The Word of the Year Is “Existential,” So Here Are 75 of Our Headiest Stories
12.09.19

Word got around the Man Repeller office this morning that Dictionary.com recently announced its 2019 word of the year, and that word was “existential.” This news was shared in our channel reserved for “wins,” and although the choice reflects our complicated times, it still felt like cause for celebration on our little corner of Slack.

In addition to overusing the words “sartorial” and “zeitgeist,” we’re famous in this group text thread for having the unique ability to take  things (like, all things—breakups, birthdays, pants) to an existential place, sometimes unnecessarily. So, in honor of our fondness for the word of the year, we’ve decided to cull a bunch of our headiest, most introspective content for your (and also our own) perusal. Let’s call it The Man Repeller Syllabus for Being Alive.

Thanks for hanging around all this time while we made it, we couldn’t exist without you.

Times We Got Existential by Accident

Open Thread: How Do You Choose Your Side of the Bed?
Is It Just Me or Is Fashion Getting Really Streamlined?
What’s FaceApp Really Getting At?
There are Two Types of People: Those Who Knock on Bathroom Doors and Those Who Jiggle the Handle

“Over the next two days, I launched an Instagram-wide investigation into normative cuddling behavior. To my surprise, I got hundreds of responses almost instantly. Suddenly my DM inbox was jam-packed with the adorable details of people’s private cuddling habits. It was like I’d stumbled upon the secret lives of spooners. I can’t say with categorical certainty that this topic is inherently pure, but conducting this research was a shot of joy to the heart.”

—Haley Nahman (hi), The Secret Lives of Big and Little Spoons: A Cuddling Investigation

The Writing Advice That’s Secretly Really Good Life Advice
There Are Two Kinds of People in This World: “Thank You” People and “Sorry” People
Why Are My Morning Lattes Starting to Taste Like Milkshakes?
Learning to Plan for Next Year, Right Now
I Took 30 Days of Mirror Selfies and Processed a Lot of Feelings
If You Haven’t Heard of “Hopepunk,” Allow Me to Gently Introduce You

Leandra’s Motherhood Triptych

2016: The Baby I Lost, the Person I’m Finding
2017: A Different Kind of Pregnancy Announcement
2018: I’m Days Away From Giving Birth and Terrified

Proof That Growing Up Hurts (Then Feels Really Good)

Welcome to Your 30s, They Said
Taking Hormones and Teaching My Body a New Language at 29
Getting Lost in Thought So I Can Find Myself
3 Women on What They’ve Learned in Their 70+ Years of Life
Why Doesn’t Anybody Feel Like an Adult Anymore?
I Think I’m Too Young to Feel This Wistful About My Past
Turning 29 Is Like a Second Puberty, Astrologically Speaking

“Accepting your own mediocrity is a kind of small death—you are waving goodbye to the life you might have had, one in which you got to sing ’99 Luftballons; with your college acapella group (I dream big). But it also opens a window to something arguably better: the soft, warm bath of ease, the freedom to do a thing just because you really like it. Just because it feels good.”

—Meghan Nesmith, The Radical Act of Embracing Your Own Mediocrity

Was Glamorizing Mistakes…a Mistake?
Do You Have to Leave Your Hometown to Grow Up?
12 People on the Advice That Changed Their Life
I’m Nostalgic for the Teenage Luxury of Feeling All My Feelings
The Myth of the One Thing That Will Change Your Life

On Life, Death, and the Heady Stuff In-Between

My Bad Acid Trip Taught Me Everything and Nothing
Why I Stopped Trying to “Solve” My Feelings
Unconventional Life Hack: Remind Yourself You’re Going to Die
(p.s. I still recommend this app!)
Why If You Already Are Your Best Self?
Can You Lead a Meaningful Life Without Taking Any Risks?
The Lie I Used to Tell Myself About Time
(p.s. this was a Writers Club winner!)
What Really Matters? 5 Older Women Weigh In
Why Do I Love to Feel Blue?
I Have a Complicated Relationship With Happiness
What a Brush With Death Taught Me About Control
If You Can’t Find a Purpose, Just Find a Reason
I Think I Might Be Better on the Internet Than in Real Life
Are You Happy?

Times We Wrestled With Our Physical Forms

Shame: An Explainer
(P.s. our whole office sent this to everyone we knew)
I Thought I’d Be Cool About Aging. I Was Wrong
Why Do I Feel the Need to “Look Good”?
What I Realized About My Self-Esteem Problem

“When I’ve put in the work—and it is work—to get comfortable with myself, feeling defeated by something so small can make my self-esteem feel like a house of cards. I’ve spent too many years of my life letting my body insecurities get in the way of enjoying the limited perks of the summer season (team fall!). And yet, I know feelings don’t always follow the soundest of logic, so as summer draws nearer, I felt compelled to scream this out into the internet void in case anyone else experiencing summer-induced body panic wants to join me.”

—Nora Taylor, This Is the Summer I Make Piece With My Stretch Marks

I Had a Hard Month, But You Wouldn’t Know It From My Mirror Selfies
How to Talk Yourself Down From a Self-Esteem Spiral
After 28 Years, I Still Don’t Know What I Look Like

When Questions About Love Are Actually About Life

When You Want Kids, But Your Partner Doesn’t
Why I Ended a Happy Relationship
(p.s. almost three years later, I still get DMed about this story about once per week)
I Asked Hundreds of People How They Feel About Being Single
Why Is Marriage Still the Default Metric of Relationship Success?
The Silver Lining of Unrequited Love
At 30, I’ve Never Been in a Serious Relationship—and That’s Okay

Related: A Little Series I Like to Call “Is It Wrong?”

Is It Wrong to Have a Crush While in a Relationship?
Is It Wrong to Want to Change Your Partner?
Is It Wrong to Think a Relationship Will Complete Me?

The Mushiest Advice We’ve Ever Given

Ask MR: I’ve Taken a Leap and Can’t Find My Footing. What Do I Do?
Ask MR: Does Where I Live Have to Define Me?
Ask MR: I Feel Undesirable. What Do I Do?
Ask MR: I’m Freaking Out About My Future
Ask MR: Am I a Narcissist or Just Vain? (a special round wherein Leandra answers her own question)
Ask MR: How Do I Reach My Highest Potential?
Ask MR: I’ve Only Had One Romantic Partner. Am I Missing Out?
Ask MR: What If I Never Amount to Anything?
Ask MR: I Don’t Like the Person I’ve Become. Is It Too Late?

The Essays We Wrote Post-Existential Crisis

How Can I Know Myself If I’m Constantly Changing?
Changing My Life Didn’t Change Me as Much as I Thought It Would
Why I’m Finally Letting Go of the Pressure to Be Something I’m Not
Does Everyone Have a Friendship Complex, or Just Me?
Peak Maturity: Accepting That You’re a Cliché

“We repeat stories about ourselves to make sense of our worlds. The stories I’ve always told about who I am—that I don’t take risks, that I’m the good daughter, that I’m the uncomplicated girlfriend, that I have to look a certain way to be happy, that the shape of my future is not only obvious but inevitable—sound strangely discordant now, as if out of tune with my current self. But even though I’m starting to discern what I’m not, I still can’t pinpoint what I am. That’s what makes me think I never knew in the first place.”

—Harling Ross, The Unique Anxiety of Outgrowing the Life I Built for Myself

Learning to Be Less Cynical Is Helping My Anxiety
What Happens When You Grow Up Twice?
I Definitely Overthought This Essay About Overthinking

Feature graphic by Louisiana Mei Gelpi.

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