2 min read

When they speak your language

I didn't think I'd relate to a mythical ancient Greek goddess but here I am: A few weeks ago, I read "Circe" by Madeline Miller.

Books on ancient Greece are everything my little nerdy heart needs – it's history wrapped in fantasy, with a sprinkle of divine. As a child, I spent days and nights reading everything about Athena, Odyssey, Hercules, and a myriad of other heroes and gods.

But Circe? Her story is obscure, known only as a brief part in Odyssey's journey home, to Ithaca. (She was a witch-goddess who turned his men into pigs but eventually turned them back at his request and welcomed Odyssey and his men to her island Aiaia for a year.)

So, what could Madeline Miller, a contemporary writer, tell about Circe for an entire book?

Turns out, a lot more than expected.

In my mind, a sidekick of Greek myths blossomed into the powerful main character in the world already full of enticing heroes and gods. (You may say, duh, it's obvious when the book is written about her.)

Yet, Circe's story of looking for her identity, with her talents and opinions disregarded, treated as an object by men, struck a chord. From the context of ancient times, thousands years into the future, to us, it resonated with a 27-year-old Mariia who felt seen.

It's fictional and yet... haven't women been punished for their ambitions across times?

Haven't people – men and women alike – been overlooked due to their lack of conventional skills and talents prized by the society? Haven't their roles been reduced to a sidekick instead of taking their own centre stage, shining bright because of something unique they possess?

(For all who think, "Oh I'm not that interesting" – I'd love for you to read "Circe.")

These are the stories that make us feel seen, and speak our language – our experiences. Like a mirror, they reflect back to us the possibilities: What happens when I take back my power? What happens when I shine against all odds? What happens when I own who I am, my highs and lows, and forge my way forward?

These stories are not for everyone: A story of Circe might be nothing to you but it means the world to me. Its value doesn't drop because of that – quite the opposite, it becomes even more special, stronger, and louder when its message reaches the right people.

(Suffice to say, Madeline Miller's books are firmly on my "to buy" and "to read" lists.)

And yet, these stories are for everyone – we all have something special we need to hear, that means the world to us.

Because every story has its reader, and perhaps... It's your experience and story that speaks volumes in their language, and captures someone else's heart.