Friday, October 26, 2012

Getting It Together

“Someday I’ll get it all together,” my husband mutters morosely as he struggles with something that slipped through the cracks in his ultra-busy life. I’ve done the same myself many times. We’re all juggling so many plates that it’s no wonder when one of them crashes to the floor or is rescued from that fate only by a quick diving grab.

About a year ago, however, I promised myself that I’d stop using that term “getting it all together,” because I know—we all do, actually—that no one ever gets it all together. In fact, it’s just a nice camouflaged way of saying, “Someday I’ll be perfect.” And we wouldn’t say that out loud anywhere anyone else could hear us, would we?

Of course, we wouldn’t, but every time we say, “I’m going to get it all together,” we are pushing ourselves into that perfectionist role. I bring this up because it’s something with which I’ve struggled all my life. I aim for competence, wanting to be the best I possibly can, the top of the class, in all areas of my life. But none of us can be the top of the class in everything.

Over the years, I’ve had to realize that I’m never going to win the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval—certainly not for my housekeeping! As I’ve become more involved in the world of writing novels for trade houses who want at least one novel a year, I’ve just given up on the house. And very early in my life, I came to grips with the fact that I will never be a fashionably-dressed, perfectly-made-up, stylish woman. I make up for these failings in many other areas. But like many of us, I suspect, I judge myself against the best in each area of my life. Against the woman who’s cold to her family and has no friends, I hold up not my loving family and friends but my messy home against her spotless, department-store-window house. Against the woman who’s superficial and shallow, I hold up not my lifetime pursuit of learning or my passionate concern with issues but my bare face and comfortable shoes against her fashionista appearance.

I know I’m not the only one who does this comparison of someone else’s strong point against my weak point. I suspect it’s actually pretty common. But I’ve decided that I’m no longer going to do this to myself—and part of overcoming it is discarding the concept of “getting it all together.” Even those who seem on the surface to have it all together, don’t. We’ve seen that again and again—the wealthy, famous, beautiful people who seem on top of everything yet go plunging down the slopes, the woman (or man) we always admired because she seemed to have everything in her life under such good control, only to find she was flailing every day behind her impeccable façade. Yet still, we put this burden of “getting it all together” on our shoulders—and wonder why we walk slumped over.

So here and now, I’ll admit that I don’t have it all together, nor am I probably ever going to have it all together. I have too many areas where I’m simply not really together at all or only partly together, on Wednesdays and Sundays. But I do have a few areas of strength where I’m really at the top of my game—and I think those are where I’m going to focus my energy now instead of trying to become the fashionista or uber-hausfrau that I’m not. So, look out, world. Hear me roar! Just don’t look at the shoes, please.


  1. Linda, I often wish I'd had the life insight/wisdom I have now...many years ago. I used to have to know what I was doing and have everything planned out weeks in advance. No more. I've found that looking too far ahead just brings angst. So baby steps, goal by goal, day by day. That's my new motto in life.

  2. I've noticed when my writing is going well, everything else starts to wobble. The yard gets cluttered. There's no food in the house. I forget to make transfers and bounce a check. It's the wife who points out my shortcomings. Why would I notice? My writing's going well. :)

  3. I would settle for 75% together, although I'm not sure I've ever been that close.

  4. Laura, I'm like you, just learning to get along by baby steps.

  5. Jack, yes. And then we finish writing and have to deal with the chaos our inattention wrought or to flee from it!

  6. Warren, you're a lot closer to getting it together than most people I know. But I don't think any of us ever really get it ALL together.