The Myth of Having It Together

I am twenty-seven years old.  By definition, I am a real life, fully grown, certified adult.  But if I’m being honest with you, most days, it doesn’t feel like it.  There are several reasons for this.  For one thing, I still really, really love Disney movies.  For another, I really have no idea how insurance works.  But I think the biggest obstacle standing between me and true adulthood is the ever-enduring myth of Having It Together.

I used to think I was the only person who felt this way.  But as it turns out, I think most adults out there, especially those of us in our twenties, are still trying to figure it all out.  I think there are a lot of misconceptions about adulthood, one being that adults never make mistakes.  They never get in over their heads.  They always have a solution.

This, my friends, is simply not true.

I feel like the older I get, the less I know for certain.  Maybe that’s part of growing up.  When you’re young, you think you know everything.  But as life progresses, you begin to realize just how ignorant you really are.  It’s frustrating, let me tell you.

I don’t know if I’ve ever shared this, but I was a really good student in high school and in college.  Reading, studying, getting my assignments turned in on time, all that just came naturally to me.  I was top ten percent of my class, made the Dean’s List multiple times, and graduated with honors.  But that’s kind of where the “Yeah, I’ve got this life thing down” ends.  Life in school is so simple.  Life outside of school, real life, is scary and confusing and intimidating.  And I think it’s because of the belief that once you reach a certain age, you HAVE to start living a certain way.

Well, you know what?  I’m trying my best.  But I am far from perfect.  I am far from society’s idea of a “real” adult.

I’m tempted to say that the pressure put on kids and young adults to be successful and live up to certain societal standards and expectations is a huge part of why so many young people today suffer from anxiety disorders.  I’m not saying that we shouldn’t encourage kids to want to succeed.  We definitely should.  But it should be for the right reasons.  It shouldn’t be because we feel like it’s what life demands of us.

This week, I made the mistake of believing that I did have it all together.  And for a while, it really seemed that I did.  The new Cemetery Tours book is almost ready to go.  I have a lot of events to look forward to.  And the new Cemetery Tours and Between Worlds book covers that I designed arrived today and they look incredible if I do say so myself.


I have to admit, my ego was doing pretty okay.

Then life caught on and decided I needed to be kicked down a notch or two.

I was supposed to be spending this evening in Denton at the North Texas Giving Day Event representing the North Texas Book Festival.  It was only a volunteer gig, but still, I was really looking forward to it.

I was all set and ready to make the hour-long drive up to Downtown Denton.  I grabbed my camera, my purse, and a stack of business cards, and walked out the door.  Without my keys.

Y’all, I have never done that before.  I have never forgotten my keys.  Maybe it’s because I switched purses.  Maybe it’s because I had about a zillion things going through my head at once.  But for whatever reason, I was locked out of both my car and my house for well over an hour.  Thankfully, my dear friend Kat has a spare key to my house and bless her heart, she drove over to save me.  But oh my goodness.  I still cannot believe that happened.  I’m so sad that I missed the event.  And not even for something unavoidable like illness or car problems.  Nope.  I simply locked myself out.  Smart.

The point of all this is if you’re an adult and you’re thinking, “Man, why don’t have Have It Together yet?” rest assured, you are not alone.  There are a lot of us out there who are right there with you.  Or at least I am.

Being an Adult

As my friends and I get older, I’ve begun to notice a recurring theme in all of our lives: Being an adult sucks.

When we’re kids, we spend so much time dreaming about what life will be like when we grow.  We imagine driving cars, getting married, having our dream jobs, going on new, grown-up adventures.  The thing is, while we were busy dreaming about this fantastic adult world, real adults didn’t bother to mention all the other less fun stuff that comes with age.  Like debt.  Taxes.  Caffeine addiction.  Relationship turmoil.  Responsibility.


The older we get, the more nostalgic we become for our carefree days of youth.  But I’ve been thinking.  It’s true, some of those not-so-great adult things are unfortunately unavoidable.  Most of us will have debt.  We all have to pay taxes.  But I think there’s a misconception about responsibility, and about becoming “real” adults.

For some reason, we all have this idea that once we reach a certain age, once we’re “grown ups,” we have to start living life and behaving a certain way.  We’re supposed to be mature and get real people jobs and get married and have kids.  And none of those are BAD things.  Not at all.  But for some reason, we’ve begun to view them as obligations rather than things that are actually really positive.

If you get a job that you hate just because you have to get a job, you’re not going to be happy.  If you marry someone just for the sake of getting married, you’re probably going to be even less happy than you are with the job.  That’s the problem in our world today.  To live, to get by, just means going through the motions.  When you take a job, make sure it’s something you can be passionate about.  Make it an environment you enjoy, where you thrive.  When you get married, make sure it’s to your best friend, to someone you genuinely want to spend the rest of your life with.  Not someone you’re settling for because you’re at that age when you’re supposed to get married.

Don’t live because you have to.  Live because you want to.

I’m older.  I’m a so-called “real” adult.  Legally, I’ve been an adult for almost ten years now.  But I’ve tried to hold on to the things that brought me joy as a child.  I’ve also found new joy in my adult years.

Here’s the deal.  Do at least one thing a day that makes you happy.  For example, today, I lit a fall-scented candle.  It makes my whole day 150% better.  Listen to your favorite song on repeat just because you can.  Don’t fall into the routine of simply going through the motions.  Enrich your life, even if it’s by simply lighting a candle or eating an extra piece of candy.  It’s okay.  You’re allowed to be happy.  After all, we spend most of our lives as adults.  We might as well make it worth while.


A Letter to my Younger Self

Browsing Instagram, I saw a post that read, “If you could write a letter to your younger self, what would you say?”  That really got me thinking.  All throughout my life, I’ve made it a point to never forget my former self, to remember her hopes and dreams, and to hopefully never disappoint her.  I want to be the person that she wanted to be.  I know I’m not where she thought I would be, but I also like to think she’d be proud of me.  This is my letter to her.

Dear Jackie (or Jacqueline… I’m not sure if you’re still in that phase or not),

I hope you’re doing okay.  I hope you’re happy.  If you’re still in elementary school, I know you’re not.  I know you think you’re too tall, too fat.  You don’t like the fact that you’re ten years old and people think you’re in your late teens.  You don’t like your hair or your glasses or your crooked teeth.  You don’t have a lot of friends because you’re always off in your own head.  You’re different and you don’t know why.

I’m writing to you today to reassure you and to prepare you for the days to come.

First of all, life is going to get better for you.  In fact, it’s going to be awesome.  Your high school years are amazing, and you’re going to meet your best friends in the world, the friends who are going to be with you for the rest of your life.  They’re amazing.  I can’t wait for you to meet them.  You’re going to meet some boys, too.  They’re super cute, but don’t lose your head over them.  High school crushes don’t last.  Stay focused on your dreams and your goals.

I do have to warn you, not all of your dreams are going to come true.  And that’s okay.  Yes, you will be devastated, but you’ll eventually learn that everything that happens happens for a reason.  You have so many wonderful opportunities and adventures waiting for you, I’m actually a little jealous.  And you’ve found new dreams, dreams that suit you perfectly.  You’re going to chase them, and I hope you keep chasing them.  I know I’m doing my best!

Unfortunately, your days are not all going to be smooth sailing.  High school is awesome, but you have a lot of hard times waiting for you and your family.  They will make you question everything you believe, and the after-effects are going to stay with you long after everything has passed.  But these times will also help you to find your way, and you’ll discover a strength that you never knew you had.  Be patient and remember that everything has a purpose.  And try to forgive.  It’s something I still struggle with, but I know that your heart is still very open to the innate goodness in people.  I’m sorry to say that’s something I’ve lost over the years.  Maybe you can help me to get it back.

I know I’m making it seem like you and I have nothing in common, but that’s not true.  I still love all things ocean and yes, I’m still obsessed with Disney Princesses.  But I’ve also grown in ways that I’m sure you never expected.  For example, I have a tattoo.  I know you think they’re totally taboo and would never in your wildest dreams see yourself getting one, but trust me, you’ll love them.  You’re also going to learn to love your hair, once you figure out how to work with it.  You’re going to spend three summers working at a summer camp (you definitely didn’t see that one coming).  I also know you have that weird thing against popular music?  I still don’t really understand that one, but you get over it really fast.  Granted, a lot of what’s popular today is really stupid, but there is some good stuff out there.  Don’t worry.  You’re a smart kid.  You’ll figure it out.

That’s something I really want you to know.  You are smart.  I know you don’t think you are because you haven’t quite figured out how to pay attention in class and you get nervous taking tests, but you are smart.  It comes as a surprise, not only to you, but to everyone around you, because let’s face it, you’re kind of goofy (and I say that with love), but you are.  Please promise me you’ll remember that.

Unfortunately, you’re going to struggle with self-esteem issues all your life.  High school is fine, but college and grad school get a little rough.  I can’t tell you why.  I can only tell you that I’m finally beginning to overcome them.  Hang in there, and don’t let self-doubt or self-image get you down.  You are worth so much more than you think you are.

I know this is getting far too serious, but there are still things I feel I should warn you about.  First of all, don’t take Calculus.  Just don’t even bother.  You won’t understand a bit of it, and it will end up being the only C you’ll ever get in your life.  Second, do not, I repeat, do NOT drive in ice.  You will total your car.  Trust me.  Third, getting your wisdom teeth out is going to be the worst physical experience of your life.  Brace yourself.  It’s truly horrible.

Finally, I wanted to tell you that I’ve been doing a lot of digging into our ancestry and family history.  I want you to know that you were right.  You are descended from Kings and Queens of Ireland, Scotland, England, Denmark, Sweden, France, and even Jerusalem.  You are, in fact, a Princess.  Trust me, I’m just as excited about it as you are.  That’s definitely something I haven’t grown out of.

I know this is getting kind of long, so I’ll let you go.  I just wanted you to know that everything is going to work out for the better.  There will be times you don’t think it will.  You’re gong to feel lost, abandoned, hopeless, scared, small, even worthless.  But you’re also going to experience tremendous joy, excitement, love, achievement, adventure, creativity, discovery, and hilarity.  And those times far outweigh the heavy and the negative.

Keep dreaming, keep believing, and be yourself.  It will all be worth it in the end.


Your 26-Year-Old Self

Thoughts on Adulthood

Today was a good day.  I drove out to Addison to meet a friend for lunch and on the way, I saw a train!  I’m not sure if 26 year old women are still supposed to get excited about seeing trains, but I love them! ImageImageImage


Seeing the train kind of got me thinking about what it means to be an adult.  I grew up thinking, “Okay… once I reach a certain age or cross a certain line, then I will be an adult.”  I believed that being an adult was something that would just eventually happen.  One day, I’d wake up and I’d prefer documentaries to Disney.  I’d stop geeking out over passing trains.  I’d stop secretly pretending to be a super hero while I work out.  I’d enjoy things like going out to bars and clubs more than I enjoy sitting at home with a book.  I’d start to appreciate the value of things like taxes and mortgages and new refrigerators.  I’d prefer heels and cute flats to bare feet and flip flops.

None of that has happened yet.  And you know, frankly, I’m not sure I want it to happen.  I like who I am.  And that doesn’t make me any less of an adult.  I know plenty of adults who love Disney and who prefer comfort to style and who don’t know the first things about taxes.  Life itself is a learning process.  We don’t reach a point where we’re full grown and suddenly we’ve got everything figured out, and I don’t think we’re meant to.  How boring would that be, to have all the answers all the time?

So, I will continue to go about my life, delighting over trains, marathoning Disney movies, and saving the world from my elliptical.

Oh, and building extravagant blanket forts for my cat.


Carry on, friends.