As my adventure grows closer, I begin to think more and more about how to prepare myself. I’ve made my packing and shopping lists- batteries, toothpaste, a medical kit, peanut butter to hide away and eat when I need to taste America- and my to do list of all the tasks I have yet to accomplish before I leave- finish thank you notes, clean my room, buy my boyfriend a going away present, and so on. Beyond the obvious preparations, however, I am considering the mental ones I must make as well. You see, sometimes I am so excited to go to Ecuador I feel I may burst, and other times I am so nervous, I have to close my eyes, breathe, and tell myself “I still have x many weeks left. Chill.”  I am trying to let go of all the expectations and preconceived notions I have about my Global Citizen Year experience and walk into it, ready for whatever comes my way without feeling jilted or disappointed because it is not the picture I painted in my mind. I am wading through the fear of being away from my friends, boyfriend and family members for 8 months. I am becoming comfortable with not knowing exactly what lays ahead of me and settling in with the unexpected. And I am opening up to myself, viewing myself with all my flaws and shortcomings and setting goals for the future.

While there are a lot of things I hope to gain on my trip, such as the ability to take life a little less seriously and have some more fun, knowledge about how to help move this wonderful world in a positive direction, and many great friends and memories, there are also a few things I am preparing to leave behind. Over the past few years I have cultivated a growing anxiety, which stems from my misguided notion that I must achieve perfection in this life. This chase of mine is very intrusive on my mind- I sometimes try to put myself in a better light than others, showing off to make myself feel validated in my pursuits. I also have a tendency to stare at myself and my imperfections for so long, trying to make them disappear under my hardened stare, that I don’t look around at the people around me. I forget that the world is not filled with so much beauty and dripping with knowledge and possibility because I am here to experience it all- it would be so even if I had never lived. I am not and will never be the center of the universe, and my perfection is important to no one. When I was younger, all I wanted to do was to make people feel happy and good about themselves. As I got older, I bent under the pressure to be perfect and I got lost within myself. But true love and joy comes from human interaction, affection and closeness, and the opportunity to lay all of your imperfection down on the table and still be loved. I hope that when I go to the lovely country of Ecuador, I will be done with my chase and the I will never again miss an opportunity for a true friendship because I am too caught up in the impossible, cold and utterly lonely myth that is “perfection.”