As usual, when I’m feeling low, confused, angry, bitter or indecisive, I turn to writing as my catharsis. Had a rough couple of days emotionally– fighting with parents, craving independence, missing NYC, feeling guilty about the financial burden dancing puts on my parents, coming to terms with reality, obsessing over losing weight, etc. Got a lot on my chest, and while I usually turn to my private diary to release this much pent-up negative emotion, I’ve decided to share my sentiment with you all, this time. Here’s what’s been up.
AS you all know, I recently got back from a week-long solo trip to New York City. I had the time of my life and could totally envision myself living there– dancing, writing, exploring theater, attending Broadway shows, living the life immersed in all my creative passions. More than that, I experienced for the first time what true independence felt like. No longer did I need to rely on my family members to drive me places. New York public transportation is a godsend. Getting around via subway was SO easy, and I felt LIBERATED, being able to go wherever I pleased. The independence and convenience of living in New York, I really really missed. I distinctly remember calling my mother one day, in the middle of Times Square, gushing about the amazingness of the city and predicting that, when I got home, I’d feel trapped once more, because I wouldn’t have such independence as I had in New York. My prediction held true. I resent the fact that my parents won’t pay for my car insurance. Of course, there are valid reasons for that– the reality of paying for both me and my brother’s insurance; them not trusting me to be safe on the road; the family insurance plan being a pain in the ass, as it doesn’t allow us kids to cancel our plans once we head off to college again, thus placing undo financial burden on my father. Still, without a means to transport myself across the Bay, I am effectively handicapped. I know how I must sound– spoiled, entitled, ungrateful, the works. I should be happy with all I’ve been blessed with, instead of being bitter over what I don’t have. I guess this is all just motivation for me to graduate fast and move to NYC as soon as I get my degree.
Dance and the financial burden of this very, VERY expensive hobby.
If y’all are not familiar with the Latin/Ballroom dance world, the first thing you should know is that everything– EVERYTHING- in this industry is so freaking expensive. Lessons can get up to $130 for 45 minutes of instruction. Cost of competing is exorbitant, especially if you are dancing with your professional teacher. My teacher, for instance, charges his students $3000 per competition, and that doesn’t even include the cost of covering his hotel, flight and meals. Competition entry fees alone can cost up to $1000, depending on how many dances you dance (most competitions charge $40 per dance). Dresses can cost several thousand dollars. The whole industry is a game of who has the most money. You could be so, so talented– but if you don’t have the means to take lessons/compete/travel… I’m sorry, but you won’t go far in the sport. It’s a tough pill to swallow, but it is the reality of Latin/Ballroom dancing. A rich man’s sport, it is. So basically, this reality really hit home with me these past weeks as I prepared for an upcoming competition, Embassy Ball, with my amateur teacher. Since he was still in the amateur circuit, he didn’t charge nearly as much as my professional teacher does, but still, the cost of lessons add up. My poor dad is paying for three kids’ college tuition. He’s older than most parents of kids my age, and thus is looking for retirement soon. No longer can I take dancing for granted. My parents have always financially supported me and my brothers in all our pursuits. We live a comfortable life in the Bay Area, but our resources are limited, especially while we’re in college. Bottom line– my parents can’t afford for me to be dancing as much as I have in the past, and I can no longer turn a blind eye on the financial cost of dancing. It is not just my parents’ problem. It’s absolutely my responsibility as well. So, the point– I’ve decided today to not do the competition, for the very reason of it being unreasonably expensive. It wasn’t my parents’ decision. They had already agreed to financially support me with Embassy. Whatever happened with my dancing after Embassy, was a different story. But because they had already committed paying for Embassy, it wouldn’t have been fair for them to back out at the last minute and tell me they wouldn’t pay for it. No– the decision to not compete was all mine. After totaling the expense of the competition, which amounted to a couple thousand dollars, I felt immense guilt and unease about spending my parents’ money like that. $2000… man. That’s a LOT of money– money that could be going to my college tuition. So, I decided not to go through with it. Of course, I was upset, as I had really been looking forward to competing, and my teacher and I had poured so much into prepping for the competition. I feel terrible for canceling on my teacher, who put up with my indecision for so long– one minute, I’d decide to compete, next minute I’d be backing out. Here is my public apology to him, and to everyone who put their energy into helping me prepare for the competition. Was it all for naught, though? No. I still improved a lot as a dancer in the process of training for Embassy. That’s the victory– not winning some ribbon. Still, though… reality sucks. My blood sometimes boils at the thought of how expensive ballroom dancing is… why can’t it be more affordable, so more people can learn this beautiful art? I know that, from here on out, I will have to support my own dancing. I need to get a job while in college, if I want to be able to keep taking dance lessons. Apply for every scholarship I can find. I’m not going to put any more financial burden on my parents.
Moving to NYC
Don’t worry guys– the big move isn’t happening quite yet. It will soon, but not yet. Basically, I came back from NYC on cloud 9, and all I’ve wanted since was to move back to my favorite city. I had planned on going to NYC one more time mid-September, before school started, but it’s the money issue, again. I have to be smart with how I spend. On my post-NYC high, I decided to apply to transfer to Columbia University next fall, so I could finish my studies in New York. I originally had not intended to tell my parents about my plan and apply secretly. Only if I got in would I break the news– otherwise, it was not worth putting my parents through another of my “crazy” plans. As usual, though, I can’t keep big secrets from my mom and ended up telling her. She, of course, told my dad. As expected, the two of them were not enthused about the idea of me finishing school in New York at a reputable university, for several reasons. Firstly, the money. Cost of tuition at Columbia is nearly double that of UCLA. If I’m so worried about not placing financial stress on my parents, then transferring to Columbia is precisely what NOT to do. Secondly, the distance. They aren’t comfortable with me being across the country, as I won’t have them to turn to, should I fall into another mental crisis. Though I have two cousins and their families living in New York, my parents told me not to burden them unnecessarily. Thirdly, they don’t trust me to live in NYC quite yet, as they deem me neither responsible nor mature enough to handle the Big Apple. To that, I call bull. I THRIVED in NYC for the week I was there– granted, it was just a week– but I adapted to city life in a matter of days. My energy is perfect for fast-paced city life, and whatever street smarts I lack now, I will learn quickly. Anyway, the past weekend consisted of a LOT of verbal arguments between me and my parents, regarding why they don’t want me to go to New York. Well, it started with New York, then turned into a fight about my so-called “ingratitude”, my “rebellious nature” (I told them I’d get another tattoo, pierce my belly button and take ipecac, a vomit-inducing medication, to lose weight, mainly just to spite them/get attention), and things of that nature. It doesn’t help that my two brothers are pure angels compared to me, and I absolutely hate it when my parents start the comparison game. “Why can’t you be more like Austin and Chris,” they say. It’s especially tough being compared to your siblings as a triplet (or any multiple, for that matter), when you’re all the same age and going through similar life phases. My parents just have to understand that we are all individuals, and even though my brothers have never dabbled with caffeine, alcohol, sexual activity and body art, doesn’t mean I have to be the same way. Hurtful words were exchanged, which affected me deeply and spiraled me into a whirlwind of self-hate. Now, a few days out of last Friday’s explosive argument, I’m feeling better and have reconciled my relationships with the ‘rents. Now back to the Columbia plan. My mother told me, if I do get into Columbia (and that is a big IF, as their transfer acceptance rate is less than 10%), she may support me, as the school has a big name. Anything less than Columbia though, she says is not worth the cost. Whatever. I will apply, and if I do get in, we’ll go from there. It took reality a few days to sink in, but I now realize that moving to New York at this moment is not reasonable from a financial standpoint. As much as I wish to go, I mustn’t act on whims, impulses and passions, without considering reality. This is part of growing up, and I absolutely hate it… How I wish I could be a billionaire, so I’d have the freedom to do whatever I pleased with my life. Oh well. If Columbia doesn’t work out, I will graduate UCLA with a psychology degree as fast as humanly possible– I’ve laid out a plan, and at this rate, I can still graduate in three years. I’ll keep dancing and working part-time while in school. It won’t be easy, but I believe I can do it. Once I earn my Bachelor’s degree, I’m outta here. I love UCLA and college life and everything… but New York, guys. That’s where my heart lies in the moment. I worry about my whimsical nature– one minute, my heart’s at UCLA, and the next minute, after a week-long trip to NYC, my heart moves across the country. Why is this so? I am a very passionate person… but I’ve always had a problem being grounded in reality and separating impulses from what I truly want for myself. Yes, graduating early will necessarily deprive me of all UCLA has to offer. And no way can I go forward with the English and Psych double major plan, if I want to graduate in four years, let alone early. It’s a gamble and sacrifice… at the end of the day, though, I have to ask myself if New York and its myriad of opportunities is worth it.
I’ve started seeing a new adult psychologist. Her name is Dr. Wang, but I call her Marg. I have faith this is going to work out– she’s been great so far. Though, I am going back to school in a month, which may pose as an issue for communication… but for the here and now, Marg is good for me. We actually just had a phone appointment this morning. Telling her about all my recent emotional tumult has been very helpful and cathartic. I told her about my newfound obsession with losing weight. First, it was mainly to prep for the Embassy competition. I wanted to look good on the floor, and I am not quite satisfied with my body just yet. I lost four pounds during my week in New York– lots of walking and not much eating (I didn’t want to waste money on food). When I got back home and stepped on the scale, I was happy with what I saw– 126.2 lbs. In my head, I thought… This is good. I wonder how far can I go with the weight loss? My dance teacher had also commented on my weight loss, especially around my arms, and that made me feel great. Seriously, guys– hearing his positive observation was probably the highlight of last Sunday. I treasured those words like diamonds. It motivated me to keep restricting my calories. I told my therapist about my rapid weight loss, and she was understandably concerned for my health. She told me to stop weighing myself on the scale immediately, as the number only feeds into my obsession. I won’t say I have a full-blown eating disorder… but obviously something is not right in my thinking. I wonder if this recent obsession with becoming thin is mired in the guilt and self-loathing as of late… guilt about the financial cost of dancing… resentment towards myself for acting ungrateful for all my parents do for me, even though in fact, I know I am very very blessed. So now, there are two obsessions in my life– weight and money. Both probably having to do with my inability to manage my overactive emotions.
Alright, guys. That was probably the fastest I’ve ever completed a blog post. I just have so much going on in my head… so much I want to share. Thanks for putting up with my rambling. I’ll talk to y’all soon.