Getting Your Shit Together

Today Jim shares some musings on, well, shit…

I’m just never gonna be okay with my children’s generation (twenty somethings) telling me that something is “the shit.” Good music, good pot, good places and people who are highly skilled are somehow “THE” shit. Perhaps it means that amongst a world full of shit, the stuff they love shines.

 I just can’t associate something good with shit. I pride myself in being open minded, creative, and open to new ideas. I like that language evolves and it doesn’t even bother me that we create words through “text speak.” This is just a line I can’t cross for professional reasons.

I’m a therapist and so every day I’m talking to people who, “Need to get their shit together” or “Need to figure shit out” and “Just have so much shit going on.” So, the same folks who use shit to mean something good also use it to describe things that are important and/or mysterious in nature.

So somehow “shit” has become a very important pronoun referring to major things (good and bad) in a young person’s life and I’m from a generation that simply pronounced, “Shit happens.” I don’t want to be rigid so I’m dealing with other people’s shit and helping them sort through it. This makes me think of times I’ve paid someone to empty my septic system, but ok.

Things get lost in translation. In couples therapy I translate male to female and vice versa. In working with young people it seems I need to translate from one generation to another and then take something used euphemistically and turn it into something specific. You see, “shit” is an impossibly large and vague topic that we really can’t do a thing about. We need to distinguish shit by “calling a spade a spade.”

So…here’s what I’ve been finding and maybe it’ll help you with your kids, grandchildren, or other young people you have the pleasure of knowing:

“I need to figure shit out” = I’m overwhelmed by available options and unsure what direction to go in. I’m stuck somewhere between what I want and what I think is practical. I’m trying to be realistic but I also have dreams that I want to pursue.

“I need to get my shit together” = I feel lost, unorganized, uncertain, and I don’t feel like I’m even approximating my potential. I’m not managing my responsibilities as well as I know I should.  

“I have a lot of shit going on.” = I’m stressed and trying to stay on top of things without using any outlets for the stress I’m accumulating. I need reassurance. I’m afraid that I’m going to fail.  

I figure if we get to the heart of the matter we can do something to make it better. I have a lot of empathy for young people. I’ll never forget how scary the world was to me as a young man. It’s tough finding your way at any age. This generation has it especially hard.

The biggest challenge that I see for generation Y is that they had the grave misfortune of having been raised by generation X. My generation (I’m 45) was a bridge between the old school and the new school. Coming of age in the 80’s was a f@cked up thing to be doing and what we taught our kids was influenced by how overwhelmed we were at their age. Our generation discovered that the American Dream was a lie and we passed it on to our kids anyway. What the f@ck?

Are we hypocrites as we look to our kids to “get it together?” Yup. I think Marilyn Gray got it right when she said, “Nobody ever has it all together. That’s like trying to eat once and for all.” Maybe we’d do best by our adult children if we just encouraged them to lighten up and enjoy the ride.

Sure – we can teach them to work hard and take pride in what they do. More importantly, we can encourage them to explore and adventure. Take risks. Go everywhere, try everything, and just enrich yourself and others. Have kids. Don’t have kids. Buy a house. Live is hostels. Stop worrying about what to do with your life and live it.

 “The race is long and in the end, it’s only with yourself.” – Baz Luhrman for the speech “Sunscreen

Seriously – go watch it. Best five minutes you can invest today.

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About Jim LaPierre

Jim LaPierre LCSW CCS is the Executive Director of Higher Ground Services in Brewer, Maine. He is a Recovery Ally, mental health therapist and addictions counselor. He specializes in facilitating recovery (whether from addiction, trauma, depression, anxiety, or past abuse) overcome obstacles, and improve their quality of life. Jim offers a limited amount of online therapy to those with very flexible schedules.