Start before you’re ready. I don’t remember when I first heard this little phrase but nonetheless it has become a personal mantra for me. It serves as a nice antithesis to the way society places such a heavy importance on always needing to be ready and prepared for what’s next.
I remember I wrote a paper about this in high school. I think it was sort of a free write essay. I jabbered on about how elementary school is all about preparing you for middle school, and middle school is all about preparing you for high school, and high school is all about preparing you for college, and college prepares you for your career, which prepares you to retire, which prepares you to die. “What’s the point,” my angsty teenage self declared. (I’m giggling on the inside as I write this because I don’t remember being a particularly angsty teenager - other than 7th grade where I temporarily turned into the devil herself, but you can ask my parents and sister about that. I think I traumatized them all by my change in attitude that year.) I don’t entirely remember the rest of that essay but I do think the point I was trying to make was something along the lines of how we all need to be more present in where we are right now, and stop stressing out about the next best thing. It’s almost as if I was foreshadowing the idea for this very blog.
I’m also not surprised that I felt passionately about this as a teenager. I was raised in a community that fostered this kind of “always be prepared” thinking. I grew up in a really good school district and was a member of the National Honor Society. I really can’t remember ever feeling unprepared for a major life event. My high school over prepared its students for college. I knew how to take useful notes in class, study for exams, and write lengthy 15-20 page research papers. When I got to college I was shocked to learn that some of my classmates from other parts of the country hadn’t learned how to do any of that at their high schools and as college freshman were totally at a loss of where to begin.
I felt this way about transitioning out of being a student and entering the real world too. I felt ready to graduate college. I was prepared to tackle auditions with confidence and grace, a testament not only to my college professors but to the fact that both my parents are artists and are familiar with this industry.
So it wasn’t until I was already an adult, out there in the world, fending for myself that I stumbled upon a situation that left me with an “I’m not ready” feeling. That feeling is intimidating as heck. Every time I find myself feeling like I’m not ready to do something, I know I have a choice to make. I can either face that fear, jump into the pool, and do it anyway, or chicken out. I’ve made both choices many times in a variety of different situations. The chickening out option is always the easier choice. It’s the one that feels more comfortable in the moment, but afterwards I always wonder “what if,” feeling like maybe I could have been a little more brave and done “the thing.” However, when I take a deep breath and tell myself “you’ve got this,” no matter what the outcome is I’m always happy and proud of myself.
A couple days ago I finally started a project that I’ve been mulling over for quite some time. This particular project is in a medium I’m not familiar with so there’s a lot of trial and error going on. I definitely don’t feel ready. I have no idea what I’m doing. I’m figuring it out as I go. But I knew that if continued to just do research, I would keep putting it off and putting it off and I might never get started. So I told myself to start, even though I wasn’t ready. I told myself not to worry about how good it is in the beginning, to just get stuff out there and once I’ve accomplished that I can go back and learn how to make it better.
So whether it’s starting a new project, working on a Shakespeare monologue in acting class, having a difficult conversation with a loved one, or finally admitting that you have a secret talent for painting and you’re going to start sharing your work with the world, start before you’re ready.
P.S. This project I’m working on is a sister project to this blog. I will be announcing exactly what it is that I’m working on at a later date, closer to the release date of the actual thing, and then hopefully all of this will make a little more sense. But for now, thank you for reading my blog. If you like what you see, share it with a friend and stay tuned!