After ASMR videos, Man Repeller is my favorite place to go to have my brain massaged. I’m probably biased because I watched many of the below pieces transform from fledgling comments into things far more expansive, but there’s no place I’ve sought emotional refuge more this year than in the wise words of the MR staff and freelance writers. Below are the most popular pieces we published this year in the realms of essay and advice. There’s a little Rihanna, a little friendship, and a whole lot of self-esteem.
“…this dichotomy that new motherhood sets up is wrapping my brain in puzzles I am dying to solve! I feel like a walking contradiction. Some minutes I LOVE being home with them, others I just want to put on boss pants and run a conference call. Do you find yourself teetering back and forth between in love with BABYZEN — the bubble of maternity leave — and so ready to move on from it?.” -Leandra Medine
“Not: You are beautiful and don’t know it. Not: Fuck the beauty standards. Not: You shouldn’t care how you look. Just: You don’t have to look good. You do not owe anyone your most ‘attractive’ self if you’d rather just exist. You and your life are worth capturing, remembering and admiring regardless of how beautiful some standard you did or didn’t agree to might deem them.” -Haley Nahman
“The first time I actively noticed someone code-switch I was about 10. I told my mom (who is white) that she put on an accent around my dad’s relatives (who are black) at Christmas. ‘Please stop,’ I said in the car one day. When you’re 10, everything is embarrassing, but I think there was something about that particular brand of code-switching that stuck out to me. It seemed so inauthentic, an attempt to belong in a way that just came off as awkward.” -Nora Taylor
“The fear of friendlessness is deep-seated, codified into our malleable brains at too vulnerable an age to be easily dismantled. I feel fairly certain this is true, and yet, like the human-shaped pile of contradictions that I am, I still manage to believe everyone’s fine and definitely hanging out without me.” -Haley Nahman
“She asked me what I thought about when I was bored and my mind was free to roam around and noodle whatever it wanted to noodle. She asked if there was anything in particular that buzzed in the periphery of my thoughts as I went about my day, or inspired me to open multiple tabs to browse on my computer.” -Harling Ross
“I’ve never made a career blunder dastardly enough to get me fired, but I’ve made plenty of small ones I subsequently mulled over for weeks on end, like Everlasting Gobstoppers that never failed to run out of stress juice.” -Harling Ross
“From what I understand, when the majority of pregnant women nest, they are inclined to clean maniacally — to set up for the imminent new life slated to enter their homes, and to do it quickly. My experience with nesting, however, has felt more metaphoric. I’ve cleaned out my iPhoto library, cleared off my desktop and deleted feckless iPhone notes. While going through these notes sometime last month, I came across one that contained a single sentence, dated April 13th, 2015. It read: ‘Can you love your life but hate yourself?'” -Leandra Medine
“My housemate has a panic attack every time she’s on the tube — there’s something about the never-ending tunnels and the lack of exits that does it, I think. The multiple therapists she’d seen about it were no help, and she was resigned to thinking it would be her life forever. And then, last week, she had an appointment with a therapist who was different, who told her exactly what she needed to hear: ‘You’re underestimating your ability to cope.'” -Kelly Pigram
“Even though black culture celebrates my hips, my thighs and even my stomach chub, and even though I have friends who praise my curves and affirm me often, I grew up in a neighborhood and went to schools where very few of the residents or students looked like me. Sometimes I was viewed as beautiful and sometimes I wasn’t. For a long time, my self-esteem rose and fell with those opinions.” -Celeste Little
“Although the MBTI framework isn’t completely infallible — some contest its usefulness (or misuse it) — I’ve seen the patterns play out in real life and have learned to appreciate personality differences in a new way as a result. Perhaps more than anything else, the system has helped me see that everyone plays a different role with different strengths.” -Jenna Birch
Feature collage by Louisiana Mei Gelpi; all images via Man Repeller.