Hey, everyone! Welcome to day 1 of this year’s Blogmas series! Each day for the rest of December, I will write a blog post each day highlighting my day’s events and my corresponding thoughts.
Today I thought I’d share an update on the state of my social anxiety. How goes my battle against this long-standing anxiety disorder of mine, you may ask?
Well, going into this quarter, one of my goals was to develop more social confidence. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to make as much progress on this goal as I had hoped for. I had planned on doing Bruin Toastmasters each week to fight my public speaking anxiety, but Toastmasters meetings coincided with my Psych 150 class every Tuesday at 12:30pm, so I wasn’t able to do that.
It’s interesting. In the past, I was very open about my long-time battle with social anxiety. I didn’t hesitate to share with my friends how afraid and uncomfortable I could get in social situations, because I saw it as something many people went through. But now, it seems as though I have grown ashamed of my social anxiety, and whenever I meet someone new, I try my best to hide it (which often makes me more anxious, and my plan totally backfires). I don’t know what brought about this shift in mindset. Perhaps it was this idea that, at 20 years old and 2 quarters away from graduating, I should be further along my battle than I currently am. Why am I less confident than I was, coming into college? It doesn’t seem to make sense. Aren’t people supposed to grow and mature and develop social skills in college? Why have I seemed to regress., especially this past year?
I know that part of my regression stemmed from my bipolar diagnosis and the realization that my social “confidence” during freshman year of college was in fact that bipolar mania talking. Once I no longer had the mania to help me through all sorts of social challenges, I doubted my ability to be cool, collected and composed when interacting with people. My confidence was thus shaken, and I was brought back to square one. Another factor that I believe diminished my confidence was my taking a break from dance. I truly believe that dance was the reason I was able to break free of my shell, junior year of high school. Once I stopped dancing, I lost a big part of my identity as a dancer. I was no longer growing and challenging myself in that aspect of my life. I was no longer getting that performance exposure I needed to extinguish my stage fright.
Here’s another thing I’m terrified of. I’m terrified of running into people who’ve known me since before I started college. One reason why is because I’ve gained a significant amount of weight since coming to UCLA. As a former gymnast and dancer, I place a disproportionate amount of “weight” (haha, pun intended), on the way my body looks. Once I lost my shape, I lost a lot of confidence as well. Nowadays, I cannot step into a dance studio for fear of judgement and criticism from people who knew me back when I was thinner and more toned. I cannot bear the thought of people looking at me and whispering amongst themselves, “Look at that girl. She used to be in such good shape, and look at her now. She’s fat.” I’m telling you, this is what the dance world is like. In any performance-based sport, there is constant talk about weight. Heck, I myself am guilty of judging other based on their bodies! It’s not right, but it’s just the way it is.
Another reason why I am afraid of running into people who’ve known pre-college Belicia is because I feel like people expect me to be drastically changed after three years in college– more mature, more confident, just overall a more grounded, responsible adult. The truth is, I don’t feel ANY of those things. Sure, I’ve grown a lot and learned many life lessons during my time at UCLA. But I don’t feel as if I’ve grown more confident socially (I’ve regressed socially, if anything), and I worry that others will think negatively of me, if I don’t appear a changed person.
All these reasons and more are why I hope to pack my bags and move to NYC, once I graduate. I want to move to a place where no one knows me. Where I can have a fresh start. I want to be in a place where I can walk into a dance studio without having people compare me to the way I used to be. I can meet new people and be comfortably uncomfortable, as I won’t have to worry about other people comparing the present shy Belicia to the formly confident Belicia I used to be. I don’t want to live in the shadow of my former glory. I just want to… Be. You guys get that, right? Wanting to start over completely?
But all hope is not lost. I still have 2 more quarters at UCLA to improve myself socially. I am hopeful that Bruin Burlesque (the dance organization I started), will help me gain more confidence and leadership skills. I also plan on getting a job winter quarter that involves lots of customer service and interaction with people. If my schedule allows, I will attend more Bruin Toastmasters meetings so I can tackle the public speaking fear, once and for all.
When I graduate, I plan on working as a rhythmic gymnastics coach. I think going back to my roots and teaching and inspiring young gymnasts will give me a feeling of purpose. Having little girls look up to me will give me more confidence in my own ability. I will be braver, because these little girls are counting on me to be a leader.
Alrighty, guys. I’d better end this post here. My mom will be picking me up soon (I’m sitting inside the Nob Hill foods cafe), and we’ll be going straight to a Chinese restaurant for dinner. My brother Chris just got back from Michigan today– I haven’t seen him since summer! My other brother Austin is currently in Colorado with his friends, shredding those snowy slopes. He’ll be returning on the 22nd.
After dinner, I’ll be watching the movie “Bohemian Rhapsody” with two childhood friends. Something to look forward to.
I’ll talk to you guys tomorrow!