So I’ve decided to try something new this holiday season. Those of you who are avid YouTube lovers may have heard of this little thing called “Vlogmas”, whereby YouTubers upload a video-blog (vlog) highlighting their daily lives throughout the month of December.
I’ve decided to do the same thing, except in blog-post form– aka, “Blogmas”! This routine will keep me motivated to write a little bit each day, as well as get out and share exciting adventures with you guys!
As I mentioned in Climbing Out of a Rut, I’m currently going through what I think is a bit of seasonal depression and post-finals “existential crisis”– basically low motivation to do, really, anything. It’s been pretty difficult to drag myself out of bed lately. This cycle of depressive feelings is nothing new to me, but the hole I’ve dug myself into is taking a little longer than usual to climb out of. But, you know what? I have faith that I can get back on track. I still have 19 days of winter break left, and I plan on making the most of it!
Today was pretty uneventful. I actually caught a cold a few days back, after making the poor decision to go running outside at 5 a.m. without wearing enough layers. So these past few days have been devoted to recovering from the cold. Yesterday, I had a really fun Christmas-outing in San Francisco with some old friends from high school! We took Bart from Millbrae to Powell Street in SF and soaked in the beautiful holiday decor of the city. My favorite memory of that day was the sitting down inside a Mediterranean restaurant and doing a Christmas gift exchange. The seven of us were all smiles, with the spirit of giving, laughter and friendship permeating the air.
The only downside of yesterday was that, due to the chilly SF breeze, my cold got worse. Upon arriving home last night, I ate dinner and went straight to bed, as the excitement and exhaustion of the outing caught up to my already-depleted immune system. I fell asleep at 8:00 p.m. and woke up at nearly 1:00 p.m. this afternoon. Talk about a late start to the day!
I’m proud of myself for getting some work done today. I got a head start on an upcoming article for the Daily Bruin (UCLA’s premier newspaper), which discusses the psychology of New Year’s Resolutions. To rebuild my focus stamina, I downloaded the free app, “Focus Keeper”. It’s basically a timer that sets 25 minute intervals, during which time you are 100% focused on your work. Following the 25 minutes of work are 5 minutes of break time. The app has really helped me build the habit of refraining from distractions while reading, studying, or writing.
In addition to writing, I continued to look for potential undergraduate research positions of interest. A big part of being a pre-med student is boosting your resume for med school with the “pre-med extracurriculars”, one of them being undergraduate research. A lot of my freshman pre-med friends have already started working at a lab this past fall quarter, which makes me feel a little behind. No matter, though! I still have fifteen quarters (including summer quarters) left of my college career, so there’s no need to stress.
I’ve been doing a lot of reading lately. Currently finishing up Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning. In this eye-opening read, Frankl chronicles his harrowing experiences inside Auschwitz and other Nazi concentration camps. Through his travails, he came to the conclusion that no matter how terrible man’s external circumstances, nothing can take away “the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” I highly recommend this book to everyone. If you read Albert Camus’s The Plague, you’ll see many apparent similarities between Camus’s literary existentialism and Frankl’s idea of “self-transcendence”, or rising above one’s circumstances.
In addition to Frankl’s book, I’m in the middle of Eleanor Roosevelt’s autobiography. One of my all-time favorite quotes of hers is, “You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.'” As a person with anxiety, I definitely have my fair share of fears to overcome. When I get nervous before a big performance or speech, I always remind myself of what Eleanor said. In fact, when Eleanor was young, she disliked being in the public eye and absolutely hated public speaking! But through lots of practice and “[looking] fear in the face”, she was able to battle her formerly gripping fear.
At around 7:15 p.m. I had dinner with my mom, dad, and cousin (who is going back to China tomorrow morning). My brother Austin was out watching a movie with friends, while my grandmother was asleep in her room. She seems to have caught a cold after heading to Chinatown this morning in the super windy weather. We were worried about her, since she slept the entire day without eating anything! At around 8:00 p.m., she finally emerged from her room and looked a lot better than she did earlier.
After dinner, I read a bit more and started writing this blog post. At around 8:45 p.m., my mom decided to take me and my cousin out to look at Christmas decorations. I didn’t want to risk getting sicker, so I stayed in the car, while my cousin walked around the San Carlos neighborhood and soaked in the stunning lights. In China, people do celebrate Christmas, but it isn’t common practice to put up extravagant Christmas lights like they do here. My cousin, then, was understandably fascinated by the holiday enthusiasm of Americans!
We got back from sight-seeing about fifteen minutes ago, and I’ve since been typing this blog post. Austin is still not home, and my grandma is watching television. My dad is preparing for work tomorrow– he’s currently in the middle of a seven-day work week before he can take a Christmas break. Words can’t describe how tremendously grateful I am for my dad and all he does for the family, as well as other people. I feel guilty that he’s supporting three kids in college at the same time… Once I learn to manage my time better and get acclimated to the college quarter system, I will definitely look into getting an on-campus job, working either as an EMT or a writing tutor at UCLA’s Writing Center.
It’s 9:43 p.m. right now, and I want to go to bed early so I can wake up on time tomorrow. I plan on shadowing an OBGYN doctor in outpatient surgery tomorrow morning, so I definitely want to be well-rested to get the most out of the experience. I’m also looking forward to reuniting with my other brother, Chris, tomorrow night! He’s over at University of Michigan, which runs on the semester system, so his winter break starts much later than mine and Austin’s. Chris was actually scheduled to return on 12/22, but since his last final– a piano performance– is tomorrow morning, my mom decided to book an earlier flight so he could come home earlier and spend more time with us! I haven’t seen Chris in nearly 4 months, and I was completely ecstatic upon hearing that he’d be returning earlier than expected.
So I hope you guys enjoyed my first “Blogmas” post of this month! Stay tuned for more tomorrow!