February Life Update!

Hi everyone! It is Tuesday February 26, 2019, 12:41am, as I begin this blog post. How are you doing? It’s been a while since I last updated you guys on my life! I’ve been the busiest bee EVER this quarter, what with running my own dance club, choreographing the musical, staying on top of my studies, and being invited to be a student speaker at a student TED talk event!

Man… where do I even begin? The month of February has been a whirlwind! Earlier this month, I auditioned to speak at a student TED Talk event, and to my greatest joy, I was selected to be one of the four speakers! The event is actually happening this Wednesday (aka tomorrow)! I am feeling a mixture of nerves and excitement. Though I’ve performed and competed my entire life, I’ve never spoken in front of a large crowd before. I’m always nervous when doing something completely new, and sometimes overthink it, but hey, that’s only human! I’m going in with the following mindset:

  • People are there to hear me speak about a topic I am both immensely passionate about, and am an expert in. It’s a friendly audience!
  • People are rooting for me to succeed.
  • It’s not a gymnastics competition. You aren’t being judged. So toss that perfectionism out the window!
  • Don’t judge yourself. It’s a new experience– again, no need to try to be perfect.
  • Be conversational, and be yourself. You have a great personality! No need to try to be someone you are not!

I believe if I go in with this healthy mindset, I will be fine. Everyone I have spoken to has believed in me, and has told me I will be great up there. I will let my passion for my topic, which addresses mental health in the world of competitive sports, carry me beyond any fear. I know I will feel nervous beforehand; but it’s just like performing in gymnastics or dance. The anticipatory anxiety is there, but the minute I step on the floor, I transform!

I am slowly but surely gaining so much more social confidence! This is the metamorphosis I have been waiting for, for so long. In addition to speaking at SPIEL, I will be speaking at several mental health events. There is one on February 28 (the day after SPIEL), one on March 9, and one on April 16. I’ll be sharing my journey of surviving the deep depression that followed my gymnastics injury; the social anxiety and identity crisis, also following my injury; the trauma and abuse I faced during my time in gymnastics; being diagnosed with bipolar II disorder during my sophomore year of college, and going through yet another identity crisis; and my experience of mental illness in the context of my Asian-American background, where mental health stigma is unfortunately so strong.

I am finding my voice. I’ve been writing for a long time, and now, I am learning how to speak. I feel more empowered than I ever have in my life! It’s a wonderful feeling, and I will look back on this time of my life– my early 20s– as some of the greatest, most transformative years.

This week is so tough. I have a Chinese reading test and big exam for Psych 136A, both happening tomorrow; SPIEL on Wednesday; a Chinese quiz Thursday; and dance performance Friday. In addition to all that, this week the theater is having full run-throughs of the musical that I am choreographing, and I have to be at all the rehearsals. I will be SO SO proud of myself once I get through this week. It’s gonna be a doozy, but I am no stranger to stretching myself thin. Not that it is necessarily the healthiest way to live… but desperate times call for desperate measures, right?

Alrighty, folks. That’s my little update for now. Gotta go to bed to prepare for tomorrow’s long day. Stay tuned for a reflection post about SPIEL!






January Month in Review: Staying Afloat, Handling Rejection, and Living with Courage and Passion

Hey friends! It’s the last day of January 2019, and I can’t believe I have not posted a blog this entire month, save for the first day of 2019!

I am sitting inside the Hedrick Study right now, sipping away at my black coffee, supposedly studying for my two midterms next week– but in reality, just procrastinating hardcore by writing this post. Honestly, though, I have a lot to get off my chest, and there was no way I could possibly concentrate on my studies with my thoughts racing the way they have been, as of late.

Well I guess I’ll catch you guys up on my life. Let’s start with academics. I had originally planned on taking 4 classes, but ultimately decided to drop my Astronomy 3 GE, as I had too much going on this quarter. And quite honestly, that was a smart move. I’m doing so many extracurriculars this quarter, from running Bruin Burlesque, the dance club I started at UCLA, to being the assistant choreographer for the school theater’s winter musical. These are all activities I am super passionate about, but they are pretty time consuming.  So yeah, I cut down my courseload to 3 classes: Chinese 2A for my foreign language requirement, along with my last two requirements for the psychology major.

Chinese class is pretty challenging. We have two quizzes each week, one for new vocabulary, and one for grammar. I had placed into level 2A (advanced) back in freshman year, when I took the foreign language placement exam. However, it’s been 2 years since I took that exam, and I have not practiced any Chinese since, so understandably, my skill level has deteriorated. I find myself in a class filled with students more advanced than I. So worried was I about performing poorly in the class, I went to the professor’s office hours during Week 1 of the quarter and practically begged her to assign me to Chinese 2, which is less advanced than 2A. My professor did no such thing. Instead, she told me that she believed I had the potential to succeed in her class, if I put in the work. And put in work, I did. I study at least 3 hours of Chinese per day. I had to relearn vocabulary that had been taught in Chinese 1A the previous quarter, on top of keeping up with the 2A curriculum. It hasn’t been an easy journey, but I am happy to say that I’ve been consistently doing well on the quizzes, homework, and essays. We have our midterm next Thursday, and as nervous as I am, I know that if I try my hardest, the outcome will be A-OK.

In addition to Chinese, I am taking Psych 120A, sensation and perception, and Psych 136A, social psychology lab. Neither are easy-A classes. Let me just go on a heated tirade, for a hot second. My Psych 120A professor is quite possibly the worst professor I’ve ever had at UCLA. It’s not totally his fault. He is new and has never taught a class before (at least not to my knowledge). And we all know that the first time you do something is the worst, which can be forgiven. It just kind of stinks that my classmates and I had the unfortunate fate of being his “guinea pig” students. What was supposed to be an interesting topic of study has turned into a chore. Truly, the quality of your professor matters a lot, when you are learning a brand new subject. A bad professor could very easily turn you off to a particular field of study, which is really a shame.

Psych 136A is my capstone social psychology lab. We are expected to conduct our own experiment and write a 12-page research paper by the end of the course. I know, sounds daunting. And it is. But the professor is really good at breaking down the process with us so the task is not so very overwhelming. There’s definitely a lot of  group work and collaboration in this class, which is a nice change from the usual lecture-hall style learning.

In all honesty, I’ve been lacking in motivation to study every day. And now, here I am, four weeks into the quarter, with the snowball effect in full force. That is, I am drowning in schoolwork. Have numerous chapters of textbook reading and lectures to catch up on. I don’t think I’ve ever found myself in such a position, as I am usually so on top of my studies! Not to make any excuses for myself, but it is an established fact that winter quarter is always the hardest term of the academic year. It’s smack in the middle of fall and spring. Even after a month of winter break, you still find yourself slightly burned out from the intensity of fall quarter. There really isn’t much to look forward to in terms of vacation, as you only get a week off after winter quarter ends before spring quarter hits. So yeah, winter quarter sucks. But you fight and push through. I’ve just been lacking a little bit of that internal drive, lately. The first three weeks of the quarter, I danced and skated a lot, and partied a little more than I should have. And so, I fell behind in schoolwork. Now I gotta pay the price.

It’s interesting, because I always know that I can do well in school and perform well at the end of the day, no matter how dismal the circumstances. I guess I’m good at pulling through when the going gets tough. Except in this case, I was the one who made my situation unnecessarily difficult. I COULD have been a diligent student from the beginning and studied just a little every day, so that when exam time came, I’d be ready. Welp. No use in beating myself up. I can only move forward from here.

Onto the next topic– Bruin Burlesque! My new dance club is going GREAT. The club is slowly increasing in popularity. I enjoy teaching members of the UCLA community how to dance in the Burlesque and femme style. It’s a lot of work, from coming up with fresh choreography to teach each week, to marketing the club, to booking rooms for rehearsal, but I go to bed each night feeling so fulfilled. I love seeing the smiles on my students’ faces after they master a new choreography and perform it in groups at the end of workshop. My goal with this club is to not only teach dance, but also to impart confidence to my students. Dance is a big reason why I’ve been able to come out of my former shell and be the outgoing person I am today, and I want other people to experience this magic.

Choreographing the winter musical has also been a fun experience! We have our first large group rehearsal tomorrow evening, and I’m excited to assist in teaching the big number. A lot of my friends are part of the cast of the musical, so it’ll be super fun to work with them.

And how is my love life, you may ask? Nothing much going on in that department. I was interested in a guy at the beginning of the quarter, and even asked him out to HOOLIGAN theater’s formal dance, which will take place in March! Sadly, he rejected me, on the grounds that he “did not know me well enough”, which is fair (I’ve barely spoken two words to him in my life). I guess my mindset when I decided to message him and ask him to the dance was, “Well what the hell do I have to lose?” So I pulled the trigger and shot my shot. And I’m honestly so proud of myself for doing so, as I would have regretted it if I didn’t at least try. That’s one of my most salient life mantras: Don’t let fear of failure or rejection hinder you from seeking out opportunities. Take risks. Step out of your comfort zone. Live courageously, which doesn’t necessarily mean living in the absence of fear, but rather, being guided by a passion that transcends all inhibition.

What else has happened, this past month? Oh! I auditioned for SPIEL, which is an annual event put on by the Regents Scholar Society. It’s essentially TED Talk for students, where students can speak about ANY topic they are passionate about. I want to speak about mental health in the world of sports, and how more has to be done to ensure the mental and emotional well-being of our athletes, who are human, just like the rest of us. I will communicate this message through sharing my own experience as a rhythmic gymnast, as well as the stories of some of the athletes I have interviewed for my new website, “The Athlete’s Corner”. It’s pretty funny– I hate public speaking and certainly do not consider myself the greatest of orators. But my confidence and passion in the message I wish to share transcends this fear, which is why I decided to jump out of my comfort zone and audition for SPIEL. Regardless of whether or not I am chosen to be a speaker, I am glad I at least tried.

Alrighty, friends. Time to get back to work. Wish me luck!