Where I’m At, and Where I Wanna Go

Hey y’all! Today is Tuesday, August 21, 2018. Can’t believe summer is ending so soon. Seems like just yesterday we were rounding out the 2017-2018 academic year. In some ways, I really wish I had been more productive this summer, in terms of personal and professional development. I had planned on studying intensively for the GRE, but my momentum for that quickly fizzled out. For shame, Belicia, for shame. I also had planned on brushing up on my Mandarin Chinese, since I’ll be taking Chinese this coming academic year. I studied one chapter every three days for about a couple weeks; then I got a really bad flu and lost all my studying momentum. I had also hoped to get back in shape. I can’t say that goal went totally unfulfilled, as I have indeed lost a bit of weight since the beginning of summer. But I had hoped for more progress. Figure skating was going great for the months of July and August, but once summer school started, I stopped skating regularly because of time constraints.

The one thing about this summer I am happy with is the fact that I was able to evade depression, for the most part. Every summer since junior year of high school has been rough. When I find myself want of a structured schedule and things to do, the dark cloud of depression resurfaces. Of course, it’s easy to then point to a logical solution– just keep yourself busy in the long summer months! But that’s the same thing as telling a person with a broken foot, “Just start walking!” Depression is an illness. There are times when its effects are less magnified than others. Even when you may not necessarily feel depressed, your illness is still there. Certain environmental factors may trigger the depression like a switch. For me, it’s summer (and, most recently, winter) vacation that turns on my depression. It’s not enough for me to simply fill my day top to bottom with activities and pray for depression to steer clear of my soul. Don’t get me wrong– keeping busy will surely help mitigate the effects of depression. But it’s definitely not an end-all-be-all solution. Nothing really is. There’s no such thing as a magic pill to cure depression. Likewise, you could have an entire arsenal of coping mechanisms for depression– mindfulness, meditation, positive thinking, etc.– and still not be 100% cured. My goal at this point is not to find a cure for depression. I simply need to manage the illness, so it doesn’t cause too many ripples in my daily life. I need to be able to stay as productive as I can, with the depression weighing down on me.

Speaking of productivity and working towards my goals… I thought today’s post would be a good chance for me to evaluate where I’m at in terms of professional development, and compare that to where I hope to be.

So I’m currently going into my third year at UCLA. In all honesty, I haven’t done nearly enough for professional development as I should have. A big part of that reason is because I spent most of my first two years at UCLA figuring out my path. Up until my sophomore year of college, I thought I wanted to become a professional dancer. For a while, I operated with a “get college over with so I can move on to dance” kind of mindset. All around me, I’d see my friends working in labs, getting summer internships, becoming learning assistants, working on campus, joining pre-professional fraternities, and I’d think to myself, none of this really applies to me, since I’m going to be a dancer. Which was, in retrospect, a terrible mindset to have– especially in college, when there are SO many resources for students to snatch. It’s really a shame I didn’t bother with any of the professional development and leadership stuff during my first two years. Don’t get me wrong– I did get involved in extracurriculars I enjoyed, including dance (ballroom and hip hop), the Daily Bruin, and HOOLIGAN Theater. I briefly worked at Bruin Cafe, mainly for the experience. But I feel as though I sold myself short. I never bothered pursuing leadership positions in the clubs I was involved in. At my lowest point, I was anxious and depressed, and my relationship with UCLA was strained, as I didn’t quite understand why my parents weer paying so much money to be at university, if I wanted to be a dancer.

Then came the enlightenment. I realized that a dance career was not truly what I wanted for myself. So I was no longer able to use the dance card as an excuse to avoid everything I really should have been doing in college– fostering relationships with professors, going to professional development workshops, taking on leadership roles, etc.

And now, here I am. Hungry to press the gas pedal and start down the road of self-improvement. I realize that I’ve fallen behind in comparison to many of my peers. And if you knew me, you’d know one thing– I HATE being at the bottom of the pack. Then again, I must look at my path leading me to my current point. In addition to being on a totally different career track than the one I’m on now, I struggled a lot with mental illness during my first two years at UCLA. It took just about everything in my power to keep from crashing, let alone do well in class and take on leadership positions. I have to say, to have come this far with the grades I’ve achieved is an accomplishment in itself. Now it’s time to keep on improving.

Here are some things I hope to accomplish by the time I leave UCLA:

  • become a seasoned public speaker through consistent practice at Bruin Toastmasters and speech and debate club
  • work at a job that emphasizes leadership (New Student Advisor, Bruin Ambassador, Undergraduate Learning Assistant, campus tour guide, editor for Daily Bruin)
  • continue pursuing my love for dance, and share that passion with others through teaching (maybe I can become a licensed dance instructor and teach a ballroom/jazz fusion class at John Wooden Center!)
  • form relationships with my professors. That means, at the very least, making my presence known to them. Go to office hours; participate in class; perhaps even join a research lab!
  • become much more confident in social situations. Rushing a social sorority may be a cool out-of-comfort experience. Again, taking on leadership positions will definitely help me develop a confident public persona. Even going to parties (sober, of course) will challenge my social anxiety.

You see, there are so many things I long to do before my short time at UCLA is over! I feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface of my bucket list. I had originally planned on graduating UCLA in 3 years instead of 4, just because I could. Now, I’m strongly rethinking that plan. Why would I ever deprive myself of a year of immense growth, opportunity, learning, and friendship? It’s an expensive year, yes… but the kinds of experience and connections you make in college are priceless. Besides, I’m thinking about double majoring in Psych and English! Believe it or not, I’ve never had formal training in writing. College is the perfect time for me to hone my craft and develop my voice under brilliant mentors.

So, here’s my college journey thus far in a nutshell. I got off to an excellent start. Did well in school. Made lots of friends. Partook in extracurriculars I enjoyed. Had so much potential. Hit a road bump when I began questioning what I really wanted to do in life. Several more road bumps ensued. Mental health suffered. Too much partying. Bad attitude. All this and more led me to put professional development and other things of import on hold, while I struggled to get back on track. Now, finally, I’ve found my direction again. And I have two more years to develop myself further. I’m on track. I’m fine. Everything is going to be just fine.


Why I’m Done With Partying

Hey friends! It’s Monday today– oh, the most glorious day of the week. I hope y’all are doing well.

I’m currently sitting inside Kerckhoff coffee shop, listening to some Camila Cabello while writing this post. My stomach hurts– I just swallowed a classic breakfast sandwich whole. It was my first meal of the day, but now I’m regretting eating it so fast. Anyway, onto today’s topic– why I’m done with the partying lifestyle.

So here’s the deal with college culture– partying is huge. More so in some schools than others. But generally, partying is just something that most college students do, when they leave home for the first time and have the freedom to do as they wish.

Surprisingly, I didn’t party much my first year of college. I was still pre-med then, and the academic rigor of my science classes didn’t leave much time for going out. Even without partying, I was able to find outlets to release stress. Dance was a big part of my freshman year. So was writing.

Then came sophomore year. I switched my major to psychology and jumped off the intense pre-medical track. Without the pressure of medical school looming over me, I didn’t feel the need to study as hard. I had a lot more free time to hang out with friends. Thus began my partying adventures. Once or twice a week, my girlfriends and I would head to the night clubs or frat houses and lose ourselves in reckless abandon. Was it fun at first? Yes. It definitely was a new experience. I soon grew to enjoy dancing with my friends amidst the booming music and flashing lights. As a dancer, I especially enjoyed dancing in the middle of circles, with strangers cheering me on as I busted out my moves. It was on the dance floor that I felt at home. I was hooked.

Here’s the thing, though. It’s fine to have a little fun now and then. But when you’re consistently going out to parties, the whole experience loses its initial luster. You wake up the next morning, head pounding from a nasty hangover, wondering why the heck you went so hard the previous night. And more than that, you wonder, what was the point of it all? Sure, bonding with friends is fun. But there are surely more wholesome, healthy ways to spend time with friends. Activities that don’t involve alcohol.

That’s the main thing– alcohol. It is so, so accessible to college students. Too accessible. Drinking isn’t just a thing people do on occasion, to celebrate the end of finals– it’s inextricably tied to college culture. People drink before parties (we call this “pregaming”). People drink at parties. People drink to drown their sorrows. It’s out of control.

I never thought I’d be one to partake in such behavior. But, low and behold, I did. And now, here I am, going into my junior year at UCLA. I’ve had my fair share of the “college experience”. But the whole wild-child scene has honestly become jaded. I want to be on my A-game, at all times. And drinking/partying inevitably throws you off your game. Clarity of mind is the first to go. So is productivity. I just wonder… what good does partying do? I can have fun in other more conducive ways. Dance. Figure skating. Writing. Hiking. Watching films. Eating at new and exotic restaurants. Even casual dating! Things like that!

I totally understand the need to let loose once in a while, especially when you’re stressed with academics. And it’s hard to be the only one to stay home, when all of your friends are going out. You may feel as though you’re missing out on the fun.

But I’ve already experienced my fair share of transitory “fun”. I am ready to leave that kind of toxic lifestyle behind. Close that brief chapter of my life. Work towards a better me.

So there you have it. My little spiel on why I no longer wish to party.

Have a great rest of the week!





Social Anxiety Update 8/18/18

Hi guys! Happy Saturday!

As promised, I will be posting a weekly social anxiety update for y’all– primarily to hold myself accountable to my goal of becoming more confident in social situations.

I definitely gave my anxiety a hard blow to the face this week. On Thursday, I went to a Bruin Toastmasters meeting, where I volunteered to give a 3-minute impromptu speech about what I would be doing the coming weekend. While I stumbled my way through the cold speech, lacing it with my fair share of filler words, I am proud of myself for facing my public speaking anxiety head on that day. Each time I look fear in the eye, I grow a little bit more confident. Slowly but surely, the fear will relinquish its power over me, until one day, the once gripping fear becomes nothing. A mere afterthought. I signed up to give a prepared speech for the next meeting on September 6. I’m looking forward to seeing how I carry myself in such a situation.

Another way in which I battled my social anxiety this week was by attending a party hosted by my two friends on the UCLA gymnastics team. Together with some other members of the UCLA gymnastics team, we watched the USA gymnastics national championships. The reason why this party was a social challenge is because I hardly knew anyone there, save for my two friends. The rest of the party attendees were girls on the UCLA gymnastics team, including one of my all-time idols, Kyla Ross. Having been a gymnast myself, I truly look up to these incredible athletes– and to be the only non-UCLA gymnast there was a bit intimidating. But, I like to think I carried myself with grace at the party, trying my best to mingle with the girls and have a good time. At the end of the day, though, does it really matter what others think of you? It shouldn’t. Which is why informal social gatherings shouldn’t be a big deal– as long as you’re being yourself, that’s all that matters.

This coming academic year, I hope to get more involved with Bruin Toastmasters, which will definitely help my public speaking anxiety. Joining a speech and debate organization will also serve a similar purpose. Writing for the Daily Bruin will force me to get out there and talk to strangers– professors, UCLA staff, students, the like. I also hope to take on more leadership positions for mental health organizations. There is a club called Morning Sign Out, which is basically a student-run medical journal, where students write about current topics in medicine. I hope to take on a leadership role in that organization as well. Leadership, leadership, leadership! A realm I have yet to explore. But it’s an important skill to have in life, both professionally and personally.

Believe it or not, even the act of dating can help a person break out of their shell. I actually went on my first real date yesterday. We had dinner at a Korean BBQ place. It went well, even though I was a bit nervous beforehand!

Bottom line is, any situation that involves you putting yourself out there and being open to the judgment of others can be really intimidating. But you can’t hide forever. Sooner or later, you’ll have to get over that anxiety, in order to have a successful personal and professional life.

Alrighty guys! Time to do my philosophy readings. Will talk soon. Ta-ta!





Diary of a Manic-Depressive

Hey guys! Bel here. Hope you all are well!

It’s 8:30pm right now as I sit on the floor of my friends’ apartment, writing this post. Life has been quite blissful lately, save for the ridiculous amount of philosophy reading I have to do. I’ve been staying over at my friends’ place nearly every night. We study together, eat dinner together, have singing and dancing parties in the bare living room space, watch scary movies, and talk. A lot. It’s like a slumber party every night! Very different from the kind of life I used to live. Back in high school, my life was a lot more strict and focused. I’d go to school, then head to dance practice, then go home and do homework, then eat dinner, then sleep. I had very little time for a social life. Now in college, for the first time in my life, I have really good friends whom I spend most my time with. I love them with all my heart– they’ve filled my life with such joy and laughter.

13 hours later…

Hey guys! I’m back! I never got around to finishing last night’s post, so here I am, completing what I started. It’s currently 1:25pm as I sit here in Powell library. I’m feeling quite overwhelmed, to be honest. I just had philosophy lecture and, as per usual, I didn’t understand what was going on. We discussed type vs token identity, identity theory, and objections to this theory– all of which went over my head. I still don’t fully understand the difference between type and token identity. Some of the people in the class are so smart– not only did they fully grasp the concept, they were also able to generate thoughtful questions about the material, while I sat there, massaging my head and tugging on my hair in a vain attempt to understand what the heck was going on. Philosophy is hard! That’s why I’m going to email my TA to schedule an emergency office hour, so I can hopefully better understand some of these insanely abstract concepts.

So, yeah, I came to Powell to study philosophy, but, unable to bring myself to begin a 17-page reading, I decided to write this post instead. I suppose there are worse ways to procrastinate, though.

Onto the topic of today– a deep dive into my personal experience with bipolar. So, I’ve been reflecting a lot on what it felt like when I used to spend most my days in the mania phase of bipolar. There was one particular instance that stood out to me.

It was spring quarter of freshman year, when, for a period of a couple weeks, I decided to adopt a British accent. I know, crazy, right? I’d go around everywhere, speaking to everyone in what I presume to be a terrible British accent. Even in lecture, I’d continue to carry out this accent. Once we had a guest speaker– a dentist– come to class. I remember raising my hand to ask a question. I spoke in my terrible British accent, and everyone around me stared at me in disbelief. I soaked up the attention. Soon, my friends in lecture were texting me, asking me what the heck I thought I was doing. There was fits of laughter all around the auditorium, which further encouraged me. The next day in discussion, my TA told me that I was famous– no one, including the three professors who taught the class, would stop talking about the little stunt I had pulled in class. Thank goodness I wasn’t reprimanded– but in retrospect, I think I should have been, for creating a such a distraction, in front of a guest speaker, no less!

Now I understand that my British accent phase was really a manifestation of mania. Zero social inhibition. With the help of mood stabilizers, I am now, thankfully, stable. In my current state of normalcy, I am in utter disbelief that, a little over a year ago, I did what I did. It’s like I was a totally different person! Good grief. You can see now, how bipolar disorder, when left unchecked, can be a huge problem for both the afflicted and those around them. The most important thing now is that I’m stable, with my mood and better judgment intact.

Alright, folks. I’d better grind through my philosophy readings now. It’s gonna go something like this: I’ll have a pretty good understanding of the first three pages; then the author will introduce this crazy abstract concept and I’ll lose their train of thought; my eyes will start glazing over the page; by page 10, I will be thoroughly confused; by the end of the reading, my head will be pounding, eyes burning, and I will have retained nothing.

So yeah. There’s no avoiding what’s to come, though. So let’s do this.

Why Alcohol Doesn’t Mix Well With Mental Illness

Hey friends! It’s currently 11:06pm as I begin today’s post. How are you all doing? I hope you’ve been having a rejuvenating weekend filled with the all the things/people you love.

So today’s topic: why drinking alcohol when you have a history of mental illness is a bad idea.

Disclaimer: I am not a licensed therapist (yet). So I am not fully aware of the research-based effects of alcohol on those with mental illness. I speak purely from personal experience, so take my ideas with a grain of salt! 

Ahh, alcohol… how much we love this precious juice. It relaxes us; makes us lose our inhibitions; makes everything seem just that much more fun. And it’s oh-so accessible in college, with most people reaching the legal age of drinking before graduation. Go to any frat party, and the alcohol is there, calling out to students of any and every age to drink. Even if you’re underage, you must certainly have at least one friend who’s of age, and can serve as an alcohol plug. Bottom line is, drinking is a part of university culture, all throughout the US.

Now, couple that with the fact that many, many college students suffer from mental illness, like depression and anxiety. Combine alcohol with mental illness, and you have a recipe for disaster.

If you’re depressed, you may use alcohol as a means to feel something… anything. Anything to fill the void within.

If you’re anxious, you may use alcohol as a means to relax. This is especially true for those with social anxiety. Many college students are at that age where they struggle with developing self-confidence. College is rife with situations that really push students beyond their social comfort zone. Class presentations, networking with professors and potential employers, meeting other students– all of these things can definitely be challenging for many people, especially introverts. The dangerous thing that happens is, many people end up using alcohol as a means to relax in these social situations. Alcohol, then, quickly becomes a crutch. It’s a very slippery slope when you start to rely on alcohol to get through day-to-day interactions.

Now, if you struggle with bipolar disorder, like I do, it is easy to use alcohol as a means to recapture the high-flying feelings of mania. There’s nothing else like feeling completely uninhibited and on top of the world, with the belief that you can handle any challenge thrown your way. But more often than not, people with bipolar spend most of their days in the depressive, rather than manic, phase. It’s understandable for them to wish to recapture that feeling of grandeur and invincibility, and many find a way to mimic those feelings, through alcohol. There’s a reason why people call alcohol “liquid courage”. It is a fact that people with bipolar II disorder are at a much higher risk for alcoholism than is the general population, which is why I must be very careful about monitoring my own relationship with alcohol, and drink in moderation, if at all.

Hopefully by now, you can see how dangerous it is for people with mental illness to experiment with alcohol. What may start as innocent fun may very well morph into full-on alcoholism.

I implore you all– especially those struggling with mental illness– to think it through, while clear of mind, before downing that shot of vodka.


Ambition, Happiness, or Both?

My whole life, ambition has been the cornerstone of my identity. Everything I pursue, I want to be my very best… the best, even.

Lately, though, I’ve been feeling… stuck. Devoid of the former passion and drive that heretofore characterized my life. On the one hand, I think this shift in mindset is a signal of personal growth; I’ve learned to appreciate the beauty of balance in life. Finally, I have an active social life and am surrounded by the best of friends. I’ve learned to find happiness in the present, rather than viewing happiness as a reward of the future, when I’d make my mark after years of diligent, hard work.

However, this shift in mindset has also proven unsettling. I had always prided myself in my crazy drive and unusual motivation to be my best– as a student, a gymnast, a dancer. I’d push myself to my very limit, each and every day, in pursuit of my long-term goals. I derived fulfillment in living a life filled with ambition. Losing that ambition was like losing a bit of my core identity.

There is something beautiful about milking the last droplet out of each day, leaving no room for dilly-dallying, constantly at work in pursuit of greatness. When I fail to try my very hardest each day, I am left feeling lazy, guilty, and unfulfilled.

What has happened to me?

Don’t get me wrong– my shift to a life of more balance has given me many gifts. For the first time in my life, I actually have friends whom I can call my second family. Going out to clubs and parties has been a fun experience. But, in spite of all this, I am left feeling strangely… empty. I feel as though I have tried on a pair of shoes that don’t quite fit. I tried the life of fun and games. It clearly doesn’t suit me well.

Let’s explore some fundamental questions, shall we? Can a person be both ambitious and live a life of balance? Must life be viewed in such black and white colors? Does the pursuit of greatness necessarily entail one to give up immediate happiness, for the promise of future reward? These are questions I’ve grappled with, for the past year or so, ever since I dropped pre-med in favor of a much less demanding major. Without the pressure of medical school driving me to try my best academically, I found myself slipping… in all areas of life. I studied less. Ate more. Stopped dancing. Started partying.

What has happened, Belicia?

At least, now, I can say I’ve lived life on both sides of the grass. For most my life, I was disciplined beyond my years, sacrificing a social life and a carefree childhood in the pursuit of my lofty goals. Coming to college has been a whole different experience. I grew a lot… but I’ve also regressed in many ways. I hate myself for letting myself become the way I am now… struggling with day-to-day motivation; losing my ambition; failing to push myself each day to be my best.

What if this is a reflection of my true character? But, I am not a lazy person. I am passionate. Driven. A fighter. Or, I was, at one point in time.

I know it will be so hard for me to get back to the disciplined life I once lived, having dug myself so deep in the hole of hedonistic culture. I experienced the fun; to give it up will be tough. Must I give it all up, though? Balance. Everyone tells me to live a balanced life. What does that really mean, though? I have high hopes for myself. I know that to achieve my goals and to regain my former ambition, I must make drastic lifestyle changes. I just don’t know if I necessarily wish to go back to my former, pre-college life.

Please, friends, I need help. I can’t do this by myself. I need to be inspired by positive role models. My god, I used to be the role model others looked up to. Now, look at me… I call it rock bottom. That’s it– I’ve gone off the deep end, and I’ve hit rock bottom.

I must have faith that I can get out of this hole. I need to believe in myself, now more than ever. This is one of the greatest challenges I’ve faced in my life– to get back on track, having lost myself this past year. But, I know that, deep down, there lives a strong warrior. I was a fighter once; I can become that fighter once more. She’s still there. In hibernation, waiting to emerge once more. I need to get back on track. I need to find myself once more.


The Social Anxiety Beast Has Returned

Freshman year of college, I thought I had finally overcome my long-time struggle with social anxiety. I came into UCLA utterly excited for my new life chapter. To my greatest surprise, I was completely social uninhibited, when I first arrived at orientation. Some people I met later told me they were initially “intimidated” by my outgoing nature (I had no intention of making others feel uncomfortable… I guess I was oblivious to the way I came across to others). My social confidence continued to grow during my freshman year of college. People complimented me on my outgoing, bubbly, confident personality (speaks to society’s bias towards extroverts, but that’s a topic for another post). Encouraged by others’ validation, I’d continue to prove to myself and others that I was indeed this self-confident person people thought me to be. I began to partake in extracurricular activities that I’d never dreamt of doing, back in high school. I co-taught the UCLA dancesport club. I took on a job as a barista at Bruin Cafe (and was complimented by my boss for my “excellent” customer service). I gave a mini Latin dance workshop to the UCLA gymnastics team. I wrote for the Daily Bruin and got really good at approaching strangers for interviews. In the debate assignment for my GE class, I was rewarded by a round of applause after presenting my rebuttal statement– my speaking skills were so over the top and lawyer-esque, people were impressed.

My social anxiety, it seemed, was rapidly shedding. By the end of my freshman year at UCLA, I truly believed I could handle any social challenge thrown my way.

Then, came the bipolar diagnosis, the summer going into my sophomore year of college. On the one hand, the label helped me understand the underlying cause behind my constantly fluctuating moods and impulsive behaviors. The diagnosis, however, also threw me into a big state of confusion. I began to wonder how much of my past behavior and achievements were due to my bipolar, and how much of it was really me. I realized that, in the early stages of my illness, I spent most of my time in the hypomanic state. Symptoms of hypomania include: setting unrealistic goals and ambitions, delusions of grandeur, and– you guessed it– drastically decreased social inhibition.

So, a big part of me wondered then, how much of my so-called “social confidence” was real, and how much of it was simply a manifestation of bipolar disorder? My newfound pseudo-confidence was beginning to show cracks. After the diagnosis, I didn’t feel nearly as certain in my social ability.

Sophomore year of college came around the corner. As my illness continued to progress, my mood patterns shifted. Now, I was no longer spending most my days in the manic phase; instead, I felt depressed most of the time. Without the mania “helping” me tackle social challenges with ease, I lost a lot of my confidence. Once again, meeting new people became a source of anxiety. My fear of public speaking came back. Without mania as a crutch, I questioned my own social ability.

Now, I am learning to develop genuine social confidence. I have a long ways to go. But I know that the only way to overcome social anxiety is to tackle it head on. No easy way around it. I’ll be restarting my weekly social anxiety updates to keep y’all posted on my progress. Social anxiety is indeed one of the most common forms of anxiety. A moderate amount of anxiety in social situations is, believe it or not, very normal for everyone! It’s only when the anxiety is so gripping that it poses as a detriment to your daily life, that it can be classified as an anxiety disorder.

Whoever suffers from social anxiety themselves– my best advice is to not judge yourself too harshly during social situations, especially during a social faux pas. You WILL feel nervous and scared when faced with social challenges, especially in the early days of tackling the anxiety. In these situations, you may instinctively beat yourself up for being nervous. You may kick yourself for stuttering while attempting to talk to that cute guy, or turning tomato red and breaking into a visible sweat when speaking in public. In these moments, try your best to be kind to yourself. Tell yourself that you are making strides towards ridding yourself of the anxiety, and exposing yourself to situations that frighten you is a necessary step of the process. Social anxiety is cruel, because it plays into one key emotion– embarrassment. It is this fear of embarrassment that causes many to tremble at the mere thought of being evaluated or judged, in any shape or form. So, instead of fearing embarrassment, make it your friend. Commend yourself each time you face a social challenge head on, regardless of how painful it may have felt. As I always like to say, discomfort begets growth. Think of each painfully awkward moment as one more step forward on the path of overcoming your social anxiety. Because you know what? The more experience with embarrassment you have, the less power this intimidating emotion will hold over you. You will be able to tell yourself that being embarrassed really isn’t the worst thing in the world. And you will soon become better able to handle yourself in situations of discomfort. So yeah. Social anxiety sucks. But I have seen people overcome it, time and time again. And I am looking forward to that grand day when I do so myself.



Thoughts Before Heading Back to School

Hey friends! So it’s currently 1:50am on this Saturday morning. Today is, unfortunately, my last day at home before I go back to LA for summer school! I’ve been feeling… a little bit stressed, to be honest. See, I’ve never taken a summer session before. And from what I’ve heard, it goes by FAST. Think, regular quarter (which is fast enough as is), but on steroids. We gotta cram 10-weeks’ worth of material into 6 weeks. That’s pretty intense. And I’m taking 2 classes, which is full-time for summer session. So yeah. I really want to do well in my classes to keep up my GPA.

I recently watched a TED talk given by Stanford health psychologist Kelly McGonigal. She talks about how stress perception affects our physical well-being. There are two different ways to view stress. One is the most common viewpoint– to perceive stress as something negative and detrimental. The other way is the one Kelly advocates– perceiving stress as a conducive mechanism that prepares you for handling whatever challenges life throws your way. If you view stress in the former manner, you are more likely to die young than if you view stress the latter way. Point is, stress doesn’t necessarily have to be seen as something negative, as most people believe.

So, this time around, I choose to view this anticipatory anxiety as a sign that my mind/body are preparing itself for this 6-week battle, so that I can perform to the greatest of my ability. A moderate amount of stress is healthy!

I laid out my schedule for the coming month-and-a-half, and I gotta say, it’s a pretty ambitious one. My only concern is that I will burn out. Willpower is indeed a limited resource, and one I must use efficiently and wisely. I only have a one-week break between summer session C and the start of the school year. And my fall quarter schedule is really no joke, with 4 (maybe even 5) classes. I gotta pace myself. Check in daily to see how I’m coping. Take a little time off for myself, if need be. I need to prioritize my mental health, this time around. Gosh, I feel so mentally fragile, these days. I’m still trying to identify the patterns that mark the onset of a mental breakdown or depressive period. I know exhaustion can give way to depression, just as lacking a daily structure can also get me feeling down. I must find that happy medium where I’m doing enough to be productive, but not too much so as to run out of mental energy.

This anxiety, depression and bipolar II is really difficult to manage alone, which is why I also have to see a therapist on a regular basis. The thing with Kaiser is that it is so damn difficult to get an appointment in. You literally have to schedule months in advance before you can see a professional. My next appointment with a new therapist is at the end of August. We’ll see how I’m coping, then.

At this moment, I’m feeling a little manic. Which explains why the heck I’m still up, at this ungodly hour. I was watching a bunch of old videos of myself dancing, and felt inspired to continue choreographing to my favorite songs. I’m actually interviewing to be an assistant choreographer for UCLA’s HOOLIGAN theater’s fall production, “Singin’ in the Rain”. That interview will take place Monday, so we’ll see how it goes. Hopefully I won’t be too nervous. Well, past experience has shown that, no matter how nervous I may feel inside, I somehow end up keeping my cool and delivering. I just need to find that confidence within myself.

Alrighty folks. Enough chit-chat. Your girl needs to get some rest. Oh, and I’m currently tapping away at my first book! On page 14. Writing a book is seriously not an easy task… but I will persist. Who knows if this book will even see the light of day? Maybe it’ll turn out so bad that I won’t even bother trying to find a publisher, or even self-publishing. But this is a great experience, for I am stretching my bounds as a creative writer and growing tremendously in the process.

Ok. Gotta get some shut-eye (or at least try to, in my current state). Ta-ta, for now!







p.s.– finished this post in a solid 20 minutes. BAM!

Writing My First Book?!

Hi friends! It’s 6:56am on this Wednesday morning. I was feeling a little stuck this morning, reluctant to get out of bed to start my day. My thoughts– how will I fill my time today? I’ll go to the gym. Then study GRE vocab. Then go skating. Then come home and take a break. Then hit the gym again. Then do some writing.

So here I was, planning out my day (I really should have thought this out yesterday, before I went to bed), when I was struck with the inspiration to write my first book!

I know I want to write about important mental health issues. A book recounting my personal experience with depression/identity crisis following an athletic career cut short would be ideal. I could also write about bipolar disorder, giving people an inside glimpse of this mental illness. Either way, my book will be based upon personal experience, as the topic of my own journey is one I am very familiar with.

I don’t know when this book is going to happen. I go back to LA for summer school in 4 days. The next 6 weeks will be busy, filled with studying all day long. I am a bit reluctant to start a new project right before school begins, as I know I’ll get easily consumed by my book-writing, and may become distracted from my studies. Of course, I can always devote about 30 minutes each day to my writing– anyone can spare 30 minutes in their day!

Time management is indeed an art– an art I have yet to fully master. I wish I could effectively separate my mercurial moods with how I go about my day-to-day. When I feel good and inspired, I’ll be up by 5am and go non-stop for the rest of the day. The majority of my days, however, I find myself either neutral, or downright depressed. On these bad days, I’ll be in bed until 11am, and find myself tragically dragging my feet around the rest of the day, with an iron-heavy weight sitting on my chest. I attribute a lot of these up-and-down extremities to bipolar disorder. The thing is, I never can predict when I’ll have a good day, and when I’ll have a down day. One day, I may feel super inspired; the next, my short-lived flame will have fizzled out, and I’ll be left feeling empty once more. Why can’t I just be consistent with my moods, which in turn affect my life path? I hate how my mood state holds such power over my daily functioning. I need to be able to be productive, regardless of how I’m feeling. I guess that’s the tricky thing about bipolar. On your highs, you feel unstoppable. But the glory of the high is always overshadowed by the knowledge that, following a high comes the inevitable crash of depression. Eventually, you lose hope that things will ever be consistently good, or even normal. I used to long for my highs. Now, I dread them, because they signal the onset of depression. I just want to live in a contented normal state– neither sky-high nor rock bottom. I just want to be mentally stable. Live a life of balance.

Okay, my rant on bipolar disorder is over. Do you now see why I wish to write a book about this illness? There’s so much about it that people don’t understand… so many misconceptions… so many things that only the souls who’ve battled this beast can know.

Well, all I know is, I’m glad I started my day off with writing. Perhaps this should be my daily trend. It is, after all, highly therapeutic.

I hope you all have a beautiful day. Keep smiling, don’t take yourself all too seriously, and be happy!