My First Medium Essay Went Viral and This is What Happened

Sarah E. Miller
6 min readNov 30, 2017


Firstly, if you want to know what essay I’m talking about, it’s this one:

Oh boy, here we go!


This is the number of people that have clicked on my essay. Yes, this means thousands of people now know I live with my mother. Thank you, internet. I googled what “viral” meant to be sure, but there’s no specific number attached. Yes, I am not raking in those million views, but success comes in many different forms and this is, frankly, huge for me.

I live in a bubble. I am not a social media guru, flinging out business cards at networking shindigs. I am literally an earnest, under-worked millennial complaining on the internet. That was my first essay on here. You are meeting the real deal, baby.

This was the most popular essay I have ever written. Previous to this, my view record was 183 from a sad Wordpress blog that gets just as much attention as all the other old projects in my life — which means minimal or nonexistent. And yet, from the beautiful sharing skills of beautiful people, (Gutbloom, to name one), along with Medium’s strange algorithms, here I am.

I grew up with the internet, but I still surely don’t understand it.


This is the number of times per minute I refreshed Medium’s stats to see if more people have read it. It’s like winning the lottery but without any money whatsoever.


This number represents the haters on the internet. The comments that were less than savory, the scalawags who had just about enough of this whiny millennial spinsters nonsense. Some of my favorites include but are not limited to: “How dare you make fun of McDonalds”, “Ugh, you are so entitled”, “What a snowflake”, “WHY YOU SO WHINY?” “Why don’t you shut up and learn a trade?”

I should probably get into woodworking so I can create a box for all of my sad millennial tears, am I right?

There is also a small thread that started on Reddit stating, “Within the first paragraph I could see that this person is unemployable”. Well, yes. I literally wrote an essay about it.

All this to say: surprisingly, I didn’t know I was impervious to trolls. Who knew years of self hatred can make you laugh in the face of nameless, faceless words on the internet from people who insinuate so much from so little? There is no amount of criticism that I have not already put on myself tenfold about every aspect of my being.

Unemployable? Snowflake? That is only the tip of the iceberg. I am gross in at least fifteen other ways!


This number represents the amount of times I tried to explain what “viral” meant to my mother. She stared at me blankly, and then said, “Oh, that’s fun,” and then turned up the volume of her computer so she could watch a dog dancing on her Facebook feed. Doesn’t she know I made her famous?

This number also includes the time I screamed “I’m a DIVA NOW!” from the other room. Mom is not treating me like the unemployed queen that I am. Rude.


This represents two international newspapers that want to republish my story. One is an Italian millennial themed paper (awesome!) and another is for a huge women’s website in Melbourne, Australia. I am going global! You can bet your bottom dollar that I asked for money, and the Italian one obliged. I haven’t seen the exchange in my Paypal account, but I hope the world is good some of the time. I will edit to include the links here when they come.

2 (again)

This represents the number of times people have personally emailed me to inquire if I could work for them. At this point, it could be smoke and mirrors, it could be a get-rich-quick-scheme (I don’t think you know at what level of bitterness I am at, or maybe you do, with all the false hope you have been fed in your life) but think of it this way, if someone thought I was important enough to find and email me personally, it’s really delightful, you know?

See, I am positive!

By the way, I am going to be the best junior sleuth I can be. I will inquire further and see about the legitimacy of these jobs. Until then, there’s a lot of razzle-dazzle possibility happening in my mind, grandiose ideas and bright futures, and shrugging at myself in the mirror with “Who knows anymore?”

Going viral may have been the very best or very worst thing for my tender ego.


This is the percentage I was prepared for whatever “this” is. I was not prepared in the slightest. This was literally my first Medium entry. I had several grammatical errors. I can’t imagine this is normal. I didn’t have a website with one of those zany email sign up lists so you know when my next book is coming out.

There is a book coming out, by the way. But isn’t there always?

I don’t have a marketing campaign or a strategic plan beyond this beautiful and interesting distraction.


Lastly, and absolutely most importantly, were how much these emotionally driven, heartfelt comments and emails have meant to me. I cried several times and I have been trying to respond to most of them with intention. I am deeply touched. I know I live in a bubble, and I know it feels like we all do sometimes. But I cannot stress enough how much gratitude I have from you expressing your connection to my story.

For a brief moment in time there was this strange, bittersweet harmony with me and thousands of people. There were interesting, sometimes tragic stories swirling around my head every night.

Who knew misery truly does love company. Let’s all have a slumber party and complain the night away, together!


Here I am. I am eating frozen waffles on my mother’s couch, watching the birds fly up into the morning sun. I am taking daily walks to shake off the depression as it gets particularly potent in both winter and summer. I get to play with my brother’s glorious dog for animal therapy and I get a warm bed to sleep in at night. I am entitled, it’s true. And I am grateful, even in the midst of being so lost and so very jobless.

I don’t know what that Millennial essay will do, if anything. But, this much is true: I promise to be the most sincere and authentic storyteller I know how to be. I owe it to myself and all of you who reached out from across this world, from the dark isolation of your mind, and contacted me in earnest. You decided to reach out to a stranger who is feeling the same thing. I am honored.

I know it is easy to be cynical (at least 32% of you are rolling your eyes right now), but just for this single post, I want to let you know that I am deeply humbled to be interacting with you in this space.

I am going to try my best to continuously show you my emotional millennial heart, if you show me yours.

With Tremendous Gratitude,

Sarah E. Miller

Now to speak my truth…