I’ve come a long way since weeping over the lifeless corpse of Mufasa being discovered by a helpless Simba back in 1994 — we all have. Over the past 19 years (Good Lord, it’s been THAT long) our emotional thresholds have grown stronger, our metabolism is slower, and the effect an animated death has on us isn’t typically as painful these days. Still, there are certain things that tug at our heartstrings and the shrieking, squeal of a crying doggy is one of ‘em. This video of a puppy watching a scene we’re so familiar with and evoking the same sentiments we once felt is oddly heartwarming, extremely precious and a dash of funny.
Is the dog really grasping what it’s seeing? Is the brain inside that adorable hound’s head processing a Disney movie in great detail? I vote yes. That puppy’s eyes are glued to the screen, thoroughly locked in as it only looks away a couple times very briefly, glancing at its owners for answers. Pause the clip at 45 seconds in, and don’t even try to deny having that exact same expression when you turned to your parents/siblings, hurt and confused nearly two decades ago. Geez, again, I can’t believe it’s been that long, I need to go do something productive unless there’s a way to build a respectable life legacy by binge watching dog videos on YouTube all day.
For an opportunity to feature your own content, send submissions to be considered for publication to Hudspeth@thoughtcatalog.com or reach me on Twitter.
You should like Thought Catalog on Facebook here.
Depression is a lack of willingness? Spoken like someone who's never suffered from true, honest-to-god, clinical depression in their life.
Good intentions don’t excuse bad behavior.
You will always enjoy yourself less when you have planned for it.
Grief has no solution. Let it be.
Not forgiving someone destroys you more than it destroys them.
Sometimes there are no amount of encouraging words to pull someone out of the sheer exhaustion and melancholy of being alive.
People see you the most when you don’t want to be seen at all.
Honest laughs must be drawn out until all the air is gone. Like a balloon.
Panic attacks exist to make you think your life is wrong.
It is nearly impossible to maintain a close friendship when one person is depressed and the other is not.
Not really knowing someone is what makes a life look interesting. Like when the movie trailer is better than the movie.
If you need them to care more than they do, it won’t happen. Ever.
Learning to dance in public without pretense is incredibly liberating, and people will envy you for it.
There is a spiritual war raging inside all of us.
Deciding to do something different just because you know it’s different does not make you unique. Unique is liking what you like. Unique is shamelessly admitting how much you still love that band even after they’ve sold out.
Being alone is powerful.
People don’t praise others because they’re afraid there will be no glory left for them.
Nostalgia is the art of abandoning details.
You’re never fooling anyone nearly as much as you’re fooling yourself.
Small talk is THE WORST.
No one hates the prettiest person in the room more than the 2nd prettiest person in the room.
Regrets are useful, not useless. Dwelling is useless.
Humbling yourself is the biggest component of self-improvement.
It’s easier to get in your own way than it is for anyone else to.
Kindness is the fastest way to earn respect.
Depression is a lack of willingness.
Opposites attract because they have so much to learn from each other.
If you have to test their love, you’re not worthy.
Half-hearted encouragement is worse than no encouragement at all.
If a woman is constantly being let down by a man, it’s because she doesn’t know how powerful it is to be a woman.
Nothing could be more bittersweet than knowing that it’s not going to play out the way you envision it.
Helping people is the most rewarding thing on the planet and the least practiced.
If you had everything figured out about anything, you wouldn’t be here.
The more you don’t wear makeup, the better you look without it.
Love is not rare. Unconditional love is.
You’re the only one who thinks your family is embarrassing.
Getting rid of one vice means replacing it with another.
It’s all in your head. Literally.
You should like Thought Catalog on Facebook here.
1. Your favorite jeans.
2. Looking back and understanding why certain things happened the way they did.
3. Your favorite food, delivered to you by surprise by your favorite person.
4. Unprecedented peacefulness.
5. A hot shower.
6. A nap when you desperately need one.
7. Newborn animals.
8. When kids say they love you.
9. Running to greet someone you love at the train station.
10. When your parents tell you that you’ve made them proud, or that you inspire them (my dad actually told me that recently…).
11. Feeling attractive just as you are. Not because you’re dressed or made up a certain way.
12. Comfy clothes, a comfy bed and your favorite movie.
13. When you pay attention to your breathing and you’re able to calm yourself.
14. Swings at playgrounds.
15. The feeling of the sun on your back.
16. When your favorite song from childhood comes on the radio.
17. When a situation you were a mess over solves itself.
18. Books that wrap your mind in the story and the feeling you get after work or school when you realize you can go back to reading again.
19. Realizing how young you are.
20. Realizing how far you’ve come in such little time.
You should like Thought Catalog on Facebook here.
Mayonnaise and sour cream are two of my most favorite foods. More for me!
Don’t you hate those people who talk about their diets all the time? They go on and on about how they’re “so into lentils right now,” and how they’ve stopped eating gluten because it’s bad for everyone, and how they’ve never been to a Taco Bell and want to keep that streak alive. Well, I’m basically that person. Sorry to be so annoying.
I have a love/hate relationship with food. I, as any patriotic American, love food with all my heart, yet certain foods make me angrier and more disturbed than anything else in the world.
For instance: cookies? Delicious. Mashed potatoes? Nothing better has ever been invented (and I’m including all inventions in my considerations, not merely edible ones). Hamburgers? I worship those meat patties at a special ground beef church every Sunday. Et cetera, et cetera. Clearly you can see my patriotic devotion and dedication to the culinary and gustatory arts.
On the other hand, nothing—and I truly mean nothing—offends me as much as the existence of mayonnaise. I really don’t understand why it exists. Who decided to make it for the first time? Who thought that a white, creamy mixture made of fat and self-loathing would be a good thing to slather on sandwich bread?? My bigger concern is why do people continue eating it every day? Surely one taste should be enough to dissuade a second bite.
I feel the same way about sour cream, though mostly because I assume it’s basically the same food. I’ve never knowingly eaten sour cream, so I can’t weigh in on the flavor. However, it looks the same as mayonnaise and it’s called “sour cream,” which is literally the worst sounding food name I’ve ever encountered (except maybe tripe), so we’ll just assume it’s the same flavor.
I’m also offended by the existence of many varieties of cheese, namely Kraft American singles and cottage cheese. Again, mostly because it looks like a lumpier version of mayonnaise. I also hate that all STDs or other vaginal problems seem to be accompanied by cottage cheese. Have you ever noticed that? Every health or sex ed. textbook describes this cottage cheese phenomenon, and when Cosmo decides to have an STD themed article, they too cite the cottage cheese discharge. I just can’t fathom how someone can willingly consume cottage cheese after hearing it compared to, well, that. Let alone the fact that it looks and smells terrible to begin with.
Wet foods in general disgust and offend me. If you try to serve me wet food (other than soup, of course) I will throw it in your face, and then you’ll have a wet face. I don’t like the phrase “runny eggs,” and I don’t want to encounter runny eggs at brunch either. I don’t like pizza that needs to be patted dry before I eat it. And if the cheese stretches between my mouth and the slice when I try to bite it, I will stop eating it. I prefer my pizza cheese to snap back with surprising elasticity.
If I’m eating something with a spoon that ought to be eaten with a fork, there’s a problem. If I can see my reflection in the glistening surface of my entrée, there’s an even bigger problem. If I wanted to see what I look like while gorging myself, I’d hang a mirror next to my dining room table.
Bit I digress. Clearly I, like most annoying people, love talking about the various foods I despise. Why is that? No one cares what foods people hate. Oh, you hate celery? Good for you! I never would have thought to form an opinion on something as complex and thought provoking as friggin celery. Seriously. Good. For. You.
It’s the same thing with telling other people about your dreams. I’ve literally never been even remotely interested in hearing about a dream someone else had.
My husband and I have quite the tempestuous relationship when it comes to food. Usually our food arguments start because he tries to make me eat food I don’t want to eat. He has this bad habit of trying to shove it in my mouth, as if I will change my mind or forget that I didn’t want to eat it if it’s circling around in front of my face, making airplane sounds. I mean, I know we use this strategy on children all the time, but they’re dumb. I, on the other hand, am very astute, and thus cannot be tricked into eating mayonnaise just because it happens to be acting like an airplane. You can’t get anything past me.
He’s not the only one who finds it personally offensive that I won’t eat mayonnaise. Almost everyone I know has tried to convince me I’m wrong about it. I don’t get why people care. What’s in it for you? How does this affect your life at all? You can’t, in good conscience, tell me that my distaste for mayonnaise is even a remote detriment to your daily well-being. And yet every time a food containing mayonnaise comes across my path, people feel the need to try to force feed it to me. Apparently I need to broaden my horizons and try new things. Apparently I don’t know what I’m missing. Apparently I don’t actually dislike mayonnaise—I only think I do, but I’m not giving it a fair chance. Right, because all of my problems would be solved if I developed a taste for mayonnaise.
Tell me again about its myriad health benefits?
You should like Thought Catalog on Facebook here.
image – Shutterstock
1. A bottle of wine.
While this should really go without saying, it’s crucial to underscore the importance of a good bottle of cheap-but-not-so-cheap-as-to-taste-vaguely-of-paint-thinner wine. It’s all for you, and you must rid yourself up-front of the self-imposed judgment on how much of it you drink by yourself. If you finish the whole bottle, that is in every way your prerogative, and it can only stand to enhance your evening overall. There are few things better than the feeling of being buzzed whilst hanging out in total solitude and not having anyone to impress or anywhere to go. (Or any toe-crushing heels to have to carry in your hand while you drunkenly walk home over three miles of broken glass and city sidewalk.)
2. 203985235 episodes of that show you’ve never seen.
Now is the time to let yourself get into that black hole of all things productive/social by stacking up a dozen episodes of something awesome and not even considering stopping until the sun is starting to rise in your east-facing window. It’s a very unique pleasure, and one that is hard to fully achieve when you have someone next to you who is yawning and whom you can tell is just a few minutes away from half-asking if you can turn it off after this one and go to sleep. You are all about marathons (except ones which involve actual running because LOL no way), and you do not need to be slowed down.
3. A good internet connection.
It seems obvious, but beyond the essential need to browse various websites when you have had just enough wine to not actually be sure what a sentence says until you read it back to yourself a few times, no solitary TV-watching session is complete without good internet. Because, unlike when you are watching with someone else and must stay fixated on the full-screen image at hand, you can take as many breaks as you like to check your Facebook or Google that really sexy actor’s name right when you see him. You can take up to three hours to watch a 30-minute episode because you keep wandering over to Wikipedia to read about Hitler for a little bit, and no one can tell you that it is ruining their precious viewing experience. So if your WiFi is spotty, you know you are in for a lackluster evening from the get-go.
4. Your favorite snack foods in “family size” quantities.
It’s the one circumstance in which you can go all-in on that 1 lb bag of Chewy Spree or XXL tube of pizza Pringles and you do not have to suffer the judgmental looks of everyone around you who secretly wants to partake themselves but who is worried about their current diet. (Any food consumed while having a Friday night in actually contains no calories and is made entirely of smiles and self-esteem. This is science, but please do not look it up to confirm it for yourself.)
At the risk of sounding like a walking Tumblr account, there is something simply essential about having a nice pot of your favorite tea while you’re spending the night with yourself. After all of the wine is gone (or even amidst the many glasses of it you’ll be imbibing), it’s nice to chill out with something that feels like it’s cleansing your system of all its worries, stresses, and partially-digested Funyuns. It’s just good for you in all senses of the world, but mostly spiritually. Also it puts a lot of water in your system for the looming wine hangover you need to pre-emptively fight off.
6. Total acceptance of the fact that you’re in for the night.
If you are living this night in with one foot even slightly out the door, wondering what’s going to be happening with all of your friends/your crush/that person you’re semi-dating while you are locked in with Breaking Bad and chicken nuggets, you are doomed from the start. Just as much as going out must be fully enjoyed and invested in, staying at home is an event in and of itself that must be appreciated. If you know that you’ll be looking ruefully at everyone else’s “night out” pictures tomorrow morning, you might as well put on your clubbing dress as we speak. It’s just not going to work.
7. Comfortable clothes.
I’m talking really comfortable. I’m talking, the only fabrics you should be putting on your body are really breathable cotton, elastic, and air. There is no part of your body that should be stifled, and the best way to guarantee that you will not fully enjoy being sprawled out on your bed and covered with Shame Crumbs is if you are for some reason still wearing your jeans. So go get that tee shirt that looks like someone to a paintball range where the guns were filled with little bits of food, because now is the time to wear it with honor. Bonus points if you’re buck naked from the waist down.
You should like Thought Catalog on Facebook here.
I was living on my own after ten years of marriage and my kids were visiting me every two weeks I didn’t know what to do with them. I didn’t have a door on my bathroom. I had girl problems. I had money problems. And now I had two tiny people who I needed to entertain.
If you think about it superficially, what does a 40 year old man have in common with a 12 year old girl and a 9 year old girl. What? Are we friends or something?
But they were my kids and I loved them and I wanted them to love me back. I also didn’t want their lives to be in too much shock over the separation of their parents. Time Magazine does its annual cover story on “Divorce Ruins the Lives of Kids” and now my kids were going to be divorced kids. “I don’t want to be one of those“, one of them was crying when we first told them.
Kids don’t deserve the burden that’s thrust on them. They have no control over their lives at all. They have no control over where they will live. They don’t know how to take care of themselves so they often get sick in the germ factories at the schools. Most kids hate school and are bored out of their minds sitting down from nine to three listening to boring teachers talk boring topics. Kids should run around and sweat and climb trees.
Plus kids are often cruel to each other. My oldest daughter was having a problem at the time with being ostracized at the school she was attending. It was very hard for her and broke my heart. Having been cruel at points in my life, I saw very clearly what they were doing to her. On top of it their parents were getting divorced. I was so sad for the both of them.
So I did the only thing I knew to do with them. I overbooked them. They would arrive and we would eat out dinner at a nice place, then play ping pong, then go to a movie, then next day: bowling, ping pong, basketball, swimming, ice skating, magic show, Holocaust museum (they HATED that), and hula hoop lessons. They were out of breath, out of mind, by the time they left to go to their home. My old home.
I found a woman who performed with a circus. I hired her for almost no money to come over and teach my kids all sorts of hula hoop tricks. “Why don’t you join in?” she said to me.
“I can’t do that,” I said. Maybe something homophobic in me. Don’t only girls hula hoop? Plus, every time I tried it it seemed scientifically impossible. I would move my whole body in a circle to keep up with the hula hoop, I would to spin as fast as possible, and it would immediately fall down. Whatever. Hula hooping is for girls.
“Sure you can,” she said, and she had a hula hoop for me. So I took lessons. And by the end of the first lesson I was hula hooping and my kids were doing all sorts of tricks.
But I did learn 6 Valuable Things From Hula Hooping
A) What seems hard is sometimes very easy. Sometimes you just need to know the right trick and something that you previously thought was not just hard but IMPOSSIBLE becomes easy. But everyone else still thinks it’s hard. So it’s like you’re doing a miracle whenever you show people. One time CNBC asked me to say something for one of their promos. I said, “Can I do it while hula hooping.” They said, “sure.” So I did it. Afterwards they were like, “Oh my god, how the hell did you do that?” Sadly they didn’t air it. I was in a tie, hula hooping, saying something about how capitalism was going to rule the free world and maybe it didn’t quite all fit together.
A lot of people say “I can’t do it” through their whole lives. I bet 95% of the things that “can’t” is applied to is actually very easy. In fact, I know this statistic to be true. I see “can’t” from people every day. When you say “can’t” look at the deeper fears why you might not want to do something. Or why you think you aren’t good enough. Or why you think you don’t deserve the magic.
B) You need a teacher. For everything I want to get better at, I get a teacher or mentor. Without a teacher I never would’ve learned the tricks to hula hoop. Without a teacher, I never would’ve gotten better at chess or poker. I had a good teacher on trading. I wish I had had someone show me the ropes on entrepreneurship. Instead I had to learn these rules the hard way. Through bitter tears and a lot of failure.
But you can get virtual teachers as well. The Internet is a blessing. It removes even more reasons for “can’t”. Where soon going to collectively run out of excuses for everything.
C) The less movement the better. I initially thought I had to move my body as fast as possible in a complete circle. But really it’s just moving your pelvic area forward and back about a half inch in either direction. You do it in sync with the hula hoop and you can go forever. It’s really that simple. Watch the video above to see how minimally Lisa Lottie actually moves when she’s hula hooping with five different hula hoops at the 3:22 point in the video. When my kids hula hoop it almost looks like they are not moving at all. I learned this trick once when raising money for a company. If it’s hard, it means it’s not going to happen. When you have the right company, it’s easy. Same for getting acquired. If it’s too difficult, then you are either in the wrong business or you need to build more. And in writing, the less words, the better.
When people show me an idea for a business, if lots of things have to conspire together, then it’s an automatic “no”. An example “major conspiracy”: they need a million users and need everyone simultaneously to be using a geo-locating-mobile dating app for it to be effective. “NO!”
D) Technology makes things better. The teacher I hired for the kids made all three of us our own hula hoops. She filled them with water and they were thicker than the average hoop in the store. When I was a kid you couldn’t buy water-filled hula hoops. But technology improves. The water makes it easier to get in sync with the hula hoop as you are moving back and forth. Almost everything in life can be improved with a little more thought and effort.
E) Being different has its rewards. The first time Josie visited me when I was staying in the Chelsea Hotel I told her to bring her hula hoop. My friend Cody had his TV show, “Happy Hour” on the Fox Business Network. Josie was going through a rough time with her friends at school. I arranged for her to go on the show and give stock tips while hula hooping. She was so excited and so happy afterwards. Here’s a link to it. She called her little sister and coudldn’t stop talking about it. I dream the time when they are in their fifties and on the phone talking about me. “Ugh, your turn to take change dad’s bedpan again.” That’s what I was thinking then. It was the first time I ever saw them on the phone with each other.
Another time, she was performing at a fair. While all her friends competed against each other in the singing category she practically invented her own category. She tap danced while hula hooping. Nobody else did that. She won an award. I was very proud of her because towards the end, like any good performer, she took control of the audience, she started clapping while tapping and hula hooping and everyone in the audience started clapping with her. She was fearless and fierce.
F) It feels good. When Orthodox Jews pray they do what’s called davening. If you’ve ever seen a group of them do it you know what I mean: it looks weird. They are moving all over the place. The idea is that every part of your body is praying to God. Hula hooping is like that. It feels like every part of your body is moving in this rhythmic, dancing way. And it’s not bad exercise either. In the video at top, Lisa Lottle is doing some yoga moves while hula hooping. So you can pray, dance, exercise, do yoga, and listen to music all at the same time while you hula hoop.
I finally stopped overbooking my kids. It was too tiring for everyone. They didn’t want to do it. And I was getting sick from too many magic shows, too much falling on ice. I’d had enough. I had just spent the week drinking and chasing and it was just as well if they wanted to stay inside and play monopoly. I still loved them. Hopefully, they still loved me.
One more video. I promise you won’t be disappointed if you watch it.
Fatboy Slim crowdsourced the making of a video for his song “This Ol’ Pair of Jeans”. Some girl submitted this video:
You should like Thought Catalog on Facebook here.
I left the house in a rush, determined to get where I was going.
High on impulsiveness (or the feeling like I was doing exactly what God wanted me to at the exact moment I was supposed to), I hurriedly packed a bag while calling mom, then my best friend, then my boyfriend to tell them all I couldn’t hang tonight because I had something to do. I’m sure I sounded manic on the phone. But I didn’t care. I had such purpose, and the purpose carried with it such urgency.
After throwing two bags in my car, I drove to the gas station at Wal-Mart.
It was 5 pm on a Friday. The gas station was packed, and cars were parked behind cars parked behind cars waiting for pumps. I started to get frustrated. I moved behind one car and the line seemed slow, so I moved again. I was about to pull out of the gas station and just go to another one on the way to my destination when I saw someone leave, so I was only one car away from gas! I turned my car off as the suburban in front of me opened their tank and started to fill.
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw them. An elderly woman, probably late 70’s, holding the hand of a 5-year-old boy. She was dragging him car to car, and I could tell that she was asking for something and people were turning her away.
She knocked on my passenger side window.
“Great,” I thought, “I don’t have time for this.” But I rolled it down. “Yes ma’am?” I said.
She relayed, teary-eyed, that she needed to get back to Crestview (a town about an hour away) because her son and his wife were arrested last night for domestic violence and both were in jail. She had come for the boy, to take him home with her. She didn’t have enough gas to get home, and anything would help, she said.
Something stirred in me. I didn’t think I had any cash (I never do) but I searched desperately in my purse. I didn’t. “I’m so sorry,” I said, “I don’t have any cash.”
All too familiar with the response, the woman nodded her head in reserve and started to walk away.
I knew I had time until the car in front of me finished pumping. I knew I had a credit card that I could pay off next month. And all of a sudden, I knew that God doesn’t make any timing mistakes. That I was supposed to be there, right then. I was supposed to meet her.
I was supposed to help her.
I grabbed my credit card and opened my door. “Wait!” I yelled. “I can charge it! Where’s your car?”
She smiled big and tears came to her eyes. I followed them to their car. She began to relay how thankful she was and to retell her story. All I could manage to say was how sorry I was and what a terrible situation it must have been. I ran my card, typed in my zip code, and said, “How much do you need?”
Still crying, she was able to get out, “We have to get to Crestview. Whatever you can spare.”
And I know that ultimately these are the moments that define our humanity. And it’s not about the money, at all. It’s about hearing someone’s story, about really listening to them, about having empathy, and hoping that if you were in that position, someone would stop and be Jesus to you. It’s about actually doing something for someone else, and not just thinking about it.
“Fill it up,” I managed to get out. She screamed, “OH bless you! Can I hug you?”
We hugged. There at the Wal-Mart gas station. Two strangers. I’m sure I’ll never see that woman again.
I wept for a minute. We wept to each other. And in the embrace of a stranger in a much worse situation, I felt true compassion. I wanted to do more for her, to help her. But what else could I do? The very moment I was helping, my heart was breaking – for everything she’d now have to go through, for that little boy, and for the guilt and shame of every time I hadn’t stopped to listen to someone who needed it.
“It’s ok,” I stuttered. “People need people, you know? God bless you.”
I drove away knowing that I was where I was supposed to be. Exactly where I was supposed to be.
I know what some people will say. You can argue that she could have lied and wanted the money for other reasons. You can say that I didn’t do enough. You can say that I did too much.
The thing I’ve realized is, it doesn’t really matter because my intentions were pure. There was no real motive. And though every ‘selfless’ act is never really selfless because we gain something good from it internally, I will never regret the feeling I got watching them drive away. It is one of sadness; it is one of urgency. But it is also one of relief, because I did what I could do at that time with what I had.
May we always be surprised by the kindness of strangers, and more importantly, may we be that stranger when an opportunity presents itself.
You should like Thought Catalog on Facebook here.
image – Shutterstock
I didn't understand why it was fun for me, it just was.
But as I grew older, it became harder and harder to access that expansive imaginary space that made my toys fun. I remember looking at them and feeling sort of frustrated and confused that things weren't the same.
I played out all the same story lines that had been fun before, but the meaning had disappeared. Horse's Big Space Adventure transformed into holding a plastic horse in the air, hoping it would somehow be enjoyable for me. Prehistoric Crazy-Bus Death Ride was just smashing a toy bus full of dinosaurs into the wall while feeling sort of bored and unfulfilled. I could no longer connect to my toys in a way that allowed me to participate in the experience.
Depression feels almost exactly like that, except about everything.
At first, though, the invulnerability that accompanied the detachment was exhilarating. At least as exhilarating as something can be without involving real emotions.
The beginning of my depression had been nothing but feelings, so the emotional deadening that followed was a welcome relief. I had always wanted to not give a fuck about anything. I viewed feelings as a weakness — annoying obstacles on my quest for total power over myself. And I finally didn't have to feel them anymore.
But my experiences slowly flattened and blended together until it became obvious that there's a huge difference between not giving a fuck and not being able to give a fuck. Cognitively, you might know that different things are happening to you, but they don't feel very different.
Which leads to horrible, soul-decaying boredom.
I tried to get out more, but most fun activities just left me existentially confused or frustrated with my inability to enjoy them.
Months oozed by, and I gradually came to accept that maybe enjoyment was not a thing I got to feel anymore. I didn't want anyone to know, though. I was still sort of uncomfortable about how bored and detached I felt around other people, and I was still holding out hope that the whole thing would spontaneously work itself out. As long as I could manage to not alienate anyone, everything might be okay!
However, I could no longer rely on genuine emotion to generate facial expressions, and when you have to spend every social interaction consciously manipulating your face into shapes that are only approximately the right ones, alienating people is inevitable.
It's weird for people who still have feelings to be around depressed people. They try to help you have feelings again so things can go back to normal, and it's frustrating for them when that doesn't happen. From their perspective, it seems like there has got to be some untapped source of happiness within you that you've simply lost track of, and if you could just see how beautiful things are...
At first, I'd try to explain that it's not really negativity or sadness anymore, it's more just this detached, meaningless fog where you can't feel anything about anything — even the things you love, even fun things — and you're horribly bored and lonely, but since you've lost your ability to connect with any of the things that would normally make you feel less bored and lonely, you're stuck in the boring, lonely, meaningless void without anything to distract you from how boring, lonely, and meaningless it is.
But people want to help. So they try harder to make you feel hopeful and positive about the situation. You explain it again, hoping they'll try a less hope-centric approach, but re-explaining your total inability to experience joy inevitably sounds kind of negative; like maybe you WANT to be depressed. The positivity starts coming out in a spray — a giant, desperate happiness sprinkler pointed directly at your face. And it keeps going like that until you're having this weird argument where you're trying to convince the person that you are far too hopeless for hope just so they'll give up on their optimism crusade and let you go back to feeling bored and lonely by yourself.
And that's the most frustrating thing about depression. It isn't always something you can fight back against with hope. It isn't even something — it's nothing. And you can't combat nothing. You can't fill it up. You can't cover it. It's just there, pulling the meaning out of everything. That being the case, all the hopeful, proactive solutions start to sound completely insane in contrast to the scope of the problem.
It would be like having a bunch of dead fish, but no one around you will acknowledge that the fish are dead. Instead, they offer to help you look for the fish or try to help you figure out why they disappeared.
The problem might not even have a solution. But you aren't necessarily looking for solutions. You're maybe just looking for someone to say "sorry about how dead your fish are" or "wow, those are super dead. I still like you, though."
I started spending more time alone.
Perhaps it was because I lacked the emotional depth necessary to panic, or maybe my predicament didn't feel dramatic enough to make me suspicious, but I somehow managed to convince myself that everything was still under my control right up until I noticed myself wishing that nothing loved me so I wouldn't feel obligated to keep existing.
It's a strange moment when you realize that you don't want to be alive anymore. If I had feelings, I'm sure I would have felt surprised. I have spent the vast majority of my life actively attempting to survive. Ever since my most distant single-celled ancestor squiggled into existence, there has been an unbroken chain of things that wanted to stick around.
Yet there I was, casually wishing that I could stop existing in the same way you'd want to leave an empty room or mute an unbearably repetitive noise.
That wasn't the worst part, though. The worst part was deciding to keep going.
When I say that deciding to not kill myself was the worst part, I should clarify that I don't mean it in a retrospective sense. From where I am now, it seems like a solid enough decision. But at the time, it felt like I had been dragging myself through the most miserable, endless wasteland, and — far in the distance — I had seen the promising glimmer of a slightly less miserable wasteland. And for just a moment, I thought maybe I'd be able to stop and rest. But as soon as I arrived at the border of the less miserable wasteland, I found out that I'd have to turn around and walk back the other way.
Soon afterward, I discovered that there's no tactful or comfortable way to inform other people that you might be suicidal. And there's definitely no way to ask for help casually.
I didn't want it to be a big deal. However, it's an alarming subject. Trying to be nonchalant about it just makes it weird for everyone.
I was also extremely ill-prepared for the position of comforting people. The things that seemed reassuring at the time weren't necessarily comforting for others.
The next few weeks were a haze of talking to relentlessly hopeful people about my feelings that didn't exist so I could be prescribed medication that might help me have them again.
And every direction was bullshit for a really long time, especially up. The absurdity of working so hard to continue doing something you don't like can be overwhelming. And the longer it takes to feel different, the more it starts to seem like everything might actually be hopeless bullshit.
My feelings did start to return eventually. But not all of them came back, and they didn't arrive symmetrically.
I had not been able to care for a very long time, and when I finally started being able to care about things again, I HATED them. But hatred is technically a feeling, and my brain latched onto it like a child learning a new word.
Hating everything made all the positivity and hope feel even more unpalatable. The syrupy, over-simplified optimism started to feel almost offensive.
Thankfully, I rediscovered crying just before I got sick of hating things. I call this emotion "crying" and not "sadness" because that's all it really was. Just crying for the sake of crying. My brain had partially learned how to be sad again, but it took the feeling out for a joy ride before it had learned how to use the brakes or steer.
At some point during this phase, I was crying on the kitchen floor for no reason. As was common practice during bouts of floor-crying, I was staring straight ahead at nothing in particular and feeling sort of weird about myself. Then, through the film of tears and nothingness, I spotted a tiny, shriveled piece of corn under the refrigerator.
I don't claim to know why this happened, but when I saw the piece of corn, something snapped. And then that thing twisted through a few permutations of logic that I don't understand, and produced the most confusing bout of uncontrollable, debilitating laughter that I have ever experienced.
I had absolutely no idea what was going on.
My brain had apparently been storing every unfelt scrap of happiness from the last nineteen months, and it had impulsively decided to unleash all of it at once in what would appear to be an act of vengeance.
That piece of corn is the funniest thing I have ever seen, and I cannot explain to anyone why it's funny. I don't even know why. If someone ever asks me "what was the exact moment where things started to feel slightly less shitty?" instead of telling a nice, heartwarming story about the support of the people who loved and believed in me, I'm going to have to tell them about the piece of corn. And then I'm going to have to try to explain that no, really, it was funny. Because, see, the way the corn was sitting on the floor... it was so alone... and it was just sitting there! And no matter how I explain it, I'll get the same, confused look. So maybe I'll try to show them the piece of corn - to see if they get it. They won't. Things will get even weirder.
Anyway, I wanted to end this on a hopeful, positive note, but, seeing as how my sense of hope and positivity is still shrouded in a thick layer of feeling like hope and positivity are bullshit, I'll just say this: Nobody can guarantee that it's going to be okay, but — and I don't know if this will be comforting to anyone else — the possibility exists that there's a piece of corn on a floor somewhere that will make you just as confused about why you are laughing as you have ever been about why you are depressed. And even if everything still seems like hopeless bullshit, maybe it's just pointless bullshit or weird bullshit or possibly not even bullshit.
Ughhhh life. You know what I’m saying? I’m very lucky, I know. I’m like one rung below those people who are #blessed. Or possibly I’m one rung higher than them, because I would never refer to myself as “#blessed.”
However, sometimes I just need to escape from my problems, petty, Tom Petty, or otherwise. Yes, I have a ton of problems concerning the human man Tom Petty. Specifically, why isn’t there more Newtonian physics in the song “Free Fallin’?” If there were, maybe you’d have learned, Tom Petty, that you can’t fucking fly without wings.
I have other problems too; life, relationships, and most importantly, after months of trying, I still haven’t been able to locate that one episode of Moesha where she speaks the lyrics to Edie Brickell’s “What I Am” at a poetry slam. It is nowhere on the Internet or on the Non-Internet, which is what I’ve taken to calling reality. I was even willing to buy the entire second season of the Moesha series on DVD just for that one incredible scene. Brandy Norwood doesn’t even own the entire second season of Moesha on DVD. Then again, all she really cares about is whether Donald is downstairs.
Obviously, I have valid complaints. I just need some time to get away from all my problems. It sounds impossible, but regardless of the warnings, I chase the fuck out of waterfalls. So when I decided to relocate, I thought about the one place in the world where I could truly escape from all the terrible nightmares of modern existence. That is why I’ve decided to move into this 1990s middle school dance.
So, welcome to my new home at this 1990s middle school dance! This is pretty much how we do it. Don’t mind the middleschoolers, they’re mostly for decoration. As you can see, I have plenty of food and beverages, as long as you like no alcohol and generic brand soda. It tastes okay, it’s not like it’s poison.
Plus, each soda costs merely 50 cents. That’s a price which—here at this 1990s middle school dance—no one will ever confuse with a birthday-party-obsessed rapper. Sure, I’ve contracted scurvy from eating a diet solely consisting of gum and plastic cups filled with pretzels, but it’s the good kind of scurvy. The kind pirates get from having too much fun—and too little fruit.
Why don’t we check out the rest of my living space? I like to do most of my daily activities in the living room/salon/grand hall/den, which some people think looks an awful lot like an auditorium. However, this area is actually a reclaimed basketball court. I reclaimed it from the modified basketball team earlier today. They were really cool about helping me build all of this IKEA furniture, too. I thought they’d be mad, but it was 100% pure love. Their pre-teen hands are the ideal size for turning an allen wrench.
Some people say: “How can you get any work done with a DJ and a smoke machine and roughly 200 adolescents in your home office?” I say, try NOT working! Do you know how productive you can be listening to the Dangerous Minds soundtrack? I just wrote 12,000 words in 8 minutes listening to Tre Black’s “Put Ya Back Into It”.
That one woman who keeps screaming “yeah” in the background of that song, the one who kind of sounds like she’s getting murdered, but is really happy about it? She’s my spirit animal. She’s my Buddha. She’s my pre-Lil’ Wayne Lil’ Wayne. No, she’s even better for hyping me up than him. Hype-wise, she’s worth about 50 Littles Wayne.
My new home is appointed with some of the finest available furnishings, floor mats, and top-of-the-line posters. See that old banner falling down behind the scoreboard? It’s originally from 1971, which I’m sure you know was a banner year for banners. See that puffy painted sign that says “Go Wildcats!”? It’s hand-made. So yeah, I’m pretty good.
My bathroom, at this 1990s middle school dance, is larger than my entire last apartment. Sure, it has a ton of people in it smoking and gossiping, but so does everywhere else in New York. Also I don’t need to watch the clock, I know that my bedtime is when DJ Ronzoni, who, as he says, “moonlights during the day as an algebra teacher,” puts on Don McLean’s “American Pie.” It is a real crowd pleaser.
I guess all decades are forever doomed to unrequited love for other decades.
Finally, here is my bedroom. I sleep on the bleachers and I sleep well, my friends. I am surrounded by people who believe that the millennium will be amazing. I’m surrounded by people who don’t know what an iPhone is, or a threat level, or a Tosh.0. I bask in the glow of their blissful unawareness the way they bask in the glow of the dashboard light.
As I prepare a late dinner of Crystal Pepsi, Gushers, and Dunkaroos from a newly discovered vending machine, teachers and students gather round my dining room to do the limbo, unironically. I lean back with a contented sigh while the literal and figurative smell of teen spirit wafts in the air, mingling with the residual sweat and lingering hint of Bunsen burners from the lab down the hall. They finish the game and the rhythm of the night shifts.
The chords of Weezer’s “Only in Dreams” grow louder, unfurling like a prepubescent crush over the length of a school year. My new home is magical. I take my cue, stretch, and get ready to turn in for the night. As sleep crashes over me in waves from the Rivers Cuomo, I have one more pure ecstatic thought: no one is posting any of this on Instagram.
You should like Thought Catalog on Facebook here.
It's disappointing to feel sad for no reason. Sadness can be almost pleasantly indulgent when you have a way to justify it - you can listen to sad music and imagine yourself as the protagonist in a dramatic movie. You can gaze out the window while you're crying and think "This is so sad. I can't even believe how sad this whole situation is. I bet even a reenactment of my sadness could bring an entire theater audience to tears."
But my sadness didn't have a purpose. Listening to sad music and imagining that my life was a movie just made me feel kind of weird because I couldn't really get behind the idea of a movie where the character is sad for no reason.
Essentially, I was being robbed of my right to feel self pity, which is the only redeeming part of sadness.
And for a little bit, that was a good enough reason to pity myself.
Standing around feeling sorry for myself was momentarily exhilarating, but I grew tired of it quickly. "That will do," I thought. "I've had my fun, let's move on to something else now." But the sadness didn't go away.
I tried to force myself to not be sad.
When I couldn't will myself to not be sad, I became frustrated and angry. In a final, desperate attempt to regain power over myself, I turned to shame as a sort of motivational tool.
But, since I was depressed, this tactic was less inspirational and more just a way to oppress myself with hatred.
Which then made me more frustrated and abusive.
And that made me even more sad, and so on and so forth until the only way to adequately express my sadness was to crawl very slowly across the floor.
The self-loathing and shame had ceased to be even slightly productive, but it was too late to go back at that point, so I just kept going. I followed myself around like a bully, narrating my thoughts and actions with a constant stream of abuse.
I spent months shut in my house, surfing the internet on top of a pile of my own dirty laundry which I set on the couch for "just a second" because I experienced a sudden moment of apathy on my way to the washer and couldn't continue. And then, two weeks later, I still hadn't completed that journey. But who cares - it wasn't like I had been showering regularly and sitting on a pile of clothes isn't necessarily uncomfortable. But even if it was, I couldn't feel anything through the self hatred anyway, so it didn't matter. JUST LIKE EVERYTHING ELSE.
Slowly, my feelings started to shrivel up. The few that managed to survive the constant beatings staggered around like wounded baby deer, just biding their time until they could die and join all the other carcasses strewn across the wasteland of my soul.
I couldn't even muster up the enthusiasm to hate myself anymore.
I just drifted around, completely unsure of what I was feeling or whether I could actually feel anything at all.
If my life was a movie, the turning point of my depression would have been inspirational and meaningful. It would have involved wisdom-filled epiphanies about discovering my true self and I would conquer my demons and go on to live out the rest of my life in happiness.
Instead, my turning point mostly hinged upon the fact that I had rented some movies and then I didn't return them for too long.
The late fees had reached the point where the injustice of paying any more than I already owed outweighed my apathy. I considered just keeping the movies and never going to the video store again, but then I remembered that I still wanted to re-watch Jumanji.
I put on some clothes, put the movies in my backpack and biked to the video store. It was the slowest, most resentful bike ride ever.
And when I arrived, I found out that they didn't even have Jumanji in.
Just as I was debating whether I should settle on a movie that wasn't Jumanji or go home and stare in abject silence, I noticed a woman looking at me weirdly from a couple rows over.
She was probably looking at me that way because I looked really, really depressed and I was dressed like an eskimo vagrant.
Normally, I would have felt an instant, crushing sense of self-consciousness, but instead, I felt nothing.
I've always wanted to not give a fuck. While crying helplessly into my pillow for no good reason, I would often fantasize that maybe someday I could be one of those stoic badasses whose emotions are mostly comprised of rock music and not being afraid of things. And finally - finally - after a lifetime of feelings and anxiety and more feelings, I didn't have any feelings left. I had spent my last feeling being disappointed that I couldn't rent Jumanji.
I felt invincible.
And thus began a tiny rebellion.
1. On more than one occasion, you have gone out with friends specifically with the intention of meeting someone at the bar, and have completely ignored the company you actually came with.
2. Your catchphrase has become “I don’t even care anymore, I just want to get laid.”
3. You sometimes worry about what will happen when (if) you finally do date someone again, because your living habits have devolved into completely unacceptable levels.
4. You no longer know how to share things, from a pizza to the comforter on the bed.
5. All of your friends have, at one point or another, tried to set you up with someone or suggest that you get on [insert dating website here], because you just can’t give up on love!
6. They are not aware that you have been on a dating website for a really time now, and don’t tell anyone because you’re kind of embarrassed by it.
7. You fear weddings which are a year away from now because you just know that you won’t have a date by the time it comes, and you’ll end up being put at the loser table again.
8. Weddings in general make you want to set baby animals on fire.
9. You have officially gotten tired of masturbating.
10. When people ask you about the last time you were in a relationship, you suddenly realize that it has literally been years, and are overwhelmed by the actual number.
11. Your most recent ex has had several relationships come and go since your break up.
12. Most people assume that you don’t even really want a relationship at this point, because you have turned down so many “promising” prospects.
13. You still consider yourself too proud to settle, but are getting closer and closer to dating someone who doesn’t match 50 percent of your requirements just because you are tired of being the only person without a someone.
14. If you really thought about it, you wouldn’t want to date someone who had been single as long as you, because it would seem kind of weird.
15. Sometimes you consider looking up the classmate you had a crush on in sixth grade and finding out what happened to them because, hey, why the hell not?
16. You have occasionally been tempted into dragging out what was clearly supposed to be a one-night stand because it seemed like the closest thing you had to a relationship at the time.
17. Friends have jokingly worked the word Single into your name before. “Hey, Single Sophie!” Hilaaaaarious.
18. There are way too many months’ worth of content on your blog which are simply too depressing to look at, and you’re often tempted to delete them.
19. You can’t remember the last time you kissed someone and really felt something.
20. You can’t be positive anymore about what your standards in a significant other really are, because the last time you were actually faced with the decision, you were a totally different person with a different lifestyle and personal needs.
21. You hate love songs and literally cannot understand their appeal whatsoever.
22. Your laptop has an actual spot on your bed, with a little space made for it in the blankets and a little pillow that it gets to sit on so it can be at the perfect height. And you don’t see anything strange about this whatsoever.
You should like Thought Catalog on Facebook here.
Back in 2006, when I finally got my Facebook profile — this was back when you had to be a college student to join Facebook, and my future alma mater had just accepted me and sent me my .edu email address and I was literally manic with joy over it – I was busy filling out my information with all kinds of boring shit no one could possibly care about except me, like my lame favorite quotes and all the crappy TV shows I liked when I was 18, I got to the music section and I was all like, “I like everything – except country, LOL!” And I probably put a smiley face because I was 18 and this was 2006.
Back then, my knowledge of the country music genre basically consisted of TV informercials for NOW THAT’S WHAT I CALL MUSIC MMXVII COUNTRY EDITION that replayed the same strain of that song that goes, “I got a barbecue stain on my white t-shirt…” over and over again. I mean, who wants to listen to that when I can listen to Beyonce singing about it being midnight in the club and she’s crazy in love or whatever? I mean, really.
Then I got to college all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, holding a bunch of boxes full of hair products and a giant window fan and all the other stuff you need to successfully attend college in a small Southern town when you’ve never lived in a place that has humidity before, and it wasn’t long before I started hearing the acoustic guitar and fiddle strains that mark a good country song wafting from the frat house windows. I just rolled my eyes at it and kept listening to Destiny’s Child or whatever was popular in 2006.
Then one day, a girl from my dorm and I went down to the convenience store on the cobblestone walkway of shops and bars by campus and opened up a little icebox by the counter and discovered a bunch of Mexican Coca-Colas – the ones made real cane sugar, that still come in little glass bottles, heavy and thick and covered with ice-cold condensation. There’s something about the substantial feeling of that glass in your hand, the way the paper label starts to peel off in the melting ice, cracked and faded, that transports you to another world – some ’50s place that doesn’t exist and maybe never existed, somewhere where you think maybe they’ll cost a dime each but really they cost $1.99 because it’s 2006, but it’s fine.
We bought two and walked out to her truck.
“You wanna go for a drive?” my friend asked, opening her Coke with a bottle opener she kept on her keyring. The Mexican Cokes didn’t have twist-offs.
The sun was shining. It was April, I think; the air was crisp but clear and the flowers were blooming all over campus. It was a Wednesday, maybe, I don’t remember now, but I don’t think I had class, or if I did, I skipped it.
We went careening down a back road, the windows open and the cold Cokes in our hands, and I pressed the dial on the radio to search for the right song to accompany our adventure. Rock was too harsh, pop too frivolous. I hit a pre-set for a country station, then, registering what I’d done, prepared to select another option – and stopped.
It was just…right.
The road – and our college – was in the middle of nowhere. On either side of us, fields of tall, pale green grass reached endlessly toward the horizon. The breeze came swift and cool through the windows, rustling our hair and turning our collars up against our necks, but the sun was hot when it touched our bare arms as it shone down onto the black leather of her seats. There were no other cars as far as we could see; just us and a landscape so drenched and wet in warm sunshine, the way lemonade would feel if you could just breathe it in. It was the palette of the South: blue, yellow, green, the bright pinks and stark whites of the crepe myrtles, the dark asphalt and umber clay.
On the radio, the country singer totally got it.
And so did I: This is what they’d been singing about the whole time, this springtime lemonade world I didn’t know about before this drive.
The words to a lot of country music, while admittedly occasionally referencing silly things like microwaving rice, are overwhelmingly dominated by a profound sense of gratitude and love. There’s an emphasis on family that’s hard to come by in other genres, and an appreciation for story-telling (a lot of story-telling) and wordplay.
Like any genre, there are duds. There are songs I hate so violently I’ll turn the radio off and drive in silence just to avoid them. And sometimes I still feel like throwin’ on some Beyonce or whatever. But more than anything, I was surprised to find that country music was actually about the real things I came to experience as an undergrad at a Southern college, not just a bunch of stereotypes and silly crooning about dogs and trucks (although dogs and trucks came to feature prominently in said college experience). Sometimes you really do get barbecue sauce on your white t-shirt, y’all.
We drove that road over and over again. We sped down it on the way to my friend’s family’s farm, where we fed her horses and threw sticks for her dogs, the number of whom always seemed to be changing, and I never could never keep track. We listened to those songs in our apartments, drinking beer on the balcony while the cicadas tried to drown us out. They provided the backdrop for our bar conversations and the lazy days we passed in the grass when it was too nice to go to class, drinking Starbucks or – if we were lucky – Mexican Cokes, popping off the metal caps with our keyrings.
Maybe it’s a difficult thing to get if you haven’t been baptized by April sunshine in a field somewhere in central Virginia like I was. I’ve spent hours trying to get my New Yorker boyfriend to appreciate my favorite radio stations, and while I think I’m starting to make some progress, he’s still largely uninterested in the odes to backyard bonfires and three-point fences that make me shut my eyes in happy nostalgia within the first few bars.
I guess I’m not really trying to convince you to like country music. You don’t have to listen to Randy Houser or Chris Young or George Strait or Willie Nelson or Toby Keith. But for your own sake, you should take a drive down a backroad sometime and see if you can’t find the right soundtrack for yourself, country or not.