Reality of Being a Perfectionist & Dreamer
“When I grow up I am going to be a veterinarian/hotel owner and I am going to become very rich so I can own lots of pets and travel the world!” I enthusiastically insisted at age 4. My childhood certainly does not fall short of stories that exemplify these imaginative visions, and the step by step plan of exactly how I wanted them to happen. Of course this was not something that I was truly going to pursue, however these early ideas were quite indicative of future plans and aspirations.
For years I have had an idealistic mindset when it comes to projects or trips I have in mind. Tons of my free time used to be spent planning grand ideas in detail in the comfort of my own bedroom, but I rarely transformed those idealized plans into a reality. I believe we all have those influences that inhibit us from following a passion pursuit. This could be a personal fear, or especially in today’s digital age, the prevalence of the “perfect” lives plastered all over social media which seem to epitomize a pinnacle that we could never live up to. Perfectionism, undeniably has been my primary inhibitor ever since I was really young. Perfectionism in turn, has manifested in my procrastination. The possibilities within new adventures have always exhilarated me, however the risk factors of imperfection, uncertainty, or failure involved with change, have terrified me.
Acting on Bucket-Lists
Bucket-Lists: no matter who you are, you probably have your own version of one. Most likely, many of those things on the list you haven’t done because you have years to do them right? The problem with this mindset is that you let too much time pass without ever doing what you really want to do, then the opportunity passes. Recently having completed my first year of college at the University of Arizona, I have had some time to reflect on things I have done, and even more time to think about where I am headed. We are always told that college is supposed to be the best years of our lives, but I really only think this is true if the extra initiative to make things happen exists, regardless of the outcome. Sitting with google documents of all of my uncompleted adventures, and vicariously watching YouTube travel videos is fun and all, but ultimately sitting back behind a screen just isn’t personally fulfilling, particularly during college. I have become more of a podcast enthusiast lately and one of my favorites is the Hidden Brain series by NPR. Their episode “Close Enough” does a fantastic job of highlighting the issues and trends in this generation of vicarious living. The consumption of all of this media we have access to makes us inaccurately feel like we are learning more and experiencing more. Though these videos may inspire us, they are not our stories or our own accomplishments.
Pursue your passion. Stop seeking validation.
Making things happen successfully, often involves the ability to prioritize. My belief is that as long as we feel genuinely validated, happy, and fulfilled with the decisions we choose to make for ourselves, then this is the right way to go. Time and time again I have learned that it is impossible to please everyone and much more important to feel personally fulfilled by prioritizing things that truly make us happy. Coming to my own realizations, I knew that college would allow me the freedom to take control and choose my own path so I could find a more significant personal meaning in the things I pursued. Of course, it takes time to discover a passion, and this does not happen without trial and error. With much thought about my future, I decided to declare business as my major in college. My long days of AP classes, competitive dance, and involvement in DECA were coming to a close. Beyond ecstatic, I left behind a seemingly past-life chapter and began a new one at the University of Arizona in fall 2018.
Trading Perpetual Rain for the Desert
Bundled up on the couch with a hot coffee and the sounds of thunderous rain among evergreen trees is a standard day in my home of the Pacific Northwest… even in the middle of July. This gloomy PNW weather along with the cactus obsession I coincidentally developed many years ago in Mexico, made me long for life in the desert. Trading the perpetual rain of Washington for the desert and cacti of Tucson, Arizona was a dream that I was going to be turning into real life plans. Moving away to Arizona, however, did not come without a whole lifestyle change too, but it was just the change I needed. The weather was just a fraction of the shift I would be experiencing, as the social culture in no way compared to home either. Living in a new dorm, gaining suite-mates, and being enrolled in a new set of classes was just the foundation of all of the changes.
Stepping Outside of a Label
I guarantee that my choice to go to the University of Arizona, with the images of massive dj parties and such a social culture was confusing to some, as my label has typically been “introvert”. Labels are commonly being tagged on all of us whether we are blatantly aware of them or not. Even though they may be accurate in some circumstances, conforming ourselves entirely to them is surely not a requirement. It was important to me to ignore the confinement of this label so it did not prevent me from chasing one of my greatest bucket-list items: having the college experience I truly desired.
A Change in Lifestyle
Pop culture movies like Legally Blonde, Neighbors, and Animal House allow our imaginations to run wild with different versions of what college could be like. My own quintessential ideas of college including joining a sorority, making the Dean's list, studying abroad, and the list goes on, consumed my idealistic mind for months, along with numerous fears I held onto. Dropping the perfectionist mindset was necessary as I became immersed in a lively campus consumed with chasing opportunity, making social connections, especially in the Greek system, and funny enough, being ”trendy”.
Sorority recruitment was my first glimpse into the competitive social culture of the U of A. The week-long process done in the 100 degree August heat was absolutely exhausting, but beyond rewarding. I am well aware of the numerous stereotypes that surround the life of a sorority girl. Experiencing it for myself, I grasped my own insight into the value in being a part of a sorority which goes way beyond the trendy Instagram pages. The sorority that I joined was more than I could have asked for as I was surrounded by a sea of strong-charactered, academically motivated, and wildly fun sorority sisters who I would consider to be my best friends. In truth, this was not an instant gain as being new, knowing no one, and being naturally reserved presented me with challenges in finding my place for the first two months among a pledge class of at least 110 girls. Over time as I learned to incorporate my newly found Arizona style with genuinely being myself, I fell into making the most authentic group of friends, and gaining a wonderful sorority family.
Eller, EDM, and Everything in Between
Partying with my parents at a fraternity on family weekend; Taking an 8 hour bus ride from Tucson to Disneyland with my sorority sisters; Having a snow day in Southern Arizona; Spending school nights laughing with my best friend/roommate until we realized the sun was rising… these are just a few of the in betweens of my freshman experiences. They are some of the moments that define my memorable first year. Personally, I hold a deep value for education. Equally, I desire having a memorable college experience filled with a lifetime of ridiculously wild or even embarrassing stories to tell rather than having no stories at all. No stories happen by staying at home.
Balancing every aspect of the freshman experience was no doubt a challenge. Before going out, I spent many nights on the 4th floor of the library with my laptop and iced coffee, at a desk spot overlooking the palm trees that lined the green mall of the beautiful campus. In college, you often have to sacrifice a bit of one of three things: social life, education, or sleep. I would say I sacrificed sleep and I don’t regret it at all. Academic success and the stories that came out of experiencing my freshman year at the U of A exceedingly made up for it. My aspirations of eventually getting into the Eller College of Management, and simultaneously experiencing the unique energy of the U of A’s edm dj parties, allowed no time to sit back in the comfort of my own room. I ditched the idealistic expectations I had about college which made my first year absolutely unforgettable.
A Dreamer Being a Doer & Embracing Imperfection
My most powerful take away this year: chasing adventures and passions with my whole heart imperfectly, would always be more fulfilling than planning perfectly but never doing. Even though I am not a rich veterinarian/ hotel owner like my imaginative 4 year old self had hoped for, I am currently living out one of my greatest bucket-list items in creating college memories and travelling every opportunity I can.
Time and opportunity
Since I can remember, I have had a passion for writing, and starting a blog has been in the back of my mind for years. I never felt like I could create a post perfectly enough, so the procrastination set in. Sometimes you just have to dive in and do it. Creating this site is a piece of my journey in making my dreams actually happen regardless of the challenges, imperfection, and uncertainty.
What to expect on Oh! Mia Gabrielle
My page will be focused on my experiences regarding what it means to make the most of college, the accounts of my travel experiences, and all around making personal dreams happen during the chaos of college life. My hope is to give you the encouragement to chase after your dreams that you have put on the back burner and to spontaneously take that trip you’ve only dreamed about taking.
Keep up with me this summer 2019 as I complete my camping and road trip endeavors in Banff, Canada… originally one of my many archived travel plans.