An overview will probably help settle some restless energies. I'm basing this on my own present state, the signals I receive, and the postings of those across 2 forums.
WHEN!? Look at a rose bush full of buds. They don't coordinate a day or hour to all bloom at once: they are individually unfolding. There wasn't a time-limit placed on any one of those buds, other than Autumn, which is a long ways off, yet.
What if I'm not GOOD ENOUGH!? Only you...and past traumatic events...tell you that you're not good enough. The universe does not gaze upon you with the social~economic pressures your society does. We have suggested that you address past traumas and feelings of indadequacy to help you get beyond the feeling of unworthiness. Consider ascension your preparation for a trip you'll never return from: do you wish to place in your baggage every strap your father beat you with, every embarrassing trick your brother played on you, and every failed relationship? I think not. For myself, this opportunity to let go of all those things is a blessing, because I've carried them for far too long, to no avail. Those events are dust now, alive only in our minds, keeping us from blooming.
What happens if I miss the ascension, or haven't done enough work before it happens?
No one will "miss" the ascension: ascension is already happening. It is the "Shift" that is the event that all will experience, and by its very nature, the vibrational event that announces it, in some cases, will cancel out many of your old discordant energies without any effort on your part. If your are still working on issues, Grace is extended because it is seen you're making an honest effort. "Each according to his works" means also that your intentions will take you far in your endeavors, pre or post ascension and Shift.
Therefore: "ascension" is the process we're all going through. "The Shift" is the most noteable event to occur as a result of ascension. The Shift is when cosmic vibrations have established the changes mandated by Divine Law and the energies in the universe, contingent upon and in reaction to all karmic frequencies. Think of something familiar to your own personal experience: puberty. When did puberty start? When did it end? The answers are similar to those regarding the ascension and Shift: there's no specific answer for the crowd. And interestingly, the symptoms are similar, because a similar cellular restructuring is occurring within you.
What about my family? If each person concentrates on what they need to do within their own auric field, the rest takes care of itself. And worrying about exterior situations does no one any good. Your intentions of love for all are sufficient to create a karmic buffer in many situations. But just as trying to "convert" a family member to a foreign religion or sect is near to impossible, the ascension is nothing you can impose upon them. The best you can do is share how you feel, what you're experiencing, and what it means to you.
In true spirituality, there is no "converting", and there is no "spreading the gospel". There is living the ideal, and teaching by that example.
Is this directly related to 2012? 2012 is a mark in cosmic timing. The ascension and the Shift are in synchronicity with that timing. Again, worrying about "the end of the world" wastes time that could be better applied to self-mastery, kind acts and enjoying nature. "Worry is paying interest on a loan you probably won't need." "What everybody else says" and what everybody "else" does is either entirely of their folly, or wisdom. It is again recommended that, instead of looking outward, you look inward.
During puberty, was there 'hierarchy'? Not really: just those a bit more advanced than you, and those yet to arrive. Those ahead of you probably helped answer questions and gave advise from experience. Did you control the timescale of puberty? No, you did not: you agonised with it until one day, it was over. Boy, THEN your life got interesting!
And like puberty, ascension arrives with some degree of responsibility. Just as puberty allowed you to get someone pregnant or become pregnant, ascension energies will affect a broader range of life more quickly, more obviously, and in some cases, more harmfully (if not used with discernment).