In exactly one month and four days, I will be walking across the commencement stage in Pauley Pavilion in what will be the culmination of three difficult but beautiful years at UCLA. My time here was short, but the amount of personal growth I experienced was exponential. I can’t possibly express how grateful I am to have spent my most formative years at such a wonderful university, surrounded by some of the smartest, kindest, bravest individuals I have ever met. My time here has not been easy, nor did I expect it to be. College, especially these days, is meant to push young people. Hard. But it is through this pressure than we grow strong and resilient, and learn the skills vital for our success in the real world.
How do I feel right now, you may ask? To be honest, I don’t think the gravity of my decision to graduate early has hit me quite just yet. Bear in mind, I made this decision two weeks into spring quarter. I did not come into this academic term expecting that it would be my last. The decision has been made, however, and I continue to stand strongly behind it. As amazing as college was, it was also a volatile, tumultuous time, and I’ve faced some of the darkest days and lowest lows, here at UCLA.
It breaks my heart to say this, but UCLA’s mental health services are subpar, at best. I did not receive the help and treatment I so needed, during my hardest days. I am not blaming any one individual in particular—but I do blame the institution for not providing adequate funding for its Counseling and Psychological Services. We need more counselors who are equipped to help college students deal with the unique stressors that characterize university life. Otherwise, students will continue to suffer in silence while awaiting that therapy appointment they scheduled, one month earlier.
But enough of my tirade on the inadequacy of UCLA CAPS. That’s a discussion for another day. In terms of my academic life, I’m honestly just trying to graduate, at this point. My motivation to study is at an all-time low. Zero. I know, it’s so bad. I’m taking such a light quarter, too—my last GE, a Chinese class, and a 2-unit career development seminar. So, two-and-a-half classes. I didn’t perform as well as I normally do on my midterms, and that is to be expected. As I transition out of post-grad life, I’m spending more time looking for jobs than I am studying. But I need to remember that, as close as I am to graduating, I am still a student, so I have to continue acting like one.
In terms of jobs, I went to an interview yesterday for a position as an off-ice stretching and dance instructor at the esteemed Toyota Sports Center, a figure skating rink in Los Angeles home to many Olympians. I am happy to say that I was hired on the spot, and they are paying me a decent starting rate. If things work out there, I may extend my stay in LA to at least the end of summer. I might also be starting a job as a dance fitness instructor at UCLA’s school gym. So that’s two jobs lined up already.
Goodness, it’s already the end of week 6! Only four more weeks to go, and then finals. Finish line is in sight. It’s the last 0.2 miles of the marathon. I look back on my college experience, and a part of me thinks, “How did I do it?” I worked hard for my 3.8 GPA—yes, I know it’s not the best GPA out there (shoutout to all my 3.9+ pre-med friends) but given the series of mental breakdowns I had along the way, I am surprised my GPA had a fighting chance of surviving. So yes, I am proud of myself. I have pushed myself time and time again to the breaking point, and every time I’d hit a wall, I’d take a moment to recuperate, then get back up and find a way around it. I’ve made some amazing friends, which is more than what I could say of high school Belicia. I’ve come a far way out of my former shell and matured so much these past three years. This is the magic that transpires during college. It sneaks up on you and is the result of an infinite number of moments… beautiful, difficult, scary, tragic, happy moments… all of which come together to make you, you. You blink your eyes and the next thing you know, it’s three years later, and you are not the same person you were then. At least, that is the hope, right? My biggest fear is to remain stagnant. It would be a huge travesty if I came out of college the same person as I was, going in. I think we as humans need to strive for continual growth and learning. Be lifelong learners. Push yourself out of your comfort zone, each and every day. And boy does college push you out of your comfort zone, in every way possible. But I promise you, the view is incredible when you’re sitting on the edge of fear.
Alrighty, folks. Gonna end this post here. Need to get back to studying—or, rather, get started. Lol. I’ll talk to you all soon!