are you all dress rehearsal, no play?

Posted on March 15th, 2012

It’s hit me just recently: this is the rest of my life. This awareness has arisen because I’ve had to face a few realities lately.

Image by Ben Javens

I’ve led my life thinking it would look a certain way: high school, uni, work, husband, house (that I’d build with a view into bushland), things to own, kids with interesting names, package holidays to Bali (OK, now I’m just being dumb…you get the point). I just assumed, and over the years the milestones guided me, they were my motivation, as they are for many of us.

When I got to one milestone, I used it to prepare for the next. Everything was a run-up to the next thing. I didn’t have to think too much about whether it’s what I wanted. Many of us don’t. It’s so easy not to. The path is nicely worn. Of course you get married by thirty. Of course you’ll factor in kids at some point.

Life can trip along fairly easy like this, while ever you’re nailing the milestones. You can live a whole life this way, blindly ticking them off, never thinking about where it all leads. Until, perhaps, you miss a few milestones.

But I’ve been having accept of late that some (many) of these milestones won’t (can’t) be ticked off by me. It’s not all due to unforeseen circumstances. If I’m honest, I’ve chosen this path I’m on. Over and over. Without realising. Slowly I’ve been steering myself off to the left.

Either way, it begs…when the milestones are gone, what are you left with?

Illness or a setback or a wakeup call or crazy sets of life circumstances land people at this point. Life is stripped back. You’re unceremoniously pushed from the conveyor-belt.

And then what?

I’ll tell you what: you’re left with a

frighteningly boundless freedom to choose what the rest of your life will look like.

No milestones, no rules, no norms, no sitcoms to use as barometers of what’s “normal”. Just your self.

Mother friggen scary. And lonely. But mother friggen fresh, too.

In this awareness, I’ve realised most of my milestone-hopping life has been a dress rehearsal.

I was always preparing. Always in the run-up phase.  I did things because they got me ready for the “real thing” that was going to come at the end. The play. The Play!

I didn’t fully know what this real thing- The Play! – looked like. And the run-up delayed my ever having to know for sure.

High school was run-up for university, which was run-up for my first job, which was run-up for my real career, which was run-up for when I had kids and lived the rest of my life.

Failed loves were dress rehearsals for the real thing. Compromising jobs were dress rehearsals for when I finally did what mattered to me. Being sad was dress rehearsal for when life really kicked in and I was ready to be happy.

But at some point it hits you: I’m over the dress rehearsals. Bring on The Play!

At which point you leave the script in the dressing room…

….and step out on stage to be judged for what you are on the night…

….and sometimes – actually, I reckon it could be really rather often – you realise, OH MY GOD THERE WAS NO PLAY!!!!

And so. You have to go and create your own play. But one that has no dress rehearsal because there’s no time for that now.

This is the real thing. I’m not getting younger.

For the first time in my life, I’m not rehearsing for anything. There’s no next milestone on my path. What’s left? What’s next?

I’m just shining the beam far enough in front to see where my next footstep will go

Or at least I think that’s what I’m doing.

Phew. I got that one out. I fear it’s a little over-sharey. But I also have a feeling that it’s a feeling floating about in all kinds of crevices just now. Do you feel like you’re in dress rehearsal? A hard one to answer…

 

 

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  • http://blogspot.com Mi

    I’ve been in Paris for 2 months on exchange and have felt incredibly scared the past few days. it’s already been 8 weeks ! What have I been doing ? Have i worked hard enough ? Have I seen enough ? Met enough people ? Done the best I could ? Lived ? At some stage I felt like going home and starting the trip again.

    Reading this gave me shivers.

    My life is just beginning :)

    [Reply]

    Sarah Wilson

    Sarah WilsonSarah Wilson Reply:

    that gave me shivers, Mi. Just look to where the light shines just in front. One step at a time, I reckon.

    [Reply]

    maddie Reply:

    I’ve been on exchange in Germany for just over 6 months (of a year exchange) now and it is the strangest feeling, even when I know I’ve done the things I came here to do (and some I didn’t intend on!) and changed much in the process (gotten better at German, become more independent, started playing a musical instrument/making art again, made friends who I really value and will miss, visited beautiful and interesting places, become a vegetarian, quit sugar, gained confidence, learnt to build bicycles, etc. etc. brag brag brag) these things can feel so dislocated from my “real life” at times. I feel anxious: will they be real when I get home? will I/others think I have achieved “enough”? What happens when the “play” is over? Even when I remind myself that it wasn’t necessary to go overseas to do any of those things (even improve the language), and people do all of them, all of the time, everywhere around the world, it’s difficult not to place special emphasis on my time here.

    Going on exchange was my dream for the past three years, I worked up to 4 jobs during that time to make sure I could afford it and then -plop- I landed here and had no idea what to do with myself. For the first 3 months I would be struck by deep, hyperventilating social anxiety by just about anything remotely difficult. Just because it had to be “perfect” for me to think I wasn’t wasting my time here. After the first two months I realised my emails home were getting more and more repetitive (uni, library, feeling awkward speaking German, home, same old, same old), and I would feel guilty for not doing all the exciting things that so many societal myths about gap years/exchanges/travelling would said I would do – I had no “news” about my milestones, because all I was doing, simply, was living, just as I would at home but in a different place. I’ve just had to learn not to stress about it, mostly by not allowing myself to get bored. So long as what I’m doing is interesting to me and engaging, then (I hope) I will think back and deem it “all worth it”.

    I recommend this song by Jeffrey Lewis for putting things in (twee and kitsch) perspective: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aiCeD1B12KA

    [Reply]

    Sophia Reply:

    Oh my god that is exactly what I’ve been going through! I’m in Paris on exchange as well, only I’ve been here for 6 months and I’ve been feeling the way you’re feeling since the beginning. I read your comment and got shivers, because I haven’t encountered my experiance in any of the other exchange students I’ve talked to.

    [Reply]

    Aimee Reply:

    Hi Girls,

    I went on exchange to Los Angeles for a year and studied/worked as a nanny and I felt exactly the same way.

    I measured every single week from day one…”okay I have forty eight weeks to go…” which was so frustrating and I just wished I could switch off the counting down and the counting up…”Oh my god I’ve been here six months already”.

    All I can recommend is that when someone offers you an opportunity over there to take it, and just enjoy the people you meet and the things you do in your spare time. I’ve been back in Australia now for five months and I definitely believe it was 100% worth it that I went even though I definitely didn’t get to do all the things I wanted to. I never got to go to San Fran or Chicago etc etc.

    Also when you start to look at coming back don’t be pressured to do what you think you should. I was so stressed that I would be left behind because my closest friends from uni were working these amazing jobs and had great boyfriends and I’d just taken a full year out to nanny…so off the beaten path.

    So I interviewed for a job 400km away from my family while I was overseas via skype, accepted the job and started the job two days after I got back to Australia. Wrong decision…it took three months for me to right that decision, get myself back on track and find a job close to my family that I actually love…so all I’m saying is just be true to yourself and do the things that you know are right in your heart, even if you’re head is saying…NO I’ve got to live up to everyone expectations. There are no expectations that matter except your own heart’s happiness!

    [Reply]

    Unjay Reply:

    Hey! Boys read this too you know!

  • http://www.restco.blogspot.com/ maria

    I laughed out loud when I read this line-

    “I’ll tell you what: you’re left with a
    frighteningly boundless freedom to choose what the rest of your life will look like.”

    That knowing laugh, that yes, this is where I find myself and it can be scary and I wouldn’t want it any other way!

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  • Kat

    Sometimes I think it’s all been a dress rehearsal up to now. Now I’ve got The Bloke, I’m planning The Wedding and we’re talking about The Kids, and I’ve got The Job. I never planned any of it. I just assumed I’d be single and traveling the world for life. My Play is just starting. It’s kinda scary! But kinda really exciting too.

    [Reply]

    Becca Reply:

    I am kinda in the same boat Kat, long ago i stopped planning for the Bloke/wedding/ kids and was content with that, but The Bloke came along, The Wedding was planned and exicuted (prolly not the right wording!), currenlty in discussions about having The Kids. Its all very bizzare and exciting. My life has changed so much on the past 3.5 years but peoples expectations of me have stayed the same, i am constantly being told i have changed (some times in a condecending way). My life has been an exciting, challenging rollercoaster ride but now its a ride i am taking with my best friend, and im feeling more relaxed and have a lot less anxiety about what i am doing, what is expected and if im living up to my potential. Im trying to enjoy the ride and remembering that life is what you make it. I am going to try to keep my play button stuck on forever!

    [Reply]

  • Larnie

    I haven’t even read the blog yet but so excited to see the original Sarah back in action! YAY

    [Reply]

    Sarah Wilson

    Sarah WilsonSarah Wilson Reply:

    I think I know what you mean…hope the blog pleased…

    [Reply]

    Larnie Reply:

    Absolutley and thank you :)

    [Reply]

    Larnie Reply:

    oh, and what I meant by the ‘original Sarah’ – the person who questions life, doesn’t have all the answers and is trying to work her way through life like the rest of us!

  • sally

    Often people say “I’ll be happy when…(insert something they haven’t got here)” and this post reminded me of that. Everything has to be perfect before they can move on to the next stage of their life. There is no correct order that a life has to take. My bloke and I jumped into a mortgage at 21 followed by two kids the years after. Two years on and we are enjoying just being. We plod away at the career and the buying stuff and plan holidays to take the kids on. Its old fashioned but we are happy being on our own stage.

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  • Jacky

    I think Charles Bukowski said it best when he said “don’t try”. Didn’t really understand it for a long time but as I’ve gotten older it makes more sense. Live your life and stop striving for more and more. Just enjoy being.

    [Reply]

    Rachel Reply:

    I LOVE this comment. Hit the nail on the head :) x

    [Reply]

  • http://Www.commongroundaustralia.com Kirra

    Everyday, like the old quote…I feel the fear and do it anyway.

    [Reply]

  • Mel

    Oh I get this one. Through no fault of my own I’ve ended up here. And it’s so unconventional but, like you, I thought I was on the path but I had also slightly veered to the left over the years because that’s just me. Now I’ve hit a pot hole and after being through some horribly lonely, sad suicidal times, I’m getting there. But I’ve had to actively take some control back, I’m buying a little beach house on my own to live with my little one. Always wanted to but I was waiting for someone to make the leap for me. My moto right “go confidently in the direction of your dreams, live the life you’ve imagined”. Hard work and active changes are getting me there these days, instead of plodding along and dreaming and going week to week. Thanks for being over sharey. Love it. PS. you can still have the kid Sarah, write your own script with that one, don’t go too life organic on us.

    [Reply]

    Cathy Reply:

    - Go confidently in the direction of your dreams

    I love this! Thank you!

    Sarah – great post!

    [Reply]

    Sharon in Philly Reply:

    Love this quote, I have it on my fridge and sometimes I look at it and feel that I’m not doing that but other times I know I am going in the right direction

    [Reply]

  • http://facebook.com/thinkbeautifulthoughts Karly

    I got a bit ‘over-sharey’ this week too. I reach my turning point – the point where I just started living for me. I was a planner… now I’m a live-r. http://www.thinkbeautiful.com.au/?p=1911

    [Reply]

  • Sue

    Sarah, you don’t strike me as someone who would be happy with such a predictable life. I know of people who have gone down the high school, uni, work, husband, house etc.. path and really, their next milestones are waiting for the grandkids and retirement. OMG, I am in a coma just thinking about this. How many do you think can look back on an amazing life of achievements – TV host, Cosmo editor, Website owner, ebook writer and I’m sure there are many more to come (and btw, you aren’t even 40!)

    Perhaps most of your friends are in relationships, having babies, buying houses – the grass always looks greener elsewhere. Who cares if your life turned out differently. I have been through the panic stage of the biological clock ticking with no partner in sight, not owning a house by 40 (or an SUV for that matter!!), choosing schools for the kids but now, I have accepted this is the way it just is. I love my independence and have left life to unfold as it’s meant to. And yes, freedom is the best bonus of all.

    [Reply]

    Sarah Wilson

    Sarah WilsonSarah Wilson Reply:

    Thank you Sue. Generous of you x

    [Reply]

  • http://dreamdelightinspire.com Kimberley

    Fantastic post Sarah. I think there are so many of us that get caught up in the goals or milestones and don’t relax into the journey. Every moment of life should be enjoyed equally. Thanks for the beautiful reminder.

    [Reply]

  • http://emmakgray.blogspot.com emma

    great post. :)
    loved it, was inspired, thanks. : )

    [Reply]

  • http://www.emmasternbergkinesiology.com Emma

    I am so happy to see this article Sarah! I’ve lost track of your blog posts for a little while but this is where I feel “making life better, sweeter” truly comes from! I love your information and truly appreciate it, but for me this is where its at.
    Working with the body with food and nutrition and wholesomeness is one thing, but without soul and living from the heart our bodies will get nowhere!

    Thankyou!

    [Reply]

    Sue Reply:

    ditto

    [Reply]

    Sarah Wilson

    Sarah WilsonSarah Wilson Reply:

    pleasure. sometimes I just don’t “feel” it. And then I do.

    [Reply]

    Emma Reply:

    completely understand! Being a therapist sometimes talking about the “shoulds” and focusing on illness brings me so far away from what life is really all about.. a little like the sea I come in and go out then eventually come in again.

    [Reply]

  • http://www.maxabellaloves.blogspot.com Maxabella

    Every day we’re living something whether we’re planning for something else or not. x

    [Reply]

  • Catherine

    Thanks for this Sarah, it was just what I wanted to read as well. I’m coming to the end of a few things (a major project, littlest child is off to school) and the reminder that life is not a dress rehearsal was really welcome. It feels like time to dust off some dreams, strike out in new directions, and make a beautiful, creative, fulfilling life.

    And if I can venture to give some of your own advice back to you, I have walked around for the past couple of weeks muttering ‘What’s for you won’t go past you’ – such a helpful idea – so maybe those milestones you’ve been thinking about are still on their way to you…

    [Reply]

  • Erin

    Tears in the eyes, Wilson.

    [Reply]

  • Dysania

    Be brave the Ides Of March! (Sorry, I couldn’t resist that play on the Bard’s words) Personally I love your over-sharey stuff. It’s honest. It’s real. It’s so many of us. One major Act has just finished in my personal Play and I’m stunned by the shock yet soothed by the hope. Like London’s longest running Play, The Mousetrap we all know that the show will go on regardless. Time to re edit my script? “

    [Reply]

    Sarah Wilson

    Sarah WilsonSarah Wilson Reply:

    Nicely evocative use of my analogy!

    [Reply]

  • Maryann

    Love this post. I felt like this almost 2 years ago when my Dad died. He lived with me for 8 years after Mum died. It is strange feeling not having parents anymore. I knew I was free to change my life in any way I wanted as I am single and childless but also felt guilty. What I have come to realise is that you need to let yourself grieve whether it is for a loved one or lost expectations. Only then can you move on to enjoy the freedom.

    [Reply]

  • bw

    You’re so right that it’s exciting. It’s important for those of us subconsciously stuck on the “I’ve failed” lament to remember that.

    But it takes a lot of courage to combat the expectation and judgement every day when you either choose to ignore the milestones, are unable to meet them or choose them in a different order. Choosing a different path, or having one thrust upon you is something to be recognised as a courageous act. Society is a lot more judgemental than we give it credit for. I think as women we are particularly scrutinised on this front.

    [Reply]

  • Di

    So true. I am now past childbearing age, single and my career never really took off as I hoped. Never thought my life would turn out this way. I was a chick with plans. Big plans. But it did and now I look ahead, not back with regrets. Sure there was the ‘why didn’t this happen to me’ anger, the panic of time running out and grief. And boy did I grieve! But now I don’t compare my life to others or justify why I don’t have children etc.. I am creating a future based on what I do have – freedom, time, space and independence. I’m content. I’m happy. This is my life, my journey.

    [Reply]

  • Andrea

    Ohhhh, I love telling people I’m a SPINSTER and say it with pride.

    Although I have asked my family to shoot me if I ever turn into a crazy cat lady. LOL

    [Reply]

    Ms jane Reply:

    That is very funny!!!!

    [Reply]

    Olivia Reply:

    hahah, I say the same thing. I have haunting images of that crazy lady on the Simpsons.

    And Spinster, Hipster..pretty cool words hey!

    [Reply]

    tracy Reply:

    Hey Andrea, I too love telling people I’m a spinster…AND I’m a crazy cat lady!!

    [Reply]

    Larnie Reply:

    Great idea for an article “the modern spinster” :)

    My grandmother put the fear of god into me with that word, but I agree that now it sounds cool. But then so do most words ending is ‘ster’!

    [Reply]

  • Sally

    Wow, what a fantastic article. I really needed to read that today, and at this point in my life. Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing.

    [Reply]

  • Tanya

    I’m in L.A. doing my PhD and I have this thought ALL the time…. and yet, how cool are the new milestones! live life uncharted! no script! I’m in……. but yes, mother fricken scary.

    [Reply]

  • Sara

    Sarah, this article is the best mother friggen thing you’ve written in ages!

    My favorite film is Sliding Doors. Not for Gwynnie’s acting abilities, but the concept was brilliant – parallel lives, which would we prefer better?

    [Reply]

    Olivia Reply:

    I have so many ‘sliding doors’ moments it’s not funny..and yes, parallel lives. Great concept indeed.

    [Reply]

  • Rainy

    I’ve been looking for the exact quote but it was about how we get to 40, look back on our lives, evaluate it & decide if we accomplished everything that we set out to do. Then it’s up to us to decide if we will live out the next stage of our lives miserable or content.
    I’m going to be 40 at the end of this year and there are plenty of things that I wanted to do (finish college, have more kids, become an artist, musician) but I’m going to focus on positive aspects like not having to climb a career ladder and enjoy just being myself.

    [Reply]

  • Vic

    Beautifully said Sarah, and so honest. It can be scary to be that honest, but thank you, as it really does shine a light on the reality.

    I am married, with 3 beautiful children, we are paying off the mortgage, half finished the renovations (now with no time or money to complete them!), working part time, trying to work out looking after myself (after almost 10 years of focusing primarily on children) as well as looking after the needs of my family, what I want to do for me…..”living the dream”… but in fact it’s not all dreamy and roses… it’s just life. It is the play… the improvisation of whatever presents itself, and it’s not always what we think we want, or what we envision as part of our future, but it just is… maybe be what we need to face, maybe not, but it just is.

    It is really hard to live right in the moment, without thinking of the grand plan, the to do list, the unfinished house, the chaos around us….to appreciate all we are and have, but in those rare moments that I do it, it’s beautiful. And exciting. And relieves some of the pressure of ‘what’s next’. We’re all OK where we are… we’re here because we need to be, in whatever situation we’re in because we need to be.

    Thank you x

    [Reply]

  • Kat

    I really needed this right now – thank you :)

    [Reply]

  • Elisa

    Oh wow, thanks Sarah. You’re not alone! Time for me to take some action. A little scared, a little excited… :) beautiful post xx

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  • Amber

    Sarah, I so loved this post. Thank you. x

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  • http://cass.id.au Cassie

    Well written, words by the brave!
    I’m reading Steven Pressfields’ War of Art and Do the work – both of which are really about getting to the heart of how pervasive resistance is – in your words, to living The Play, and in his, to being totally switched on as a creative professional. I see your ideas converging on his (at least in the way I’m trying to make sense of myself!) – as in what we choose and don’t choose in life can be difficult to discern at times, but ultimately the big and small decisions make us who we are.
    I too, am tired of rehearsals – but my goodness, playing the play is as free (and hence frightening) as you describe!
    I quit my job to freelance and return to study, am constantly trying to engage myself in that zone where steps appear as you leap into thrilling, unchartered territory, and some days it does feel overwhelming. Actually, a post by Alison Gresik titled ‘walking depression’ also resonates in that light, too. Some of your readers might be interested in her framework ( http://www.gresik.ca/2012/03/10-signs-of-walking-depression/ )
    Bottom line, these are challenging new times for how we are in control (and not) in contemporary living.

    [Reply]

  • stephanie elise

    Such a great post . . .

    I’ve been thinking lately “i’m not here to be on the ‘regular path’ ” – to have stacks of ‘friends’, late nights out every-other-night or whatever else is considered ‘normal.’

    I think everything has lead me up to the point where I’m giving ‘stuff’ away instead of buying things, listening instead of talking, sleeping instead of social-networking.

    The dress rehearsal is ‘done and dusted’ – now what?

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  • http://www.adamcordner.com Adam Cordner

    Here is a clip (18+) that explains the hazards of setting milestones. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ekgbg6DRctA

    I think I’m the opposite, I need to rehearse

    I’ve been in the play the whole time with no preparation. I have no idea how I got into my career, I didn’t plan for it, college is a blur, I can recall being in a band and building ramps, and high school was a place where I used to sell coin bags of oregano pretending to be weed.

    Weirdly things worked out, I often remark “how am I alive?” or “how did I end up here?” or “what happened to chain wallets?” until recently.

    I realised not long ago that I have no plan, I’m not preparing for anything other than ice hockey games and work. I would like to be married and have a family (little versions of myself to fulfil my failed dreams of being a game show host or high rolling cat burglar), I would like to take holidays and I would like to run my own burrito chain called “Adam’s Burritos as Big as Your HEAD!”.

    I have lived my life not knowing at all what it would look like, and I would like to know what it would look like. I hope is looks like Phil Dunphy’s life, but I would be better looking.

    It’s interesting that at either way (the one who is all prep and the one who has no idea) we still have anxieties,

    am I making any sense? Did I read the post wrong?

    Maybe I should smoke some oregano and think about it.

    [Reply]

    Sarah Wilson

    Sarah WilsonSarah Wilson Reply:

    You make (strange) sense, Adam. As always.

    [Reply]

    Adam Cordner Reply:

    I’m cool with strange

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    seeker Reply:

    I like your post adam, i get what your saying and it made me laugh too …. :)

  • http://whitebeanie.blogspot.com/ Cathy

    Sarah, this is the best thing I have read in ages.

    For a long time I have always lamented people who seem to have it all, yet don’t seem satisfied or happy and I would always wish they could enjoy the moment.

    Now I’m learning that I don’t need to have ticked all those boxes in order for me to also enjoy the moment. The best times seems to just happen when I’m not worrying about the future or how I’m going to better than or faster than the next person. The best moments when my heart feels warm, and feeling as relaxed as when I’m doing meditating type stuff at yoga. It’s there, just gotta be open for it.

    [Reply]

    seeker Reply:

    hey cathy, you’re so right,
    and there’s much we can learn from yoga, one of the very first things a (good) yoga teacher will say to you, is to recognise that you are doing YOUR practise (your play?!), don’t try to compete with anyone else in the class because we are all different to each other & have had different experiences that bring us to who/where we are right now, and we are all different in ourselves from moment to moment, so all we really need to do to have a good, safe practise is listen to our bodies, pick a good instructor so you have a good guide, but we are our own teachers, and don’t expect every practise to be the same because everything is always changing and that’s one thing that doesn’t change!! and just accept and be happy with where you are at right now in this moment of your practise, your play, your life. all this = less suffering!! yay!

    get on your mats y’all!

    xo :)

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  • http://www.ekougi.com ekougi

    I went from an overly planned life (on the wrong path) to no plans at all (no path), and not being on any path made me feel like I was in a holding pattern. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t horrible, it gave me the time to heal and being free from everything was awesome, but still life was passing me by.

    Now I’ve come full circle. I don’t have milestones per se but I do have goals, and they’re my goals. No one else’s, no pressure, no expectations, no society sticking their noses into my business. If I reach my goal then awesome, and if I don’t and get waylaid somehow that’s awesome too, because it would have to be something pretty cool for me to veer away from my goals. Win-Win!

    As I type it dawns on me that, for my life anyhow, it’s not so much the milestones that are the issue, but how much of an attachment you have to the outcome.

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  • Jo

    Thank you so much. This post, at this time, is the exact thing I needed to hear.

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  • http://myshoeboxlife.com Shelley

    Brilliant Sarah. Oh how I miss your writing like this! I have ticked off a few things on the list, then I realised it just kept growing and growing, so I threw it away. I’m living the life I want, not the one I am supposed to.

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  • Alison

    I love this Sarah – thankyou!

    I’m 32 (I almost wrote 31, then gulped and realised no – I’ll be 33 in 6 months) – single, with a scary and stressful and challenging job that satisfies my brain, nothing tying me down anywhere, and enough money. I can do whatever I want, and I LOVE that feeling! I’m about to become an aunty in a few weeks – my sister is having her first child. I look at the trajectory her life has taken, and is taking, compared to mine – such a vast difference, and whilst I have those pangs of sadness at my younger sister starting a family before me, I wouldn’t trade my life for her lovely life for anything in the world.

    Nice to be reminded that I am not alone – everyone else is as scared as I am. But hopefully everyone can find something to get excited about within their own situation.

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  • Kate

    Frighteningly you just summed up my state of existence in one beautiful blog post. My series of dress rehersals was cut short, mid “dream career” (or not, as it turns out), with a wake-up call diagnosis of anorexia. Now, as recovered as I ever will be, I have discovered that the world is a very big, exciting place with more opportunities than obstacles, more unknowns than known, and a realisation that the search for happiness is probably the source of most people’s unhappiness. I love who I am, I am happy to fly in the face of traditional expectations, and I am excited about what tomorrow holds because it could be beautifully unexpected and surprising, and now that I’m not locked into that dress rehersal schedule, I can follow what ever I want!

    it’s incredible to discover all these amazing people who have taken the blinkers off and are REALLY living life. Thank you for sharing this sarah :)

    [Reply]

  • http://giddayfromtheuk.blogspot.com Kym Hamer

    I packed up my very successful comfy life and moved to London 8 years ago. Not much money, no job, and knowing noone. It’s been the toughest and happiest time if my life. Like 8 found me. Loved the notion of shining the beam…perfect!

    [Reply]

    Karen Reply:

    Love this! I also packed up a successful comfy life (in London) and moved to Australia on a whim almost 2 years ago. The logical ‘planner’ in me kicked and screamed but it intuitively felt right and has proved to be so. Nothing like a move away from all your familiar reference points and influences to shake things up and liberate you from expectations about how you ‘should’ be living your life!

    [Reply]

  • Caroline

    Unfortunately many people do not spend time in the NOW…because
    as u have said, our lives and society are geared towards the future. But the future doesn’t exist and the past can’t b changed. So what do we have? Only NOW.

    [Reply]

  • Rachel

    This is very cool Sarah. How liberating to step into life with no ‘known’ destination – it opens up so many possibilities. Thanks for the reminder :-)

    [Reply]

  • Sue

    Your “play” started the day you were born and all those “run ups” have made you the person you are today. You’ve always been the star…..it’s only now that you realise that and can Ad Lib whenever you want!

    I think it’s called “The greatest show on earth” ;-)

    [Reply]

  • Olivia

    It felt like Sunday morning all over again – picking up a copy of Sunday Life and reading a brilliant column.

    Anyway, back to 2012…I love the vunerability that comes across in your writing. It is so heartfelt and raw that sometimes I just want to ring your nearest neighbour and tell her to run next door and give you a hug. And today was no exception.

    Just enjoy the journey that is to be, Sarah. Thanks for letting us tag along xx

    [Reply]

  • Mia Bluegirl

    Beautiful, Sarah.

    I think with chronic illness too, it can be very easy to press the pause button on life and put off things like dating, big career changes and mortgages until that magical One Day comes along. You know, that perfect day where we are better and things are stable and we are ready. I had a bit of a breakdown last year when I realized that I would never be ready, and that’s kind of the point of being chronically ill – I’m not dying here, but I will be a little bit sick for the rest of my life. It’s about management, not about sitting on my arse waiting to be cured.

    Which also leads to the slightly squirmy realization that those things I didn’t do, were not because I couldn’t, I just didn’t want to. I don’t particularly want to lead a life exactly like my parent’s, otherwise I would have made it happen by now. There comes a time when you need to let go of this idea of the perfect person you think you should be, and embrace who you are, Gretchen Rubin-style. Like you said, we choose our paths in life, one small decision at a time.

    Only once we realize this are we free to look back at the road we forged and smile at how it could not have happened any other way. xx

    [Reply]

    k Reply:

    I know exactly what you mean. I’ve been dealing with chronic illness for many years now and keep telling myself when I get better and things settle down THEN I’ll travel, meet someone etc etc. And only now realizing that that’s never going to happen. everything beyond managing my conditions, working and trying to live healthily (cooking and exercising regularly) takes more energy than I have. Anyway, your post and Sarah’s really resonated and has got me thinking…

    [Reply]

    Mia Bluegirl Reply:

    Thanks k, somtimes it can be easy to get absorbed in my own little life and think I am the only one who has ever been through this. I am sad you are also sick, but heartened and comforted by the fact that I am not alone. Thank you.

    I was chatting with a friend just now on this exact subject (thank you Sarah, for opening up so many discussions! My friends and I owe you many a herbal beverage for dinner conversation topics alone!) and realizing that perhaps, instead of beating ourselves up for failing to achieve the milestones, we could perhaps try to change the way we see things. Maybe we just need a new definition of success. Now THERE’S a discussion topic…

    [Reply]

  • http://www.spicyicecream.com.au lisa

    Great article Sarah! I’ve been feeling this way for a while, always building up and looking forward to the next thing, never being satisfied with right now because there’s bright and shiny things up ahead.
    But the chronic over-thinker in me having come to this realisation is making me second guess the things that I truly want to do. Like leave my job and my friends and my family and move to the other side of the country to be with the man I love… because *then what*

    [Reply]

  • snippygal

    “life is what happens when your busy making plans…….”

    Great article Sarah, I too thought that somehow the milestones would just roll one after the other and well, they haven’t.

    In someways I love the life I have, but my dreams are changing, once upon a time I dreamed of marriage and kids and now I dream of endless travels and my career etc.

    The scary part is my “new” dreams are pulling me further away from the milestones I always thought I wanted leaving me asking myself, what on earth do I actually want?

    Hoping I too will stop with the dress rehearsal and start living soon, its a hard one to crack…..

    [Reply]

  • Melanie

    Love this, Sarah. Isn’t it so true what John Lennon wrote “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans”? Except our plans are always planning for the next “big thing” we are supposed to be aiming for, and life just slips on by.

    I’m just learning not to yearn for or be too sold on these so-called milestones. I guess there really is no formula for a life well lived, just that we take what life presents us with and create our own unique Play with it, whatever that may be!

    Great post!

    [Reply]

  • Meg

    Thank you Sarah. This post made me realise that I am constantly looking for the next big thing to work towards, and get restless and uneasy when I don’t have a big goal to work towards, or a big change up ahead. Unfortunately, living this lifestyle has made me chronically sick, yet I still forget how crucial it is for me to live more in the now, that things will happen when they happen and that it is ok to pause and take a breath and enjoy what I have right here, right now, without always feeling that there is something more I should be doing.

    [Reply]

  • http://www.sallykirkman.com Sally Kirkman

    Lovely post. Yes, life rushes on by while we’re busy making other plans…
    Thank you for the reminder.
    best, Sally

    [Reply]

  • http://findingclairity.blogspot.com Clair

    If you haven’t watched this video narrated by Alan Watts, pleaseplease tell me you will! It’s less than 3 minutes and is SO relevant here. I love what he is saying…it is utterly beautiful.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ERbvKrH-GC4

    So happy that you are having such beautiful realizations and helping us have them too. =)

    [Reply]

    seeker Reply:

    nice one clair – thats really good!! thank you for sharing! :)

    [Reply]

    Mia Bluegirl Reply:

    That is an awesome video! Very wise – I was surprised to see the guys from South Park produced it.

    [Reply]

  • http://www.alwaysorderdessert.com Alejandra

    I remember as a teen one day waking up at night in a sheer panic after having come to a realization. I realized that life was a roller coaster–not in terms of the ups and downs (although there is that, too), but more so in terms of the speed and the inability to get off until the end. There is no hopping off or pausing, once you’re on, it just goes goes goes. Every so often, when I feel myself getting a bit complacent or lazy or whatever, I try to conjure up that scary feeling again just to get myself off my butt and doing, appreciating, enjoying.

    [Reply]

  • Anthony

    Dress rehearsal , hmm, we only get one life that I know of. I did a lot of soul searching about this subject and came to the conclusion, that life is quite short so II was going to bloody well enjoy it and do what I wanted to do now, not later, right now and the future does not mean a thing if I am not enjoying myself now. Cheers

    [Reply]

  • D.

    It’s not so much a dress rehearsal for me, it’s more a pressure of what I am “supposed to” do and rushing myself to get it done with as soon as I can. Like something glorious awaits as soon as I… do whatever.

    [Reply]

  • Miranda

    I put it down to the modern day ‘illness’ of ‘box ticking’. It seems that people around my age – I’m in my early 30s – see life somewhat of a ‘competition’. Who will get married first, who will have a baby first, who ill have a second and third etc, etc. The idea that there is an ‘unwritten list’ of certain achievements or milestones that must be met as we travel along in our lives and if someone was to ‘deviate’ or not do something according to ‘The Plan’ then something must be wrong with them! People are too focused and worried about ticking off all of the things on the list that is so called ‘expected’ of them, that they then don’t actually live the life they might have otherwise wanted for fear of not being apart of the ‘clan’. What is interesting is that socially i have felt the pinch of deviating. Many of my friends whom are now married and have one or more children I rarely see them now as i am sure it is a mixture of pity, worry (or perhaps even jealousy) that my life is different to their’s and that i have not stuck to ‘the plan’. What of course they don’t realise is that I am not a ‘box ticker’ of the ‘expected list’, but of my own list – I do what I choose, when i want to and answer only to myself. However, having said all of that, I too do get worried that the unwritten list of goals/achievements that I want and plan for gets in my way of just doing sometimes! A great little reminder that this isn’t a dress rehearsal, this is the real thing! Cheers, Miranda

    [Reply]

    Melanie Reply:

    I like your comment and I agree Miranda! It is hard not to get swept up by the “competition” and lose sight of what you really want to make of your own life. It is hard also when so much of the media is geared up towards selling just one type of life and all it’s milestones (career, husband, house, kids etc etc). I’m tired of all the expectations I put upon myself about things that I may not even really want!

    Life is just so vast with an amazing amount of different opportunities, and they don’t all lead down the same path, that’s for sure!

    [Reply]

  • Lauren Rose

    Thank you for the reminder to stop and smell the roses Sarah. It’s wonderful o hear such a post with the raw emotion and philosophy behind it.

    On the flip side, sometimes we can get so caught up in our plans and milestones, and rehearsing for the big play, that one day I fear we will wake up and realise that we had many choices to be happy presented to us, but were too stubborn to realise they were options to lead us down a better path.

    We have the power to choose – and man, there are so many choices out there and options for all of us.

    Which path is the correct path to choose? The ‘play’ begins the moment we start choosing our directions, even if we are under the false pretence we are still in rehearsing phase for the ‘big performance’.

    Thanks for the end of week inspiration!

    x

    [Reply]

  • http://shanaglee@att.net princessglee

    “Mother friggen scary.” You’re mother friggen right!
    ‘Bout 2 years ago I decided enough with the dress rehearsals and started the business of making dresses. Deep, deep, deeeep into the depths of what I know, I know I’m on the right path. I’m unable to live every moment in the deep, deep, deeeep depths of what I know so I move forward or my feet literally begin to hurt. I find inspiration to continue everywhere, I pray, I do everything the best I can with the knowledge and understanding I have…Sometimes I remember to breathe and I’m working on how to have fun again.

    [Reply]

  • Clare

    I understand this completely, as I recently came to a realisation that I have been holding myself back and rehearsing for the play and milestones that those around me have set for themselves.
    My best friend and I had always said we would get married and have kids at similar times. She is in a 5 year + relationship; I have destroyed good friendships trying to find someone I have that connection with. This has caused black holes in the happy parts of my soul, and now I need to heal.
    We are both nurses and we were both going to work in the same area. Now she wants to work in the local hospital (where I also work). Next year I am running away to live and work in London. I don’t know when or if I will come back.
    The hardest thing for me to learn is to not feel guilt about not living to my families expectations. I am one of two children, and my brother is profoundly disabled. The onus then falls to me to have the white wedding, the bouncing babes, and the white picket fence. All the things my mother would love to see for me, and that my father encourages me to strive towards.
    At this point, I can’t see myself getting married. I can’t imagine being with one person for the rest of my life. At this point, I love the idea of having children, but I don’t feel like I need to be in a relationship to do this; IVF and adoption are both viable options. At this point, my father is encouraging me to buy a house, but all I can think of is London.
    It is time I cut the apron strings. And live my life. The way I want, free.

    [Reply]

  • Sharon in Philly

    Thank you for this, it really resonates with me, I need to be happy where I am and live in the now. Enjoy where I am at and don’t worry so much that my life has gone a different direction than I and others thought it might. Oh well!

    Off to see Paul Kelly and hear a bit of home :-)

    Thanks…..

    [Reply]

  • tracy

    Hey Sarah, welcome back, love this post! I was contemplating my life’s wobbly path just this morning…your words reminded me of this quote from Shakespeare (sorry to sound like a prat!)…

    All the world’s a stage,
    And all the men and women merely players…

    [Reply]

    Jan Reply:

    Yes indeed, welcome back Sarah! Your “summer replacement” was good (:)), but this is the stuff that keeps me coming back.

    Oh, and I particularly loved this article cause it was written from the heart. No scientific research or Harvard studies to support your arguments…just 100% you.

    [Reply]

  • http://www.mishapsandmayhemofaglutenfreelife@blogspot.com Rachel

    So so true! I had the dream, the play set out. We moved I’m together got a puppy got engaged, planning wedding and then in a split second my life changed I was hit by a p plater at 80+km p/hr. My dream to have kids after the wedding have been shattered, my injuries are severe. I’ve realised I need to focus on the now, getting better, as good as I can get n then have babies (I have low fertility 2!). Sometimes I think lifes not fair n no sometimes its not n it happens at random. I know try n live 4 the day focus on small goals n try not to think about what my life would b like if the accident didn’t happen. That’s not healthy. Make the most of each day, each moment, u never know when ur world can change in a heartbeat!

    [Reply]

  • Sally

    Last year my husband was diagnosed with cancer just 5 days after we got married. This intense shock & pain forced me to live as much in the moment as possible, and to also let go of the idea of how I thought things would be. At this time in my life an amazing therapist said to me that this moment now is the time for making memories, as opposed to getting caught up in planning things where you imagine you’ll make memories in the future (ie. when we go on that trip to Bali, when we buy the dream house, when we have our first child etc). It really profoundly impacted me and has changed the way I live life. I really feel every day now that this is it, this is life, as it is now. I’ve realised that for me happiness is realising & appreciating the good things in life as they happen, not looking back from a future point after they’ve gone & and only realising then.

    [Reply]

  • Deborah

    I’ve always believed that “life” has a way of making you learn the lessons you need to learn. With that in mind, I’ve sort of just floated along, admittedly with a sizeable oar in the size of single parenthood and an overwhelming desire to provide a better life for my son. Now I still float. I run my own business from home, I walk the dog whenever I feel like it, I shove the work to one side and pick up my hobby whenever I feel like it, I spend time with my incredible 92 year old Dad whenever I feel like it and at the ripe old age of 50 it’s all fallen into place and life is good. I don’t think there is anything wrong with floating through life so long as you have an anchor. Anchor’s can always be lifted and placed somewhere else and the floating continue. So my stunning attitude to life is – float along living, do no harm and smell the roses!! Works for me.

    [Reply]

  • judith

    apt and beautifully written. thank you for taking my thoughts and putting
    them into some kind of order and sense. thank you!!

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  • Taylor

    Thanks for the post Sarah
    I’m 48 and lost in my soul. I expect its to do with being chronically unwell for so long. I had thoughts that my life would be different to this and now I don’t know where I am. I enjoy your posts and the comments left by others and often, such as this time, they reach deep and help. So thanks everyone

    Luckily not all my days are this tragic :-) and I can still smile and see the wonder xx

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  • http://www.foxyandfabulous.com Louise @ Foxy and Fabulous

    Talk about a reality check! Yes, I’ve missed a lot of milestones too, pretty much the same ones you describe here (it’s like you were in my head) but thank you for kicking me in the pants to change my perspective!! I vow to no longer think of them as dress rehearsals for a missed milestone but as a clear path and freedom ahead. ‘Effing brilliant!

    [Reply]

  • http://www.treadgoldcollection.blogspot.com Emma Treadgold

    Fabulous post and resonates with so many women at soem stage of our lives. I think this is why so many people are taking breaks from careers that no longer provide the satisfaction they’re after, or taking up Yoga and being more mindful and living in the moment rather than rushing to the next ‘milestone’. Thanks so much for sharing…Emma

    [Reply]

  • http://www.abouteve.com.au PB

    Sarah! Yes I do…or yes I have. Funny you should write these words now and should find them today. I’m ready to step onto the stage too and I just blogged about it yesterday..
    I love the synchronicity!!

    http://abouteve.com.au/change/

    Like you I have realised that THIS moment is what counts. The next one will come as it always does but we can do amazing things with THIS moment. Whatever the moment holds for you I hope it is filled with beauty, health and happiness (and no rehersal!!!)
    Beautiful post. Thank you!! :)

    [Reply]

  • Maris

    Hey Sarah, loving your AHA! Moment. There is a beautiful quote which came my way via the wall of my local cafe ” The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes…..” this speaks volumes to me. I think we all need to live, love and lose a little before we realize that the most important moment in time is NOW , after all, we really can’t control anything. life in the moment is beautiful when we open our eyes, and look at and be grateful for who we are and what we do have, rather than always seeking the next thing on our lists of ” I will stop/breathe/relax/be happy, WHEN- I make/achieve/have/find WHAT EVER IT FRIGGIN IS.
    Life is not perfect, we all need to drop that. And challenges bring surprising gifts sometimes. I’m betting Sarah that there is really nothing you would change in your life’s journey as its got you to the place you’re in now? Thanks for the post, it really struck me in its honesty and vulnerability…. Xx

    [Reply]

  • Sarah

    Hi Sarah,

    Oh dear, you speak the truth!

    I’ve spent the last ten years thinking about when I’ll be a ‘grown up’, and which path I’ll take, when I’ll have ‘made it’. As my 30th birthday approaches, I can’t believe it’s gone so far, and I’ll tell you these questions are the ones that keep me up at night – do I have enough friends? have I burnt bridges? when will I choose an actual career? should I have children? should I leave my well-paying media job and move to Paris? Or New York? Stay with my man? or not?

    The questions never seem to end. I thank you for your honesty, and it feels good to know that you – and so many others – feel the same way.

    Thanks!

    Sarah.

    [Reply]

  • elle

    YES!!! This is me 100%! I have also recently realised that THIS IS IT! The fear of knowing this is the rest of my life..its now..no more waiting for my real life to begin. I am so overwhelmed with the freedom of choice and feel paralysed as I HAVE NO IDEA what I am meant to be doing, whats my purpose in life? But this frantic energy that I need to find it & pronto cause this is my life right now! I am 22 but the reality has hit that an amazing life will not just come to me…i have to create it! I always had this belief through school that I could do anything and be successful if I really wanted it & worked hard enough. That I would have amazing boyfriends, travel the world, great career but here I am and my life is so imperfect & I realise the reality of survival and maybe I wont be everything I thought I would.

    [Reply]

  • http://tinksimplicity.blogspot.com Tegan

    This post couldn’t come at a more appropriate time for me. i actually wrote a post just last week about just being me, not planning, no predicting just being, loving and accepting. sarah your the freshest breath of air in this blogosphere:) you positively effect lives daily and that is the sweetest milestone one could reachxxx

    [Reply]

  • Karen

    OMG this could be me. I am a planner. I plan everything and then we I have reached whatever I planned, be it a holiday or whatever, I move onto the next thing. I must have something to look forward to.

    However, recently I have realised that I need to spend more time in the now. I am in my 40s and time is getting away from me. My daugther is not always going to want to spend time with me so I need to spend more time just sitting and being and noticing what I have rather than where I want to be or think I should be.

    I have just booked a holiday away by myself for the first time in my life so I can recharge and just be. It is more than a little scarey but exciting at the same time. I know when I come back I will appreciate the fabulous husband and beautiful daughter I have even more.

    Thanks for the timely post!

    K

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  • http://slimpaley.com Slim Paley

    “OH MY GOD-THERE WAS NO PLAY!”
    This has to be my favourite line in a totally brilliant post! Thank you.

    I just returned from climbing a mountain in Sri Lanka to try and reconnect with my real self and shed the self bogged down by the weight of carrying real or imagined mileSTONES.
    whoops- too sharey??!
    Curtain closes :)

    [Reply]

  • Layla

    wow…as if you are reading my mind. I have lived my whole 33 yr life like this…waiting for my life to start…”when I have the man, when I have the promotion, when I am the boss, when I get over my depression, when I cure myself of ms, when I have money in the back, when I loose weight..my life will start”. When when when when…Agh. Gone with that and just being for now. Embracing the present and living with joy and calm….well trying. xx

    [Reply]

  • S

    Love this post, which is very timely for me. My life was on a certain path with the husband, kids and house. But just recently I found out my husband had been unfaithful for nearly a year and has got another woman pregnant. While this news was and still is very devastating for me, I also feel a kind of optimism. I feel a real freedom to live my life on my terms now and feel that my future is so open. I also feel that I can live truer to myself, and explore different options which weren’t really an option before.

    [Reply]

    mel Reply:

    FABULOUS. Do it. Don’t look back except to remember the good bits. He chose a path that has nothing to do with you, now choose yours.

    [Reply]

  • jena

    Loved this post. I am married with two very young children. So I guess I have followed the more traditional path. I love my life, but in recent weeks I have started to wonder ‘is this it?’ ‘what next?’ At present my day to day is wonderful although if I am honest, pretty repetitive and routine. But that is just where I am at right now. I often remind myself that life is today, not in the future.

    [Reply]

    bron Reply:

    Hey jena, I have two young kids (am 41… had always hoped/planned I’d have them earlier, but life/nature thought otherwise…I THINK everything happens for a reason, though sometimes it’s hard to know what that reason might be at the time!), and I hear what you say about repetition and routine – sometimes it can be so hard to see your way through the fog of domesticity and have time to focus on YOU, as an individual, and what you want, rather than just your role in attending to everyone’s needs. A friend of mine recently gave me a great little line… ‘the days are long, but the years are short’. I try to remember this when I’m wondering where my old life went!

    OH… and SARAH… this is a wonderful piece… thank you for your honesty and for always making us step back and take a good look at ourselves. I’m slowly, slowly changing my life to a path of good health (lots of slip ups, old habits die hard!), but I know I can and must, as I’m finally realising that my dress rehearsal is over… this is it, no point looking back, just get on with it. And I attribute much of this growing awareness to you and your wonderful blog. Keep it up sister, you’re fan-fucking-tastic!

    [Reply]

  • J0

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q9WZtxRWieM

    Great lyrics – sums up a few things.
    And thanks Sarah X

    [Reply]

  • Selena

    Yes Sarah, that is EXACTLY how I feel right now!
    It appears I was following all the milestones at one point.. do well at school > go to Uni > get job > find a partner…..and then things went array…probably about the time of a significant spike in the road of a failed significant r/ship.
    I am big on planning for the future…I feel like I have been working hard, saving etc for the big plan…’fairytale’. I had a crystal clear idealistic view of it:….I was going to study engineering – prove myself in this field and get some $s, study Psychology externally, marry a wonderful & adoring tdh husband by 26, do my Psychology honours, buy a lovely house in Paddington with the wonderful hubby, become a qualified Child Psychologist, have 2 children by age 30 (& then a third later on…while I was doing my Masters)….and live happily ever after xx
    Now that I am almost 32, single, no children (and all my friends have either had their kids or the ones who planned on being late mums are now having kids), with now 2 (3?) Autoimmune Conditions (Hashimotos, Coeliac and borderline SLE), a string of failed relationships, still in the $-earning Eng/Business job, incomplete Psychology studies…..I am going back…I almost feel I am going back to my early 20s to change things up. I understand the fairytale has passed ….but I may still be able to fulfil some elements of it, but just in a different way.
    I am studying uni Pt (while working FT – which is challenging), but this means I can do my honours and my past Psychology studies won’t lapse. I have also recently purchased a beautiful t/house in Bardon (smaller and on the fringe from the original fairytale location). No real relationship prospects – in fact I am a bit over trying in this arena….it’s exhausting! There has recently been reciprocal attraction with young early 20s good looking guys (but I am not interested in pursuing this…I think this is returning to the kink in the road too literally!). I would like to have children and this has always been something that is very important to me (this really was my driver to working so hard at Uni and in my career, I wanted to ensure I was comfortable when having children….unlike my mother who really struggled financially with us as a sole parent (not by choice but due to a marriage breakdown). I would consider going it alone…but logistically I am not sure where the fertiliser would come from and also I don’t honestly know how I would cope with fluctuating AI related energy levels. That said, this is one plan I still want to pursue.
    I am a classic Dress Rehearsal person – I have clothes in my closet that I have kept for ‘a special occasion’….that have never been worn (and are now soo out of fashion).
    I do take some responsibility for my current situation, I struggle to make personal decisions – I like to have options in front of me – and I don’t easily lock anything in….I overanalyse everything! In fact, I am sure my health situation, if not caused by this personality trait, has been exasacerbated by it!
    Thanks for being sharey, you have (obviously) encouraged me to do the same…I appreciate your raw honesty.

    [Reply]

  • http://www.MyMindCoach.com.au Kylie Ryan

    Hey Sarah, Your post reminded me of an INTENSE coaching session I just recently had with a colleague of mine, where I fully committed to dedicating my life to my mission of assisting & empowering women to break free of the self-judgement, self-loathing and body image issues that so often creep into our minds through comparisons.

    There was a huge amount of fear in me to fully commit to this, due to my unconscious associations with giving yourself to your cause or mission and sacrificing your life for your cause. After rejecting and pulling back from many milestones along the way, I now find myself happily pregnant, in my house with my husband running my own business at 31. However, my greater CAUSE still pulls at me, and even MORE so now I am pregnant. I dedicate myself to empowering women through my work and through raising my daughter in the best and most balanced way I can possibly manage, because it’s too important not to! My fear disappeared when I realised that it wasn’t an either-or situation. I don’t have to die to do this, in fact I have to live a long time to get it all done! :-) I can have a mission and also have love and family and children. Sure there will be a lot of juggling, but I think it will be worth it and I am blessed to have support along the way.

    I guess I wanted to share this to say that a person’s milestones might lead them to their purpose, just as not travelling the milestone path may also lead you to your purpose. There are no mistakes in life. Every choice you make has made you the person you are today. It ALL counts, even the stuff you thought was just a dress rehearsal. Best, Kylie.

    [Reply]

    Anthony Reply:

    Hi Kylie
    You are very bright. I really like what ou said about life and choice is what made the person you are, I am and will be. Some people say that there life is predetermined the way it is and that is how it will be. I don’t agree. It will be the way you want it to be, and you have enormous choices that you can make to be what ever you want to be.

    [Reply]

    Kylie Ryan Reply:

    Thanks Anthony. I agree, I think it really comes down to ownership of the choices you’ve made in your life. I totally agree that your life is simply a reflection of those choices, whether you’ve drifted along and made choices unconsciously, (even avoiding a choice is a choice), or proactively set goals and targets and gone after them. Everybody’s life is up to them. That’s what I help to coach people to, begin able to take more responsibility for their choices and ownership of their lives. Thanks for your reply!

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  • trevor otto

    Hi Sarah,

    Love your work and the honesty that you give out about this journey that we are all sharing. It seems that we are all in the process of having to place less emphasis on the externals of our existence and more on the internal awakening required to really ‘Live’. Most of our problems can be solved when we awaken to our true nature or identity which is common to all of us but elusive to most. David R. Hawkins is I think one of the best modern spokesmen on this matter,

    Regards, Trevor

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  • Stacey

    I think I am going to print this out and stick it somewhere to reminded to stay honest to my life and not it’s “milestones”. Thank you Sarah x

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  • Mez

    Hi Sarah,

    Your so inspirational, love your blog…my life of 35 years has been full of rehersals, married at 24, two babies later and divorced at 30. Jumped straight into another relationship which ended after three years, I had a breakdown and was diagnosed with anxiety and depression. Twelve months on dealing with life, I learn’t to cope on my own and find happiness within…I’ve been so high on life, I’m an awesome mother for my children and have the real me has emerged…I truely believe this is also the reason for me, meeting the love of my life, let the play begin!!

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  • Niki

    I’ve come to realise, I’ve always lived my life this way. While I did enjoy the journey at whatever stage I was at (highschool, uni, first job, etc) to a large degree I was always itching to get to the next phase, when everything would be in balance and finally running smoothly. Towards the end of highschool I couldn’t wait to escape the same old crowd and meet new people and enjoy more freedom that comes with uni life and turning 18. Each year of uni I was always looking forward and anticipating the next and how this would help me when I got into the “real world” and began my career. The first year of uni was a blur – everything was new and I didn’t have much time to overthink things. By the second year (of my three year degree) I thought it’s time to get serious here! By the end of second year I was thinking – shit I only have one year left, what have I even learnt? But I’d think my third year would give me the practical training I felt I lacked so far. After finishing two prac units in my third year I still felt like soemthign was missing. So I did more work experience. It was always – once I finish this unit at uni or this work experience or get my first job I’ll gain the confidence, skills and experience I need to apply for a job I really want and then I can really start living. Most of the last year of uni I was just waiting for it to end so I could get out into the real world and experience “life”. Towards the end of the first year of my first job I was thinking of what my next position could be. Now I’m planning to go away to Europe for three months with my two best friends and I’m working in an “in-between job” to save before we leave so that’s the next thing I’m waiting for with the expectation that once I finish my travels I’ll be more worldly and wise and know myself better. I’ve already been thinking of what happens when I get back i.e. – that’s when I’ll really focus on launching my career! Then I realised that when I get back I’ll be almost 22 and have start my career all over again when so many people around me seem to have accomplished so much already and ticked so many boxes. I think comparing is what does us all harm. We have to accept we all have different paths and achieve different things at different stages in our lives. So finally I am learning to just be and enjoy each day as it comes and not be so focused on that next big achievement or life experience. I still hold onto my dreams and have a picture of what I want to achieve but I realise now that life goals are fluid and may change as life progresses and we are faced with different opportunities that open new pathways. Ahhh wow I think what I’m trying to say is I’m learning to really enjoy the present phase of life while also being excited about what’s coming up at the same time :)

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  • http://www.elisenutrition.com.au/ Elise

    Albert Einstein said a problem cannot be solved at the same place you met it. Endless possibilities, lets just take down our own egos and go for it!

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  • http://www.lieslg.com Liesl

    Not over-sharey at all! Just lovely-sharey!!! :)

    I’ve recently had stark OMG-rehearsal-vs-PLAY thoughts myself!!

    I love me a good rehearsal….but sheeeeeet, get to the play already, and flippin’ go out on a limb AND IMPROV’!!!!

    This is what I’m dipping my toes into atm…& scary yes, but very much “YES!” at the same time.

    It is indeed time…& I’m superbly grateful for the awareness & the clarity.

    FrivolousFriday to you….Opening Night anyone?! :)

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  • Jane

    Woo hoo time to get over-sharey Sarah. I love it..it sounds authentically you. It’s taken me a year and a half to realise this is it and this play is LIVE. My life, my heart, is much better for it despite the trauma it took to make it happen. It’s also a lot easier to go with the flow when you’re not practicing life. When it’s live you know these moments are it.

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  • Merelyn

    I turn 50 in 3 months time. (and isn’t it deem arable that I read blogs!) I’ve never really felt like I’m just rehearsing for the play, but when I look back on the last 30 years I’m so glad it all happened. I’m actually really happy to be turning 50, to be getting older, to be happy with my health & by body – even if it drives me barmy sometimes! I think the key is being in the play is being contented, even when things are driving you nuts! Just be contented that you’re here & in the play!

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  • Rachel Cooper

    Wow!! That rings so true Sarah.

    I realised in the lift of the OB`s office that I was not at all in control of my life, my plans really did not include being mum too Twin boys and two girls very close together.
    Eeeeek!!!!!

    My neat, uncomplicated life has been thrown into joyful, crazy chaos and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

    You need to suck in the life giving moments and beauty in this world and be thankful for what you have been given.

    It is a gift to live our lives, free to be who we are.
    Cheers to the blessed bloody awesome life on Friday xx
    Rachel

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  • Tiff

    LOVE this post. I feel exactly the same.

    Thank you for sharing!

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  • Anthony

    I come from a very large family and with the exception of myself, they have all settled into the traditional family mould. That is there security, it has worked well for them, and the road is pretty much mapped out for them. They are very much in favor of freedom, because isn’t that what we in the West talk about in living in a democracy. But, when you begin to talk about freedom with them, and I say I am being who I want to be, and what I want to do, they begin to see that it does not fit the mould, you are seen as being a bit whacky. Though I have my own business and work hard, the rest of me has not fitted the mould. I say I am free to be as I please, and I then I get all the caring, loving questions under the sun. I smile and say, this is my choice, this is my life to live. We were born to live, to think for ourselves. Live Life

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  • Megan

    Thank you Sarah for your inspiring post :)

    My favourite new thought: ‘the biggest thing to happen in life is to live the everyday – the good days and the bad days’.

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  • Kirra

    Great story Sarah – very brave.

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  • Myles

    Hi Sarh
    Lovel and brave post, and look at the comments you have inspired. I’m a bit of a waypoint person and rue the fact that my 18 year marriage wasn’t for keeps. Yes I took 50% of the out takes. I thought I had failed myself at that point as it was always a love based relationship, problem being I wasn’t too good at expressing it. I struggle to recreate that robustness in a relationship, still looking for that special one. I have come from the other direction by doing the play, and now I’m in dress rehersal mode. I know engineers have a diffent slant on life
    You GO GIRL :-)

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  • Anne

    This hit me like a ton of bricks !!!! Here am I, 59 next week, and trying to put off my enevitable major decision for a later time. When is later? I have the house, children and now grandchildren and up until recently the job but still always looking over the fence at the green grass on the otherside. I am sick of the dress rehearsals that I have put myself in over my life. Why do I have to consider everyone else and not myself? What good is it to live as a pretend person? Boy the future is scary stuff. If and when I step out from my 34 year marriage and truly be myself will I be any happier? Is there such a thing? Am I not just wanting it all when it is not possible to have? But bugger, I want to try. Have looked at Alan Watts ideas and they certainly resonate with me. I am going to take the plunge……..one day.

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  • Meg

    I have always thought of life a a play and of late, have started to pay particular attention to the characters involved, whether they be regulars or guest stars. I also look at the role I play. Sometimes I am the lead character, other times the understudy, script writer, talent scout. My aim now is to become the director. Thank for the reminder and the push.

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  • Jo

    You’re really inside my head with this piece Sarah – one of the best things I have read on any blog for quite some time, and it’s given me a great perspective to address my own ‘here and now’.

    I too had just expected, almost unconsciously, the milestones to occur and they haven’t (well the partner and kids bit hasn’t anyway). My career milestones on the other hand seemed to be following a path I had expected for quite some time. But just in the past couple of months this has changed quite dramatically – corporate restructure – and for a while it was all getting on top of me.

    Then in the last week to ten days I started feeling much lighter about things, although kept telling myself I shouldn’t be ok with what was going on, I should be upset, looking for my next milestone etc.

    After reading your post, and the comments, I feel like all is good and that this unexpected ‘disappointment’ is going to open me up to different and better things. And not in a scary way, but almost smoothly gliding into a new chapter of my story.

    Thanks so much for this post -it came at a perfect time for me! Wishing you happiness

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  • Lisa Ingram

    Plan like you’ll live for ever. Live like you’ll die tomorrow. I suspect this is easier to do when death seems real. My mother died when she was 35 and I was 8. I have always had that sense of – this life is Mine – F what you all think! Helpful, especially to remember what is important and not to let the rat race get me. Btw – No Play? what? the whole thing is a play! Including this unimportant scene…now, I saw there was a bike post and I am off to read that. I have a lovely reflective bike sash with a bow – need to look good for my ‘part’. Lisa

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  • Rachel

    I have heard many people talk about living the unexpected life. To my mind I think the focus should be less on the script and more on the performance. So often we don’t always have control over the script that is our life. We do, how ever have control over our performance in this play called life. My philosophy is that if I focus on developing the character – me – then whatever comes my way will fit in and around that endeavor. Wether it’s a dress rehearsal or the main event all of it contributes in someway to who I am as a person and in a way that’s the real play.

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    Sharon in Philly Reply:

    Thank you for this, I agree, developing self will bring different things and people into my life.

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  • Jennifer

    Sarah, Thank you for writing this and for being over sharey. I see you as a strong, beautiful, extremely smart and caring, charismatic person so full of life and passion and that inspires me. I also have Hashimoto’s, have recently quit sugar and have been told the door closed on the kids bus and I forgot to get on. It’s like I woke up and was 40 and single and I never “made” it happen. Not sure you can, really. I thought I’d meet my hubby Junior year in college, get engaged after graduation and be having kids by 24. But my life took another direction as well. I am on the less-chosen path it seems and don’t really remember signing up for it, but as I believe in the addage – if you want to know what you really want in life, take a look at what you got…it can only be the life I have chosen even if I am not sure why just yet. The thought of “oh my god, I am truly alone” comes and goes…less and less pangy, and disapates quicker. Yesterday I decided that my life is happening whether I enjoy it or not, so I might as well be happy and enjoy it – just me – aren’t I enough?
    Thank you

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  • http://dashfieldvintage.blogspot.com Malayka

    Wow this is a fantastic post!! I am so terrible at this dress rehearsal thing too. Everything I do is always just in preparation for ‘when I grow up’, the only thing is that I just realised that I’m barreling toward 30 this year and still think that when I have this, this and this sorted I will have the perfect grown up life. I stress out about the fact that I have spent the last 10 years traveling, living abroad, working dead end bar jobs and occasionally doing a bit of study. And all the while I see my friends and old class mates getting married, having children and building careers… it sends me into a minor panic! But then I think I wouldn’t want to trade the experiences of the last decade for anything. I lived life the way I wanted to and I had an awful lot of fun doing it! The one lesson I have learned is that living in the past or the future is quite dangerous. You have to live for RIGHT NOW! x

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  • Sallybranson

    Oh Sarah. You’re very good. Very good. Again, brave and strong and sharing. Speaking the words that many men and women in our world are slowly coming to think about ( my check box? I’m not ticking it? Where is that house chapter? Where are the babies bit in my story? Where is that milestone? And also acknowledging that it’s about choices ( oh yeah, I’m not married like my mates because I don’t find their husbands attractive with out offense and that’s a good thing or thats actualy not what makes me happy) so thanks and gratitude. I wrote a note for our girl Nat’s blog on a similar theme that something’s are not in our story right now but it doesn’t mean we ignore living our lives and being healthy for living our lives- not just to make babies etc, but to be fabulous how we are meant to be.
    With love x

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  • Katherine in London

    Oh wow. This post struck me more than you could imagine.

    Thank you Sarah.

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  • Matt

    Really appreciated this post, Sarah. Scares me a little to be reading it now though, I’m at the uni ‘stage’. I’ve still got milestones to reach, I think!

    I also believe it’s important to remember you’ve got to enjoy the journey, no matter where it leads. It’s something I often forget – but for the little glimpses that I do remember it – life is wonderful. :)

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  • lionheartedgirl

    Love this Sarah, and the comments from other people…it’s always fascinating to hear the perspective of others.

    I had a similar realisation recently, that this is my life. For the last few years of being single I had decided that I didn’t want to live the ‘cookie-cutter’ life that all of my friends are: school, uni, job, marriage, house, babies. Part of me thinks I am just in denial that I do want these things :) But I wonder how many people really want these things, or just do them because that’s what they’ve been told to do.

    Another part of me thinks perhaps I was destined for something different. But now I am struggling with what the alternative looks like. By making choices along the way that have led me away from the norm (btw, very empowering to realise they were choices not circumstance), I feel an incredible pressure to achieve or do something AMAZING because, really, I have the freedom to do just about anything. So why am I still doing 9 to 5, trying to save up a deposit, and worrying about how I’m going to continue to support myself into my old age?

    I’m looking for more meaning in my life. In the past, loving someone has made my life more meaningful. I can imagine having a child would only intensify this. But without a partner or children, that leaves work and I’m just not sure it’s going to be enough to get me out of bed for the next 35 years! I guess at least I know fundamentally what I’m looking for, even if I don’t know how to find it yet.

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  • Fiona

    I know exactly what you mean Sarah!

    A few years ago now (mid 30s) my husband and I were told that there was almost no chance of us having children. I didn’t think I was that maternal anyway until we decided we wanted to start a family, but once the choice was taken away from us, I was so scared. What would I do now? And the scariest thought to me, the one that really bowled me over was… I have to be a designer for the rest of my life! Noooooooo! I didn’t realise how much I was going to use the ‘normal’ milestones as reasons to change what or who I was. I had worked so hard at my career putting in the long hours that when the time came to have a family I could maybe sneak in a little relaxation time, a quick career change or find the real me without the added pressure of trying to work. (Yes I do know how unrealistic this thinking is – but we all think it at some time)

    It has taken a good few years, lots of soul searching and finally turning 40 to make me realise that my life doesn’t start once this or that happens. When we don’t have the ‘normal’ milestones to mark our paths it becomes even more important to stay true to yourself, embrace the choices you get to make and love the life you do have. I find it gives me a strange sense of permission to make ‘selfish’ decisions. Decisions that everyone else wishes they had the choice in making. If that makes sense :)

    I now tell myself this everyday “It’s not who you are that holds you back, it’s who you think you’re not” :)

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  • http://www.thirdontheright.blogspot.com le_third

    I loved this post Sarah … at 45 I have I have decided I am not working for this year – I am doing other things … a few around with cancer and tumours is enough to make you question your own longevity so I am doing some living now … it is also a tidy up year of things left undo for the last ten years … it feels good … it’s a big decision not to work as I was the breadwinner … but less is good and I am sure we can find other riches that add to life as we know it – best le xox

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  • Unjay

    It reminds me of my recurring dream… The audience is waiting to see Hamlet, I am in the title role, the theatre is hushed, it’s curtain call time and I suddenly become sharply aware I have forgotten to learn any lines at all…

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  • J

    While I like your post Sarah, it also saddens me deeply that many often, life is not within our control, nor can we live our dreams as we would have wished for.

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  • Amelia M

    simply beautiful

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