I often hear people say to themselves that they “need to get their life together.”
Seriously, what does that even mean? We’re told it means being structured, sensible and realistic. We’re told it means getting an education, getting a steady job and getting married. We’re told it means buying a house instead of renting, staying home instead of going on wild nights out and saving money instead of spending it on new adventures.
Just to be clear, there’s nothing wrong with doing any of these things. Well, unless you studied the Zombies in Popular Media course, got a job as a Syrian travel agent or married Bill Cosby. Then you f*cked up.
No, the problem is that we’re measuring our lives against this imaginary checklist. A checklist that not only dictates what we should be doing, but when we should be doing it by, as if all of our lives are supposed to be identical across a linear set of milestones. That's bullsh*t.
Life should be as unique, instinctive and personal as sex, not dictated by what other people expect from you. But just imagine if you applied this kind of generic checklist to sex:
"Right, society says I must spend no longer than ten minutes working my way down your body in a specific order, and with specific time limits. Any spontaneous or passionate behaviour is strictly forbidden as the priority must be safety and stability. Spanking will be frowned upon."
Yawn. Sex this dull would make a strap-on go flaccid.
What works for one person won’t necessarily work for another. The world is filled with stories of people who lived their life strictly by the checklist, and still lost everything. People who became ill. People who got divorced. People who lost their fortunes.
Equally, the world is filled with stories of people who followed their gut instincts, who didn’t plan ahead, who were told they weren’t doing what they should be, and ended up with everything they could have imagined. People who found success against all odds. People who fell in love at a time when they were least expecting it. People who showed the world there isn’t just one path to happiness.
There are so many reminders that life is not predictable. You can’t do A, B and C and guarantee you’ll end up with X, Y and Z.
Everybody’s on their own journey. They have their own starting points, their own paths and their own destinations.
The only thing that’s identical about our lives is how fast we’re ageing (except Will Smith, that dude just doesn't age).
This is what the average life expectancy looks like, around 80 years (maybe less depending on how you spend your weekends):
If you’re 25, this is what you’ve got left:
If you’re 45, this is what you’ve got left:
You get the idea. Every day you’re one step closer to running out of time.
So ignore the pressure of following that imaginary life checklist and just do what you want to do, when you want to do it. Life’s too short to live by other people’s expectations, so live by your own.
In a world where anything can happen to you at any moment, the most consistent thing you can do is to do what you want.
After all, nobody looks back on their life and wishes they had done less of what they wanted.