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‘Cat in the Stacks: The Myth of Feeling “Ready”

  • Posted by: Michelle Callaghan
  • Posted Date: April 28, 2016
  • Filed Under: Library News

CAT-STAX4

 I’m Michelle Callaghan, a second-year graduate student at Villanova University. This is our new column, “‘Cat in the Stacks.” I’m the ‘cat. Falvey Memorial Library is the stacks. I’ll be posting about living that scholarly life, from research to study habits to embracing your inner-geek, and how the library community might aid you in all of it.


“If we wait until we’re ready, we’ll be waiting for the rest of our lives.”
― Lemony Snicket, The Ersatz Elevator

railroad tracks going into the distance, perhaps unfinished

Here it is – my last finals pep talk! And as I gear up to stare the Real World (™) right in the eye, I’ve realized something. All those feel-good positive vibe memes about not waiting until you “feel ready” to take action are absolutely true. Not because it’s some fancy lifehack, but because the truth is, you are never going to feel ready.

You’ll only ever feel ready enough.

Now before you use this as an excuse to slack on studying, don’t. (I know you won’t, but just in case!) You still have to do the work to be prepared to the best of your ability. But if you are struggling with the fact that no matter how hard you try you cannot predict every question on your final, or you can’t predict your professor’s opinion on your paper, take a deep breath and read on.

When we procrastinate, we joke that we’re being lazy. But we’re not. We watch Netflix and take “What Color is Your Aura?” quizzes and stalk grade school acquaintances on Facebook because we’re, well, a little bit wary. We’re afraid of the uncertainty underlying our to-do list. We think, wow, I could study all night and still not get an A. I could write this paper and then a day later find the perfect resource that would’ve absolutely changed my thesis from the ground up. Well, yes, these things are possible. And yes, these thoughts can paralyze us. But that’s the real challenge behind finals: you have to do your best and forget the rest.

You will never, ever feel ready. Feeling completely ready, accounting for every possible outcome in life, is a total myth. Perfection isn’t real. Certainty is fantasy.

But you can feel ready enough and that is a beautiful thing. You will feel vulnerable but you will also feel daring. And great things happen in the space between dedicated preparation and diving into the abyss to take on the unpredictable.

Good luck, Wildcats.

a cat stares into an abyss


Article by Michelle Callaghan, graduate assistant on the Communication and Service Promotion team. She is currently pursuing her MA in English at Villanova University.


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Last Modified: April 28, 2016