It Happened on Medium: May 2024 roundup

Last month’s most-read stories, most-highlighted sentences, and some of our favorite stories in honor of Mental Health Awareness Month

Success comes from failure. Nobody likes to hear this, much less experience it — wouldn’t it be much more comfortable if we could simply succeed the first time, without having to suffer the indignities of failure? But it’s the nature of humanity; we try, we fail, we get back up and try again, and at some point we figure it out.

Medium has so many great human stories from writers, and while there are plenty of tales of triumph, they also share when they’ve failed — and what they’ve learned from it. I love reading those stories because even though most failures are deeply personal, the experience of failing is shared. It’s wonderful to experience that shared emotion, transmitted through the writer’s words to my screen.

David Mandell wrote a beautiful essay on the nature of failure, both the external failure of moving back in with his parents as a 31-year-old screenwriter and about the much more internal failure of how he got caught up in trying to be someone he wasn’t. “That’s my real failing: losing who I am to gain the adoration of people who don’t really know me. It has been long overdue for me to relinquish my mask,” he writes. Artist and author Eva Schicker writes about her failure to make AI image generation spit out something she wanted. “The mornings after my AI binges were haunting. I had nothing to show for my countless hours spent prompting. My eyes hurt, my brain, too,” she writes. “Drawing perfection lies in its imperfections.”

In the writing about writing section, memoirist Grace Loh Prasad writes about writing a memoir that fails to appeal to everyone. “If you’re struggling to write your memoir, this is my advice: Stop trying to appeal to everyone. Ultimately, as a memoirist you can only be successful by being absolutely, unapologetically yourself.”

Failure sucks. But to me, there is something really beautiful in the attempt. I loved these essays on the various types of failing, and I hope you do too.

Zulie Rane

Medium by the numbers…

In May 2024…

  • You wrote 978,647 comments
  • You published 76,458 stories in publications
  • 1.8 million new users joined Medium

May’s most highlighted passages

“Showing up. Showing up with your whole self, showing up with your values and beliefs, showing up with what makes you unique, but above all — showing up with consistency.” — A note on the only way to create a career of worth and a body of work that matters from writer Joan Westenberg in her story “Just Show Up.”

“Sometimes the universe puts angels in your path at precisely the right moment.” — A reflection on the kindness of bystanders from retired public servant Susan Wheelock in her story “Sometimes Angels Appear When You Need Them the Most.”

“But the world will hear my stories before the final bridge burns.” — Reflections from poet Praise Frank on an African proverb that says a little rain each day will fill the rivers to overflowing, a reminder that it is often better to take it a day at a time, in his poem “The Wailer.”

“I’ve been annually mailing him locks of my shit brown hair ever since.” — Writer Claire Franky’s revenge on a date who ditched her due to ‘false advertising’ in her dating profile pictures in her story “He Walked Out During Our First Date.”

The top 10 most-read stories on Medium

  1. 50 Completely True Things,” by Palestinian-American creative mo husseini
  2. Statement on the Passing of Mrs. Marian Robinson from Barack and Michelle Obama, Craig and Kelly Robinson, and their children,” published by former U.S. president Barack Obama
  3. A Shot in the Dark: The Untold Story of Korean Air Lines flight 007,” by Seattle-based aviation writer Admiral Cloudberg
  4. Harrison Butker’s Commencement Speech Was Even More Bonkers Than You Think (Full Transcript),” by business and tech reporter Chris O'Brien
  5. Stealing everything you’ve ever typed or viewed on your own Windows PC is now possible with two lines of code — inside the Copilot+ Recall disaster.” by cyber weatherman Kevin Beaumont in DoublePulsar
  6. Why I Quit Drinking Alcohol,” by Mark Manson, bestselling author of The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck
  7. Kolmogorov-Arnold Networks (KANs) Might Change AI As We Know It, Forever,” by author Dr. Ashish Bamania in Level Up Coding
  8. My Husband Left Me Two Weeks After I Gave Birth,” by writer Eliza White in Human Parts
  9. Eat Carbs Last — here’s why,” by nephrologist Dr. Jason Fung
  10. Make your Figma components work harder,” by UX/UI designer Allie Paschal in UX Collective.

Popular stories from the Medium archive

These stories, while not written this month, continue to be relevant, useful, and moving pieces of work long beyond their publication date. I enjoyed these today as much as I did when they were hot off the presses, and readers on Medium did too, showing their appreciation by clapping, commenting, and highlighting these pieces in May 2024.

What I Learned from Playing More than a Million Games of Wordle” by barrysmyth, Professor of Computer Science at University College Dublin. Yes, I still play Wordle on a daily basis! I loved this analytical approach to picking the best “start” word, published in January 2022, even if I still reserve the right to choose my starting word based on whatever random thing I’m looking at.

“Ok, full disclosure: I didn’t actually play a million games of Wordle, but I wrote a Wordle simulator that did. Why? Because I wanted to learn more about the dynamics of the game and evaluate some of the strategies that people have been discussing online, especially those that discuss the “best words to use at the start of Wordle”. What follows is a description of the approach taken and the what I learned from it.”

Reckoning with My Mother’s Kidnapping,” by writer and teacher Mary Milstead, published in July 2019. As a perennial people-pleaser myself, this story made me angry, sad, and finally, hopeful.

“After eight hours of trauma, of thinking that she would die, she was freed by the same man who’d taken her in the first place. In that moment, like in so many other moments she’d already lived, she had to perform gratitude. On a deserted highway in the middle of the night, after all she’d been through, she was still required to be unfailingly polite, to be pleasing. She waved.”

27 Photos of Nature’s Most Sublimely Impressive Goofs” by newsletter author and writer Jack Shepherd. Nature is majestic until it isn’t. I cackled when I read this for the first time in September 2021, and I cackled again as I read it today.

“The goofy kangaroo singing in the shower. The penguin shuffling off to work after a late night out. The lion with a bad hair day.”

Boosted stories by new writers

Here’s a handpicked set of some of my favorite Boosted stories written by new Medium writers in May 2024.

(Reminder: we have over 150 editors in our Boost Nomination Program who are constantly on the lookout for the best stories in their publication to nominate for a Boost, regardless of whether it’s the writer’s 1st or 1,001st story published on Medium.)

How To Go From Zero To Autistic In Three Months: An AuDHD Origin Story” by Shawntistic in The Unexpected Autistic Life

“It’s so hard to describe the feeling when a simple statement, “You are definitely Autistic,” validates a lifetime of difficulties, of being called lazy, of not living up to my potential, of being a misfit.”

UI/UX Case Study: The Starbucks App Revamp You’ve All Been Waiting For…” by visual and brand designer Manish Singla in Bootcamp.

“After navigating through the labyrinth of hiccups, I eagerly reached the order tab. Excitement turned to dismay as, upon hitting ‘continue’ to explore the menu, I was met with a “coming soon to your location” message.”

From Pain to Purpose — Healing Childhood Traumas in the Heart of Motherhood” by Solanyi Ulloa in Contemplate

“I found myself stepping into roles I was barely old enough to understand, sacrificing my own childhood to help manage the household and care for my younger siblings. It was a steep price for a child to pay, watching the carefree moments dissolve into a routine marked by duties and responsibilities.”

Observing Mental Health Awareness Month

Here in the States, we observed National Mental Health Awareness Month this month. And here on Medium, many writers came forward to share their stories of dealing with, bolstering, and struggling with their own mental health. I loved Dana Stankovic’s personal essay about her journey living with anxiety and depression, “Searching for a Silver Lining: My Mental Health Story.” When meeting someone with an unfamiliar mental health diagnosis like bipolar, many of us say the wrong thing. odawni, who writes about her experiences living with bipolar, offers ten suggestions on supportive things to say instead. And writer Leon Macfayden shares the difficult side of how to manage the bad days even after you’ve made a “recovery” from mental health issues like PTSD.

To read more deep, insightful stories about mental health, check out the Mental Health tag on Medium. Plus, mental health-focused publication Black Bear, where I discovered two of those stories, had several amazing submissions for their May prompt covering individual mental health journeys.

New publications on Medium

Medium is home to many incredible editors who manage and maintain lively publications about any number of topics, like cats, mental health, and wildlife, but we’ve got more and more every month.

Here are a few of my favorites that were created in May:

  • The Mathsy Way, a publication dedicated to bringing math ideas to the masses, and presenting them in a clear, readable way. Submission guidelines can be found here.
  • Namaste Now, a publication looking for stories about inspiration, joyful anecdotes, self-awareness and life lessons. You can read the submission guidelines here.
  • Non-native English Voices, a publication focused on publishing stories from writers who don’t speak English as a first language and want to practice, improve, and inspire others through writing. Read their submission guidelines here.

In case that long list of links wasn’t enough reading for you, and you want even more amazing stories, you should head on over to Staff Picks for our curated selection we update regularly. To get the best stories sent to your inbox every weekday, subscribe to the Medium Newsletter.

I’m still thinking about how the root of all success is failure, so if you have any more great reads along those lines, feel free to comment below! Let’s all learn from each other’s journeys.

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