In the fall of 2013 in Huawei, Hawaii I swam with the sharks. It’s a trip I’m reminded of fairly often, given the commemorative t-shirt I have. One of those tees, you know the ones, that you’ll never actually wear in real life but hang onto for the express purpose of sleeping in. A sleep shirt. And tonight, as I dug around in my catchall lingerie/lounge/sleep drawer, stuffed to the brim with tangled clothes, the lowest priority drawer in the dresser, and siphoned this shirt out of the mangled corner, I questioned whether this was in fact the way a young adult woman “should” be dressing herself for sleep. Are there rules to this? Do I still pj like I’m in high school? (Yes) And, like Jezebel’s seminal and essential 2012 article, “Be Honest: How Often Do You Wash Your Dirty Ass Bra”, is there an unspoken but completely ubiquitous experience across millennial dozers everywhere that we just recklessly scour for sleep clothes each night like wild scavengers?
Pestered with curiosity I conducted extensive investigative journalism on the matter that consisted of texting my BFF group chat and posing the question:
Really random question and no rush on response but.. what do you guys sleep in? Like do you do T-shirt and underwear? Actual pj sets? Silky vs cotton? Men’s oversized T-shirt? Same every night or different every night? Do you have just like one drawer of only sleep stuff or do you like pull stuff from other drawers?
Two out of three girls surveyed had a similar approach: A dedicated drawer of wrinkled, old, soft things that got mismatched together to form pjs. One out of four was committed (“obsessed”) with buying sleep sets–usually cotton and from Target.
I have to admit, putting on a matching set of pjs for bed really feels like you have your shit together. It’s on par with setting your bills to autopay. When you’ve gotten to the point in life where you buy an entirely separate wardrobe for sleep you’ve reached a nexus of self-care.
And it all got me thinking…do I have my shit together?
I have my matching pj sets, but they often sit at the bottom of the hamper for so long that I rarely actually wear them. And I set my bills to auto pay, but they hit a credit card that carries a rotating balance that’s more than what I’d like it to be. At thirty, earning six figures, living and working in New York, no current or recent STDs, substance abuse issues, or overtly obvious mental health crises, I’m inclined to say yes–but it warrants further probing.
People who have their shit together are the people who always send prompt thank you cards; who somehow keep in touch with distant relatives; who keep their houseplants alive. There is something adult about them. And again, maybe this is a millennial thing, but I so don’t consider myself an adult.
I don’t! Do you? Adults are our parents. Adults are our boss’s boss’s boss. Not old people, but just…older than me. An adult is a person always just slightly older than me, no matter what my age is. AmIright??? I look at my friends who have kids–like two, three, four year old kids–and I’m like this is reckless behavior! Do these toddlers know how precarious their situation is?? I was just dancing on the sports bar counter with your mom like yesterday!
Editor’s Note: My friends with kids are excellent parents who take the utmost care of their children. But they will also be the first to admit: “I have no fucking idea what I’m doing.”
I suppose I’m wondering about all this because I’m getting married in a week. Yeah, full fledged married. And as I stare down my pending nuptials I scan the horizon for that sense of being “ready.” I’m waiting for the feeling of ‘wife’ to wash over me while simultaneously acknowledging that any expectation to fulfill an outdated and sexist gender role is so not for me. I invite the feeling of this momentous life event while at the same time accepting that my fiancé and I have already built a life together and that truthfully not much is really going to change in the short term. I question just what and how I should be thinking going into this while forgiving myself for not overthinking it.
There is always seemingly this distance between where we are and who we envision as our future selves. That person, that girl several years down the timeline looks, sounds, and walks like you, but she’s just ever so slightly enhanced, modified, pronounced. And it’s like when your Uber is stuck in traffic on the way to pick you up and it says ‘six minutes away’ for like nine minutes…sometimes she doesn’t seem like she gets any closer despite how much life passes under your feet. She’s always on the horizon, having her shit together, waiting for you to catch up.
But then, we’re so familiar to ourselves, we’re so close to each and every thought pattern, we are too intimately woven into our own stories that we don’t always recognize the progress. We have changed in so many ways, grown inches taller, but millimeter by millimeter, it takes a moment to appreciate the new perspective. Who I am now–as the moon wanes into the full bulb it will be on the night of my wedding–is yesteryear’s girl in the horizon if I only grant myself a moment’s reflection.
I don’t feel like I fully have my shit together, but I trust myself to figure out most of whatever that shit is. And I’m not ready to get married, but I want to do it, and if I waited until I was ready for everything I wanted I’d never attain those ambitions. You don’t learn to swim until you enter the water, but once you learn to swim you can someday swim with sharks.