“Are you ready?” he asked, flashing me a mischievous grin usually reserved for dark corners in darker bars. I looked down at the ground, a mere 250 feet below me. I was standing on a bridge over a ravine, a harness strapped around my waist and an unattractive amount of perspiration on my face. I looked down and I continued to shake and I, of course, lied.
He waited and I waited and I realized I couldn’t do it. I needed help. I need a lot of help.
“Count me down.”
The guy responsible of making sure I didn’t die started counting. I looked forward and I could feel my chest tightening and I waited until I heard “one”. I needed a push, even if it was a numerical one, because I was anything but ready.
The same can be said for any pivotal, at times even minuscule, moment in my life. I say I’m ready, but it’s all a lie. Even if I feel like I have prepared to the best of my ability, with research and time and support, I’m never completely ready. The unknown or the self-doubt or the million constantly-moving parts creep into the forefront of my mind and the reality of my situation hits me: I’m not completely in control.
In fact, it isn’t until I’m falling head first into any moment that I can say I’m ready, and it’s only because it is in that particular moment that I don’t have any other choice.
“Ready” isn’t a state of mind as much as it is a lack of options.
I said I was ready when I graduated high school. It would be a complete disservice to the truth if I simply said that was anything but accurate. I had no idea what I was getting myself into; what college would bring with its late nights and daunting deadlines and life-changing friendships. How can you be ready for the beautifully unknown? How can you say you’re prepared when so much is uncertain? The answer:
I wasn’t ready when I graduated college. I felt ready, with a plan and a career path and a new city. Of course, life and the job market and the economic climate cared about my plans about as much as I cared about staying sober on the weekends. Plans didn’t change so much as they vanished and life carried me along with it, ebbing and flowing like the waves on a beach I couldn’t afford to visit for at least ten years.
I wasn’t ready when I fell in love. I thought I was, armed with an idea of partnership that carried me through lonely nights and debilitating breakups. An idea that paled in comparison to the all-encompassing peace and ease that washes over you when you’ve truly found your match. And while there is comfort in companionship, there is also panic in the ever-present knowledge that it can all fall apart.
Sometimes you aren’t ready to accept when you are, in fact, ready.
I wasn’t ready when I found out I was pregnant. I bought the baby books and I went to the doctor appointments and I asked the necessary questions. I stocked up on onesies and bottles and receiving blankets and took care of myself better than ever before. Then complications happened and all-encompassing fear happened and, despite all odds, creation happened. You say you’re ready to have a child but really it’s just that you’re willing to have a child. The rest just manifests and you’re humbly reminded that you’re just along for the ride.
The best moments of my life have been moments I’ve tricked myself into believing I’m ready for. Graduating high school and graduating college and finding my career and falling in love and
having a child: all pivotal moments in a life I’ve never really been ready to live. I’ve always been hanging on the edge, looking back at those around me and silently asking for a push.
So, the next time someone asks you if you’re ready, with their mischievous grin usually reserved for dark corners in darker bars, lie. Tell them you’re ready. Tell yourself you’re ready. And when the inevitably daunting and otherwise discouraging reality hits, and the unknown or the self-doubt or the million constantly-moving parts rear their unforgiving heads, smile.
Look forward and feel your chest tighten and wait until you hear “one.”
Because the only time you’ll ever truly be ready, is on the way down.