"I'm not ready."

I hear this often when people talk about why they haven't started to pursue their passions. "I haven't learned enough. I need more supplies. I need more time. I haven't practiced enough."

My response:

"How will you know when you're ready?"

99% of the time the answer is, "I have no idea."

Being ready to pursue creative work is tough. Often there is no certificate, no graduation, no significant marker that says, "Ok, now you're ready. Go create." But the truth is there's no amount of preparation that will ever make you feel completely ready. Did I feel completely ready to be a therapist when I got out of grad school? Hell no! But I had to start. Because the only way you can know whether or not you're ready to do something is to actually do it.

How many times have you heard a success story about someone who just jumped into a profession without really knowing what they were doing? Stories like that are SO annoying! We often jealously chalk stories like that up to coincidence and luck. But the main difference between that person and the rest of us, is that that person had the humility to accept that didn't know what they were doing and the courage to just dive in and learn as they went.

When we say we're not ready, what we're really saying is that we're afraid. Probably afraid of screwing up, being seen, or being judged and criticized. We're afraid of what it will do to us when we get right up close to our dreams. It's scary to pursue a dream. What if you fail? What if it turns out you don't like it? Then what?

It's scary to show people your art. It puts you in a very vulnerable spot. You open yourself up to SO much. Think about all the hating and judging you see from your friends on social media every day. We live in a culture of constant criticism. So that fear you feel? Totally valid. 

But it's not an excuse to limit yourself.

I know you're afraid. I know you don't feel ready. But I also know you've got something amazing and uniquely you to share with the world. Someone out there is waiting for it. They want to read it, see it, hear it, smell it, taste it. Someone is ready to be thrilled, moved, and inspired by you. Gather your courage, balls, ovaries, chutzpah, whatever you want to call it, and start now.

And when you get afraid of what people will say when you show them what you've got, keep this incredible quote from Theodore Roosevelt in mind:

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly."

I'm ready to see YOU. 

I challenge you to do something courageous today. Share something you've made, something you're working on, or even just the start of your creative journey on Instagram with the hashtag #courageouscreatives and tag me @empoweringcreatives. I may even repost what you have to share.

Or share your work, links, images, writings, thoughts, ramblings, whatever you'd like in the comments below.

You'll never be truly ready, so you might as well start now.