I’m back with another post, for the first time in many months, because I feel like I need to use this blog as a platform for a type of cathartic exercise in self-reflection. Recently, I’ve experienced two extremes – the lowest point of my life so far, quickly followed by one of the highest. It’s been a confusing to say the least, but strangely, I’ve been inspired. Inspired by these life events. By new people – a new family – who have recently come into my life. By a new semester of study. And by one little comic strip I stumbled across whilst scrolling through my Facebook feed just last week.
This comic strip was entitled “Great People Do Things Before They’re Ready“, and was an illustrated version of a quote by comedian Amy Poehler. The quote is as follows:
“Great people do things before they’re ready. They do things before they know they can do it. Doing what you’re afraid of, getting out of your comfort zone, taking risks like that… that’s what life is. You might be really good. You might find out something about yourself that’s really special. And if you’re not good… who cares? You tried something. Now you know something about yourself.”
It’s simple, yes, but as I was reading it, it reminded me of the last few months of my life, and the change in perspective which I have experienced. This is how I should be approaching life, I thought. Not like the person I used to be – the girl who had to meticulously prepare and plan and ensure that every aspect of the next day, week, month, year… was mapped out in front of her. Because that’s just not realistic. Life isn’t a set course. There are no definitives from point A to B. It’s a journey, and there are roadblocks and bumps and unexpected hitch-hikers who jump out in your path. And if we wait until we’re ready for the next step of our journey, we may never begin. Because life doesn’t wait until you’re ready.
Just over a month ago, I lost someone who, to me, was one of the most important people in my world – my Pop. To me, he was a teacher, a fighter, a comedian, a pinnacle of wisdom, and my best mate. We knew that he was dying, weeks ahead of the fact, but that still could not prepare the family for the grief we felt – that we’re still feeling – after he passed away. Pop wasn’t ready to leave us, and we weren’t ready to let him go. But that didn’t matter. Time, cancer, death – it doesn’t wait until you’re ready, because really, could you ever be ready? So, without any control over the circumstances, I was plunged into a situation I was not ready to deal with. But it helped me to discover something about myself and my family – how we deal with grief, how closely we can support each other, and how meaningful Pop’s presence in our lives had been for all of us. It also made me more aware of my own mortality, and that changed my perspective on everything I do in my life.
A few weeks after the funeral, I faced the task of returning to university for a new semester. I doubted I could do it. I’d been spending so much time with my family that I’d become so reliant on their support – and also distracted myself a little by supporting them. Uni was so busy, yet so lonely. I had one real friend who I could connect with, who knew what was going on, and even then, we only saw each other maybe once a week. On my first day back, I was so sure that I wasn’t ready to do it that I had a bout of anxiety at the train station and spent the day at my Nan’s house instead. But I went back the next day – still not completely ready to face five hours by myself with my thoughts – and yet I found that I was coping. My classes distracted me far better than staying at home ever could, and I found out that I could get by better than I had initially thought. I’m still not entirely sure that I’m ready to see out the whole semester – for all of the assignments, to decide my major, to make up my mind about what I want to do with the rest of my life – but I’m muddling through and trying to focus more on the experience rather than the end point.
While we’re often thrown into something we’re not ready for without any say in the matter, sometimes we do have control. We may be offered an opportunity, and whether or not we’re ready for it can be a major deciding factor in whether or not we go ahead with it. But if we cope, and learn, and sometimes thrive in the situations which we have no control over, why should we hesitate to jump right in to the ones we do have control over? Recently, I had been on the fence for a few weeks about whether or not I would audition for Fame, the musical which was being produced at my local theatre. I was unsure about auditioning, mostly due to the inevitable family situation I would soon be facing. But I was offered the chance to audition earlier than I had been planning, and with only a few minutes to think it over, I thought, what the hell? What have I actually got to lose? I could’ve spent another week preparing, but that time to think could’ve only made me more apprehensive. So I threw myself right in, and got the role I was going for. Because of that, I’ve met some amazing people. They’re thoughtful, and fun, and love a good party. They’re helping me through, teaching me about myself, helping me to become a better person, and opening up the doors to new experiences – often without even realising that’s what they’re doing. They’re exactly the kind of friends I need right now, and I wouldn’t have met them without making a conscious decision to jump right in to something I didn’t think I was entirely ready for.
Life naturally throws us into situations we are unprepared for – grief, death, even the more trivial things like a new semester or a new job. But more often than not, we eventually fare pretty well. Yet when it comes to throwing ourselves into these situations, we hesitate, teetering on the edge of an amazing experience because we’re apprehensive about whether or not we’re ready. By the time we decide we’re ready – if we ever decide this at all – the opportunity may have passed us by, and we’ve missed out on finding out something about ourselves. Life can’t be meticulously planned, so why should we try? Let’s forget readiness. Tear up the plans. Throw away the map. Ditch the safety net. And jump.