The other night I had one of those future-thinking explosions. It started out as a clear, rational idea in my head and a couple of harmless questions my inner voice of reason answered. Some of my best thinking happens in the shower, so I felt pretty stable. By the time I dried off, I was in a tornado of “what if’s” and “wtf am I doing’s.”
This happens semi-frequently, and lately I’ve been able to spot triggers. Any piece of news and societal or environmental crisis tidbit I read is likely to set me off. Sometimes cancellations of significant plans surface feelings of needing to control. I find I attempt to solidify other plans and create or review lists to find more stable ground and distract myself from disappointment. Just resting in bed before falling asleep at night brings it on. A lot of these “explosions” are fed by imposter feelings.
This is also a multi-level experience. Sometimes it’s purely egoic and dwells in the realm of practicality. The nature of this is thoughts about work, what I’m to do with my degree, can I make enough money to survive, anything health-related, how certain family members and friends are doing, where I should live, etc.
Other times it’s existential, which is also egoic but includes larger feelings of purpose/service and death-related anxiety. This is more like what do I offer the world, what matters, and imagining what it’ll be like no longer living this life. No matter the level, they tend to be the same arguments.
It’s fascinating, one moment these things are dormant and I’m in a state of gratitude, and another I’m suddenly sucked into a frenzy of doom. It shows me how my thoughts co-create my reality. I try to see each switch as a chance to practice regulating strategies, as a signal to take a break, or even as a point to create a piece of art from.
The content of these thoughts, to me, is part of the experience of an emerging adult. As I’ve said before, I feel too old for it and all of this uncertainty, but I suspect I’ll hit another developmental milestone pretty soon. Until then, this is what I’m working through.
What does it mean to you to get your shit together? From so many people (who share the intricacies of their lifestyle one image or video tutorial by one), we see compartmentalized containers of meal prepped lunches adhering to specific diets, 3-5 expertly orchestrated events leading up to the main milestone celebration (wedding or childbirth), friend groups on boozy weekends with color-coordinated outfits, and I could go on.
There’s nothing wrong with any of these things, and to me, it’s apparent a lot of thought and effort goes into the presentation. For each developmental group, there are certain boxes to check. Social media helps us see who’s checking what when. Younger kids show they went to trendy bakeries and to prom, their parents post the college acceptance letters and beach-front sunsets.
My generation coined “look what I did!”, so running into an old classmate is never “how have you been?” but “I saw that you got a new job and went to Mexico!” The more boxes other people seem to check the less we feel like we have our shit together.
This isn’t supposed to be another rant complaining about the misrepresentations of social media. (I can’t help it!!) Instead, I suppose it was a pathway to reassure (myself at least) that boxes feel like end results or definitive steps to an end result. I’m not so certain that I want all of those sorts of things in my life. I see how they are important to others, and it’s a beautiful thing to celebrate all of our hard work whether it’s for a vacation or having raised a smart child.
I like to post some things that I do and that make me happy too. Each time I do, I’m reminded of all that exists outside of those things, the small unpost-able and uninteresting occurrences that are fulfilling and matter in other ways. I may not be exactly where I want to be in life or know exactly where it is I’m going, and that’s what makes spending time in my parents’ backyard listening to weed-whackers whirring either an incentive to push ahead or a welcomed pause.
My guess is that having your shit together to many people is to be somewhat organized and moderately motivated. Sometimes the organization is simply having ideas and plans. That is a reason why the feelings of having no ideas or motivation is chaotic and discouraging.
Although flailing around can also be kinda fun! It’s been an ongoing effort to try to embrace both unknowns and the present moment. I am very privileged to dwell in occasional aimlessness. There are no real answers here, insight, guidance, or an organized idea. In a way, that’s the point! What do you have to do or think to feel “together?” When is it okay to not be?
Go do some unscheduled laying around and feel fine about it.