Winter Quarter Pre-Finals Rant: Obsessive Achieving and Heartbreak

Hey guys! It’s currently Monday night at 11:43 p.m. as I’m writing this post. These past few days, my life has been consumed with one thing: studying. I have an exam for my GE on Thursday and a chemistry final on Sunday. My math final, thankfully, is not until next Thursday, so I’m not worrying about it yet.

I think at this point– week 10– most college students are dying a little bit inside. I know I am. I’ve been much too liberal with my diet (I’m too scared to even step on a scale at this point) and my sleep schedule has been pretty screwed up. This morning, I woke up late for my 9:00 a.m. math lecture and missed the first half of Professor Conley’s instruction. Thankfully, the lecture is “Bruincasted”, or recorded and posted online, so I can just watch it on my own time.

I honestly don’t know what prompted me to write this post. Really, I should be studying. But everyone deserves a little study break, right? These past couple days, I’ve practically been living in my floor’s lounge, suitcase filled with books, flashcards and study material laying open by my side. I’ve had peers tell me, “Belicia, I wish I were more studious like you,” or “Belicia, teach me how to be more disciplined.” I guess my response to these comments is, in life, you shouldn’t settle for anything less than your best. At least, that is what I tell myself each day. Finals are coming, and, like with every challenge I face in life, I tackle it with resolve and bravery. I want to walk out of that exam room knowing I gave it my all, and there was nothing more I could have possibly done to prepare for that exam. It’s a satisfying feeling, knowing that you’ve stretched yourself to new heights in the process of achieving. Of course, getting an A+ is a good feeling, but what is even greater is the peace of mind that you put your best foot forward in the pursuit of your goals, and the personal growth that ensues.

I spoke to my mom on the phone today, and I asked her, “Mom, what must I do to grant you peace of mind? What do you want from me? Good grades? Will you be satisfied if I get straight A’s in college? Because that, I believe I can do.”

My mother’s reply: “Belicia, while I would like you to do well in school, I also want you to be happy and live a balanced life. Don’t go too extreme in academics. Enjoy life– you deserve it.” I wasn’t really expecting to hear this from her. The same Asian “Tiger” mom who, throughout middle school and high school, pushed my brothers and me to always strive to be better. I just want to make my parents proud. I don’t want them to worry so much about me. But I feel like her asking me to “be happy” and “live a balanced life” is just too tall of a request at the moment. How do I reconcile my obsession to ACHIEVE with this romanticized societal ideal of work-life-balance? I’ve never been one to believe in balance, especially not when I’m young and brimming with potential calling to be fulfilled. Most high achievers and successful people share the same sentiment. I don’t have much of a concept of what it is to live a “balanced” life. I don’t know if it is right to assume that living a life of balance is the sole path to happiness and fulfillment for all. Some people derive happiness from pouring themselves into their passions and achieving greatness in their respective fields. Have you guys ever watched the movies “Whiplash” or “Black Swan”? In both films, a young artist devotes their lives utterly and completely to their respective arts. One scene in “Whiplash” resonates with me in particular. It is the scene where the protagonist Andrew, a young aspiring Jazz percussionist, is discovered by an esteemed (but highly abusive) mentor and is accepted into a prestigious music company. Motivated by this achievement, Andrew devotes every second of his life thereafter to his music training. He drags his mattress into his small, dimly-lit practice studio. Each morning, he wakes up at 4:00 a.m. and practices the entire day. He practices until his hands bleed. He practices to the point of mental and emotional breakdown. Next to his drum set is a bucket of ice water, in which he immerses his throbbing hands when the pain becomes too much. He breaks up with his girlfriend, telling her straight-up that he cannot be with her, as she will hinder his chances at becoming one of the “Jazz greats”. Some may call such behavior “obsessive” and “unhealthy”. Most would not make it a goal to emulate such behavior. Be that as it may, I have so much respect for individuals as devoted and passionate to their fields as Andrew is. Strangely enough, I can relate to Andrew in some ways. I know what it feels like to have a burning drive within that fuels you to wake up each morning with a desire to wring out every last droplet of opportunity each day presents you with. The kind of drive that pushes you to seemingly “crazy” and “extreme” behavior. I think back to the days when I’d wake up at 5:00 a.m. before school to practice dance, go to my high school’s dance studio during lunchtime for more practice, and jump straight from school to the dance studio for several more hours of lessons and training. Or right now, in college, when I live in the library or study lounge, obsessively preparing for exams. As I’ve mentioned many times, I attribute such work ethic to my gymnastics training, disciplined upbringing and innately competitive personality. What I wonder is, what is my motivation behind such obsessive achieving? Do I not feel worthy unless I’m showered with external validation, like good test scores or praise and admiration from others? There is definitely something there, and I will engage in some much-needed introspection over spring break to gain some insight as to why I feel the need to constantly PROVE my worth through my achievements.

Now, onto a whole other topic– boys! Lately, I’ve been experiencing my fair share of boy troubles. I know, you probably wouldn’t expect to hear that from a person like me. In high school, I was extremely focused on my academics and dancing. Everyone knew me as an “insanely focused student” who’d spend her lunchtimes in the library, studying. No guy would dare come near me. So in high school, I never experienced being hit on by guys. I never had a boyfriend. I never had a guy ask me for my number. I never even experienced my first kiss until last quarter!

College was my chance at a clean slate. I didn’t come into college actively seeking a romantic partner. Now, I’m not spurning romantic relationships completely; if a really wonderful guy whom I’m attracted to walks into my life, I am not going to outright reject him on the grounds of needing to stay focused. College is all about experiencing new things, and so far, I have had my fair share of venturing into uncharted territory (some places good, some places I’d never step foot in again). Finally, guys began to notice me! People started asking for my number, leaving notes under my door and shooting me flirtatious / provocative glances from afar. At first, I was quite flattered at this newfound attention from guys, and I played into it. I was appalled at the idea that guys would even LOOK in my direction. I don’t think myself unattractive or repulsive, but in high school, I never imagined myself as the “type” of girl that most guys would want to engage in a romantic relationship with. This world of being the subject of (romantic) affection was whole new world that I had been sheltered from for eighteen years. And at first, I really liked the view.

Then, last week happened.

Basically, I found out that the guy I liked for the past nine months did not reciprocate my feelings– and he let me know in quite a hurtful way. To spare my emotional well-being, I’d prefer not to rehash the gory details.

I can’t call this heartbreak, as there was never anything between me and this guy to begin with, but rejection– especially scathing and bitingly forward rejection– is never a good feeling. I was quite upset. For maybe a week. Eventually, the pangs of hurt subsided, and all that was left was bitterness. I know it probably won’t do me any good to hold on to such negative feelings… but it is only human to feel this way, right? Since the rejection, I’ve become quite skeptical of romantic love. I’ve resolved to focus solely on MYSELF for the time being, as college is prime time to grow oneself personally and professionally. There are SO many skills I wish to learn– become a more seasoned writer and speaker, learn Russian, hone my dancing skills, perform well academically, find my calling- and so much room for personal development. Where would a boyfriend fit in my hectic life? Besides, I wouldn’t want to start a relationship with someone, only to be unable to make time for this hypothetical significant other. I’m not saying I won’t engage in a romantic relationship at some point in my life. For the time being, though, I just don’t see guys as my priority.

Alrighty. It is time to go back to studying. I feel so much better after writing this blog post. So many emotions and thoughts have been pent up inside me for so long, and writing is my primary form of catharsis. As always, constructive feedback with regards to my life journey (or anything in particular) is greatly appreciated. Thank you all for your continual support towards me and my blog. I always say, if I can touch the life of a single individual through sharing my story, then I will be happy.

All the best,

Belicia

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