It’s well past noon on a Saturday afternoon.
You could be anywhere right now. A patio with friends, or a brisk walk in the forest with your lifelong partner, your well-groomed dog, and a day full of instagrammable memories (except the only thing you own which even remotely resembles a smartphone is an iPod touch with an embarrassing 3 hours of battery life).
Instead, you’re at Ikea. You’re at Ikea on a Saturday. You’re at Ikea on a Saturday and you just got side-swiped by a plastic blue and yellow bag awkwardly stuffed with a neon green cheese grater and halogen light bulbs. Why, why are you here?
Well, simply put, your Dad assumed that with a promise of a Swedish-inspired cinnamon bun, you would help him transport boxes of JÄLLVIK or KLÖVSTA or really, anything else with those adorable double dots used phonetically above any and all vowels. Well played, Däd.
Just as you trace your fingers along the geometrical shapes of a rainbow of duvet covers, you admire a girl your age. Her jacket matches her boots, which also coordinates with everything in her cart and no doubt, it all fits perfectly into her well-maintained car which she flawlessly parallel-parked outside.
As you lose yourself in imagining what your own life would look like if your jacket and boots matched, let alone looked like they belong in the same era, you overhear her say, “I’m going to wait to buy that couch…just until I get my shit together.”
Just until I get my shit together.
Those words. That phrase. It all just echoed throughout the windowless arena of meatballs and BÖJAS.
This girl, with her matching boots and jackets, and a home to refurnish, and a mantle to decorate, and a desk to build independently thanks to Ikea’s easy instructions which almost always include that androgynous character’s simplistic ideology of furniture construction. All this girl wants is to have her shit together. Yet she doesn’t perceive it so.
One day she’ll look back on that day. That day in Ikea when she sighed too loudly and judged herself too harshly against an arbitrary idea of organized adulthood. And you will hear her sighs and the fill-in-the-blanks on her self-judgments and you’ll wish you said just this:
The secret to getting your shit together is a dangerous one. It most definitely includes a roundabout route to self-disappointment and a dump truck disaster of ill-defined phrases (such as, “getting shit together”) used out of context because of one’s relaxed vocabulary. You’ll warn her about the dangers of phrases such as this. Words so vague, so unclear, that even though they are used at such feverish frequency, still remain so undefined. You’ll bring up examples like the 2002 surge of the word random, when we really just meant unpredictable. You’ll review the real definition of disinterested just to prove your point. You’ll want to talk about moronic descriptors like vegan cheese but you know that might lose her. You’ll tell her there is no act, no definition, no art to getting your shit together. You’ll tell her it’s harmful to use unqualified standards- standards like shit, and whether or not it is together- on her own accomplishments or those which she perceives she lacks.
You’ll encourage her to define her own shit. Whatever it is, in whatever context she’d like, her shit is hers. And not even Webster can prove her wrong. You’ll talk about how those leaps into being an adult are sometimes accompanied by an inner bully which makes us feel inadequate because we don’t have the same ________ as someone else. And we use such silly terms as “not having our shit together” to coerce ourselves into feeling lower than those who most likely feel/think/ act exactly the same. You’ll feel like Tom Cruise, substituting Oprah’s couch for a SVELVIK bed frame as you excitedly discuss the idea of eliminating the phrase altogether. And just as you feel like maybe you said something of value, your Däd gives you that look. That look which almost says, “You’ve taken this too far. It’s time to let go of the LJUSÅS UVÅS because you may not see it from way up there on that king-sized bed frame, but an employee in a banana-yellow polo is about two seconds away from kicking us both out and I don’t know about you, but I was really looking forward to that cinnamon bun.”
The girl will smirk at you and nod. She’ll know the secret, the act, the art of getting your shit together. And one day, she’ll go to Ikea. Probably not because her dad promised her a pastry. But she’ll be there. She’ll be there tracing her own hands along the new line of VANADINS. And she’ll see another. And she will tell them this:
Define your own shit.
Do it when you’re ready, and don’t worry if you never feel like you will be. But try. Try whatever you want with your shit. It’s yours for the taking.