Climbing Out of a Rut

It’s nearly 4:00 a.m. as I am writing this post. I’m still on that college sleep schedule of sleeping late and waking up late… I actually fell asleep at 8:30 p.m. after a fun and exhausting day of Christmas shopping, only to wake up at 11:45 p.m., unable to fall back asleep.

So here I am, writing away… And I need to make a confession to you all.

Ever since I came home from UCLA last Friday, I’ve been living in a sort of daze. A plateau period of low motivation and lack of “fight”. A rut.

As I mentioned in Post-Finals Reflection, I have a tendency to feel lost and low after accomplishing a feat or completing a milestone– in this case, successfully completing my first quarter at UCLA. I told you guys that I was determined to break this cycle of post-achievement depression by setting new goals for myself and working towards accomplishing them.

I have to apologize, though, for I have not practiced what I’ve preached. For reasons I’m still trying to decipher, I have not been my usual motivated self this past week. I have not been working hard each day to grow myself. Coming into winter break, I had all sorts of goals in mind– incorporate running and meditation into my daily routine, get my sleep schedule back on track, write a blog post each day, prepare for next quarter’s classes, read a lot of books, and catch up on dancing.

Sadly, I can’t say I’ve been making great strides towards accomplishing most of these goals.

It’s so strange. For nearly my whole life, I always saw myself as disciplined, hard-working and goal-oriented. Very type-A and hungry to achieve. My therapist has described me as being “unusually motivated, even for a pre-med student”. So how can I reconcile my behavior of the past week with my long-standing identity as a hard-working person?

I guess the answer is, people change, for better or for worse. When I was young, discipline was all I ever knew. To relax, let loose and have fun was a foreign concept to young Belicia. This girl was a machine… she was disciplined beyond her years. She identified so strongly with having an incredible work ethic– knowing that she could work harder than anyone else was her greatest source of pride.

The truth is, I am no longer that same girl. My life circumstances have changed. I got injured, and I was forced out of the world of competitive athletics. It took me a long time to come to terms with the truth that, from the moment I left the gymnastics world four years ago, I’ve grown soft. I’ve allowed my discipline to slip, little by little.

According to my therapist, this so-called “loss of discipline” may not be as bad as I perceive it to be. Maybe it’s indicative of growth– a transition from a very extreme way of thinking to a healthier, more balanced way of living. Perhaps she’s right. But a part of me still looks back to the “gymnastics days”, and wishes I could regain at least some of the discipline I had in the past.

Now, I don’t know if life warrants the extreme amount of discipline that a highly competitive and difficult sport like gymnastics did. But I do know that, if one wants to achieve any goal, having a certain level of structure and discipline is the only way to do it. And lately, I’ve had neither structure nor discipline nor commitment to my goals.

I am disappointed in myself for allowing myself to slip as I’ve done this past week, and I apologize to my readers for not staying true to my message of personal growth.

What I’ve come to realize, however, is that just like life, one’s habits and levels of motivation are in dynamic motion. We all experience highs and lows. We have periods of intense motivation and periods of lethargy. It’s all a part of being human.

This is me at a low point. It’s me struggling to find strength to get up each morning and fight towards my goals.

I think the best attitude to adopt in periods such as these is that of the growth mindset, or knowledge that you have the power to change for the better. You have the power to turn your life around, no matter how deep the hole you’ve dug yourself into. You have the power to eliminate destructive habits and build up healthier ones. Each day brings a new opportunity for change. If you ever find yourself in a rut, like I am currently in, firstly realize that it’s all part of being human.We slip up sometimes. There will always be days when we really, really don’t want to get out of bed, or when we don’t feel any fight within. However, in the words of a good friend and truly inspirational person, “How I feel is irrelevant compared to what I need to do to get what I want/need out of life.”

We are all collectively navigating the tumultuous waters of life, with some more experienced and knowledgeable than others. If you guys have any advice for people struggling to find motivation and strength to move forward each day, please do share.





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