I have a friend who recently joined online dating. “I really like this guy I’m talking to,” She told me, “But I want to wait a bit before I meet him.”
They chatted on and off for a couple of weeks. She hmm’d and haw’d about their meet up. She made a list of pros and cons of going on their first date and eventually scraped the whole thing. “I’m just not ready,” She told me. “I haven’t gotten over my ex-boyfriend.”
This all sounds somewhat logical. She needed more time. She needed more space. She took some time to think it over and eventually decided she was ready. Except by that point, he’d deactivated his profile. The chance was gone.
It’s easy to shrug off missed chances as risks we were not ready to take. But when it comes down to it, are we ever fully prepared to take the big risks that present themselves to us? Are we ever going to be 100% prepared to make a change?
We could always be smarter. Or funnier. Or thinner. Or more qualified. But life doesn’t wait for us to catch up. While we’re busy developing ourselves, time is quickly zooming on: Favoring those who are not ready either but who want to try anyway. Who want to challenge themselves by taking chances. Who want to grow into being ready. And who aren’t afraid to look a little stupid while they’re figuring things out.
I have another particularly clever friend who once wanted a research grant quite badly. As a second year undergraduate student, she considered herself tremendously under qualified. “I paced back and forth outside of my Professor’s hallway trying to convince myself to go in and bring it up,” She told to me, “And then I remembered something my mother used to tell me. She’d say, ‘Chloe there are two types of people in this world: People with knowledge and people with nerve. And the jobs often go to the latter. Someone far less qualified than you is out there working the job that you want because they had the courage to ask for it.’”
Chloe wasn’t ready for the position she landed herself in, but she found herself in it regardless. And once she got that grant, she struggled in the role until she excelled at it. Isn’t that how so many of our biggest changes present themselves?
The big steps in life – the big leaps forward – never wait until we’re ready to take them. That connection you’ve been too scared to make. That person you’ve been too scared to love. That job you’ve been dreaming about for as long as you can remember – none of them are waiting to waltz into your life as soon as you’re emotionally prepared for them.
We become strong by first being weak. We become capable by first being incapable. And we become ready by first being entirely unprepared. The goal isn’t to know everything right away. The goal is to waltz into the unknown and declare yourself worthy and capable of being there. To live out the chaos until it’s clear.
At the end of the day, we’re never going to be 100% ready for anything. Not for the job of our dreams and not for a job at the mini mart. Not for the person we want to spend our lives with and not for the person we want to spend the night with. Life is one big scary unknown and we just have to decide which parts of it we want to dive into anyway. The unknown that thrills us or the unknown that tires us. The unknown that inspires us or the unknown that tears us apart.
No risk will ever be simple. You’re going to fail and be criticized regardless of which life path you take – so why not take the one that challenges you? Why not engage in the choices that grow you? Why not pour your heart and soul into something that inspires and invigorates you and ultimately leaves you better for having done it?
We don’t have to be ready for anything that comes our way in life. We grow into whichever paths we walk down with curious, open hearts.
We just have to risk taking those first steps – ready or not.