It’s easy to agonize about the state of one’s life and how much better things would be if one could just “get it together.” Clean up the mess of life and keep it neat and tidy. But “getting your life together” isn’t easy. There are times when such a feat may not even seem possible.
We humans have a nasty habit of building up this searing image of success that in no way resembles our real lives and serves only to burn us when we contemplate how unattainable it is. It is completely out of reach. We imagine our future selves having a real job, someone dependable to love, a clean and decent place to live, and on top of all of that, time to enjoy it.
Take me for instance. Currently, I have a job that’s going nowhere and barely pays the bills, and nobody to love (at least, nobody worth it, or willing to love me back). I live in my parents’ detached garage with two cats and a dog, a sink that is perpetually full of dirty dishes no matter how often I wash them, and a hamper full of dirty clothes, no matter how many times I clean them. Work has become a parasite that consumes most of my life, and when I do stumble across some free time, I don’t know how to use it. The tiniest to-dos and errands just destroy me. Out of food? Guess I won’t eat. Out of gas? Guess I won’t drive. My room’s a mess? Why bother cleaning? And I’m sucked into this vicious cycle of despising everything and seeing no point in doing anything.
So how do I get out of it?
It takes patience, time and practice, so don’t expect overnight results, but it is possible to break this cycle and “get your life together,” so to speak. You just need to adjust your definition of success. The distance between us and our goals looms larger when we bundle all our goals together into one far and distant target that we’re sure to miss. The trick is to see each individual achievement as success.
When I envision myself “having it together,” I picture myself with a savings account, budgeting, affording things, doing things that are productive, living somewhere other than my parents’ house (and actually keeping it clean), and being healthy—staying fit and eating right. Well, it’s impossible for all these things to happen overnight, so when they don’t, it’s easy to feel discouraged and give up all hope of ever getting it together. When I do accomplish something, but my room remains a mess and I’m still broke, I don’t notice that my accomplishment has brought me one small step closer to “having it together.”
Be reasonable with yourself. Be realistic about your demands and expectations of yourself. Give yourself some credit for the things you’re doing right. Don’t look at life so black and white. Everybody knows that saying, “Is the glass half empty, or half full?” Ultimately, it’s both, it’s just a matter of perspective. Look at your life from different angles. Instead of listing all the things you don’t have, try listing all the things you do have. I have a job, and although I don’t have “Mr. Right”, I do have my independence, and although I’m living with my parents, I do have a roof over my head and a bed to sleep on. I have goals I haven’t reached, but there’s no shame in having dreams and aspirations.
“Getting your life together” takes a lifetime, maybe more, so give yourself some time and give yourself some credit. The longer we wallow in our helplessness and desperation, the more impossible it seems to get your life together. Your life is a glass that’s halfway full and halfway empty, so be thankful for what you have, and use the things you don’t have as incentive. Just because you’re not an overnight success, that doesn’t mean that you’re a failure. Life isn’t so black and white. It’s full of gray. Embrace it. “Having it together” is an illusion anyway. By the time you have all the things you’re lacking now, you’ll have a whole new list of things you still don’t have. It’s a never-ending cycle, so enjoy the ride.