Hey guys! It’s Wednesday September 26, 2018, 12:15pm. I’m sitting inside UCLA’s student activities center, writing out this post. Today I want to talk about why I’ve lost a lot of my confidence– socially, academically, basically all across the board.
In today’s post, let’s focus on social confidence. Coming into college, I was ready to break free from the quiet, reticent girl I was in high school. In high school, I had really bad social anxiety. So much so that I needed to go to therapy to overcome it. Once I got to UCLA, I developed a new identity– an outgoing, open, completely uninhibited Belicia. Little did I know, then, that a big part of this drastic increase in social confidence was attributed to the hypomania that comes hand in hand with bipolar disorder. It was only until summer in sophomore year of college that I was officially diagnosed with bipolar disorder. And that’s when I realized that most of my former social confidence was not genuine. It was the illness talking. And coming to that realization caused me to, once again, withdraw into myself, doubting my ability to handle all sorts of social situations where I am vulnerable to the evaluation of others.
I really admire that person I used to be, back in freshman year. I was quite popular on my dorm floor. In my head, everyone loved my infectious, outgoing, warm personality (perhaps some were intimidated, even, by my forwardness). I did things that were truly out of my comfort zone, and faced my fears courageously. At that time, I was still questioning whether or not I wanted to go into medicine. I seized every opportunity I got to interact with physicians and grill them with questions. I distinctly remember accosting a pediatric neurosurgeon, Dr. Warwick Peacock, and asking him all sorts of questions. Ballsy move, Belicia. We had a guest speaker oncologist come into one of my classes one day, and after lecture, I followed the poor guy to his car, again asking so many questions. I helped co-teach UCLA’s dancesport club. I gave private Latin dance lesson to members of the UCLA community. During a debate assignment for one of my classes, I delivered such a strong rebuttal argument that everyone in the class gave me a round of applause afterwards. In that same class, I decided to adopt a British accent one day, and disrupted the class by raising my hand and asking several questions in that terrible British accent (I’m sorry, everyone, for making you sit through that. But it definitely was entertaining!). I made so many friends, my freshman year, and met so so many different people. That summer, I traveled to New York City all by myself for a dance competition. I was totally unafraid.
I’ve definitely regressed from the person I used to be. A part of it is not totally bad. I’ve become more conscientious of my behavior in public and have developed a better radar for when certain actions of mine are appropriate or not. You can’t be totally uninhibited in every situation. You must play by ear, lest you wish to offend someone or get in trouble. However, there are parts of my social self that have lost much confidence. Once again, I am scared to speak in public. Meeting new people or being in group settings can be an ordeal, although at times I simply love crowds and running into familiar faces. I’m proud of myself, however, for being able to hand out flyers yesterday during the Enormous Activities Fair, where I advertised Dancesport club.
But I’m working on it. I’m working on developing that social confidence. Real, genuine social confidence, without the help of the mania or alcohol. I really believe that I will gain a lot more confidence when I start my own dance club. I will continue to attend professors’ office hours, as intimidating as it may be. I will become an official member of Bruin Toastmasters, the public speaking organization, as well as speech and debate club. I will do all these things to fight the social anxiety. And I’ll seek therapy as a support system as I fight this battle, so I won’t feel so alone or disheartened when I inevitably experience embarrassment in social situations.
Everyone struggles with social confidence at some point in their lives. Especially young people, who may not have much experience in high-stakes social situations. It’s totally normal, and shouldn’t be something to be ashamed of. I must always remind myself that what I’m experiencing is okay, and that it’s not the end of the world if I am awkward or anxious during social situations.
Alrighty guys. I think the rest of the day I will chillax and get ready for tomorrow, when classes begin. I’m feeling pumped and motivated for this coming quarter. It’ll be a challenge, but I’ve never been one to back down in the face of fear.