A long time ago, when I was part of a church that was really more of a cult, I went against the grain and the leaders’ advice and dated a senior when I was a freshman. Gasp. Everyone insisted that we weren’t ready. They insisted that we would forego our pursuit of God and idolize each other. They said that Christians shouldn’t date until they were ready for marriage, anyway. Everyone was so hung up on this idea of readiness, but what did they mean exactly? Ready in what way? How can anyone be prepared to fall in love for the first time, to enter into the most intimate relationship of your life without having had healthy relationships growing up, to feel and give unconditional love? Of course, I know what my church leaders would say. They would say that you can be prepared for all of that, if you do it all first with God. The problem is that I spent years and years trying to have a relationship with God, and I tried to love Him, but it was honestly like trying to love a rock. I had an easier time loving my turtle, my plants, and my stuffed animals. The more I learned about God, the more I disliked him. Over time, I grew to hate Him, if he even existed. Then I realized how futile it was to hate someone who I wasn’t sure existed, so I decided to live as if He didn’t exist. It was the most liberating moment of my life. Since then, I’ve had a much easier time making decisions that were right for me, even if I wasn’t quite ready for them at the time.
This is what people don’t tell you: there is a difference between a little bit not ready and completely, utterly NOT READY. Was I ready for that relationship with my college boyfriend? Absolutely not. If we had met each other later down the road, would we have had a better shot of making it? Absolutely. But that relationship remains one of the most important, precious things that ever happened to me, and nothing that I have today would be possible without it. And it’s not like I could’ve said to him, here, take a raincheck. Let’s date in five years or so! Life doesn’t work that way. Back then, I was somewhere on the spectrum between a bit unready and extremely unready, but I’m glad that I took the chance instead of waiting until I was completely ready. After all, you miss all the shots you don’t take in life.
I will, however, acknowledge that there is truth in what my church advised. Constantly doing things that you’re not ready for will lead to massive and overwhelming panic. When the panic sets in, you’re too far gone, so you distance yourself from your emotions. That leads to depression and denial, and then you keep doing things that you’re not ready for, because you no longer have fear to keep you in check. And it can be very harmful to do things that you are absolutely not ready for. I’ve looked at a lot of my family members’ lives and thought about the decisions they made and whether they made them happy in the long run. Not only did they have no clue what would make them happy in life, they all had a common pattern — they all kept doing things that they weren’t ready for. They got married before they were ready, they had kids before they were ready, they had more kids before they were ready, and some of them even rinsed and repeated the whole thing. Maybe it’s more excusable for the older generation, like my grandma, who had my dad at 17. I don’t know what kind of social pressures she faced. But for the younger generations, to keep having kids when you’re overwhelmed and unhappy is hugely irresponsible, in my opinion.
Why am I talking about all of this? It’s because I have a confession to make: in the past 12 months, I’ve repeatedly done things that I wasn’t ready for, and it nearly sank me. Not all of those things were of my own doing, but I admit that a lot of them were. At the time when I decided to get married, I didn’t know that I’d be taking in my sister in a few weeks. It was quite a conundrum — I was only ready for one of those things, but I absolutely was not ready to take in my sister without Dan’s emotional and financial support, which came easier through marriage. I had no idea that transitioning to parenthood and taking care of a house would be so difficult. It put a strain on my relationship with Dan, and we were less ready to get married when we did than when we decided to get married. I gambled that marriage would make things easier for us, rather than harder. I was right. But then I decided that we should get a puppy, hoping that I could go back to school after a week. I was so wrong. For months, that puppy was a full-time job, the closest thing to a human baby that isn’t a human baby. Only THIS WEEK, do I finally feel comfortable leaving him to go to school. A fortunate coincidence, since I started my third and final year of law school this week.
And now we’re buying a house. This house could have been the straw that broke the camel’s back, but for the first time since more than a year ago, I feel ready. I finally got the chance to catch up to all the new responsibilities of my life, and I can finally breathe again. I’m super excited about closing on our home in October, about renovating it, about eventually moving in over the winter. For some reason, this doesn’t feel overwhelming at all. This just feels right. I made it through the past year by the skin of my teeth, and I highly recommend avoiding what I did, if at all possible. I’m excited to go back to a calm (well, relatively…I’m not really a calm sort of person), peaceful existence. Though I’ve said this before, I reiterate that I am absolutely not ready for kids. I’m increasingly of the opinion that we should not have kids until we’re either semi-retired or work part-time. Apparently, that’s something people do: retire before having kids. That definitely sounds like the right way to have kids.