When you’re in college, you think your life is a shitshow because you’re going out four nights a week, you barely have any semblance of responsibility, and your main concern is making sure you don’t schedule any classes before 10 a.m.
You make mistakes and you screw things up and you laugh about it with your friends. Your love life is usually a wreck, but in a funny way, because so is everyone else’s. You’re surrounded by versions of yourself on all sides: other people whose lives are just as messy and silly and disorganized as yours.
But then you leave college and your life is still a shitshow, but in a more serious, less funny way. Maybe your version of a mess is that you’re not yet married, or even dating. Or maybe you’re stressed out because you have a wonderful relationship but you’re not feeling fulfilled in any other aspect of your life. Maybe you hate your job and maybe you’re not doing anything about it because you don’t know what the hell else to do.
For most of us, we no longer think of our lives as shitshows in the sense that we’re either constantly drunk or hungover, partying every night, sleeping all day, eating like crap, never being productive. We now almost mean it in the sense that our minds are shitshows. We don’t know how to feel about anything. We’re not sure how to process anything. It feels like everybody else is sure of themselves and certain of their life paths, always certain about who they are and certain about the fact that they’re doing things correctly.
But us, on the other hand, we’re just pretending to know what we’re doing. We’re pretending that our minds are calm and our hearts are always filled and our souls are content and our thoughts are healthy. We pretend that we are excellent at our jobs and excellent at being in relationships or at being single and excellent at figuring out exactly what it is that we ultimately want in our lives and how to make that happen.
My life is a shitshow is not really something you proudly announce anymore. One, because you’re not living in a house with four or five of your friends who will just laugh and cheer you on and then hand you a beer. Two, because saying my life is a shitshow feels like you’re admitting some kind of wrongdoing – like it’s shameful that your life is messy or unstable. Like you should be embarrassed. Like you should feel guilty for not knowing how to sort everything out yet.
But the upside to all of this, the part that you’re probably forgetting, is that being aware of the fact that you don’t know where your life is going means you’re already ahead of the game. Not knowing where your life is going means that you at least know where you currently are, mentally, emotionally, physically, financially. You know where you live and how much money you have and/or make. You how you feel about your current situation in life. You know what you like and you know what you want to change, even if you don’t know how to change it or what to look for when you are changing it.
You understand that you don’t understand anything right now. And that’s great. That’s exactly where you want to be. Some people figure out early on what they want to do with their life. That doesn’t mean they’ll know forever, but at least, for now, they know where to go. They know where to live. Some people find their lifelong companion early on. That’s great too. They’re not doing anything wrong and they’re not taking the easy way out, they just understand a good thing when they see it and they’re choosing at least one aspect of their happiness right now, since they were lucky enough to find it early.
But not everyone is like that. You’re not like that. That’s okay. Your life will still be just as happy as your friend who seems to have it all together right now. Your life will be just as good as the girl you know from college who’s traveling the world for her job, or the guy that is now engaged to the love of his life.
But you have to remember that your life will not be their life. It will be different, in an infinite number of ways. The best way to be okay with the fact that your life is a shitshow is to never compare it to anyone else’s. To abstain from holding up your life and your situation and your accomplishments to anybody you know, or even to those you don’t know.
Every person is different. Every person’s wants and desires are different. Every person’s circumstances are different. Sometimes your friend will be successful but also annoyingly lucky. Other times you’ll be the annoyingly lucky one. It’s really just comparing apples to oranges. Any sort of comparison your’e doing is a waste of your time, it’s not going to get you anywhere.
It’s all unpredictable, it’s all crazy. But you’re not the only one out there who’s just pretending to know what you’re doing, who’s just pretending that you know what’s going on. Everybody’s pretending in different ways. Something you’re so sure in your life is the same thing that is currently giving someone else stress and anxiety beyond belief.
Your life is its own single, unique, happening-right-now story. It’s probably messy. It’s probably disorganized. There are things it’s probably lacking that you desperately want, things that you don’t know how to get. That’s perfectly fine. It’s wonderful even, because you’re learning how to survive. You’re learning how to be uncomfortable. You’re developing skills and coping mechanisms that you’re going to need for the rest of your life. Who cares if your friend’s life is this way and your life is that way? Your friend is not going to experience the same things that you’re going to experience – that’s why it’s important for you to learn how to prepare for those future experiences now. Because you’re the one who has to live your life.
Sometimes your life will be a shitshow. Sometimes it will be very sweet and steady. Sometimes it will be almost perfect. But it’s up to you to remember you’re alive, to remember that you are not alone, to remember that you are capable of finding joy, even in the most shitshowiest of circumstances.