No, I Don’t Have My Sh*t Together (And That’s Okay)

Health & Wellness


There have been a series of small (and medium-sized) mishaps and mistakes on my part over the past couple days. Dropping the ball on social engagements, misplacing my keys multiple times in one day, a lost iWatch, one Nike shoe gone rogue, a forgotten suitcase, a misplaced prescription refill. I can rationalize why it’s happening: I’m working more, I’m traveling more, I’m sleeping less, and we’ve being living remotely for the past 75 days. Even so, I’m enjoying my work, I truly don’t mind the travel, I don’t necessarily feel tired, we have a great living situation with my in-laws, and a drama-free general contractor.

And yet, there are warning signs.

Lately, those small mistakes feel like little stones pelting my sense of self-worth. The littlest mistep is followed by a swift conclusion that if I don’t have my shit together, I will never accomplish any of my goals. My small successes? Just dumb luck. It’s not rational, but man it feels so true when I forget to drop off the mortgage check the third day in a row.

Last weekend, Joe and I stopped at the house to show our friends the renovation progress. As we were locking up, I couldn’t find my purse. It took a good 5 minutes of looking in the same place twice, only to find it was sitting on top of a stack of empty boxes, right in plain sight. Joe was sitting in the car waiting for me, and as I walked towards him I felt ashamed that I couldn’t find my purse…yet again. I wasn’t afraid of his reaction, I was afraid of being a burden. I got into the car and apologized for being so disorganized, so all over the place, for being a burden. All over a stupid PURSE.

He turned to me, unfazed and said, “I really don’t mind when you’re like this. It makes you human.” At that moment, I realized I was actively trying to hide parts of myself from the person I love most.

Sometimes we let our egos drive interactions with others. In projecting the best versions of ourselves, we think people will see us as we desire. I think that’s a reason it’s so hard to see ourselves clearly, and it’s so easy for us to see others for the traits they don’t see in themselves.

So, I’m going to not try so desperately to act like I have my shit together.

When I misplace my hotel key tomorrow (a likely scenario) I’m not going to stress about it. I will acknowledge these things are harder for me (a person with anxiety and ADHD), and recognize that even after all the reading and the therapy, I have to fight my own internal shame and stigma associated with the disability. I’m not going to apologize for who I am, and instead, let people get to know the side of me I wrestle with the most. Because as hard as I try to get my shit together, I am who I am: a scatterbrained but well-intentioned grown-ass woman. And that’s enough to do all the things I want to do in my lifetime.

BY Kate Arends - August 13, 2015

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August 13, 2015 12:13 pm

“I realized I was actively trying to hide parts of myself from the person I love most.”

ouch, this hit hard.

Thank you for sharing your insight! 🙂 hoping to return the favor my saying that it echoes my experience.

August 13, 2015 12:16 pm

Yeahhh!! I wish you a big success! 😉

August 13, 2015 12:18 pm

Yeahhh!! I wish you a big success!!!

August 13, 2015 12:37 pm

This is 100% my Life… right now. last week last year. WTF am I doing? like it matters not one is perfect. I blog about the same things. take a look.. love your writing 😉

August 13, 2015 1:13 pm

Hi Kate,

I was listening to my local public radio station this morning and this segment on ADHD seems relevant to your post, so sending your way. It’s a thoughtful discussion focusing on the potential and advantages offered—not in spite of—but because of a diagnosis.

Of course we should be realistic about the challenges (I have a family member with ADHD), but it’s heartening to hear a message of acceptance and empowerment rather than the usual which carries shame and stigma.

Be well!

August 13, 2015 1:24 pm

I can totally relate to those moments, Kate! I’ve had those moments during my most crazy busiest times. I felt some shame, too, since I’m known to be super organized. But I realize that we’re all human and that it’s okay to have those moments (we learn from them).

Hope you’re week is going well. As always, thank you for sharing your voice and insight.

August 13, 2015 2:52 pm

Every post like this feels like a mirror portal into my daily life. It’s humbling because I am reminded how much we aren’t entirely alone it what we experience. It feels like such a heavy weighted blanket at times, especially when I fill myself with every piece of the world I can but remembering to take a step back. The hardest part is always the social aspect and trying to find a way to let others know I have a disability without ever using it as an excuse in order to properly convey my processes.

August 13, 2015 4:23 pm

This is definitely a post I can relate to. There are times in my life where I can’t seem to keep anything straight and it’s quite frustrating as I’m usually a very organized, thoughtful person. I love that your loved one helped you see what you were doing to yourself, we all need to be kind to ourselves when we aren’t “perfect.” Loved this! XO -Kim

August 13, 2015 8:15 pm

I have often felt this sense of failure as well, especially when I forget to a work-related task or have the same bill sitting on my kitchen table, unpaid for the last two weeks, or when I search the apartment high and low for my phone, until to realize that it is in my back pocket. All of these minor mistakes can feel like they must be obvious signs of failure, but as always, we have to remember that we’re not perfect, humans are flawed, and we can’t lean into these feelings of despair. We have to not wallow in… Read more »

August 14, 2015 5:11 am

Understanding husbands are the BEST! And just a tip, always ask for two hotel key and keep it in an inside purse pocket! I was always losing mine as well!

August 14, 2015 9:19 am

Thank you for so adeptly articulating the internal mental battles that so many people face. Great post! And good luck finding the next thing you misplace!

August 14, 2015 4:13 pm

Whenever people describes the early warning signs of Alzheimer’s I think to myself, I’ve been doing that since I was 3 years old! WTF is wrong with me? Then I remember that without ADD I probably wouldn’t be as creative, as fun or funny or an “out of the box” thinker (I hate that phrase — I always want to ask whoever has called me this, “you mean there’s a box?!?” I wouldn’t be as “delightfully strange” as one of my clients called me. In fact, when I’m feeling good, I wear my ADD brain as a badge. I amuse… Read more »

August 15, 2015 8:47 am

This is me all day every day for the past four months. Recently promoted. Working tons of hours. Helping hubby run a business and trying to maintain my sanity all at once. This gave so much insight!

August 15, 2015 8:51 am

Great article and wow, I’ve been there. I actually started taking a supplement called inositol and it helped me with my forgetfulness, the constant feeling of anxiety and even some of my “hangry” issues.

August 15, 2015 11:31 am

As always, you are my all time favorite blogger! I love your openness and honesty about life. I (probably most of us) know exactly how it feels to want to look like we have it together. I have wanted to blog for yearssss and have been afraid to put it out there because I’ve been about 40 pounds overweight. Even with encouraging emails (from you!) I have been scared to show myself to the world fat/imperfect/not having it together at all. So stupid! Well, I did get it together (somewhat) and have lost 23 pounds and I’m still afraid I’m… Read more »

August 15, 2015 1:06 pm

This is awesome. I think so many of us are in this place. It seems if you’re awesome at one thing, the expectation is you must be perfect at all the other things, right? If you kick ass at work SURELY you must be able to keep the house clean/keep up with current events/start a side business/grow and cook your own damn organic food/etcetcetc. I spend so much time envying the people that can do these things. I’m not one of these people. It’s a triumph if I can do a load of laundry and cook a meal on a… Read more »

August 15, 2015 1:14 pm

I feel you. I’m SO SIMILAR. I have ADD, depression and anxiety. I want to do everything perfectly and with a good attitude. I don’t want to mess up ever but I happen to have terrible terrible memory, I’m always late, I take everything even fun things and turn them into tasks that need to be ranked by priority in my mind. And then I don’t even stick to the system I try to create in my head. I’m very bad at creating and sticking to routine. But I’m great at big ideas, staring projects, planning, communicating, enthusiasm, getting other… Read more »

August 15, 2015 2:47 pm

Kate, you inspire a lot of us with your sense of design and execution of brand, but also with your display of humility and humanity. In this carefully crafted and curated world, we need these reminders. Thank you.

Jean Gustavsen
August 16, 2015 9:42 am

As the others, I also thank you for sharing. I most appreciated your husband’s comment on appreciating you are human. I have been divorced from a 30 year marriage for nearly 2 years (seems like a long time)but in reality with all the unexpected emotions, lifestyle, moving etc, it isn’t. I have taken the plunge and started seeing someone (a whole new world), and “appreciating you are human”, were the perfect words for me at this time. Finding someone who appreciates the “human I am.”
Again, thank you.

August 16, 2015 11:02 am

I struggle with the details in a very similar way. I’ve learned some coping strategies, but it still happens. Learning to sit with all those feelings when it’s happening has made a huge difference. A loving spouse helps a lot too. 😉

August 17, 2015 3:00 am


Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts. It resonates so well with where how my life is right now.

With everything that’s going on I still choose to prioritise taking time out.

All the best 🙂

I look forward to reading your posts.


August 17, 2015 10:20 am

This is such a beautifully honest insight. That idea of even hiding your flaws from the one person who probably knows them already, is right on target. At some point you just breathe, own it, and move on to a better moment.

xx, leslie

August 17, 2015 12:41 pm

alright i love this post. sounds like you snagged a dude like mine. we got lucky. i need to say though: i got seriously more organized and on top of shit with waaay less effort when i started sleeping during the hours my body wants to sleep. instead of sleeping 10pm-6am like the better sleep council and receptionists at dentist’s office think i should sleep (why do they even try to get people to make 7am appts) i started going to bed when my body wanted (midnight ish) and waking up when my body wanted (8:30am ish). i have always… Read more »

Morgan Borine
August 17, 2015 9:25 pm

Dearest Kate, Thank you for yet another beautifully raw post. I love reading these insightful entries, as they certainly demonstrate a well developed sense of self, and a high level of self-awareness. I continue to be astonished and pleasantly surprised by just how much we have in common, as the similarities are greater than I ever realized. When reading your posts, I often find myself nodding in agreement while thinking, “Yeah, that sounds like me.” I am hoping that at some point in the future, we will have an opportunity to chat and catch up. Keep up the great work!… Read more »

August 18, 2015 10:20 am

Well, this post almost brought me to tears. I 100 percent feel where you’re coming from and think it’s wonderful that you’ve found someone who appreciates you for you. I’m always trying to project the appearance that I have my shit together and I’m so sensitive to perceived critiques. My dude saw my giant kitchen mess in its full glory the other day and I’m still cringing about it. After going full-time on my blog last year, I was beating myself up so much that I found a therapist who reminded me that I’m working hard and successful and doing… Read more »

August 19, 2015 6:55 am

I love this. Thanks for sharing that vulnerable side of you. That is so valuable to many people, myself included 🙂

August 19, 2015 11:41 am

[…] you’re like me and needing a big virtual hug today, may I suggest this post and the always-wise Oprah? I promise you they’re both worth the read and the […]

August 21, 2015 3:02 am

[…] This post hits so close to home for me right now. […]

August 21, 2015 5:10 am

Thanks for writing this! After reading I can completely relate! Love your writing!

[…] #anxiety 5. I feel like I was reading something that my daily internal monologue posted with this: …Or Maybe, I Don’t. {via Wit & Delight} 6. The psychological obstacles holding you back at work {via The Book of […]

August 23, 2015 5:50 pm

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August 25, 2015 9:55 am

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August 26, 2015 12:19 pm

Thanks for sharing- I so relate. I recently embraced a new mantra “Progress not Perfection” and it has helped me immensely. I never thought I had ADHD until I started reading about it 6 months ago. Just thought I was a flaky creative type – who self-shamed constantly for not being more responsible, always feeling overwhelmed, battling anxiety/depression, yada yada . Then I read about it and was like OH! THAT’s what it is! LOL! I just try and take it day by day (moment by moment when necessary) and embrace my funky self. There is only one me exactly… Read more »

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August 29, 2015 11:43 am

This seriously sounds like my life. It’s what I beat myself up for the most. Also, I love the way your comments are styled and how the comment box matches. How cool.

[…] This post about getting your shit together is something I can relate to.  A lot. […]

September 11, 2015 6:40 pm

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September 13, 2015 9:12 pm

Ok, I felt like this ALL last week! I kept thinking, what is my problem? Why can’t I get it together? But then as I started thinking about it, between all my mistakes and general scatterbrained-ness, I had little moments of success where things were going right. And now that I read your post, I realize that it’s all of these little things, good and bad, that make me human. So thank you for sharing!

[…] the struggles of mental health. I loved this Twitter thread about reasons to live. In fact, Kate’s own model of witnessing to these realities (and now the crew of contributors who follow her lead)—instead […]

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