Discover more from Cruel Summer Book Club
Tiffany Philippou on suicide, shame, and a decade of healing
And her path from exploring writing at 30 to becoming a published author a few years later
✨Today’s new episode is out now!✨
My guest on the podcast today is British writer Tiffany Philippou! I’ve been reading Tiffany’s newsletter, The Tiff Weekly, for years and watched her writing career develop, so it was a joy to read her first book.
Tiffany’s memoir, Totally Fine (and Other Lies I’ve Told Myself), begins when her university boyfriend died by suicide when she was 20 years old, and ends ten years later after a decade of grief and growth. In the book, Tiffany stares down shame and forgives her younger self, which I find incredibly brave. Her story is moving, tragic, funny, and surprising. I had no idea Tiffany won a Facebook contest in her twenties that vaulted her into the world of startups, or that she didn’t begin writing at all until she was 30. And she looks at herself with searing honesty, and tells lovely stories about the sustaining power of her friendships.
Tiffany’s book also discusses the bad boyfriends she had during her twenties, and how she often felt like she just kind of happened to end up in serious, live-in relationships with men she barely even liked or respected—which I think is a common experience!
Reading her book inspired me to think about my own dating history and write last month’s piece about how to center yourself in dating. I wrote:
You are not dating to fit neatly into the faceless, woman-shaped hole in someone else’s life. Those dog days are over. Yes, healthy relationships require compromise, and you need to show up for your partner and calm their nervous system as well. And I trust that you will do so. So when you are getting to know someone and you find yourself in that familiar place of wondering when they’ll text, if they think you’re attractive, if they like you… STOP. Turn it around. Recenter yourself.
YOU ARE THE SUN, the center of your own extraordinary universe. My god, how you shine! So what if they’re interested in you or not? Are you interested in them?
In this episode Tiffany and I discuss stuffing grief down, the long process of healing through writing (and therapy), and how much cultural discussions around mental health care have changed since we were in college. Tiffany also shares how she didn’t start writing for work or pleasure until she was 30—one writing class changed the trajectory of the rest of her life, and just a few years later she’s a published author! Our conversation reminded me that it’s never too late to start giving more of your energy to something you love, and age is but a concept!
I hope you enjoy the episode! And check out more of Tiffany’s writing in her newsletter—this piece where she interviewed her mom about what it was like to read her memoir is great:
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Extra special thanks to:
Logo artist Jaymie de los Reyes
You are not alone!