How often have you heard or said, “I’m just not ready for x, y, z right now”?
I know I’ve said and heard this phrase more times than I can count, in relation to an innumerous amount of circumstances and choices. Recently, I was having a conversation with someone about an unplanned pregnancy they found themselves in and I asked if they felt ready to be a parent and have a baby. They responded, “is anyone really ever ready for this?” and it got me thinking.
When we decided to start our family, my husband and I had a conversation about whether we were ready. Had we acheived all we had want to up to that point, did we have the support we needed, were we doing this for the right reasons, were we ok as a couple and individuals? At the time, we felt ready and so we started. Even if, retrospcectively, I can look back and acknowledge how much growth I have gone through, how different I am now, it was absolutely the right time for us to start our family and we knew that.
There was a time, that it absolutely wasn’t that time and we made a choice that supported those feelings. You can read about that over on mummy neutral right here.
Those contrasting experiences of inherently knowing when I was and wasn’t ready for something, I think, has given me a lot of nuance in these situations to provide an often over-looked perspective that yes, you can feel ready and don’t always have to ‘go along’ with what is happening.
I find there to be a lot of rhetoric around ‘life happens to you’ which can absolutely be true, but I think far more of our lives is due to our choices rather than coincidence or how prepared, or unprepared we are. If we thought about our ability to get certain jobs, I would say the vast majority of us aren’t going in blind when we apply, or even think about applying for positions that we are grossly over or under qualified for. We recognise that there is a certain skill level, minimum requirement or even qualification needed to perform a particular job.
Yet when met with life decisions, those kinds of rationtional thoughts dissapate and instead we have been conditioned to believe that acceptance of circumstances without critical thought is absolutely fine, even expected as being a divine circumstance of fate.
Let me clarify here: sometimes random things happen to us, without thought or intention, and that is what it is. My second 2 children were definitely suprises and arrived with us well and truly before we had planned. However, in those moments we still allowed for conversations of readiness and what we were willing to change. Far too often, I think, people let things just happen because they’ve happened. Perhaps, as I write this, it feels like people’s willingness to take responsibility for their situations is severely lacking.
I feel like this narrative often wades into the “I can’t” mentality. Whether it be saving money, going on holiday (pre-covid, duh), changing jobs, changing their friends, an overwhelming thing I hear is “Oh, but I can’t do that”. This definitely is compounded by a victim-mindset but is a subset of this acceptance many people are willing to attach to anything that happens to happen in their lives.
I don’t know that I want to live in a world where I live in a perpetual cycle of incontrollable paradoxes happening around me. I don’t know that I want to think that I am not in some control of how my life unfolds, or that there isn’t more than one option or path for me.
It is uncomfortable to think we have an active role in everything that happens to and around us, because that means we also have to take ownership when things go less than ideally. I don’t say this from a position on a pedestal: there have been times in my recent past where I have had to reflect on a situation that transpired and apologise and own the part that was my fault. Which is important to remember: nothing happens in isolation and there are always a lot of factors, from different people, at play.
Something my husband and I do when our kids are questioning something, aren’t getting what they want or just down right having a bad day, is highlight what they’re choosing. We aren’t perfect parents; we have bad days, we get tired, sometimes we fail, but we usually try to present options to our kids. For example, if one of them wants to get some weekend video game time, instead of an immediate no, or only after blah, blah and blah, we usuall try and present it as part of an informed choice: “Seb, you can choose to finish your chores and then play games, or you can choose not to, and pick a different activity” and 9 times out of 10, the kids make the choice that is going to benefit them most.
I don’t see why big life decisions should be any different: think about things logically and make the decision that is going to benefit you most.
But, my emotions, I hear you say.
Without diving too deep into the debate that emotions and logic are separate, they really aren’t. Our emotions and logic are like 2 sides of a scale with input from both forming the crux of our decisons. When they are out of sync, balance, harmony, that’s when we are often resentful of the outcomes before us. The balance between emotion and intellect needs to be preserved, epsecially when it comes to asking the question, “am I ready for this?” Using our logical, intellectual side is a way we can form our emotions into an action, which of course is useful when it comes to answering the question of being ready.
There is no right or wrong answer: only you have the power to do this and know what is right for you. It’s ok to take time and think about the incidence versus the consequence and decide what is right for you, and to know that when you are ready for that next big adventure, you’ve got the tools to make the best call.