When Having It All Isn't Enough

Saturday, November 14, 2015

"How's college going? How are you doing?"
"It's good, and I'm doing just fine."
"You're in Austin at The University of Texas in the McCombs School of Business. Girl, you have it all."

Am I taking all of for granted? Should I be smiling more? Am I supposed to feel this lonely? I'm in college. I'm at the university I wanted to attend. I'm in one of the best business programs in the country. I live in a big city just like I always wanted. Why is it not enough?

"You have it all." I think about those 4 words a lot. While the girl who told me that I "have it all" was probably being over-dramatic and slightly sarcastic, I do consider myself very privileged and extremely blessed. In less than a year, my entire life has changed, enabling me to do things that other teenagers only dream of. Last fall I got my acceptance letter to the University of Texas at Austin. Last spring I excitedly accepted admission into the McCombs School of Business. Last summer I nervously attended orientation at my future school. Last August I packed up all my belongings and moved to the big city. It's everything I've always wanted, right?

During orientation, I fell in love with the 40 acres. I watched people taking pictures in front of the famous bell tower. I saw families dressed in burnt orange t-shirts happily posing with the "hook 'em" sign to celebrate their child's acceptance into their alma mater. I saw students that were graduating in May taking professional pictures in front of Battle Hall's gorgeous blue doors. Everything looked like an Instagram-worthy moment that I couldn't wait to experience. As the sun slowly set and the bell tower lit up, everything seemed so exciting. This was happening. I was going to live here in just a few months. This would be my home. 

Fast forward to November. I'm sitting in the cafeteria alone eating a questionable looking sandwich and hating myself for leaving my headphones inside my dorm room. I start to cry as "Hello" by Adele begins to play. Except the song isn't playing. I'm just sitting there crying. For no good reason. Is this what having it all feels like?

I'm not under the misconception that anyone can truly have it all, but if you look at it from a non subjective point of view, it actually seems possible. Because having it all doesn't account for loneliness. It doesn't account for bad hair days and missing your mom. It overlooks Tuesday afternoons when you're sitting in your room counting down the days until you go home. It overlooks the feeling you get when you're in a room full of people, but you feel completely alone. It excludes those days when you don't understand the homework and all the meals you eat alone. It excludes the long hours of studying and the mornings when you just don't want to wake up.

Because having it all will never be enough. Having it all is when your life looks good on paper, but it doesn't go beyond the things written on that paper. There's no depth, there's no reality. Because life's supposed to be a bit messy, even when you're living a dream.

I walk the same route I did during orientation every week. I pass Battle Hall's blue doors and the tour groups taking pictures in front of the bell tower and the nostalgic alumni who still proudly wear burnt orange. I often find myself thinking of how stressed I am or how out of place I feel. And that's okay because sometimes it's okay to not be okay.

It's okay to step back and realize that you can have it all and still feel overwhelming lonely and scared and stressed. It's okay to fall apart in the cafeteria. Perfection is a burden, and it's a burden we're not meant to carry. Because sometimes that walk by the tower is one you dread. And other times, you pass by right when some fireworks start going off behind the tower and in that moment, in that fleeting moment, you do feel like you have it all.

Maybe having it all isn't synonymous with perfection. Maybe having it all isn't meant to be enough. Maybe having it all is the realization that the secret to having it all is knowing that you already do. Sometimes having it all is that picture-perfect moment, other times it's chaos. And that's the beauty of it all.

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10 Happy Thoughts

  1. You are seriously my favorite.

  2. "Sometimes having it all is that picture-perfect moment, other times it's chaos. And that's the beauty of it all." SO TRUE!!!! I can relate to this all so much girl!

  3. I found this through twitter, and oh my you have such a great mind. I can't believe you're just a college freshman!

  4. Love this piece :)

    As a recent graduate (that somehow always seems to gravitate towards loneliness) let me tell you one thing... even though it's super difficult, try to have honest conversations about this stuff with people. I didn't until after finishing my postgrad, neither with my high school friends or with uni friends.. mostly because we all assumed that everyone else was having a blast. Turns out we weren't. Everyone super lost and it would've been so nice if we could've talked about it with each other :)

    Take care xxx

    1. Thank you so much, Maya. I was talking to my mom on the phone the other day, and she told me the exact same thing! She told me to talk to people about it, to be honest. And I have. It feels like a huge weight is off my shoulder just telling my friends that sometimes I'm so lonely/miss home/ feel really down. A lot of them have told me they feel the EXACT same way. It's crazy how being genuine can actually help you connect with people so much more. And congrats on graduating! I can't wait to hear all about what you do :-)

  5. Hey Katherine, I haven't commented in a while but this post really spoke to me. I completely sympathize with feeling like "having it all" isn't all, like it isn't enough, like its too much, like its a lie, like its true...it's overwhelming. I'm in my second year at college, on an absolutely beautiful campus, I have a job as an RA and I've figured out how to pay for school, I love my major and I have a wonderful partner and everything should be going right but there are always days when I feel like I'm a lie, like its all an act. My residents think I have everything figured out, but in reality, I am just as confused and stressed and procrastinate-y and terrified as they are. Take deep breaths, recognize that its normal and okay that some days you will feel on top of the world and some days you watch an entire season on netflix and some days you feel independent and gorgeous and some days you feel like a sack of potatoes and just miss your home. And people across the country feel this way. People who are older than you feel this way. People younger feel this way. And maybe next week, next month, next year "I'll get my life together" or maybe not, but at the very least, next week, next month, next year, you will know just a little more how strong you are, and that there was another day you conquered and that is something to be proud of. So thank you for this post. Thank you for reminding me that I, a very "all or nothing" person, doesn't have to have it all. Neither do you. Having it all is a fleeting concept. But we all have something, and each day that something might be different. But it's the little somethings all added up that make life special. And keep writing, I love reading your blog, I always have :)
    -Lacey (I used to be Life Hands You Limes)

    1. I'm so glad you wrote to me Lacey! I've missed talking to you/hearing what you have to say. This comment really blew my mind. First off, you are so sweet for taking this much time to let me know that it's okay to feel this way! You have such a beautiful way with words, and I know I'll be thinking about what you said throughout the week. I think we always tend to think that someone else has it all, but in reality I think we're all struggling. Some more than others, but having it all IS such a fleeting concept. I couldn't have said it better myself. I hope your year is going great. And I hope tomorrow is one of those days where you feel gorgeous and strong and independent. But if you don't, know that you are. Even if it doesn't feel like it. And girl, I should be thanking YOU. Thanks for reminding me that I'm not the only one feeling this way. Thanks for reminding me that sometimes you feel down and other days you feel on top of the world. It really means the world to me.

  6. Aw Katherine, I am so sorry to hear you are feeling this way. I hope with all my heart it gets better soon.
    I can relate to this way too well. And those words "you have it all" just hurts so much. Because that's just another thing to feel bad about - feeling bad but not having something to "blame it on". I have it all too - and I feel terribly lonely and sad almost all the time.
    Amazing post! Stay strong.

  7. I'm sorry you're having a hard time - I am a freshman at a great university as well and I feel the same way much of the time! Great post.


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