Have you been hearing this phrase as much as I have? “I don’t have my shit together,” “When I get my shit together, then I’ll….” Who WANTS their shit to be together anyway? What does that even mean?
This term connotes an elusive cultural ideal of someone who has it all, someone who is organized and doesn’t look harried or chaotic. It may mean something different to you, but generally it’s based in comparison; you comparing yourself to someone else and feeling less than. Inadequate. Not good enough.
While I actually do not endorse the phrase, “I need to get my shit together,” here are some reasons why you may get caught in that thinking trap.
COMPARISON: Everyone else has her shit together except you. Comparison is a normal thought process and one that we need for survival. However, when used in this way—to compare ourselves to others and immediately categorize them as having their shit together and you as not, leaves you feeling defeated. This is a story. It is what you see on the outside. The image that person is projecting. Does this mean the image is their reality? Could be, but may not be. How do you benefit from always putting yourself in the one-down position? It’s not a fun way to feel. Perhaps that person believes the same thing- that you have your shit together and they do not. It’s all about perspective, experience, and what your values are.
2. MILESTONES: You aren’t where you want to be in your life. There are a lot of cultural benchmarks that can be tied to age or certain milestones such as graduating college, getting married, having children, getting to the C-Suite, etc. When you feel like you are “behind” it can lead to to these negative feelings. However, you are not in a race with anyone; your life is your own journey. You may have your own reasons for going at a different pace than others. Tragedy happens. Mistakes happen. Life hands out lessons whether we’re ready or not, and at different times for different people. Eventually, things even out, and your opinion of your station in life is the only one that matters. You really do not owe anyone an explanation. You probably don’t agree with me, but you seriously do not have to defend, justify, or explain yourself to people who have not earned the right to know.
3. YOU WON”T ALLOW YOURSELF TO GET IT TOGETHER: As much as you say you want to have your shit together, when you can say you don’t, it’s a way to lessen others’ expectations of you. You can also avoid disappointment in yourself because you can use this phrase. This can be sabotage, avoidance, and perfectionism. If we admit (even to ourselves) that we have it together, what if it’s not sustainable? What if someone else thinks we don’t? What if I lose my shit? Seeing this as a line, or as a black and white thing is a setup. We are all on our own life journeys, hopefully acknowledging that we are always works in progress. There are moments, hours, or days where you may have most things together, and there are as many that you feel like things are falling apart. That’s ok. No one is grading you. Life is messy and unpredictable. What’s important is that you feel you’re doing your best to feel satisfied and live in alignment with your values.
4. SELF-DEPRECATION: Joking about not having your shit together when you feel that you do is a way of minimizing your actual accomplishments and strengths so you don’t make others feel badly. Others’ feelings are theirs, they are not yours to manage. You do not have to dull your shine because others may feel uncomfortable. You can be proud and modest. You can be happy and empathic.
If you feel like you need some support in getting your shit together even though that may not be the long goal, I’ve put together a guide to help you get more organized, have a handle on things, and generally have more of a sense of control over what’s happening. Grab your guide here. Ditch the idea that you have to reach a mysterious destination, and settle into the joy of the ride.