I don’t perfectly remember when I first read Thought Catalog or what the article was. I know it was in college, and for some reason I’m pretty sure my friend Lindsay Brown (shoutout to LB!!) shared it. But I remember being incredibly inspired and transfixed by writers like Ryan O’Connell, Kat George, Chrissy Stockton, and Mila Jaroniec. I read TC pretty much daily, followed writers on Twitter and Tumblr, and even purchased my first eBook from Thought Catalog on my shiny new Nook (I’ve since upgraded to Kindle…don’t @ me) in 2013.
Basically, long before I got drunk and tried my hand at writing (I told the story over on Thought Catalog’s Facebook – you can watch it here) I was a fan of the website.
Two years after my first article was published, almost a year after I’ve worked for the company full-time, and several years after I first began reading the site, I’ve read, published, written, critiqued, and produced hundreds of articles. And the unofficial “anniversary” of when I went from being reader to writer on the site seemed like a good date to share some of my personal favorites.
Bianca Sparacino is the kind of girl that is intimidatingly cool. But more than her aesthetic (which is ON. POINT.) she’s the quintessential inspirational writer that you can turn to when you just need a pick me up. ‘You Are Not For Everyone‘ is one of my Bianca faves. One of my all-time greatest fears is the idea of not being ‘enough’ or the alternative, being ‘too much’ for someone. And the reality is…I probably won’t be enough for someone. And I will absolutely, and have been, too much for more. But that’s okay. And this piece by Bianca always reminds me of that simple fact.
Excerpt: “No, you are not for everyone. You are never going to be able to stop yourself from screaming your love from rooftops, you will never be able to play it cool. You are the kind of person who will worry about the strangers you see in grocery stores, the kind of person who will stay up at night wondering about your fifth grade crush, hoping that the sun is setting beautifully wherever they rest their head.
For that, I hope you protect yourself.”
Kat George remains, to this day, one of my favorite writers. Period. I highly recommend her book Pink Bits which, coincidentally, talks about periods. Kat is the type of woman and writer who just makes you wish she was in your friend group. And going back to her earlier work brings up some of my favorite pieces. ‘Here Is How You Walk Away From Him‘ was published in July of 2013, which was probably the worst and most chaotic summer of my life. While obviously, she wasn’t writing about me, I remember reading this and feeling like she was speaking directly to me. And even now when I reread it, it still feels that way.
Excerpt: “Here is how you walk away from him: you get up, flick your hair, sashay away and never look back.”
When I think about writers that I admire, Steph Georgopulos always comes up. I was talking to Chrissy the other day about writers and writing and other various artistic things that make us sound more pretentious than we actually are and Steph came up. Chrissy just simply said, “Girl’s got chops.” And I think that very accurately describes her. She’s got chops. Steph is ridiculously talented, and whenever I feel like I have a need to read something that I know is going to resonate, something I know will make me think, I turn to this piece, and any of her other wonderful pieces of writing.
Excerpt: “Is the most important thing about me really where I work or where I write? Does anyone honestly feel that way? I could’ve used that space to say anything: that I can’t cross paths with a stray cat without pausing to watch it until it’s out of sight. That I’m in love. That life makes me so excited that I want to explode, some days.”
The fact that horror and horror fiction has such a presence and audience on Thought Catalog is still amazing to me. Jack Follman is an brilliantly talented writer who focuses on thriller and horror fiction. Each one of his stories reads like a movie to me. In fact, if this piece was turned into a movie, I would be at the midnight showing. He is a truly impressive storyteller and I get genuinely excited whenever he has something new.
Excerpt: “One of our favorite activities when we were kids was to search for frogs in the creek and then build our own zoos for them to live in the front of The Shack. Unfortunately, our zoos weren’t the ideal habitat for the frogs so they frequently died in mass. When our frog friends passed, we would give them a proper burial in front of the mini-shack in our Frog Graveyard which was complete with mini headstones we made with rocks we tagged with our departed amphibian friends’ names.
Below the marker for the Frog Graveyard on the map was a note:
Dig here, don’t tell Jeremy”
One of the things I love most about the internet is how it constantly exposes me to new things. I love things that are creepy, scary, maybe a bit macabre. But I’d never heard of Black Eyed Kids until I discovered Creepy Catalog. Now I’m not going to lie and say I hope I run into a BEK anytime soon, but that doesn’t mean I don’t find the stories absolutely fascinating. And, of course, creepy AF.
Excerpt: “The girl very politely spoke up, “Ma’am, can we please come inside and use your phone to call our mom?” As she spoke something in the pit of my stomach was telling me something was wrong. What kid, even at that age doesn’t have a cell phone of their own these days? I couldn’t remember the last time I’d had anybody asked to use my home phone.”
Katie Mather is my favorite writer right now. It’s not just because she’s absolutely ridiculous and funny and everything I wish I had been at 22, but because she’s just unashamedly Katie. She’s so quick her jokes come at you out of nowhere and you’re left standing there sort of stunned because you never saw it coming. I remember seeing this House Hunters piece and immediately being A) so excited to read it because I love me some HH but B) internally furious that I didn’t think of this idea. I have a feeling that’s how I’ll always feel about Katie. But I’m 100% okay with it.
Excerpt: “The first house is ugly. Janet loves its charm (aka it looks like it’s haunted). Derek makes two feeble jokes about Janet needing a bigger closet. Classic.”
There’s a certain art to being able to write about sex comedically without being crass for the sake of being crass, and without making the same jokes that everyone’s made about dicks, lube, and dicks without lube. Ryan O’Connell will always be one of the first voice I remember reading and laughing my face off at, but also relating to so perfectly. I’m fairly certain I could read 1700 words of Ryan just describing a speck of dirt on the ground and it would be one of the funniest things I’d ever seen. I quote this piece about once a month and I’m not sorry about it.
Excerpt: “Sometimes you will feel overwhelmed with emotion and want to cry during sex. That’s okay. You’re not crazy. There’s just a dick inside of you. We’ve all been there.”
I have a pathological fear of growing up. Which is why this Ryan O’Connell piece resonates so fiercely within me. I’m always worried about if I still look young, if everyone else hates themselves as much as I do, I’m doing a bad job of growing up, if I’m doing okay…and this essay finds a home with that fear. It’s tongue and cheek for sure, but still poignant. And that’s what I love about it.
Excerpt: “Treat love like it’s chewing gum. Spit it out, twirl it around your finger and stick it under the table. There’ll be more where that came from, I’m sure. I will never run out of love. It will always be there for me, ready for consumption, when I’m ready for it. ”
Chrissy Stockton is the person that I list at the top of the “who do you aspire to be like” column of my questionnaire of life. I was actually there when she wrote this piece and I remember telling her I couldn’t really talk about it because it hit home so specifically for me. That still remains. There is this element to growing up where we all sit there poised and coifed and say, “One day we’ll make sense!!” But reality is..that’s not reality. And Chrissy sums that up in this piece both poetically and accurately. There’s an element to growing up that is so personal and so introspective. And I think that’s what causes me to tear up every time I reread this piece.
Excerpt: “You work on yourself and you hope for the best, but you only get better — you don’t get perfect.”
Growing up is almost…unfortunate in a way. It’s never seamless, effortless, or any of those less-esque adjectives that make it seem like it’s going to be easy. Which is why I love this Chelsea Fagan piece so much. There’s a reason they literally call it growing pains. Growing up sucks a lot! But the sucakge is ultimately okay, and what I like about this piece is that it makes those messier parts easier to accept. It makes the uncomfortable parts of growing up more touchable, tangible, accessible. It makes you feel less alone.
Excerpt: “[To grow up you must deal with] Falling for someone who is never going to be a good decision for you, but who you cannot help yourself in loving.”
It would be basically sacrilegious to talk about poetry and Thought Catalog without talking about Ari Eastman. Ari’s poetry is what made me fall in LOVE with poetry. It’s accessible, it’s relatable. It’s human. I remember reading this piece for the first time in one of her books and feelings like it was stabbing me directly in the chest. That’s what her words do to you. They hit you directly where you’re most afraid, most exposed, most vulnerable. But they do so softly, sweetly, almost in an unassuming way. I will never stop reading her poetry. No matter what. Quote me on it.
Excerpt: “I am laughing and crying
and our love spills out with such ease.
It escapes through open doors,
the gap in between my front teeth,
the spaces between our fingers when we unlatch,
“This is where I love you.”
Technically, this isn’t a TC original. OMG ALERT THE AUTHORITIES OMG. But this poet, Brenna Twohy, is one of my favorite poets and writers around right now. And I was so honored, so excited, to get to feature her on Thought Catalog some months back.
This poem makes my skin crawl. It makes me want to get outside of myself and refuse to relate. But that’s what good writing, what powerful writing, does. It makes you want to escape and forces a reactions from the words. Brenna will always do that. And I love her for it.
Excerpt: “It’s not your fault, you say,
that your teeth
are the same shape
as his teeth.”
I’ve called Lauren “glitter in human form” more than once and I fully stand by that assessment. But aside from being a literal ray of sunshine, Lauren is a truly excellent storyteller and very elegant writer. Elegant is the word I constantly use to describe what she writes. Even when she’s just telling a love story that took place on a domestic flight, there’s a smoothness and a certain level of grace to it.
Also I love this piece because it genuinely reads like a romcom, and I want them to live happily ever after as the credits roll and an acoustic cover of a Whitney Houston song plays.
Excerpt: “He told me he thought my broken thumb was cute and looked me dead in the eyes so many times that my stomach kept dropping in that sickly crush kind of way. With his conversation and his smile, he made me forget about the turbulence. He made me forget my fear of heights. I don’t know if I believe in fate, but something about this experience made me want to believe in it.”
I talk a good game about letting go. I talk a good game about deleting people from my life, from exiting scenarios. But it’s easier said that done. This piece by Heidi Priebe goes through the intricacies and the complicated nature of letting someone go. It’s heartbreaking, it’s beautiful, it’s one of those pieces that brings me back to a specific time in my life and even though the memories may still sting, it’s nice to be able to reflect.
Excerpt: “This is my conceptualization: That someday I’m going to have a wedding and that you will not be there. That the ring that gets slipped on my finger will be picked out by somebody else and that the people sitting in the front row with eyes brimming and hearts bursting will not be your family members. This is my acceptance of the finite absurdity of knowing that I’m someday going to promise my life to someone who is not you and that I may even be happy to do so. That one day I’ll see changes and beginnings in a way I never saw them with you.”
Mila Jaroniec is a writer that I distinctly remember reading and thinking, “Wow, I wish I could do that.” Whenever someone asks me about my favorite pieces of writing, I immediately search for this piece. The huamnity of it, the rawness of it, Mila’s conversational writing. I just…I love everything about it. Idk. It’s my favorite. Read it.
Excerpt: “I’m going to sit across the table and watch you weave your fingers into hers, chew the same crust of bread for five minutes and sip my cocktail and try to smile. I’m going to think you can’t tell her “I love you” and mean it because you’ve said it to me so many times and meant it and now you don’t so you’ve already used up that phrase, get a new phrase or keep your mouth shut.”
Mélanie Berliet is a writer that I remember reading before I even cited Thought Catalog as one of my favorite digital platforms. And now, I’m lucky enough to get to say that I work with her. My favorite thing about Mél is that she gives 0.0000000000 fucks. Mél doesn’t care if you like her, if you’re bothered by what she says, if you have something to interject with. She encourages differentiating opinions and voices. It’s a quality I absolutely admire and absolutely aspire to have as I (continue to) grow up. This piece is one of many that Mélanie has written that inspire me to be better, to do more, to push. And I hope that she never stops pushing for that more. Because I love her for it.
Excerpt: “Although it’s helpful to ask ‘why?’ [women who don’t need your approval are] more likely to ask “why not?'”
If anyone ever tries to talk to me about the internet and spikage and how view-counts work ever again, I’m going to send them this article before engaging with them. Love it, hate it, Bible-by it or adamantly disagree with it…it’s sure to make you think and spark a conversation wherever you are.
The thing about internet culture is that it (can be) very misunderstood. People will say things like, “Oh you’re just a blogger,” or “So you operate on hate clicks right?” and it makes you want to slap them because in reality, you’re creating content for over millions of people per month and those statements are simply untrue. It can be incredibly frustrating to feel like you’re constantly justifying what you do or how you do what you do. But Chrissy inspires me to just roll with it, and to just keep on grinding. And I think she’s able to roll with it because of how much she knows and understands about this industry. She knows how to be there for her audience, she understands her audience. And I am so glad I’ve gotten to learn about it, internet culture, from her directly.
Excerpt: “The real issue is that people don’t want opinions they disagree with to be published. They don’t want writing that they don’t judge to be good to be published. They want their meal to come to them prepackaged and maybe even spooned directly into their mouth.”