After reading a few self-help/self-improvement books one after another during the last few months, picking up this memoir with short essays was refreshing and just reminded me how important it is to switch up the content you use. This was the perfect book to open up in the evening, with a cup of tea and get lost in this love letter to 20ies and reflect on your own thoughts and life.
I hadn't heard of Meg Fee before reading Places I Stopped on the Way Home, but I really enjoyed getting to know her through this book. When quickly skimming through reviews before purchase, similar words kept coming up when talking about the feedback on this book - vulnerable, raw, honest, heartbreaking, genuine. The book really does contain all of that and I think that is the part I enjoyed the most about this book.
Ever since I was in high school, New York was always a place I wanted to visit or perhaps even live in for a little while. A few years ago I was lucky to see this beautiful city. Even though I was there for only 3 days, it did exceed my expectations. More than anything else - the amazing energy that the city has, the people, creativity and the idea of a million of opportunities. One of the things that draw me to Meg Fee's book was that she writes about her time in New York. And since it was a place I had biggened up in my mind, I was intrigued to read her perspective on her life there.
CONFUSION THAT IS YOUR 20’s
I think pretty much every 20-something-year old can relate to this book and find themselves in at least one of the chapters. Heartbreak, search for the meaning, chasing false promises, finding the happy place, finding our what “being true to yourself” really means. We all go through that.
I love that the author didn't try to romanticise her decade long journey in New York and seemed so honest about her experiences when it comes to love, uncertainty, work, expectations, disappointment. Her writing is beautiful and I think because she writes so honestly, it draws people in. It is very relatable.
I have been (and still am, in many aspects) so confused about the future. About not being where I thought I would be at this age. And that expectation I have for myself also brings a lot of frustration and feeling down.
And through this confusion I also learn that I have to let go of expectations. Of myself, of others, of relationships, of timing of life. That sometimes you have to work a little harder on each of those things.
“I'm mourning all of the lives I'm not living. And that occasionally I feel like I'm failing all of the time, and in all ways”.
The last few chapters were gold. I re-read a lot of sentences and kept smiling as I was reading in agreement, thinking in my head “so true”, highlighting every paragraph. Life is made up of very small things that make our experiences unique, that makes our memories filled with emotion. A smell, a sound, a place, a taste can bring back the best memories. Perhaps of the great conversation we had in that particular or how we were feeling in the moment. And these little memories and moments is what make up a big life. These little things that happen to you over time, are what made you who you are today - the things you believe in, the way you are, the way you think. It's so precious and so undervalued. We all live “a big life made up of the very small things”.
I journal to capture these memories. To remember. A few days ago I picked up my journal from 5 years ago. And so many things made me smile. Because it brought back a memory I didn't know I had and made me realise how much has changed. How much I have grown. If you are not doing it yet, I highly, HIGHLY recommend documenting all moments. Big or small. Your future self will thank you for it.
“Our job is not to create a masterpiece, but to give voice to that which only we can give voice to. Our job is to go to work doing that which feel called to do. Despite our fears - despite the nagging notion that we are not enough, or too much, or fraudulent, we show up. We take risks. We wrestle with our wants and our needs and the black canvas. And we let the wrestling change us - in the space of who we once were and who we become - is the divine”.
“We will all, many times over, have to reconcile the life we planned for the life we've got. I learned about trusting my gut only after I didn't. And I learned about love in the trenches of heartbreak. And I understood the value of showing up only after I failed to do so. But it is how I learned each thing that has shaped the woman I am today, and the woman I'll be tomorrow, and the day after”.
THERE IS NO “HAPPY PLACE”
One of the most important “note to self” conclusions I had after reading this book is that there is no “happy place”. No “perfect city” that will make you happy. Often I've found myself dreaming of another place where the grass is greener and thinking that it will make me happier in a certain situation. But that's an illusion. Actually, that's escaping. It all begins and ends within us. Meaning, our inner world is all that matters. Once that is content and in great terms with itself, it can find joy, gratitude and happiness anywhere in the world. And self-love is in the center of it all.
“We don't talk about that much, do we? How we have to fight for ourselves, and ultimately face ourselves? How the best and the most courageous and the most compelling thing we can do is cultivate self love. How it's not some New Age prophecy, but a very real and very necessary investment. How self love is the source of empathy and honesty and love of a partner, if that is your thing”.
I'll end it on this wish by Meg Fee:
“Keep going, not because it's easy, but because that is what it is to be human - to continuously show up despite the fact that it's hard. You are not the first person to feel afraid, you are not the first person to feel unworthy, but that is where your story begins, not where it ends. There is no roadmap. There is only faith. The act of it, if not the feeling. Keep going”.
Thank you so much for being here. I'm so excited to read your highlights and takeaways of The Places I Stopped on the Way Home.
Zane & the DD team