famous last words: “I don’t want any drama.”

Rome 015 There isn’t much to this. I mean, it’s one of those thoughts that comes to you when you’re sitting in your bathing suit after your kids’ swim lesson, just this passing deep thought: my life could be so different. The role I play… I could play its opposite. We, each of us, fall into our habits, our particular roles, submissive, dominant, “You know you’re so much better at that than I am, sweetie” roles—that I don’t know how much we challenge them. We simply accept the role we chose once upon a time ago. Because questions lead to problems, or at the very least, to someone rolling his eyes and saying, “Drama.”

And that’s what it is. A drama with parts we assign ourselves, whatever seems the most natural at the time. We accept the roles because it’s easier than confrontation, or we simply forget to bother questioning things. We assume the label they gave us, that we assigned ourselves, was dead on, and unchanging. "I’m the bad driver, the one afraid of horror films, the shy one, the non-planner, the one with a bad relationship with her family." Sometimes we play the part for so many years that we never stop to question its origin or authenticity. Until we’re forced to. Or until we have a mid-life crisis.

And then, suddenly, we realize we can play different parts. There’s actually an option. We can turn our backs on all that we said we were, and insist that we’ve changed, that we want to try something new, or to at least have the option. We want the ability, to remind ourselves that we needn’t be type-cast, that we could, if we wanted, lead a very different life.

The thought doesn’t come to me after couples therapy. There has been no fight. I simply, for the first time in as long as I can remember, decided that instead of watching his DVR’d TV, I’d put in a movie. And I thought, “There are people who don’t do this.” Who don’t ever watch sitcoms just because it’s what’s on. There are people who don’t bother with TV at all. I could be living a life of just movies, or of no movies at all.

It’s a small thought, yes. But it’s also big. Because just the contemplation that I could be living so differently plants questions into my head. I can choose to live any life I want. Anything at all. Is this what I want to be living? Sure, I made all these small decisions that lead me here, but is this where I want to be living? In this role: the one who’s not so good at convincing health care professionals to consider things in network? The one who’s… not so sure what role she plays other than trying to not lose herself. The one who tiptoes but then shouts over his shouts, asking him to please stop shouting. I realize, in this moment, that I don’t have to live this life. And I can stay, and still not live it. I can make changes without letting go. It’s all about rituals, habits, and repetition. I can carve new pathways, set different expectations, and challenge myself, to understudy the woman I want to become. I could wear red.

2 YEARS AGO: The Psychology of Reason
4 YEARS AGO: What I Didn’t Send
5 YEARS AGO: Do Nothing



  1. Changing what you do (and think about what happens around you) is transforming internally and often leads the world around you to change, if not just in your perception but also sometimes for real.

  2. I really like this post. The idea that you can live a different life, within the life you are living. So much of what we do is because we are lazy and uninspired.

  3. So true. Your choices can be very small. But they can have a great impact on the way your life turns out. Love this post.

  4. I can't think of a more inspiring thing to read first thing in the morning. Thank you, Stephanie!

  5. it's a little new-agey, eastern, etc., but eckhart tolle has an interesting take on identifying with an identity in his books, especially, a new earth. the need to identifying with an identity is a symptom of an unhealthy ego.

  6. love this post….it also has a mixed tone..part-empowering, part-sad…hope u r not sad.

  7. Fascinating stuff. I think what I'm trying to say is that we should all wear our identities loosely, as you never know when you'll need to shed one. Sometimes we stop being daughters, wives, mothers, (due to death)… or we're fired and can no longer call ourselves by our job titles. The key is moving fluidly through all our identities, but also learning to shed and question the ones that might not fit, and trying on new ones.

  8. Hey, hey… if there were really funny smart TV on, you'd watch occasionally, no?… if even to only support this redheaded writer? No news I can share officially yet, but things are getting exciting around here.

  9. I loved Joe. I still love Joe. I identify most with her feelings of frustration. Wondering if she's always going to be doing things wrong. Then being brave, being herself, follow-through.

  10. Due to a recent layoff, it looks like my husband will be a stay-at-home dad to the baby we are expecting in August (at least for a while). This means that we are in the process of re-negotiating our roles and responsibilities (and preparing to take on the role of parents). It's exciting and freeing, but also totally overwhelming. There's a lovely sense of comfort and predictability that come from well-rehearsed parts in a relationship.

  11. I'm really glad that I read this. It's so interesting how we kind of meld (is that a word?) into a certain role or routine or habit, and once we're there, we think that's where we're "supposed" to be. How silly is that, when we're the ones who have the steering wheel to our own destiny.

    PS- Just read your comment above, about your TV show that may or may not be in the works?, and I cannot WAIT to hear more!

  12. Ohhhhh, I'm super exicted about that tv show! Can't wait really. Why the picture of Rome? Is it the drama of being killed by tigers? Are you tired of the dictator and want him put in the forum? Please tell me you are not going to leave Phil to eat pizza in Italy!

  13. This sounds just like what I went through two years ago. Somehow the crisis that had developed turned a light bulb on in my head and I chose a different role. I'm still me, but different. With a different "view" of my life. And it's working well.

  14. The good part comes next: what roles/labels did you adopt, and what did others assign you?

    I have been re-reading favorite childhood novels, and it's amazing the ideas, attitudes and sayings I adopted from characters I wanted so badly to identify with. Little Women was a real eye-opener — I had absorbed bits and pieces from all the girls. And we won't even get into the Brontes!

  15. This is another random question, but whatever happened to the paperback version of Moose. I remember you debating on what cover to use. Had I commented, I would have said use a different one. The paperback release is a new chance at capturing readers that missed it the first time around. A chance for a new dress, if you will. A chance to use a different kind of marketing and see how it fits. Of course, you have to like it as well, but it's a chance to be different. I liked the light blue with the scale. Simple, clear, somewhat girly but that's not a bad thing if you are really a market guru-see the simple covers Emily Giffin uses. She's stated that she did want to be taken seriously and so was aware of how having pastel pink, blue, yellow and green covers might look. But at the same time, she knew covers help move books and her covers and books have sold…a lot. That's neither here nor there. Sorry, just rambling on.

    Back to my point, when is the paperback version coming out? And what did you decide to do regarding the cover?

  16. Stepping back and looking at your roles, life, choices is good but I've learned that in searching for happiness, you can become unhappy. Sometimes people think too much and end up forgetting how lucky they really are, just where they are.

  17. Absolutely… Everyone always said I was shy and just accepted that and made it sort of impossible to be anything else. Until I met all new people and decided to change :) it's hard not to regress when I go back home tho, people don't like it when you change, however positively.

  18. Profound. Just what I needed as I struggle through the day, wondering how did I get here? And why am I the one with "problems?"

  19. I think we should have grown into the lives that we´re living naturally – because of who we are; because we did things our way, because it felt right, because there was just no other way of doing things/of "being" possible, while staying true to our selves.
    Not because we started playing a part or assumed a role at some point, of which we hoped it would suit us so well.
    Strangely enough, I often have this feeling when I read your blog: that at least part of what you write is not the real person Stephanie, but the role you´ve chosen for yourself to play; a lot of things seem just superimposed and like a pretense, not just for us readers, but also for yourself.

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