You’d think I’d be used to it by now. It happens every year, and yet, I’m always taken by surprise. A rainy spring rolls into summer. The sun shines, my home warms, a growing sense I’m pitting out my oversized sweatshirt looms. Dread springs forth. Desperation blossoms.
It’s hot outside. And I’m not ready to go sleeveless.
After the cozy winter months my upper arms settle in and take the shape of warm dough on their second rise. Now, all the sudden, I’m supposed to flap these batwings into the hot, humid breeze? I need more time! Just a week to get some color. A little time to try some pushups, or to sign up for a Beachbody subscription I’ll use for a week and then forget to cancel. My cute cardigans go with so many styles, hides so many things! What am I supposed to do now? Wear a sundress to church? Lord help me, I’m just not ready!
Now that I think of it, I’m never ready for anything. I’ve tried to recall a time when I’ve walked into any situation prepared academically, emotionally, spiritually, or physically. Nothing comes to mind. Adult decisions, marriage, conflict, parenting, crow’s feet, large pores, skinny jeans, hosting a dinner party ... you name it, I’m not ready for it.
Don’t get me started on enrolling my daughter into kindergarten. It was February when I was having lunch with a friend. “Have you registered Lucy yet?” she asked, taking a sip of her soda.
“Registah Lucy fah wah?” I asked with half a sub sandwich in my mouth.
“Kindergarten,” she said with a “what else would I be talking about?” tone.
I beg your pardon? She’s still in preschool and I just shoved my Christmas tree into the storage room. Can everybody just calm down and give me a minute? Where am I supposed to register her at, Kindegarten.com? Can I Google it? What’s happening? WHO’S IN CHARGE HERE AND WHY AREN’T YOU HELPING ME.
Life, appears to be, at least to me, consistent pushes into things I’m not ready to do. Sometimes it’s just poor planning on my part, but other times it’s life gently guiding me into seasons, experiences, decades, careers, relationships, reconciliations, high rise jeans and TikTok.
Or, sometimes, it seems, at least to me, life pushing me off a cliff.
My precious baby goes to kindergarten. My husband’s beard sprouts gray hairs. Suddenly, I’m no longer the young college student blasting No Doubt out of her Jeep Wrangler on her way to a friend’s house, but a grown woman in her sensible mid-sized SUV on her way to Target to spend a remarkable amount of time in the Hearth & Hand with Magnolia section. Time moves, babbles, like a never-ending stream. And it keeps going, even if we aren’t ready for loss, for success, for rejection, for sprained ankles, for summer, for winter, for saggy necks, for gray hair, for a financial catastrophe or for an unexpected inheritance.
To grow up. To become. To attend PTA meetings. To find our callings. To go to court.
I dreamed of becoming an author since I was a child, and I wrote to a small audience for more than a decade before I got my first book deal. For the first 24 hours I felt an incredible sense of gratitude and satisfaction. I worked so hard, so long, for a dream. And suddenly, it was realized.
Then, at my celebratory dinner at Cheesecake Factory, I realized: Oh crap, I have to write a book.
Dread springs forth. Desperation blossoms. Google searches for “How do you write a book?” paginate.
Last year after “We’ll Laugh About This (Someday)” released, I was asked to speak at a CreativeMornings event. It was my first “legit” speaking gig and I needed at least a month to prepare, but was given a week. I crafted my speech, practiced it while pacing my living room, watched several episodes of "Dr. Pimple Popper," then practiced some more, quite certain and terrified the CreativeMornings crew made a mistake.
But the day of, I was pushed out of bed, into my blazer, into my car and into the venue anyway. I sat in the front row, waiting to be introduced. I spoke tenderly to my heart. Take a beat. Relax.
“I can’t!” my heart thumped. “Why did you agree to do this? You need more preparation. More practice. Six months with a speaking coach, at least! More time to hide under an ambiguous name like Pat Stephens and move to New Mexico! You aren’t ready!”
Then, the host called my name. Push, I rose. Push, I walked. Push, ahem, I spoke.
And, somehow, I crushed it. The push led me to something new. Something I loved.
We’re pushed forward all the time, and it’s wise to let it happen. Even if it scares us. Even if we feel dumb, or out of place, or so ill-prepared. If we simply resist the temptation to flee, we’re granted magical moments when something, or someone, gives us a little, or big, push.
Of course, we’re never ready. But maybe that’s the point.
Anna Lind Thomas's latest book, "I'm Not Ready for This: Everybody Just Calm Down and Give Me a Minute," came out on May 10, 2022.