Hey guys! It is currently 11:38pm as I sit at my desk, inside my dimly room, a gentle breeze flowing in from the two open windows. Today was my first official day back from college, and I definitely enjoyed it.
I had planned on waking up at 6am to dance, but because I had stayed up until 2am last night, I ended up getting out of bed at 9am. My mom made us a homemade breakfast of her infamous smoothie, fruit, boiled tea eggs and oatmeal. It felt nice and somewhat strange to sit together as a family again after several months apart. I had not seen my younger brother, Chris, since January, but it was like no time had passed between us.
After breakfast, I drove to the gym, where I worked out for a couple hours. I’m working hard to get my body back in shape for dance!!! As I was working out, though, a thought occurred to me. I realized how much it sucks to be a woman sometimes. I’ve been a member of my local gym since the age of four, so I practically grew up there. The gym used to be my safe space where I’d feel completely at ease and in my element. Now, however, I can’t get through a workout without at least one older man gawking in my direction. Or so I presume. I’m sure many young women can relate to my experience. I still remember clearly how, over winter break, I was called a “slut” by a group of middle-aged married men, just because I was doing the middle splits in the stretching area. I’ve never quite recovered from that experience, and I’m always on my guard now whenever I go to the gym. Yeah. It really sucks to be a woman sometimes. College has definitely made me less naive about men and their intentions. This is not to say that all men are ill-intentioned; but I’ve learned that, sometimes, being my usual friendly self may falsely lead on men, which is the last thing I want. In that sense, college has necessarily hardened me.
After working out, I made pit-stops at the local Jamba Juice, Togo’s, Nob Hill and Starbucks, to pick up job applications for me and my brother Austin. Both of us want to work this summer. I need to work to support my dancing, which is not cheap. Not at all. Once I begin my training, I will be taking four dance lessons per week, totaling to $340/week (actually a really good deal, compared to some other rates). To financially support my dancing, I plan on working part-time as a rhythmic gymnastics and dance coach. I also plan to work remotely as a paid writing intern for a company aiding high school-age students with the college application process. I am tutoring some high school students in math, chemistry and writing. If I still have time and energy after all of that, I hope to get hired as a barista at either Jamba Juice or Starbucks and work the early morning shifts. Any time left will, of course, be devoted to training. I haven’t quite mapped out my schedule yet, but I have a feeling I’ll be stretching myself very thin, and may have to drop some commitments to preserve my sanity.
[Side note: Isn’t it funny how, in our society, people pride themselves in how MUCH they do, rather than, other (in my opinion) more salient qualities, like character and relationships and mental health)? I remember being that person who’d brag about the sheer number of commitments I’d take on, wearing them like a badge of honor. “I slept three hours last night,” I’d boast. Is that really a noteworthy achievement? Throwing your mental and physical health under the bus to get a little bit ahead with studying? Why is it that our society places so much value in our work, rather than building character success? There’s nothing wrong with pushing yourself hard… so long as you’re doing smartly and doing it for yourself, not for others’ validation. Your work does not define you. For the first time, ever, I’m finally starting to believe that statement. My self-worth is independent from what I do.]
So, I have a busy summer ahead, but I’m excited for the challenge, as any test of inner strength builds character. I don’t want to financially burden my parents with supporting my dancing, as they’re already paying for three kids’ college tuition, which is no easy feat. Just today, I paid $410 for a round-trip ticket to NYC in early August, where I will attend a dance camp/competition, scope out the dance scene and hopefully try out with some potential dance partners.
After making my job application run, I walked to the local library, where I checked out a few summer reading books– “Wuthering Heights” by Emily Brönte, “The Da Vinci Code” by Dan Brown, and “The Picture of Dorian Gray” by Oscar Wilde. I began “Dorian Gray” today, and found Wilde’s flowery language and poetic style to be both elegant and somewhat detracting. I watched the 2009 film adaptation of the book, so I know the general storyline. Looking forward to reading the rest of Wilde’s only novel!
Austin picked me up from the library in the Volkswagon. My parents have finally agreed to pay for my car insurance, as I’ll need to transport myself throughout the Bay Area this summer, with dance and work and community college come fall (should I decide to stay in the Bay, that is). The problem is, they don’t trust me enough behind the wheel to let me drive alone on freeways. I always tell them that they need to let my try, or else I will never learn! They can sit in the passenger seat the first couple times, to make sure I know what I’m doing. Eventually, though, they’re just gonna have to let me do it. Sometimes, I feel like my parents try too hard to shelter me and my brothers. They can’t protect their kids forever, though. At some point, they’re just going to have to take a leap of faith and trust that all will be fine in the end, even if their children stumble and make mistakes.
Speaking of family. I definitely noticed an unfamiliar tension at the dinner table tonight, between me, my brothers and my parents. I think it is normal for kids who’ve just come back from their first year of college to feel a discord with their parents upon coming home after several months away. This past year, we’ve been tested in many ways and have learned to live independently from our parents. We’ve dealt with crises without our parents’ help. We’ve set our own daily routines, established our own dining preferences, developed our own social circles and communities. When we come home after college and find our parents treating us like little children, we understandably feel stifled and irked at the clinginess and hovering. Of course, parents who haven’t seen their babies in many months understandably want to spend every second with their children. While I doubt the family dynamic will be the same as it was before college, I think it’s actually a beautiful thing to witness the growth of children into mature, independent young adults. However old you are, you will always be your parents’ babies, and they will never stop treating you as such. I’ll understand this better when I have my own children.
After dinner, I went swimming at our local pool. As I swam laps, I mulled over how I could possibly make the money necessary for dance. I’ll admit that, going in to this, I was oblivious to the difficulties of financially supporting my dance career. It’s so easy to say, “Oh, I’ll just work several jobs to pay for lessons and traveling and costumes and the like.” The reality is so much harder. I haven’t even started my many jobs, and I’m already anticipating difficulty. It’s okay. I’m sure my parents will help pay for some of the expenses, but I just don’t want to burden them financially when, morally, they are not happy with my decision to give dancing a try.
I got back home at around 9:30pm, took a shower and FaceTimed my BFF, Chiana, who lives in Connecticut. Apparently it was foggy and raining over there, whereas here in the Bay, we’re experiencing a heat wave, with temperatures soaring in the high 80s and 90s. I definitely miss my friends at UCLA, but thanks to the wonders of social media and instant communication, it has never been easier for people to remain in touch across long distances. I watched an episode of this Netflix original show called “Santa Clarita Diet”, starring Drew Barrymore as regular mom/realtor who, after presumably contracting a mysterious zoonotic virus, turns into a flesh-eating zombie-like being. The show is pretty funny and satirical, with quick and easy 30-minute episodes. Would definitely recommend to anyone looking for a summer TV show.
After watching one episode, I decided to write this blog post! Now, it is 1am. Goodness, time flies when I’m writing. I absolutely love it! Maybe writing is my calling. If dance doesn’t work out, I will most definitely explore writing further.
Have a good night everyone, and Happy Father’s Day to all the amazing dads out there!