Why I Can’t Have a Boyfriend

Hey guys! This is my second blog post in one day. What?!

I just got back from swimming, and it’s only 1:45pm. Thinking of going to the ice rink later for practice. But first, the second topic of today: why I can’t have a boyfriend.

Let me qualify this statement– it’s not that I CAN’T have a boyfriend. I can totally get into a relationship, if I wanted to. It’s more just that as of right now, I just don’t have the mental bandwidth to commit myself to another person.

I have too much personal baggage and things to work on with my mental health, and between self care, school, dance, and most recently, figure skating, I just don’t have time to commit myself to a relationship. I admire those who seem to be able to do it all– relationship, school, extracurriculars, etc. Good for you guys! I, on the other hand, can only focus on a couple things at a time, and do them to the best of my ability. To get into a relationship at this moment would be unfair to my partner, as I can’t give as much of myself as I should to this other person.

I think at the root of my inability to get into a relationship is fear. Relationships, boyfriends, romance… even after two years of college, the territory is still relatively uncharted. I never had time in high school to get into a relationship. And college didn’t get any less busy. But I am afraid… afraid of the unknown. Afraid of being vulnerable with another person. To be an “us”, rather than an individual. You should know that, because I spent all my life as an individual, particularly an athlete in an individual sport, I am so used to functioning well on my own. I like to do things my own way. I have a great system going, and to introduce another person in my life would cause a giant ripple. I’d have to learn about compromise. Proper communication. All important life skills, yes. But at this point in time, it’s hard for me to want to change. During the brief time I had a dance partner, I really struggled hard to communicate in a civil manner. I grew frustrated easily, and was not very nice or considerate to my partner. Thank god this guy was understanding and patient with me– most people would run at the first exposure to my intensity.

I really am committing myself to growth, and perhaps getting a boyfriend would be a great chance for me to grow myself in a different way– to learn how to operate with a partner by my side.

I’m just scared, is all. And, while having an overloaded schedule is a valid reason not to get into a relationship, I am kind of milking that reason, and using it as sort of an excuse to not even consider the idea of getting a boyfriend.

Oh well… things will happen with time. I’ll just let the universe run it’s course, and if someone amazing steps into my life, then that’s great! But no pressure to jump into things. I’ll go at my own snail’s pace.

 

 

 

 

Best,

Belicia

Why I Want to See a Sports Psychologist; Eating Disorder; Overcoming Walls

Hi friends! It’s currently 11:10am on this scorching hot Friday morning. I’ve been up since 6am, so the day already feels so long.

Before I decided to write this post, I was applying for some jobs on campus, as I seem to have more time on my hands than I know what to do with, at this moment. See, there was so much I had wanted to do when I got back to LA, but there were two problems:

a. I have no means of transporting myself anywhere, and because LA public transportation is terrible, I have to Uber around, which is costing me a fortune.

b. Most of my friends are back at their respective homes, so I have no one to have adventures with! Going to the beach by myself is kind of lame…

So, this first week back in LA, I have found myself want of stuff to do to fill my time. This is why I have decided to get back into regular daily writing– time really does fly when I write about my life! I love the flow state I get into the moment my fingers touch the keyboard. Maybe I should become a writer, one day!

The main topic of today’s post is why I want to see a sports psychologist. There are several reasons.

Firstly, because I want to become a sports psychologist myself, I want to get a feel of what the role of a sports psychologist is during one-on-one sessions with clients. So this is partly a research/learning experience, so I can dip my toe in the water.

Secondly, I’ve been facing a huge mental block lately, in terms of regaining the disciplined training regimen I held as a gymnast. One of my goals for this summer is to get back into shape. I’ve been struggling, however, to push my body to its limit! In the past, physical pain was a usual part of my life, so pushing through walls was no problem. I’ve since regressed tremendously, and I find getting back my athletic body harder than ever. A big part of it is the negative thinking that overcomes my brain whenever I try to work out. I keep beating myself up over how out of shape I’ve gotten, comparing my present body to the body I had as a gymnast. Clearly, this is a distortion– it’s true I’ve gotten out of shape since I quit gymnastics, but that is to be expected, and it’s no reason to internalize and beat myself up over this fact. Also, it’s unrealistic for me to get back my pre-pubescent gymnast body. I’m a young woman now, with curves and a higher fat percentage. It’s only natural. Regardless, it’s this self-imposed pressure and negativity that is actually being counterproductive, rather than pushing me, to improve. And I can’t seem to break down this wall. So I’ve decided to enlist the help of a professional who is trained to help people in my current situation.

Thirdly, and most importantly, I wish to tackle the existing demons that remain from my competitive gymnastics days. Don’t get me wrong– there are so many life lessons I learned from gymnastics that have served me well to this day. I’ve developed an iron work ethic that, when I’m “on”, manifests itself clearly. I’ve learned to be brave and tackle my fears head on. However, there is an abusive side to elite gymnastics that often is not discussed. First and foremost, body image. Like I said, I long to gain back my gymnastics body. Thin, lean, nearing the point of anorexia. In my head, this is still the standard I hold myself to, and I hate my current body because it is nowhere near where I was in the past. While I never had a full-fledged eating disorder, it is safe to say that I suffer from pretty bad body dysmorphia. I pick out all the flaws with my body and obsess over them, until the flaws consume my mind. Lately, it’s been taking a toll on my mental and physical health. I refuse to eat more than two small meals a day– early in the morning, and a few hours before bed. I’m often left feeling hungry, light-headed, and tired. I refuse to step on the scale, until I am sure I have reached 120lbs or less. Otherwise, that number on the scale will gnaw away at me.

Secondly, gymnastics has conditioned me to see things in life in black and white. All or nothing. Go hard or go home. By the very nature of the demanding sport, gymnastics forces people to dedicate their entire lives to training. There is little to no balance in elite gymnastics. To this day, I live my life with this same mindset– everything I do, I must give my best effort. Now, at first glance, this may not seem like a bad thing. Trying your best, and reaping the rewards of your hard-earned success. However, when taken to the extreme, to the point where you’re sacrificing so much– relationships, mental health and self care, a “normal” life– the question becomes, is it worth it? On a similar vein, I tend to view everything from a competitive standpoint. Whatever new hobby I pick up, I MUST compete and be the very best. There is no concept in my mind of doing things simply for the sake of enjoyment. While college has helped me chip away at this particular demon, it’s a slow process, and I think I could use the help of a professional to help me along. Even with my new “hobby” of figure skating, I long to go competitive and be the very very best I can be. This pressure has led me to already grow frustrated with the slow pace of progress, despite the fact that I’ve only been on the ice for three days. At the end of the day, I leave the rink more frustrated and less happy than I came. Again– what is the point of doing something, if you aren’t enjoying it? See, with gymnastics, 95% of the sport was not enjoyable. Did I necessarily enjoy the 6 hour trainings locked in the stuffy gym, with my coach constantly yelling at me, telling me how inadequate I was? Did I love the immense pressure that comes with competing? The restless nights and inability to eat food, days before a big meet? No. But, I pushed through these barriers, because to me, there was an end goal– make the national team and represent my country in this beautiful, demanding sport. And I would do everything in my power to achieve this goal. It was this very thinking that led me to ignore the intense knee pain I faced, eventually resulting in a career ending injury. Moreover, I felt a certain nobility and pride in my ability to work hard and push myself beyond any mental or physical limit. It gave me a purpose in life. I carry this same mindset with me today– the whole “pain is good because it serves a higher purpose” kind of mindset. I guess you could say I’m somewhat of a martyr, a self-sabatoger. Again, the question looms– is it worth it?

A part of me does not want to let this athlete’s mindset go, because it has pushed me my entire life to achieve and surpass my goals and expectations. I wonder, if I soften up, will I still be able to perform well in school, in dance, in skating? I already feel myself softening up. And I loathe myself for it. My former therapist sees this shift in mindset and lifestyle as not necessarily a bad thing, but a sign of personal growth. I’m learning to balance work with self care. I’m finally learning to put myself first before my goals. But in doing so, a part of me thinks that I’m giving up. I’ve lost that sense of nobility of pushing myself past my limits. I’ve lost a big part of my former identity. Am I ready to let this go?

These are all thoughts and questions I hope to tackle with my sports psychologist.

I will conclude this post here. Have a wonderful day, friends, and stay out of the sun!

 

 

Best,

Belicia

Life Update 7/5/18: New Career Path, Ambition, Discipline, Regret

Hi guys! Oh my goodness it’s been over a month since I last talked to y’all. How have you guys been? Happy summer, FINALLY!

I’ve been meaning to write a blog post, but things have been hectic– I just got back from China less than a week ago, moved in to my new apartment, applied for a couple jobs, picked up figure skating, started dancing once more, and began to study Chinese and the GRE. Whew.

But so much has been on my mind lately, I don’t even know where to begin.

I guess I’ll start with my career path. I have decided that I want to be a sports and performance psychologist, specializing in the ability to perform well under stressful circumstances. I think this career is the perfect niche for me. I’ve always marveled at how world class performers and athletes are able to perform well under immense pressure, and I wonder how such mental toughness can be applied across all disciplines– medicine, law, business, you name it. These days, our society is so competitive, mental toughness and being able to keep a level head in difficult circumstances is essential to achieving success.

As a lifelong competitor and performer, I have personal experience with performing under high stakes conditions. I will never forget States and Regionals 2012. In both competitions, I had a complete meltdown on the carpet during my second to last routine. Regionals was particularly stressful, as it was the qualifier for the Junior Olympics, and you had to make the top 8 to be on the team. I had screwed up my ribbon routine, and had to get my act together for my final routine– clubs. The cool thing is, I was able to put my poor performance in the back of my mind, and deliver a clean clubs routine, securing my spot on the Junior Olympic team. How did I do that, with all that pressure on my shoulders?

I want to get inside the heads of professional athletes, dancers, musicians, and really understand how they can deliver great performances, even when things don’t go as planned. I will then use this knowledge to guide people in other professions, like surgeons and lawyers and businessmen/women. How do surgeons keep a level head when someone’s freaking LIFE is in their very hands? How do lawyers successfully defend their clients during a trial? How do businessmen/women deliver a hard-hitting pitch to investors? How do regular people get over performance anxiety, like public speaking?

A big part of why I want to help others with live performance is because I myself have struggled a lot with performance anxiety, and it is only recently, when I’ve begun to perform more and more (mostly through dance), that I have been able to calm the overactive nerves. Don’t get my wrong– I have a long way to go– but I truly believe that with hard work and the right skills and guidance, I have every potential to turn my nerves into something positive, that boosts my performance ability, instead of hindering it.

Another thing I want to do with my clients is train them in mental toughness. As an athlete, I have been conditioned to live a disciplined lifestyle since the age of 5. Though lately, I’ve been struggling to find my momentum and motivation… but I’ll get to that shortly. Anyway, I want to help people who have never been exposed to the kind of hard discipline that I and other athletes have experienced. Imagine a society where people were all functioning at their greatest potentials– working hard, living healthy lifestyles, being their very best, even during difficult times. Wouldn’t that be profound?

Finally, becoming a sports/performance psychologist will afford me the opportunity to work with SO many different types of people, especially professional performers. You see, I’ve always been drawn to the Arts. Be it rhythmic gymnastics, dance, music, theater, figure skating… anything that involves creative expression through an artistic medium, I adore. But, the reality is, a person can only do so much at a time. I want to be so many things– a gymnast, a dancer, a skater, an actress, a singer… I can’t spread myself so thin, however, and expect myself to be successful in any of those disciplines. My point is, becoming a performance psychologist will empower me to work with gymnasts, dancers, skaters, actors, musicians. And in doing so, I’ll be getting a little taste of everything I’ve always envisioned myself doing in life! I especially look forward to working with Olympic athletes. You see, I had an Olympic dream, once. The dream was left unfulfilled, however, because of an injury. By training Olympians to perform well under pressure, I will be a small part of the equation in helping Olympians reach peak performance, and maybe even a gold medal! And in some ways, this may be more fulfilling that achieving my own Olympic glory, as I’m doing something profound for someone beyond myself.

So, sports/performance psychologist it is. My plan is to finish school a year early, take a year between undergrad and graduate school to travel and dance/skate to my heart’s delight (it’s the life I’d always dreamt of as a kid– no school, just total immersion in my passions). Then I’ll go to a grad school with a reputable sports psychology program. There are very few programs of the kind in the U.S. I found a few programs in Canada, though, which may be an option. Today, I began studying for the GRE, starting with a practice exam that I didn’t do very well on. But hey– practice makes perfect! It’s not about where you start, but how much work you’re willing to put in to reach where to want to be. I’ve proven this to myself time and time again. For instance, for the SAT math section, I started out in the 500s range, which is pretty bad. After intensive studying, however, I managed to get an 800 in both the regular SAT math section, and the SAT math subject test. Perfect score. Really, this is the kind of mental toughness I’m talking about. You don’t ever, ever give up on something you want to achieve.

So. What to talk about next? Ahh, mental health. Today I felt a little bit of the depression coming back, mostly because I find myself struggling with discipline and motivation, particularly regarding health and fitness. See, I’m trying hard to get back into shape this summer. I’ve reached a bit of a mental block, however. When I’m working out, I think to myself, “Man Belicia, you used to be such a great athlete– strong and fit– and look at how far you’ve regressed since. Can’t even do 10 pushups without wanting to stop.” It has indeed been a struggle to find the willpower to keep pushing myself through pain. Physical and mental pain used to feel so ordinary to me. I was able to handle ANYTHING. I have grown so weak, in comparison to the person I was in the past. And I hate that I let myself slide down the slippery slope of laziness. Here’s the thing about living a disciplined, spartan life. Once you get on that track, you gain momentum, day by day. Pretty soon, that discipline becomes routine. And soon enough, you are able to endure pain, to delay gratification, like it were second nature. I grew up with this kind of discipline. Thing is, I didn’t know any other kind of life, so I just assumed that a life of physical and mental pain, where you are constantly being pushed past your limits, was normal. When I got injured, I got off the track of discipline. First it was the depression that ensued after the injury. That threw me wayyyy off– I could barely get out of bed for school, let alone motivate myself to achieve my ambitious goals. Eventually, with the help of therapy, I was able to pick myself up, dust myself off, and channel the discipline I garnered from gymnastics into my schoolwork, which is how I got into UCLA. Since coming to college, however, I’ve been exposed to temptations of all sorts. The hedonism here is insane. This was the first time in my life where I had any sort of freedom. I finally found friends whom I could do fun things with! So this newfound freedom was not all bad. However, anything in excess is a bad thing, and during my sophomore year, I abused my freedom, to the point where I spiraled way off the path of discipline I was raised on. I had been exposed. Exposed to the fun that comes from partying and drinking and going out several times a week with friends. Now, I had a comparison point. Did I even want to go back to my former life, now that I had seen what was on the other side of the grass? I hate that I let myself slip up the way I did. Why couldn’t I just have remained focused on my goals? I know myself better than anyone– I thrive under a structured lifestyle. And in letting go of my discipline and loosening the reigns a bit, I felt as if I had lost a huge part of my identity as an unusually motivated hard worker who never, ever gave up, always followed the rules and done things the “right” way. And for the past year, I’ve been trying hard to get back the momentum I once had. The last time I felt it was during the peak of my ballroom dancing, when I had aspirations to go professional one day. So inspired I was, I’d spend 6-7 hours a day at the studio, training relentlessly. I look back on my former self and think, how did I do it? It was an internal force, a burning flame, that drove me each day, so much so that people on the outside would think I was insane. But really, I was just passionate. I need to find that passion again. That mental stamina. And I need to be consistent with it. It is not enough to go 300 mph for a brief time, only to eventually burn out. Like I said… it’s difficult, though, after having been removed from my disciplined life for so long. Maybe I need to find a happy medium between my life as a gymnast, and the life I have lived as an overhyped, fun-seeking college student. Life isn’t so black and white as I deem it to be. I will gain back my discipline, I know it! I just need to ease into it, and not put too much pressure on myself to become the person I was in the past. I was so goal-oriented, and I had the drive and dedication to follow through with my goals. But back then, my goals became the sole measure of my self worth. I didn’t have friends. I didn’t see the point in engaging in any activity where there was no end goal. Is this what you call living a full life? I both deeply respect the young person I was then for my focus and work ethic, and pity her, because, despite her drive, she was so lonely and so insecure. So I don’t necessarily want to go back to that phase of my life. I do, however, want to find the fire again. And it’s all about gaining the momentum. Start slow, pick up the speed. Pretty soon, discipline will become second nature once more. I did it once, at the ripe age of 12 and 13– I can do it again, this time as a young adult.

Alright guys, I think this is enough for today’s post. I’ll talk to you guys very soon! I hope to post at least 3 times a week this summer.

 

 

 

Love,

Belicia