Hey guys! It’s currently 6:16pm on this Saturday evening as I begin this post.
Before I begin, I’d like to thank everyone for the outpouring of love and support I received after my previous post, Rock Bottom, Yet Again. As you may know, I’ve been having a very rough transition out of college. The post-grad depression hit me like a truck, seemingly out of nowhere. But really, is it all that surprising? I sped through college in three years, hustling non-stop the entire time. Once college ended, all that momentum came to a sudden halt and knocked the wind out of me. At first, I was excited to channel my energy into dancing, writing, and other creative projects– things I couldn’t do while at UCLA. My sky-high expectations of post-grad life were dampened by the bitter reality. Depression. Loneliness. Burn-out. Lack of structure and direction. Zero social stimulation. I know that all life transitions are difficult, but I didn’t expect my transition out of college to be one of the hardest things I’ve faced in my life… and I almost didn’t make it out alive. Almost.
These past couple days were very rough. I wish I could say the dark cloud of depression has lifted, but unfortunately, it has not. I spent most of my days at home, laying in bed, watching Netflix and scrolling through social media, living vicariously through my friends’ Instagram stories, wishing more than anything that I could be back in LA with them. Of course, I know that it is not healthy to live in the past, for my life now is here in the Bay, whether I like it or not. I asked myself… why has it been so damn difficult for me to get my sh** together and climb out of this depressive rut?
After much thinking, I’ve come to the following conclusion. Much of my depression has been dictated by my circumstances, but at the end of the day, it is an attitude problem that has perpetuated my depressive state.
My decision to move back to the Bay was in large part influenced by parental pressure. My parents heavily pushed for me to leave behind my friends, my jobs, my life of three years in LA, to return to the Bay Area. Of course, their reasons seemed logical at the time. Living in LA was financially difficult, and if I moved home, I wouldn’t have to pay for rent, Uber, or food. At home, I’d get better and easier access to mental health care, especially with free acupuncture treatment courtesy of a close family friend, who is an acupuncturist.
Though moving home seemed like the logical thing to do, my decision was incredibly difficult. Emotionally, my heart was tied to LA. My entire social network was based in Los Angeles. I had two jobs I LOVED– teaching dance fitness at the UCLA gym, and working at a figure skating rink as an off-ice instructor. I had only started those two jobs over the summer, but I was eager to continue those jobs and see how far I could go with them. For dance fitness, I anticipated getting many many more students during the school year, which was exciting. At the rink, I started a rhythmic gymnastics program that the figure skaters absolutely loved. I grew to love my young students and got along very well with the parents. I was giving private lessons in stretching and conditioning, outside of my regular group classes. If I had stayed longer at the rink, I could have gained more traction and momentum, gotten more students, and maybe even ventured on to teaching ballroom dance to the ice dancers, or perhaps choreographed some skating programs. There was one figure skating instructor who I had befriended, and she offered to give me free skating lessons in exchange for stretching lessons from me. So there was an opportunity to pursue my passion for figure skating at essentially NO COST. Well, none of those dreams came to fruition, and it doesn’t do me any good to dwell on what could have been, because at the end of the day, I chose to leave LA. I ended up handing over my skating rink job to a fellow rhythmic gymnast friend who also goes to UCLA. I am sure she is doing an amazing job with taking over my role. But even now, as I am writing this, my eyes are welling up in tears because I am reminded of how much I miss my students and the amount of fulfillment and purpose I felt while teaching at the rink.
Another thing I sorely miss is my role as president of my dance club, Bruin Burlesque. I started this club in winter of 2018 as a way to share the sensual art of Burlesque and Femme dancing with the UCLA community. I taught free weekly dance workshops, and it was honestly the most fulfilling experience. I was brought out of my comfort zone and learned a great deal, not only about teaching and choreographing but also about digital/direct marketing and leadership. Moreover, I was truly amazed at how much confidence my students were building in exploring this style of dance, and I couldn’t believe that my club was doing so much good for people in my community. For the first time ever, I felt empowered. I was making a positive impact on my community in a direct way, and that fueled my passion and purpose and bolstered my own self confidence.
All of those things and more, I left behind when I returned home. My confidence, which was starting to truly blossom, went back to zero. My social anxiety is coming back, as I am not being constantly challenged and socially stimulated, like I was in LA. I essentially have to rebuild my entire life and network here in the Bay, and starting over is never easy. Especially when all of your closest friends are still in college, and you are elsewhere, starting a completely new life chapter. It’s one of the loneliest place to be in. So yeah. I am grateful I don’t have to worry about paying for rent, food, or transportation. All of my instrumental needs are met. But what of purpose, passion, structure, focus, confidence, fulfillment? I’d argue that those things are just as, if not more important than physical needs.
Okay, so going back to my main point– this crippling depression stems from many things, but at the end of the day, it is largely an attitude problem. I have so much anger, bitterness and hostility inside me right now, I find the need to project all these negative emotions onto something beyond myself. As much as I hate to say this, the easiest targets are my parents, because they are the ones who twisted my arm to return to the Bay Area, “for my own good”. I know that at the end of the day, I was the one who conceded to their wishes, and it was my autonomous decision to come home. But I also know that, if my parents had just let me do what I wanted, instead of butting heads with me and pushing me to do something I didn’t want to do, I 100% would have stayed in LA and continued building my life there. Do you know how many nights I cried myself to sleep, because my heart didn’t want to leave LA, though logically, my parents made a good case for me to return home? It was a difficult decision till the end, and I remember crying like a baby on the drive home to the Bay Area. I held on to this hope and reassurance that my parents knew what was best for me, which is why I chose to listen to them, rather than trust my own intuition. I regret it so much now. I am disillusioned, hurt, nostalgic, bitter, and oh so angry. Angry at my parents for convincing me to move home, which, for the past two months, has not been working out for me AT ALL.
I am stubborn. I am determined to make my parents feel the pain that they “caused” me. Which is why I continue to wallow in my own self-pity and depression, instead of making a conscious effort to rebuild my life and community here. I want them to see me suffer, so that they in turn will suffer. Think of it as “payback”. Even though they thought I would be better off living at home, they ended up hurting me more than helping me. Call me immature and ungrateful, but up until now, I have blamed my parents for all the depression and negativity that has consumed my life for the past two months.
Today, I realized something. What good is it doing me, holding on to all this resentment and anger and hostility? I seek retribution for what my parents have done to me, and I want them to regret convincing me to return home. At the end of the day, though, I am only hurting myself in the process. Every second I spend suffocating in the darkness of my room is a second wasted away. You always hear people say, “When life throws you lemons, make lemonade”. Well, what I’m going through right now is just one big, fat, juicy lemon. It is up to me and only me to turn a difficult situation into something positive. Blaming my parents isn’t going to help me at all. In fact, it’ll just perpetuate the negative state I am in and prevent me from moving forward with my life.
I can still be mad at my parents. But I won’t let that anger hinder me from moving forward with my life. I won’t give my parents the satisfaction of ruining my life. Well-intentioned they may be, they still hurt me at the end of the day. But I won’t let their actions paralyze me from, well, LIVING. You know what? Right now, I see my parents as the ultimate enemy. In reality, I am my own worst enemy. To even stand a fighting chance of moving forward and digging myself out of this depression, I need to change my attitude, first and foremost. I must be open to the idea of rebuilding a life in the Bay, before I can actually start to rebuild. A big part of my heart still lies in LA, especially because my boyfriend lives there. But I need to be willing to let go of that old life to make room for a new one. Me going back to LA every weekend is only going to slow the process of adapting to my new life in the Bay. I can’t have one foot there, and one foot here. If I intend to get out of this rut, I need to commit myself to change. And for the love of god, stop fighting with my mother every second of every day. It will only add to the frustration and negativity and make me even less willing to adapt to my new life.
So, here’s to turning a new leaf. Wish me luck, guys. I will certainly need it.