Lessons in Growing Up: Nobody Has Their Shit Together

growing up
Michael Benz

So often do I hang out with friends, or friends of friends, and hear the same sentiments repeated. “I hope this is the year when I finally get my shit together.” Or, something along those lines. It’s an ambitious statement and one I don’t really identify with, merely because I don’t believe in having my shit together all the time. It’s unrealistic.

When I think back to who says these things, and why, it’s usually my girl friends.
For example, a few nights ago, some friends and I went out. On our way to get a 3:30am post-going out “dinner” one of them looked at me and earnestly said, “I hope this year I finally become somewhat stable.” There it was again, another variation of the get your life together statement. I looked at her and said, “Girl! You’re 20, why do you have to be stable when you’re 20?!” On some level, I get where the sentiments come from. It is true that women of all ages are constantly berated for doing the same things our male counterparts do. And while nobody is explicitly telling us to stop having fun, they’re saying instead, be less obvious about it; be cool.

That sucks.

Gender does play a huge role in my argument because when my guy friends blackout 3 nights in a row, and show up to class with mismatched shoes, it’s a laughing matter. When my girl friends have smudged or cakey eye makeup on, leftover from the night before, it’s time to sound the alarm—something’s wrong, she’s unwell, a shitshow even.

Seriously? It’s time to stop reinforcing this narrative.

Sure there are times when we all give face to our more primal instincts and go a little too hard, or do a little too much… but, isn’t that what being young is about for both girls and boys? We’re young and wild and full of urges. The words discovery, heartache, pain, privilege, and hot mess are practically tattooed all over our bodies. Nobody really knows what they want or what they’re doing. If you do, congratulations! If you don’t, who cares? Why the rush? You’ll figure it out eventually.

Nobody learned what they wanted to do with themselves, or who they wanted to be, by sitting quietly in a corner, hoping for a turn to speak all while giving off an air of stability.

Don’t get me wrong. I am in no way saying to go balls to the wall, full on Kanye crazy. That would also prove to be an unrealistic, as well as potentially detrimental, feat. My point is, more so, that we all deserve some breathing room. Fun in moderation and sans regular sessions of self-deprecation does virtually no harm. Historically, everyone (including our parents and their parents) had their moments.

Studio 54 was not a library, The Simple Life was a short-lived hit (let’s take a moment to applaud Nicole Richie’s complete 180, from brat to Girl Boss), and even Robert Downey Jr. got a second chance at life. While these examples are all on the more extreme part of the spectrum, they prove my point. The keys to adulthood are being able to pull back the reins after learning that you’ve gone too far, and knowing the difference between pushing yourself, and testing your limits.

If you know me, you know I love a good party. I am bombastic, obnoxious, a bit narcissistic at times, brash, completely unapologetic, and wrong more often than I would like to admit. (JUST KIDDING! It has been proven that I am never wrong.) What keeps me going is the fact that, from a very young age, I was conditioned to believe that we all make mistakes and we all grow in our own time. There will be people who are more—or less—mature than you are. Friends who seem like they have everything together, and friends who could use more than a few helping hands. We all have our own battles and who is there for you when you need them becomes of the utmost importance.

Conversely, whether or not you look like you have your life together, or need help, sinks rather low on the totem pole of significance.

So, to my friends who want to be “stable” or have their lives together by the end of our junior year… give it up! Start living. Everything in life is laced with sacrifice. Why sacrifice the fun of your youth now, to look put together in hindsight? To me, it just doesn’t feel worth it. Life is about moderation, in the same way that it is about messing up and trying again. Why not give yourself a few more tries and come back with your “stability” around graduation? Buck up, buttercup.

This ain’t the real world yet, and I don’t know about you, but I’ve got a few more hot-mess rodeos left in me. TC mark

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