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The time to do it is before you're ready

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The time to do it is before you're ready

Our son Colton is going off to college this fall, good Lord willing, but I worry that he isn’t ready. The piles of clothes he steps over on his way to his unmade bed each night, evidence of his lack of laundry skills, and a host of other things that make me think he should mature another year.  I was railing on about this the other morning to my husband, Bill, man of few words, who listened and calmly sipped his coffee “I don’t know if he can even get up on his own to make it to class!” I ranted.  When I finished presenting the evidence of Colton’s unreadiness, Bill said. "College will make him ready for college."  Mic drop.

Of course it will.  I was not the picture of maturity when I went off to college either, I suppose.  I wanted to go, yes, but I was still kind of homesick and certainly far from mature.  Bill reminded me that  Colton’s older siblings weren’t exactly ready for college when they went.  That’s true.  guess it’s just that it’s been 7 years since I sent an unready kid off to college, and seeing them now, it’s hard to remember that they were just as {insert pejorative} when they went. 

Knitters experience much the same regardless of where we are in our knitting journey. We’re never fully ready to take that next step, but we have to just do it.  We could practice those increases and decreases, cast ons and seams all day long, but doing them in the context of that first project is completely different.  We just have to dive in head first.  We learn the skills we need when we need them, and not before. 

The most important part, though, is getting past the readiness paralysis. We have to give ourselves permission to be not perfect.  We have to give ourselves permission to mess up completely, because it’s only when we remove the expectation of perfection or even of greatness.  We have to empower ourselves to go forth and try—to do it badly and learn from our mistakes, to make a first effort, and a second, and however many we need. 

As we celebrate Independence Day this weekend, and the release of the smash musical Hamilton as a movie, I think about how young and inexperienced our founding fathers all were. By no means ready for the roles of leadership and statesmanship thrust on them.  But as the lyrics go, they were  “…young, scrappy, and hungry…” and their first draft was far from perfect. 

Whether it’s going off to college, building a new nation, or starting a challenging new project, it’s okay to start before we’re ready and learn along the way.