I’m not ready to apologize. I’m not ready for a relationship. I’m not ready for marriage. We’re not ready to have kids. I’m not ready to apply to that program/school/job/life. I’m not ready to face the truth. I’m not ready for cancer. I’m not ready to leave.
I’m not ready for this.
It might be true, but it’s an excuse and the source of your pain.
Look at that litany of excuses: they’re all talking to Reality and saying “I can’t handle you”.
But reality is a pugilist. Challenging it will only result in your own pummeling.
When I argue with reality, I beat myself. I beat myself down.
And it hurts.
There’s a difference between trying everything to change a situation and refusing to accept reality. When you’re in the battle to change or prevent something, you’re dealing with reality. You know what is and what might be and you hope – fervently, practically, actively, exhaustively - you can change it. And so you try. And maybe you succeed.
And that – trying, maybe succeeding – it precisely what “I’m not ready” prevents.
We protest our trials. We go through trials and in the arduous beginning we bemoan and protest them. But the truth is, we grow through trials and trying.
And so when I hear someone say “I’m not ready for a relationship” or “I’m not ready to be a good partner”, I think, being in a relationship is how you learn to be a partner and how you learn to love. Relationships are both the training ground and the institution. Marriage is a people-growing machine. In relationship is always life-altering. You can’t learn to swim on land.
So of course you’re not ready. Nobody is. Even when you think you’re ready, you’re probably wrong. When I decided to have children and get pregnant with my first child, I thought I was ready. And then, when she arrived as a cosmic privilege and burden, an eternal marvel and responsibility, a whole person with a buffet of needs and demands, and an instant and continuous attenuation of my own selfishness, I knew – and I know every day – that I was not ready. I was and am wrenchingly unprepared. I am – as are most parents - not an instinctual saint equipped with The Answers but a desperately loving and flawed person striving for greatness. Striving to be a mother. Striving to be the mama she needs.
Ready is the wrong litmus test.
You only need to be willing.
And “I don’t want to” and “I’m not willing” are legitimate. “I’m not ready” is bullshit and a waiting game.
Because what are you waiting for?
(And, it seems, Adele is everyone’s girl. She’s sold out everywhere I look – and I looked in Vancouver, Seattle, Portland and San Francisco. And never before have I checked multiple cities for concert dates or been willing to fly somewhere to experience an artist.)
What if Adele believed that there was only one way to be an artist, singer and star? What if she had waited until she was a size 2 to rock our world? What if she looked at her dreams, listened to her incredible voice, and told them both: “I’m not ready”?
Or Oprah. What if she thought, “I’ll lose the weight before I go on stage”? What if she said, “I’m not ready”? She would have delayed her nation-altering, world-changing career for twenty years. For twenty years, while she could have been honing her craft and delighting her people, she would have been trying to lose the weight to get ready. She would be battling herself instead of challenging herself.
And we would be poorer for it.
You don’t have to be ready. You just have to be willing…
…or willing to be willing.