Post-Graduation Plans / Social Anxiety

Hey friends! It’s currently 11:45am as I sit at my desk, writing today’s post.

It’s been a pretty slow morning. I went to bed at around 9:00pm, hoping to get up early for skating practice. Unfortunately, I was unable to fall asleep until around 2:30am, due to the suffocating heat (it was only when the early morning breeze cooled down the room that I was finally able to fall asleep). So, contrary to plan, I woke up around 9:30am, missing the morning skating session. Oh well. I plan on going to the 2:15-5:00pm session later, so all hope is not lost.

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about what I want to do after graduation. A gap year seems likely– I will get a sports psychology internship, while continuing to pursue my dancing and skating on the side. I had originally planned on moving to NYC to pursue dance full-time, but the more I think about it, the more interested I am in the field of sports and performance psychology. I am currently immersing myself in books on this relatively new field of study, and find the field absolutely fascinating. For once in my life, I’ve found something “non-physical” (i.e. not gymnastics / dance / non-academic) that’s truly piqued my interest. I’ve never considered myself an academic… but maybe that’s just because I haven’t found anything intellectual that’s inspired me. Well, besides writing, of course. But sports and performance psychology is proving to be something I wish to pursue. I want to work with athletes and performers across all disciplines to enhance performance under stress and to build mental fitness.

Dancing and skating and other physical, aesthetic, performance arts, I can always pursue on the side. I won’t be missing out on anything.

I don’t know where I’ll be in terms of location. It really depends on where my work/internship takes me. Perhaps I’ll stay in Los Angeles, where all my friends are, and work in a lab at UCLA. Or maybe I’ll move to NYC after all, where the arts abound, and the demand for performance psychologists is high. Maybe I’ll even move back home to the Bay Area (so at least I won’t have to pay rent).

In the meantime, I’m looking to build my resume with research experience. Unfortunately, UCLA’s department of psychology does not have a sports psychology subdivision. The closest thing to it would be health psychology. I’ve already emailed the professor who studies health psych, but her lab is completely full at the moment. I’ll check back in with her in the fall (she’s also the professor for Psych 150, the health psychology class I’m taking fall quarter!).

This coming academic year is gonna be a real doozy. I’m doubling up on classes, taking 4 to 5 each quarter. All part of my three-year plan. Why do I plan on graduating early, one may well ask? Well, originally the plan was to finish school early so I could focus full-time on my dance career. However things are changing– I realized that, as much as I enjoy dancing and performing, I can’t really see myself doing it as a profession. There’s simply too much competition in the industry and not a lot of financial / practical pay-out. Like I said earlier, sports and performance psychology has recently moved its way up on my priority list. I want to get started as soon as possible. And seeing as UCLA does not have anything sports psychology related, I’d rather graduate early and start on my master’s degree in a field I love.

The more I think about it, the more I like the idea of taking a gap year to gain experience. Currently, I have little to offer on my resume, besides a solid GPA. I need to start research this coming academic year– yet another thing to do amidst the plethora of classes I’ll be taking.

A part of me wonders whether graduating early is the best decision for me. There are so many things– primarily extracurriculars– I wish to try during my time at UCLA. I remember, during the summer before freshman year, sitting down with my friend Shirley and making a HUGE list of activities I wanted to pursue at UCLA. So far, not much of that last has been completed. Which is fine, since we all know academics comes before everything else. But I want to do other things, like join a competition dance team, or be a part of a musical, or start my own dance club. Most of my extracurriculars, though, I do outside of school. Like ballroom dance and figure skating. I do plan on rejoining the Daily Bruin next academic year, since it brought me a lot of fulfillment during my freshman year (although I had to work under a sucky editor, which is the reason why I stopped writing for the paper). HOOLIGAN theater is doing Singin’ in the Rain fall quarter, and Fame and Catch Me If You Can during winter quarter. My hopes are to be an assistant choreographer for “SITR”, and to be a cast member for Fame (which is a dance-heavy production). Theater definitely pushes me out of my comfort zone, as it challenges me to break free from my usual focused and serious demeanor fostered from years as a competitive gymnast, and to channel lesser-explored emotions. I also plan on getting more involved in Bruin Toastmasters to become a more comfortable public speaker. Take that, social anxiety!

Speaking of which, my social anxiety has been improving a lot! I find challenging myself a little bit each day, like striking up a conversation with my Uber drivers (if I’m not napping in the car, of course) or meeting new people at the ice rink, to be really beneficial in tackling the anxiety. My social anxiety, which used to consume so much of my mental space, has become an after-thought. In fact, I don’t really see myself as having anxiety any more. Of course, there are times and situations that make me more anxious around people than usual, but that is only human. I’ve learned to stop being such a harsh critic of myself, and to take myself a little less seriously, despite the numerous goals I have on my plate.

Speaking of goals… I’d better get out of my PJ’s and head over to the local Starbucks, where I’ll study my GRE. Better yet, I’ll probably head over to the ice rink to study, so I don’t have to make so many trips. I’ll talk to you guys later!






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