At the beginning of June, I was super excited to end my sophomore year at Wake Forest: I had received my highest GPA, gotten accepted into multiple leadership and honors organizations, and most importantly, was offered a dream internship at a well-respected nonprofit in my hometown of Memphis, Tenn.
My internship was to plan and coordinate a large-scale youth event that would host more than 800 middle and high schoolers in the Mid-South. The non-profit, BRIDGES, is dedicated to honing team building and leadership skills amongst all youth in Memphis.
"This will be a piece of cake," I thought to myself. "Who knows leadership and hard-
work better than me? I'm the hardest working girl I know."
As part of my internship, I was in charge of booking the entertainment acts for the event. I put together a tentative schedule of the times and locations the performers would be coming. I wrote contracts, constant "reminder" emails, made phone calls, and organized meetings.
But despite my efforts, the schedule did not pan out at all on the day of the event: microphones were fuzzy, sound systems were messing up, dancers arrived late, and the audience was not engaged with my first singer/song-writer at all.
To top it off, my closing act did not even arrive on time and could not perform in his designated space at his designated time. We had to coordinate with the DJs to book him at a later time during the dance party.
This was not the first dysfunction to happen with my internship. I also was in charge of booking instructors to teach workshops to the students. As part of their agreement to teach, they had to sign and write a contract summarizing their workshops.
Of course, contracts were late. A couple were so slow that I had to write the agreements myself and get them approved by the instructors. I was already questioning my decision to book a couple of presenters who failed to get in contact with me about coming to the event.
As I shuffled back and forth between the classrooms and the amphitheater of the event, all I wanted to do was go home.
Nothing was going as planned. Who says hard work really does pay off? Mine was not. This turned out to be the biggest blessing.
The entertainer that arrived late ended up singing at a space and time that better showcased his performing style and the fickle workshop presenters were some of the most beloved teachers.
It turned out to be one of the organization's most successful events. With over 900 students attending, we set a new record.
As a college student, I know the benefits of working hard, setting goals, and aiming high. But I was also given a lesson in fantasizing about certain ideas of "perfection." One of the most important ideas one can learn from event planning and in life is flexibility.
While certain Type-A, obsessive personalities like myself want to plan everything out, write out schedules, and concoct these images of what we believe is the "best," often what we believe is right is not always what is suitable.
Whether we are chasing after a "dream," guy, lusting after a top-name university or are settled on working at a particular company, our ideas of "perfection" are not really perfection. They are fantasies.
Whether it is in music, school, or my relationship with friends and family, I see there is no "one" way to sing a song, write a paper or demonstrate kindness. There is no "one" plan destined for me: There are several.
So as college students, interns, and future leaders of the world, I say "no" to planning out perfection and "yes," to fabulous flexibility.