Tis the season to be folly
It’s the holidays, which means almost all of us are hanging out with our family… which means that there’s going to be at least one moment, if not many, where we’re asked or think to ourselves,
“What is my life?”
The holidays are the biggest time of year for engagements.
They’re also the biggest time of year for divorce.
And even if we’re not on the brink of either life moment, it’s still the time of year when our family is asking, “how’s work?” “when are you going to settle down?” or, “babies, maybe?” — depending on “where you are” in life and how they feel compelled to “push you along” through our societal life cycle.
And even if none of that is happening, tis still the season — what with the holiday and the new year — when we’re all thinking about our lives anyway.
And if you’re sitting on your parent’s couch (or your boyfriend’s brother’s couch, as I am) wondering what you’re doing or where you’re going, just know that pretty much everyone has this moment, and everything is going to be okay.
I’m in my 30’s and only sort-of “have my shit together,” too
Though I guess I should be more clear when I talk about not “having my shit together:”
It depends on how you define “having your shit together,” and what sort of shit you’re looking at.
The shit I do and don’t have “together” was totally by design.
I picked and chose what I really wanted, and wasn’t afraid to say “no thanks” to anything else. I dumped my entire life a few times during my twenties (and countless more, if you include the smaller fragments I cut out along the way.) But that’s what our twenties are for.
If you’re not rejecting things and breaking up with things and stopping things that aren’t working, you’re either not trying hard enough — putting yourself out there enough; taking enough risk — or, perhaps worse, you’re just accepting everything that comes into your life. And setting yourself up for one hell of a mid-life crisis.
I have somewhat unconventional perspectives, and I lead a somewhat unconventional life. Which is to say I sort of “front-load” and “stockpile” all the fucks I have to give into one basket. And the only shit I have “together” is the shit I think that matters.
A lot of things that people measure don’t actually matter when it comes to happiness or meaning (and those aren’t the same thing, but matching cutlery isn’t the way to either one.)
I’m not married — and that was 100% deliberate. I dated at least two dudes who were great on paper and down to tie the knot and I bailed. (And I’m so thankful I did, because I’m with a partner now that I adore multitudes more.)
I don’t own a home — and have no desire to. Partly the millennial plight (what with student loans and whatnot) but partly because I understand that houses were always just contractual savings accounts.
I was bartending for a living at age 30 — and just to be clear: I have a bachelor’s degree in finance. On the surface, bartending scared people like my parents. But the backstory is: I was in between building a business.
I have never bought any furniture — not even a bed. I graduated from college into the arms of a boyfriend, and when I lived alone I had an air mattress. But not having furniture meant that I had more flexibility in my life. No ragrets.
I’ve never set up my own WiFi — so I’m worse than my parents, in that regard.
I don’t own pots and pans (why bother? I don’t cook) though the boy owns one of each, which we (on very rare occasion) use.
And earlier this year, I spilled wine on the ceiling. (Long story.)
But the reason I tell you this is really to tell you: you don’t need any of that to be happy.
I’m ridiculously happy — hands down the happiest I’ve ever been.
And, I can say without doubt, definitely happier than I would be if I had just churned through the checklist, gotten married, bought a house, had a kid.
The only shit you need to have “together” is: “the shit that matters”
— to you.
Focus hard on the things that matter most to you — defined only as the things that matter most to you.
Look, marriage and kids make a lot of people really happy! If that’s your truth, then go get them! You have all my blessings (not that you need them.)
But if you’re looking for “a life partner with whom to build and raise a family,” my only suggestion is to focus solely on that, and realize that things like “favorite food,” “what they drive,” or “whether they own pots and pans” don’t matter. All you need is someone who wants the same thing — with you.
My “shit” is simple: I want a good partner (defined simply) and good work (ditto.) I love my work — and I’m good at it. Even though I bartended a little bit in between there, and some people view my career path with concern. It all made sense to me, and I like where I am. I have a partner whom I absolutely adore. I live in a city that makes me smile. I have a bike. And I have books. That’s about the long and short of what I value most. I don’t care about the rest.
Too often we get caught up in trying to have it all and we end up sacrificing more than we meant to — in our land-grab for everything, we tarnish the real things, and then we end up a little lost and broke. Like, for all of us who wanted “marriage” more than anything, so many of us, sadly, end up filing for divorce on January 5. And it’s because we tried to hard to “have our shit together” by defining too much as “the shit” and losing focus.
And my message is one of love and hope and optimism for the new year.
If you want to “get your shit together,” you only have to know what “shit” you really want.
To get what you want:
- Define what you want — clearly and simply
- Focus only on what you want — ruthlessly, and unabashedly
Because the greatest gift you can give yourself is living a life that reflects your values in a way that they shine through and really sing.