“Get your shit together, get it all together and put it in a backpack, all your shit, so it’s together. And if you gotta take it somewhere, take it somewhere, you know, take it to the shit store and sell it, or put it in the shit museum. I don’t care what you do, you just gotta get it together. Get your shit together.”
– Rick and Morty
Having Your Shit Together: A Timeline
This is the only time you will get a pass. Enjoy the brief period of your life where no one has any expectations of you. As soon as you learn to speak your first word, this ends.
You should be able to read a little bit, write your own name, and have memorized your parents’ addresses and phone numbers. You should know basic facts and major holidays.
You should have at least one interest- drawing or horses or baseball, whatever. You should be able to have polite conversations with adults. You should be able to pour milk into your cereal without spilling it. You should know how to tell time. You should be able to pick out a Mother’s Day present on your own.
You should be good at something- drawing or riding horses or playing baseball, whatever. You should be getting good grades in core classes. You should have a couple of friends that you see outside of school. You should be learning how to drive. You should at least understand the concepts of jobs and finances. You should have your personal hygiene situation under control without reminders.
You should have a job of some sort. You should have at least one hobby outside that job. You should have a “big picture” idea of what you want to start working toward in life. You should be able to handle basic chores like laundry and vacuuming. You should have at least one attempt at dating under your belt. You should remember things like your SSN, driver’s license number, and bank account number.
You should have your own place. You should be saving money or at least paying off debts. You should be able to cook, clean, pay bills, change the oil in your car, and make your own doctor appointments. You should have a few close friends and demonstrate the capability to be in a healthy romantic relationship. You should know when Daylight Saving Time starts and ends. You should dislike one political partly slightly less than the other.
This is the cut-off point. After this, people will suddenly expect you to know how to do everything. Get married, raise children, buy a house, file taxes, apply a tourniquet to a wound, have a vacation fund and an emergency fund, work in a career with a salary, host dinner parties, fold a fitted sheet, recognize the symptoms of a heart attack, foster rescue dogs, build a deck, run for office, find your way around a strange city, lead a population into revolt, correctly use the word “egregious” in a sentence, speak at least one foreign language, read Infinite Jest, soothe a wild beast before it attacks, etc.
And if you think that’s unreasonable, remember that back in your grandfather’s day the cut-off point was 18.
You’ve realized your shit isn’t together. What are you going to do about it? Here’s a step-by-step guide of what you’ll go through on the way to figuring that out:
1) Total Shock
One morning, you wake up and realize that literally everyone else you know is doing better than you are. You don’t understand how it happened. You feel like you fell behind overnight. You look around in amazement at your peers with their relationships and houses and careers and can’t believe that you guys are the same age.
2) Stubborn Denial
You decide it’s fine. You’re still young. You have time. You’re just being too hard on yourself. Everyone moves at their own speed, it’s silly to measure your progress against others. Plus, everyone else can’t possibly be doing as well as you think. It’s just a trick. Life is good. No need to panic.
3) Blind Panic
This is when you realize that you have a problem. You’re not on track. You still have no idea how you got off-track, but you recognize that you are. You make a few desperate attempts to stay on top of some seemingly simple things, but it’s all too stressful and complicated. You realize you have even less of an idea of what you’re supposed to do than you thought.
4) Overwhelming Despair
You start to get really bummed out about the state of your life. You remember all the things you thought you’d have accomplished by this point. You wonder what’s wrong with you. You can’t muster up the energy to try to fix things anymore.
5) Determined Resignation
“Screw it,” you decide. “This is who I am.” You make peace with the fact that you’re never going to figure it out. You realize it hasn’t been that bad so far, so you might as well stay the course. You keep doing what you have been. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
6) Near-Divine Inspiration
Suddenly, you’ll feel like you were struck with a bolt of lightning. You’ll notice something all of your successful friends have in common and realize it’s something you also have. You’ll think of all the celebrities who were nothing when they were your age. You’ll think of a few things you can do to turn this situation around, and you’ll actually make a plan for doing them.
At this point, you may cycle in and out of the first six steps for an indefinite period of time. But eventually, you’ll get to the next one.
7) Getting Your Shit Together
Your shit will be together. Refer to the Timeline for further details.
What If I Never Get My Shit Together?
Then you can join my club! We write blog posts full of unsolicited advice, and occasionally we’re actually able to trick people into thinking that we know what we’re talking about.