Mental Health

The Myth of Having Your Life Together

I know you’ve said this to yourself at some point. It was probably while staring into the black hole of your morning coffee. Maybe it was while looking at the growing heaps of unwashed clothes on the floor.

You’ve put your hands through your tousled hair and sighed.

“Why? Why can’t I just get my life together?”

Instead of getting it together, you watch as your life crumbles into even tinier pieces. Sawdust.

It hits you when you’re another year older. Time didn’t slip from your fingers like this when you were a child. Once you turned 19, it’s like the universe accidentally pressed the fast forward button on the remote of your life. Twice. On top of that, it’s wedged underneath the middle cushion of the couch.

But you need to put “having it together” in the same category as unicorns and the tooth fairy. Sure, it’s a nice idea, but it’s a lie.

For some reason, we don’t stop believing in this as we get older. Its power over us only grows stronger.

It puts us in an invisible vice that we don’t talk about. It causes sleepless nights and raging bouts of jealousy we’re too ashamed to admit.

If we reach the age of thirty and we aren’t a girlboss millionaire with flawless hair that’s happily married with children, then we’ve failed.

But what does having it together mean? What does it mean to you? No, really. Not what it means to your parents, your friends, or your inner critic. She doesn’t always know what’s best for you.

It means absolutely nothing!

Or rather, it means whatever you want it to mean.

Four years ago, I had just graduated from college. I had already proudly walked down that long stage in my cap and gown. Things were starting to sink in. We went to a badly lit speakeasy to celebrate, and I was sipping on some gin.

“So what now? Do I just pay bills forever and then die,” I asked my friend.

She smiled at me. I’m sure she knew the alcohol was kicking in. “No, you build your life. You do whatever you want to do.”

At the time, that only made me feel worse. A giant knot formed in my stomach. What was I supposed to build? All I knew is that I had just finished the hardest thing I had ever done. And eventually, I would have to do it again.

Fast forward to now, and I can’t thank her enough for saying that.

Building a life you want involves clearly defining where you want to be.

Maybe it’s quitting your job, changing your name, and moving to Florence. For some, it means putting words on a page until they form coherent sentences.

But things aren’t always so simple. What if the desires you have are completely your own, but you don’t know where to start? You have such a wonderful vision for your life, but things, as they tend to do, have gotten messy.

It hurts because who you are and who you want to be couldn’t be more different. You don’t have the radiant confidence that comes with years of wisdom. You still haven’t mastered the ability to enter a room without comparing yourself to every person around you.

Despite that, I want you to think back to being a child. When your world was smaller, and you still had wonder in your eyes. Your view of the world hadn’t been tainted by societal expectations yet.

Think about what made you happy.

It was probably the smallest and most insignificant things, like trying pop rocks for the first time or finding a shiny penny on the ground. Do you remember when your life was made up of moments like this? What happened?

You were often caught up in the sensory vividness of being alive, and it was magical. That’s because you were focused on being, not doing. Somewhere along the line, you became so obsessed with what you’re doing that you forgot how to do this.

If you’re not where you want to be, then celebrate small things. Small things can turn into big things.

Celebrate being able to read these words. Savor the feeling of hearing your friend’s voice. Rejoice that you have a warm bed that welcomes you every night. And more importantly, be thankful that you’re a living and breathing human being.

I promise that you’re more abundant and “together” than you think.

by erstegloria

Hello! I'm Vanessa, and I'm another twenty-something with a lot of thoughts in her head. If I'm lucky, I can get these thoughts onto paper (or a google doc, you know what I mean). I love to write about art, culture, and the creative process. Thanks for stopping by, I'd love to get to know you.


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