Why we should stop assuming there is a perfect time for everything

“I just don’t think I’m ready.”

Many of us know this feeling all too well, typically before curveballs or major crossroads in our lives. To some extent, I think we are being groomed to feel this hesitation when we so often hear “You will just know when the timing is right. You’ll feel it.” 

700x300I’m guilty of giving this very advice to others: “Well, if you don’t feel 100% on this, then don’t do it. Just sit on it. Time will tell.”

I’m starting to hate this advice.

The more that I experience – from the early days of dating and break ups, commitment and marriage, graduating college with a set plan but then changing my career, moving across the country and then back again, to having a baby  – the more I realize that all of these crossroads were never marked by precision and clarity. They were all messy, scary and confusing.

Taking my time and waiting for that “ah hah” moment is not what helped me through; it was having faith.

Time, in many ways, accomplishes the opposite of faith. It implies that if we just wait, something or someone will come to us to solidify our choices. Faith, on the other hand, teaches us to make choices without insurance. It encourages us to live boldly, while time encourages us to live cautiously.

I didn’t understand this back in those early days of trying to find love – avoiding overdue breakups with the expectation that I would know 100 percent if I should stay or go, letting logic trump my inexplainable inner voice nudging me to move on. I ignored my intuition, justifying it by waiting for clarity to come along.

Lucky me, this hesitation had a happy ending as I eventually endured many break ups and wound up with the man of my dreams. And how did I know he was the one? There  was not a logical checklist or strike of lightning that hit me at any given point in time. It was a combination of, again, intuition and faith. I felt he was the one, and when I said “I do,” I was pledging my infinite commitment to him not by logical certainty, but by hope and faith. I chose to believe in our future without seeing our future.

Then there are the career changes, perhaps even more conducive to craving logic over faith. Is this the right job for me, the right community? Graduating with a degree in magazine journalism, I envisioned myself going out into the world and writing about food and travel. Then I joined a business newsroom and covered health care and nonprofits. Then I left reporting entirely and joined a nonprofit doing public relations. At each intersection I waited for some sort of signal to direct me. Yet I never did get my clear signal, rather, I nervously navigated each new opportunity with fragile confidence that took time to grow.

Then there’s the pregnancy. Growing our family wasn’t a milestone we had specifically prepared for ahead of time, it was a conscious decision, rather, to let our life unfold however fate had planned for us. Are we 100% ready to be parents? No. Would we ever be 100% ready for such a commitment? I don’t believe so.

And so it has hit me, all of these changes have indeed given me confidence and clarity in who I am and the life I want to live because of the lessons each leap of faith gave me. But without first having faith in the unknown, I would still be waiting for all of these things to happen. In the time I would have spent waiting for clarity, I would have been  robbed of the greatest, unpredictable moments of my life.

So, next time someone tells me they are at a crossroad, I will refuse to give them the advice of time. Instead, I will tell them to fly. To speak. To act. To move. To leap. To dance. To try. Anything other than to wait.

 

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