“It is not uncommon for people to spend their whole life waiting to start living.” ~Eckhart Tolle
Have you ever hit the snooze button? I’m guessing you have at least once. And when you hit it— if you were awake enough to even think about it—you were probably happy knowing that you’d be getting a few more minutes of sleep, right?
You may have been dreaming a really great dream or were super comfortable in your bed, and you just weren’t ready to wake up. Maybe you had a hard time getting to sleep the night before or you just didn’t get enough sleep.
In any case, waking up would be painful, right? So it makes perfect sense that you wanted to put off feeling that pain.
But what if this were a metaphor for your life? What if each time you hit the snooze button and chose to stay asleep, you pushed away precious opportunities to wake up? And what if each time you pushed the button, you were actually postponing your life? Would you still push it?
I did. For many years. For most of my life, actually. I had gotten into the habit of hearing the wake-up call and hitting the snooze button. It wasn’t a convenient time, or I was too scared to do anything about it, or I just wanted to ignore it.
I continually hit the snooze button when I said no to opportunities to stretch out of my comfort zone and soar into a new life: an acceptance into a great college, a scholarship to study in France, and an invitation to speak at my college graduation.
I hit the snooze button because I was too afraid. I wasn’t ready to wake up and start living fully.
Ignoring the wake-up calls became such a habit that I eventually didn’t want to leave my bed at all. I wanted to continue sleeping. It was safe, warm, and comfortable there. I could pull the covers over my head and pretend that the real world didn’t exist.
I could pretend that it was perfectly okay that I was sleeping my life away.
But I could only ignore the alarms and my inner voice urging me to wake up for so long. Because two years ago, I received a wake-up call that didn’t come with a snooze button: I learned that my first love had killed himself.
In one moment, my entire world changed. I felt so much pain and so much sadness, and I couldn’t push it away. I couldn’t pretend that this wasn’t happening. I tried to go to bed and pull the covers up, but the grief went with me. I couldn’t escape it.
While we hadn’t spoken in many years, memories of our time together came rushing back. I remembered us when we were younger—full of life and promise and joy and vibrancy. I hadn’t felt any of those things for so long.
I had been too busy ignoring the wake-up calls and hitting the snooze button—trying not to feel or stretch myself.
But in this moment of extreme grief came extreme clarity: I knew that I needed to make a drastic change. My life wasn’t over yet, and it was time that I stopped acting like it was.
In that moment, I chose to throw away the snooze button. I chose to start saying yes to each opportunity that came my way: a writing career, radio interviews, and new friendships—things that I most likely would have shied away from and said no to in the past, I began to embrace. And it’s been wonderful (for the most part).
Because here’s the thing that we don’t always hear about when we read these uplifting stories from people who have overcome hardship: Waking up can be painful. It can be hard. It is definitely easier to stay asleep and continue sleepwalking through life.
Living consciously is not all roses and chocolate and anything else that we all love. There is a reason why many of us choose to remain asleep. Waking up means that we feel everything—the good and the bad.
Waking up means that we are aware of the many horrific things that are happening in the world, but we’re also aware of all of the beautiful things. Waking up means that we have to take responsibility for our lives and start moving toward our purpose. And all of this can be scary and exhausting. It’s perfectly understandable that we hit the snooze button.
But what I experienced with this wake-up call and this period of grieving is that going through the pain is a necessary part of moving into the joy.
Life is filled with good and bad and everything in between. And it’s only by choosing to wake up that we can really experience it fully.
I received a jolting wake-up call when my first love died. But I had been receiving smaller wake-up calls for years before this. We all have. And most of us choose to hit the snooze button because we aren’t ready to wake up.
The last two years have been some of the hardest moments that I have ever experienced, but they have also been the most beautiful moments.
For the first time in my life, I am wide awake—I feel everything. I am consciously creating my life, and I am truly living. I am no longer okay with postponing my life, and I have thrown away my snooze button.
If you are hearing the wake-up calls now, please don’t ignore them. You don’t have to wait until your wake-up call becomes a full-blown alarm. You don’t have to hit the snooze button any longer.
It’s true that waking up can be painful, but it’s also such a beautiful way to live. And it sure beats sleeping your life away.