriors use academic terms that the real people who are suffering from lack of privilege and the real people who won't accept their privilege never use. If you'd brought up the term privilege to me growing up in Tennessee, I would have laughed at you (and I considered myself pretty radically liberal in that location). I also would have been thoroughly offended. Me? Privileged? You've got to be kidding. From my perspective, I didn't have privilege. Privilege was a word that brought to mind Donald Trump with his golden wallpaper and golden toilets, the people who had vacation homes, housewives who drove Hummers, and the boys at Putt-Putt who got paid more than me even though I managed them. I didn't realize then that being healthy, white, and middle-upper class was what my privilege meant. And I know from living in the south surrounded by religious conservatives that the majority of them feel the same way I felt before a year in graduate school. 

When you point out someone's privilege, especially in the south, you make them feel attacked. They immediately go on the defensive and build a wall against everything they're about to hear. I know this because I've been trying to talk to them this entire election season, using the word privilege, and it hasn't worked with one of them.

I think as writers who actually wish to see a change in the world, we need to take into account one aspect of our work much more seriously: our audience. While I've enjoyed reading cultural critics who take on a more accessible voice (I'm looking at you, Roxanne Gay), I still think we're missing the mark. We are writing to each other: a small, exclusive club of people who are all wildly privileged thanks to our education. (Check your privilege, readers). We aren't writing to the very people we want to change, the people who we want on our team. Rather than educating, we are isolating ourselves and alienating the people we hope to reach. 

My biggest problem with the present state of the creative writing world is that it has corralled itself in. I believe the academic world is more separate from the rest of the world than ever before. No one besides us reads our academic journals. No one besides us reads our literary magazines. What are we getting done by just talking to each other? What are we getting done entrenching ourselves in theory, regurgitating the same thoughts to one another in mental masturbatory circles? We're feeding our egos. We're ignoring our privilege. And we're making division, even hatred, and especially contempt in our country worse.

As a creative nonfiction writer, I believe more than ever that we have a responsibility as writers. We have the power to change things, to change minds, to persuade, to connect. E. M. Forster put it best: "Only connect." And with his literary novels, understanding of the less academic, and outreach via the radio, he connected much more than we do because he opened up himself to others in words they understood. 

Psychologists who study affect (your facial expressions) during conversations with significant others have found the greatest predictor for a relationship that will fail is contempt. We as liberals ideally paint ourselves as tolerant and understanding. We are, undeniably, contemptuous of much of the American public. This has to stop.

Empathy is what we need right now. Stop talking and start listening. There are people uneducated and educated who are racist, sexist, and bigoted in many ways. Some of them may be impossible to reach. Others, though, can be reached. They did not have evil intentions in voting for Donald Trump – they did it because they thought he would make their world better or because that was what everyone in their circle was doing. They did it because Hillary Clinton is not perfect no matter how awesome her pantsuits are. Instead of telling people you disagree with they're privileged, listen to why they believe Trump will help them (even though you disagree with them, even if you hate Trump so much you wish he were dead). Strive to understand them.

Instead of pointing out how they're privileged, tell them about your own experience and how you've learned you're privileged (without using the word privileged). Even better, show them by example. Invite them to help others in ways that they understand, rather than posting a rant on Facebook that will only make them unfollow you (or unfriend you, as my aunt did). I have this perspective because I learned the hard way.

If you want true social change, encourage people who don't see their privilege to find their own way to do so. Instead of telling them they're privileged, ask them if they'd ever want to go volunteer with you somewhere you know they'd learn about their own privilege, without ever having to use the word. Have honest and open conversations. Above all, listen to them, practice empathy, and let them learn on their own time, in their own way. TC mark

I Used To Think My Love Could Save You

Posted: 03 Dec 2016 12:45 PM PST

Elizabeth Tsung
Elizabeth Tsung

I used to think my love could save you. That it could show you that there's more to life than what you were shown before. That it could teach you how to get what you give. That someone could love you for who you are, rather than what you could give them.

I thought that if I gave you my all, that it would fill up those empty spaces that I know still lie inside you.

I thought that if I showed you my heart, it would make you forget all the disappointments you and I both know you had to face. I hoped that my touch would turn your wounds into scars and my hands would make their mark on yours. That my presence would make a difference in your life. That you didn't have to walk alone this time.

I wanted to show you what a life this could be, what a promise could mean.

That you would see me as special, that you would miss me when I was gone. I used to think that my love would be a love you don't recover from, a love you don't leave, and love you can't replace.

But my love didn't save you, because it couldn't.

Because you're going to have to be the one who pulls your own heart out of the war zones you find it so stuck in. You're the one that is going to have to decide that love outweighs the risk of getting hurt.

I don't want to live in a world where you don't make it. I don't want to live in a world where the person I once saw my whole future in can't even look himself in the mirror. And I want you to know that in my silent prayer, I still wish you the best every night. I know that things aren't always easy and the world hasn't kissed your wounds the way you needed it to.

And I hope that you are courageous enough to let yourself heal, because you deserve it. I know you don't think so. I hope that you learn to stop fighting the things that are real in your life, even when they scare you. I hope you decide to not stay stuck in a relationship where you're not in love, because you're unsure of how to fight for what you really want. And I know you still beat yourself up for the mistakes, the choices you made that you now regret, and for allowing people who used to mean everything to you walk out of your life. But someday I hope you're brave enough to forgive yourself anyway.

You've hurt people you've loved and I know that nobody is angrier about that than you. But eventually, you need to stop being so angry at yourself. One day, you're going to have to stop wishing you could take things back. Because I want you to stop running and look into everything you are.

I did once. I learned that you were so much more than the surface. I learned that you were strong, and your heart was even stronger. That you were kind and caring. That you were born more of a fighter than I ever could be.

I learned that I loved you. And I believed in you, I always will.

And my only hope is that you see all of those things too someday, that you will believe in you too. Because we all have one choice: we can choose ourselves or we can choose to run from ourselves. But it’s up to you, and you have to choose.

And at the end of the day, we all just want someone that chooses us, over everyone else, under every circumstance. And I would've chose you, every time, and I hope you decide to choose you too. TC mark

A Letter to My Younger Self: I Am Not the Woman You Expect

Posted: 03 Dec 2016 12:15 PM PST

via Unsplash - Michael Fruehmann
via Unsplash – Michael Fruehmann

Dear 17-year-old self,

I am not the woman you expect.  I am not the ideal, successful "career woman"; the brilliant, beautiful, ambitious young professional working in a corporate office.  I am a recent college graduate; lost at sea, a sea of societal expectations and pressing decisions about the future.  Perhaps I am not the woman you have dreamt I would be, but that does not negate the wealth of experiences that will mold you into the strong woman you will become.  Your most difficult experiences and the lessons you will learn about life, love, and womanhood will lead to your greatest successes and reveal you to be far more resilient than you know.  I know that you are incredibly stubborn and that you will dig in your heels, refusing to listen to the life lessons I have to impart, but please take them to heart, live by them, and grow by them.

You Are Worth More Than Your Body.

In third grade, you heard the first of numerous questions about "why you're so thin", and it stung.  Since then, it has seemed to you that people relentlessly comment on your appearance.  You feel pressure to have the clearest skin, to not be so tall and gangly, and to walk gracefully wherever you go.  You wish you could shrink into the crowd and become inconspicuous in a sea of people who look perfectly beautiful to you.  I will be honest with you: You will not grow up to have clear skin, flawless makeup abilities, or perfect teeth, but none of those traits matter.  You are kind, caring, and magnanimous, and your heart will carry you further in life than you believe.  On your twenty-first birthday, a stranger will confront you and tear your appearance apart.  You will not care in the slightest.  Those words will sting, but you will recognize pain and struggle in someone you have never met and will feel deep empathy.  You will realize that society's pervasive whispers that beauty defines womanhood and that kindness, empathy and love are worthless are a mere notion.  I am not the woman you expect.  I strive to demonstrate my womanhood through my character alone, through my heart, and I will succeed in that pursuit.

The Pursuit of Academic Success is Not the Pursuit of Happiness.

You are a perfectionist, and you are likely cringing internally at the notion that success and happiness are not interwoven.  In college, you will believe that the ultimate marker of success, the crown jewel of your college experience, is graduating Summa Cum Laude in just three years.  In the process of pursuing your goal, you will endure stress that will shake you to the core.  The anxiety you will feel over your grades will consume you for years, lure you away from friends and family, and cause you to feel dejected and worthless.  You will question the importance of grades as a measure of success and begin to prioritize health and leisure.  You will graduate Summa Cum Laude after enduring deep struggle, in the exact timeframe you planned, but the joy of graduating with highest honors will fade after a mere second, as you realize that you sacrificed the most important parts of life to reach your goal.  I am not the woman you expect.  I understand that success is living life to the fullest, and self-worth should stem from strength of character alone, not from the indications of success that society prizes.

Cherish Every Moment You Have.  

At age nineteen, you will experience loss for the first time.  You will be away at college when you hear the news, unsure of how to cope away from your family's loving arms.  You will feel completely alone until you realize that grieving alongside your loved ones will heal you.  You will come to learn that cherishing life is not selfish; on the contrary, it is how your lost loved one would want you to live.  Living and loving is the most venerable means of honoring life.

Nearly three months after your college graduation, you will receive news of another loss.  You will be taken aback, stuck in a tailspin.  You will need to re-learn how to cope.  Your mind will flash back to your college graduation, the very last time you spent with the person you lost.  The memory will leave you with a bitter taste in your mouth and a sharp, staggering pain in your heart until you realize that you made the most of that special time and that the one you lost was happy and honored to share in your milestone.  You will feel lighter and happier as you realize that you savored the day and will cherish that time forever.  I am not the woman you expect.  I have coped with loss and learned that healing stems from appreciating life, even in life's darkest moments.

Vulnerability is Something to Embrace.

You are staring down at a blank Word document, frozen, unable to write.  You have no desire to share your challenges with the colleges to which you are applying.  You refuse to open up to others, terrified of feeling hurt by them.  Your greatest fear is losing the acceptance of others by revealing your perceived weaknesses.

At twenty years old, you will receive an opportunity to share your story through writing and it will change your life forever.  You will realize that the gentle whisper of your pen across paper frees you, that writing strengthens the connection between yourself and the world.  You will discover that your words have the power to draw others closer to you and that your writing has the power to ignite change, breed hope and foster acceptance.  You will embrace your darkest feelings and fears, transforming them into a thing of beauty.  Most importantly, you will find a burning passion and a sense of purpose through writing; all because you chose to not only let others look through the window of your worldview, but to open the door to your life.  I am not the woman you expect.  I have forged a deep connection not only with myself, but with others, through finding my passion, transforming my struggles into beauty, and embracing my past, present, and future wholeheartedly.  

I am not the woman you expect.  I do not base my self-worth on my position in life, but rather, my character and my personal growth.  I am not the woman you expect.  I have not only experienced happiness, but also tears to become the woman I am today.  I am not the woman you expect.  I am here to assure you that due to the challenges you will face and the lessons you will learn, you will become far stronger, wiser and more resilient than you could have ever imagined.

Love,

Your older, wiser self TC mark