Mary Laura Philpott thought she’d cracked the code: Always be right, and you’ll always be happy.
But once she’d completed her life’s to-do list (job, spouse, house, babies — check!), she found that instead of feeling content and successful, she felt anxious. Lost. Stuck in a daily grind of overflowing calendars, grueling small talk, and sprawling traffic. She’d done everything “right,” but she felt all wrong. What’s the worse failure, she wondered: smiling and staying the course, or blowing it all up and running away? And are those the only options?
In this memoir-in-essays full of spot-on observations about home, work, and creative life, Philpott takes on the conflicting pressures of modern adulthood with wit and heart. She offers up her own stories to show that identity crises don’t happen just once or only at midlife; reassures us that small, recurring personal re-inventions are both normal and necessary; and advises that if you’re going to faint, you should get low to the ground first. Most of all, Philpott shows that when you stop feeling satisfied with your life, you don’t have to burn it all down and set off on a transcontinental hike (unless you want to, of course). You can call upon your many selves to figure out who you are, who you’re not, and where you belong. Who among us isn’t trying to do that?
Author: Mary Laura Philpott | Publisher: Atria
I Miss You When I Blink was a delightful little book of essays. Mary Laura Philpott dives into herself, finds her way around, and then lets us in to see. It’s an example of creative nonfiction at its best, the story of an average woman’s life (if any of us can be called average) made poignant. A glimpse into the human experience that makes us feel seen and hopeful.
Philpott and I are very much alike: type-A box-checkers who can’t go to bed at night without feeling like we’ve Done A Thing (or, better yet, multiple things). We like tidy ends and a place to aim our achiever energy — all the time. As she explains, all that is really helpful when you need to be productive, but it’s also exhausting, and it can really get in the way of mental health.
So, when your life centers around achievement, what do you do when you’ve checked all the “big” boxes? Where does your purpose come from once you’ve “made it”? These are big questions for me, too, because I’m at a point in my life where I’m married, I have my MBA, I have a job I love, I just moved into a really nice apartment in NYC, and my husband has finally finished law school and started practicing as an attorney. We did these big things. What will we do next?
It was really refreshing for me to read I Miss You When I Blink and hear someone be candid about this journey; yes, it’s privileged-people-problems, but it’s a legitimate thing in people’s brains. To have read her honest prose about her struggle through and the revelations she’s had was therapeutic, to say the least. I feel recognized in a way that I did not know I needed to be.