If you know me at all, you probably know that I don’t always have my life together. From the smaller things to the bigger ones, it’s pretty reasonable to say that I can be a mess! Almost always, I won’t split the Uber fare with you; I won’t answer texts until three days later; and I will never ever be able to keep track of where I left the key to my room.
In high school, I was the queen of not having it together. Ask anyone! To know Gabbi Meltzer meant not getting a text back when I’ve most likely been 20 minutes late to our dinner plans. While having this identity is not necessarily one that I should have prided myself in, I played into it for a really long time. I felt as if not having my life together was something that made me approachable and completed my bubbly and easygoing personality. I found my place as being the funny, hot mess of a friend and figured that if I wanted to fill these shoes, I should let loose. If I am supposed to not have a grip on things, so be it.
As it turns out, being a mess all the time is DRAINING. By the end of my senior year, I was sick of acting disheveled and stressed when I knew that I had the potential to be poised and confident. I was uncomfortable with my established reputation. It was time to abandon my innocent, yet reckless tendencies. It was time to grow up.
Similar to most incoming college freshmen who seem to know everything there is to know about life at the age of 18, I figured my transformation would automatically switch once I arrived at Tulane. Whenever I envisioned any future scenarios or endeavors, I always imagined everything to be perfect. Somehow one day, I would wake up and my relationship with myself and with those around me would be amazing. No effort or failure required. This mantra failed me again and again. As I went off to college, I was unwilling to let it go. I truly believed that once I was on my own, I would be a newly improved version of myself. No effort or failure required. Did this happen? Absolutely not.
For most of my life unfortunately, I have lived according to what is supposed to be the college life. We are supposed to sleep through classes and party too hard. We are supposed to gain the freshman 15 and we are supposed to keep our rooms messy. We are supposed to make tons of best friends within weeks and we are expected to be totally happy. I remember so vividly looking at pictures of my older friends during their freshman years and noticing how happy they all looked; the craziness of partying was enticing and the freedom seemed liberating.
I went into my freshman year holding all of these expectations. I knowingly made bad choices and ended up fostering an incredibly unhealthy relationship with myself. Even as I began to notice that countless frat parties and eating way too many late-night City Diner meals weren’t making me happy, I kept going. I kept going, because I was supposed to be living like this. Right? Without getting too much into detail, I fell flat on my face. I kept falling flat on my face, knowing exactly why, again and again. Sticking to the “supposed” status quo of how college should be was ruining me. I lost touch with myself and with what made me happy. The future was finally here and not only was it nothing I had imagined, but I was more of a mess than ever before.
When I think about why these expectations are set in place, I can’t help but to blame social media and the fact that failure is seldom embraced. In an age where we have so many resources and tools for self-improvement, it is odd that the opposite so commonly occurs. Failure to make it seem as if we are having the time of our lives 24/7 makes us weak, and admitting that we are lonely or that we are struggling makes us even weaker.
With all of this, I have come to realize that there is no blueprint for how we are supposed to live. We live the life that we choose and it’s up to us to make it a great one. Why dedicate our days to trying to impress others? When we are alone and crying at 3 o’clock in the morning, who is going to be there for us other than ourselves? It is time to stop saying yes to things that don’t add to our well-being and to tune out what everyone else is doing. This is how you’re supposed to live. Now, as I think about the future, I see things through a different lens. For the first time, not only am I anticipating failure, but I am truly excited by the good that will come out of my mistakes one day. I am done trying to live the picture-perfect life that I thought college would be. I am ready to do what makes me happy. This is me getting my life together.