Real Talk: I’m a chronic under-preparer

On the first day of my yoga teacher training, I felt wildly unprepared. After ninety minutes of a heated yoga class to kick things off, I was back to my current reality. My hips were propped up on a yoga block, my legs crossed on my mat, my back straight and eyes staring ahead at our teacher. She told us to bring our first reading assignment to this first night, and as I sat there trying to maintain composure (uh, posture), I wondered. Am I the only one in here who showed up completely unprepared? With no good reason, I might add. Just some typical personal procrastination. Standard.

I knew we were supposed to read through the entire book BEFORE this night. But I didn’t. In fact, I didn’t even order it until the week prior, because I forgot to check the reading requirements. I knew this unpreparedness would feel uncomfortable, yet I did nothing to avoid it. Not even the ONE SIMPLE THING I could have done: read the damn book.

yoga training

Lo and behold, I made it through those 200 hours of teacher training. (And I did eventually read that book!)

— — — —

On Tuesday, I pulled into the middle school’s parking lot, half an hour early for my first Girls on the Run (GOTR) practice. I attended the training webinar last week. On Monday afternoon, I went through the two-hour online training (because I missed both in-person options). Preparedness: (semi) check!

I had reached out to the volunteer contact multiple times to be honest about my comfort level being the Head Coach, because I applied to be an Assistant Coach and our house is in shambles and actually we’re staying half an hour outside of Arlington, and also, I’m pregnant. I’m committed, I said, but I don’t think I have the capacity to LEAD a team, especially in my first season. I feel unprepared. I didn’t sign up for this.

Except, I know, I did sign up for exactly this.

I signed up as a volunteer to give my time and energy to this team of young girls who want to run and make friends after school. I signed up to actively help this team of volunteer women—not sit on the sidelines observing and pretending to be “involved.” I offered my hands, my time, my feet, and my voice to an organization that aligns so perfectly with the work I do, and work I want to do, for active females.

Maybe I also signed up to belong to a team myself.

I definitely signed up because now, for the first time in my adult life, my schedule is flexible enough to do so. (That may not even be the case in four months.) And maybe I signed up because it’s something I’ve said “I want to do” for so long that I can’t just keep saying it anymore. And because that list of “want to do” things is long, yet I keep adding other things to my “actually doing” list. I want to start balancing those two lists out.

So, I at least tried to avoid being unprepared.

I sat in the auditorium, thirty minutes early, waiting for someone to show up and take the wheel. I sat waiting for the GOTR team member who was going to “help” me lead this practice. (Please lead the whole thing! I thought.) I waited for the site liaison, who would tell me what to do. I waited, and wondered, Why did I add this to my calendar? Why did I think this could fit in? Why do I feel SO uncomfortable?

Why, even though I did the training, do I feel so unprepared and unfit for this role?

The inner monologue felt akin to the starting line of a marathon.

WHY did I put myself in this position? The main, very obvious, difference being that a marathon is three to four straight hours of testing your personal limits after about four months of training and preparing to do so. (Though, truth be told, I’ve also felt unprepared for a marathon. Also of my own doing.) And this? This was a low-key practice, with 11-13 year olds, who had few expectations. This was something that could even be really fun, and far more impactful than running another marathon for personal achievement. This was just slightly out of my comfort zone, but I had help. I had a Head Coach du jour, straight from the GOTR office. I wasn’t on my own. I wasn’t completely unprepared, so why did I feel that way?

The girls showed up.

That’s the only thing we ever have to do.

They showed up in sneakers and school clothes, with backpacks and shy smiles on. They showed up ready to see what GOTR was all about. They didn’t ask many questions; they took in a LOT of information. They showed up ready to run, without even knowing what that run would look or feel like. They said they showed up because they want to run more, make friends, and do something to fill their after school time until they can go home. They showed up and all they asked, without even asking, was that we do the same for them.

I led the last activity of the practice.

After being asked three times by my Coach-du-jour, I finally said, “Sure, I’ll do this one.” Because I know I’ll be leading a lot of activities over the next sixteen weeks, so I have to start somewhere. I have to show up eventually, prepared or not.

It’s not enough to be there, with my Heart & Sole t-shirt on. I have to participate. I have to be engaged. I have to fulfill the duties I said I would–that I said I wanted to help with. I have meet these girls in the middle. Next week—with high hopes that it won’t be 90 degrees out again—I’ll join them for a few laps. We’ll all go from there.

— — — — —

Even if you feel unprepared for that next step, try just showing up. Schedule a free phone call. Attend a RD Real Talk event. Ask questions.

— — — — —

It’s so uncomfortable to feel unprepared.

I sense this with clients who meet me for their first session, runners who are tackling their first “really long” or hard run, and new dietitians who are unsure how to navigate the profession. I’ve felt it so many times myself. I know the fear that unpreparedness conjures up so quickly, its willing and eager sidekick. I know the mantra it plays on repeat, wanting you to believe: “You shouldn’t have done this. You’re not ready.”

But, thanks to experiences like this first day at practice or the first day at yoga teacher training, I know that even if we FEEL unprepared, we’re there for a reason.

We showed up.

You scheduled the session, hired a coach, reached out for help, volunteered your skills, or asked a question. Someone responded. And here we are. Moving forward.

If you feel unprepared, let it sink and settle. Don’t let it move you backward, though. Don’t listen to its message. Sit there in the discomfort, knowing you showed up, and that’s where we start.


  1. September 29, 2017

    I think most people can relate to this post ~ everyone has had the experience of being unprepared. . . thanks for sharing your thoughts.

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