Well guys, it’s that time of the year again. With a new year just around the corner, it is time to reflect on these past 12 months’ highlights, triumphs, and tribulations.
College / Life Decisions
This year, I completed my first year at UCLA, as well as the first quarter of my sophomore year. I renounced the pre-med track, opting for the renegade life of creative freedom instead. I almost left UCLA in pursuit of dancing, only to realize that leaving a great university and cherished community for a very slim chance of success as a dancer was not what I really wanted. So I returned to UCLA for my second year. The themes of 2017 were indecision and uncertainty regarding life paths, and courage to break free from the grain, leave my comfort zone and ultimately follow my heart. None of it was easy. But you know what? I survived. And I emerged so much more self-aware and enlightened through this roller-coaster ride of a year. The ultimate lesson I learned was this: YOU alone are the captain of your own ship in this journey called life. People will judge; people will tell you what to do and what not to do; but at the end of the day, only you can decide what you want for yourself. Have the courage to listen to your heart and not be afraid of what you hear.
A New Mental Health Diagnosis
Over the summer, I was diagnosed with bipolar II disorder. It explained a whole lot of my past behaviors and mercurial moods. The initial diagnosis threw me into a bit of an identity crisis. The question that kept playing in my mind was, how much of my past success was due to the hypomanic states of my illness, characterized by increased goal-oriented behavior, obsessive achieving and high-flying motivation? Could I have achieved what I have in the past, without my illness “aiding” me? Was my public persona of heightened social confidence and bubbly, infectious energy all just a manifestion of my illness? What was the real Belicia, and what was the sick Belicia? Now on mood stabilizers, the effects of my bipolar disorder are greatly mitigated, and I finally have the chance to discover the me behind the mask of illness.
This past year, I went from relegating dance to the status of a mere hobby, to wanting to pursue a professional dancing career at the expense of a university education, to returning to university and making dance a hobby once more. At this point, all I know for sure is that I will always continue dancing, because dancing brings me joy. I hope to one day reach a high competitive level, but whether or not that means going professional remains to be seen. So long as I’m at UCLA, dance will be a part-time thing. I will try my best to dance as much as I can whilst remaining a full-time student. It is most definitely possible; I just have to find a way to make it happen.
I traveled to New York City this past summer to scout for a dance partner and immerse myself in the ultimate dance culture to dig for some answers regarding my career decision. I watched the Empire Dance Championship and had the chance to meet some of the world’s greatest ballroom dancers. I competed at Embassy Ball in September– it felt amazing to be out on the floor again after a hiatus of more than one year.
I’ve done some of my best writing this past year. I find that, in my moments of greatest angst, I have so many emotions and pent-up thoughts screaming to be released– and so, I write. I bleed my soul onto the page. And that’s where my greatest works come from. Straight from the soul. I will most definitely continue writing, not just in 2018, but for the rest of my waking days. Stay tuned for an update on the semi-autobiographical novel I’m currently working on!
2017 came and went, and I’ve emerged truly changed. Let’s hope for another joyous, formative, memorable year of tremendous growth.
Goodbye, 2017. Hello, 2018. Give me all you’ve got.