“But you seem so together!”

vision board party

Vision board party: gluing it all together

I’ve been told that I “seem to have it all together.” This always comes as a surprise, because I don’t feel “together” most of the time, and I don’t think I’m hiding the mess, either. If anything, I’m pretty up front about my journey, and I speak candidly about the more difficult times I’ve experienced. (Those are the moments when people usually say, “Really? But you seem so together.”)

Perhaps it’s my narrative, the way I talk about my story, that makes even the messy moments seem less threatening. Maybe it seems like I’ve already come out on the other side of it. It’s true that I’m more likely to share the parts of my journey that I’ve already processed and integrated, and I don’t vent on social media. (Usually whatever I’m angry or frustrated about doesn’t bother me for long, or I don’t need to be reminded about it when I check Facebook again.) And I’ve tried to eliminate the habit of beating myself up or worrying. But people have told me I “seemed so together” even before I started working on these habits, when I was plagued by stress and anxiety. So where does this viewpoint come from? What am I doing to project this image? Or, what are they looking for that they notice in me?

Debbie Ford said that what you admire in others, you are capable of being, doing, or having for yourself. If it isn’t something you are capable of accomplishing, you won’t even notice it about other people. So pay close attention to the people you admire, or even envy. Yes, they have what you want, but more importantly, they have what you can also have. And they can show you how to get there. (In this way, envy can be a powerful indicator.) We’re all just mirrors for each other, so when you admire something in another person, it’s your own capacity mirrored back to you.

(I really admire people who can sing and dance, two things I say I’m not good at – but really, I’ve barely tried, so how do I know I wouldn’t be good at singing and dancing if I put as much effort into them as I do writing and drawing?)

The bottom line is that I don’t always feel like I have it together. In fact, most of the time I don’t feel that way! I don’t know if anyone really does. But that’s the whole point of being here – to learn, to grow, to experience. There’s never going to be a moment where you’ve “figured it all out.” (Unless you’re an enlightened master or something, in which case, rock on.)

Takeaway: (1) You never know what’s really going on in someone else’s life, and you’re never “the only one” trying to “figure it all out.” (2) Notice where your attention falls; what you admire (or envy) could be your own potential being mirrored back to you.

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