Maybe it’s because my pile of self-help books have been growing, or maybe it’s because I’ve watched one too many shows about 20-somethings with amazing apartments (looking at you Friends, Girls and Gilmore Girls), but lately I’ve been thinking about getting my life together.
Or, perhaps more accurately, how not together it is.
It’s not from lack of trying–by every account (i.e. the usual tv shows and movies that show people my age thriving in a big city with four of their closest friends and one promotion away from their dream job), I’m almost there… if by “almost there,” they actually meant writing articles from a closet. If so, then you can stop reading this and assume that you, too, can get your life together.
All kidding and anxiety aside, I’ve learned one undeniable truth this past year while taking a break or five from everything: no one has their stuff together (seriously, no one) and getting your life together is an impossible task. And that’s totally okay.
For one thing, (not just to keep being a Debbie Downer), everyone’s definition of “getting your life together” will always be different. Maybe your definition is that you have a job and a nice apartment by your 24th birthday or that you’ll score that dream internship next summer. Meanwhile, your family’s idea is you settling down and having kids by 27, and your friends define it as moving to New York together. It will never be one concrete thing.
For another thing, life is a constantly shifting, fluid thing. It, and your goals, will never remain the same. In our society, this is extremely clear as we strive to jump one hurdle, just to see that we have five more to go. There is a constant push and pull of “Well, once I accomplish this, and this, and that…then I’ll be happy and successful.”
That’s unfair to you and your accomplishments, since there is no time to focus on your success, only focus on the next thing. It’s an easy way to get burned out to the point where you just want to give up on it all.
You deserve more than that. You know that, I know that, this whole generation knows that. Why are you still measuring yourself to that impossible standard then?
If you find yourself in this rut and don’t know how to get out, here are a few things you can do:
1. Focus on the moment, and how you feel.
No matter where you’re at in your journey, you won’t get anywhere if you’re running yourself into the ground. Take a step back and assess what you’re doing and where you’re going. Can you take a break? Can you add something into your routine that would allow you to check in on yourself? Focus on the actual journey and your well-being throughout it all, and short-term satisfaction is sure to follow.
2. Put down the phone, and stop comparing yourself.
To quote your mother, your grandmother, your sister and your best friend: comparison is the thief of joy. Sure, you can claim that you’re getting inspired by the journey of that one girl from your accounting class in freshman year that you follow on Instagram, but if you’re busy following her journey, who’s focusing on yours? Put down the phone, put away the comparisons, and do you.
3. When you need help, ask for it.
Do my friends and family worry about me when I start stockpiling self-help books and tuning into lifestyle podcasts? Probably more than I’ll ever know. However, it’s a way that I “study” how to get from point A to B. There’s a reason there’s a million and one self-help books and websites, and why we have a groupchat just to ask our nearest and dearest if we’re doing things right. And there’s no shame in asking and looking for help. The only true teacher is experience, and if it’s secondhand for the moment, well, there’s no shame in that.
No matter how much you feel that you need to get your life together, don’t let the pressure overtake you.
No one is a success overnight, and if it seems like they are, it’s probably because they’ve figured out their own truth. Getting your life together isn’t about having the cute apartment, the perfect group of friends, the highest grades or the best job. It’s about making yourself happy, and relaxing in the truth of that.
(That being said, if anyone can figure out how to get a boyfriend as cute as Adam Driver from Girls, then let us know, okay? I’ll accept that over getting my life together any day.)