How Ryan O’Connell saves my life everyday

Like most people my age, Thought Catalog was the site, when words went to die into a pile of emo. Or get emo about absolutely nothing. And so I avoided it like the plague.

My life was seemingly happy and I had friendship and love and pretense. I bought expensive coffee and sat at stores and read books of princesses and distraught heroes. Sipping my coffee as I turned the pages of my life. Laughed at little children running around me and talked to them about fairytales and high fives.

I went out on weekends to drown my stress in alcohol and stayed awake until the wee hours engaging in drunken repartee about dreams and hopes and parents who would be pissed because you stayed out all night. I went out on week nights because I was that friend who you called as back up when none of your first circle or best friends had time for you.

I went because I had no friends otherwise.

I fell in love with men and women. I made love to men and women.

And then one day, I fell in nothing.

It enveloped me in pity and self-loathing. It embraced my emptiness and filled it with a void. This was the beginning of the end. I cried for days that translated into weeks and eventually months. I cried for nothing. Nothing ate at me every day until there was nothing more to eat.

One morning while wallowing in last night’s leftovers, Ryan O’Connell popped up in one of my blog feeds and told me how to be the best version of myself. The year was 2011 and I was ready for change. And so I listened to him. I printed out all he wrote and it became a manifesto. RYAN O’s MANIFESTO.

I put it up on walls, under my pillow as I cried myself to sleep, in my wallet as I bought groceries, in my head as I began to live and not just survive. Ryan O had made me a better version of myself. And then I read everything he wrote.

Even if it were 2 lines in fine print under a life insurance document.

Ryan O thought me how to survive a broken heart and how to be gay even though I wasn’t. How to live in New York city and in denial. What my shoes, my favorite magazine and soup says about me. Anything they say is fantastic because HEY talking soup! He told me what kind of Twitter user I was before I even had a Twitter account, he taught me to appreciate silliness and crave magic. He taught me to accept rejection gracefully and how questionable eye-shadow can get me the wrong kind of attention. He taught me about healthy living and unhealthy relationships, forced beginnings and happy endings.

He still teaches me every day and even more, he keeps me alive.

And humbled.

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