It’s 12:14am. I’m sitting in my bed, bleeding my emotions onto the screen. Gahh… there’s so much on my mind right now… but why is it so hard for me to articulate my thoughts tonight?
Well, I think sleep deprivation is the number one culprit. Ever since I got off my old medication, I’ve been having so many sleep issues. I’ll be unable to fall asleep until 5am or 6am. I’ll get in a few hours of shut-eye before morning beckons me to wake up. Then I’ll be a zombie for the rest of the day. This pattern has been going on for the past week. I’ve emailed my psychiatrist about it, but she is out of the office until March 2. I guess I’ll just have to stick it out, in the meantime.
So, onto the meat of today’s post. Missing college. I’ve definitely been experiencing a lot of nostalgia as of late. Maybe it’s because I’m feeling lonely, what with my parents gone on a two-week cruise. I spend most my days alone in an empty house, idling my time away on social media, living vicariously through all my college friends’ stories and posts. I know, super toxic and unhealthy. More often than not, I’ll feel even lonelier after seeing what my friends are up to, because I know I can’t be there with them as they continue to make memories together.
College, as difficult as it was, was a grand ol’ time indeed. So much intellectual and social stimulation. So many opportunities for personal and professional growth and development. It was a built-in community filled with intelligent, talented, ambitious people. I miss the structure of going to class every day, followed by studying in Powell library, then dance practice, then more studying, then sleep. Every minute of every day was scheduled. As a former competitive gymnast, I am so used to having structure in my life. I love being disciplined. It suits me well. Ever since moving back home, though, I’ve lost that structure. Yes, I have dancing and figure skating and work. Yet, I still find myself floating around most of the day… doing nothing productive. In these moments of do-nothingness, I will usually be scrolling through my phone, re-watching old dancing videos and basking in the memories of my college days, which are now behind me.
Sometimes, I still can’t believe I’ve graduated. It honestly feels like just yesterday when I was moving into Rieber Hall, excited beyond belief for the next four– correction, three– years. Wow. Typing out those words just brought on a surge of emotions. There’s nostalgia, fondness, and regret. Oh, lots of regret. I regret that I made the rash decision of graduating a year early. Had I stayed one year longer, I could have continued my journey of growth. There was still so much I longed to do at UCLA, from building my dance club, Bruin Burlesque, to picking up a theater or English minor, to becoming an editor for the school newspaper, to performing at UCLA’s annual talent show, Spring Sing. I could have done more networking with professors. I could have done undergraduate research. So much on my to-do list, but at the end of the day, most items were left unfulfilled. Goodness me. I feel such anger at myself right now. Why, oh why did I leave UCLA prematurely?
Welp. Can’t change the past. But I can control my present and try my hardest to move forward. Graduating early had its perks. I could finally focus on taking care of my mental health and getting the proper treatment I need. I’d save a year’s worth of tuition (“Yay”, says Dad). But leaving college early has been one of the biggest decisions of my life. And boy has the transition been difficult.
They say hindsight is never 20-20. Looking back, graduating early was an impulsive decision. I clearly remember the day I told myself I’d do it. I was standing inside the Bruin Bus, on my way home after my morning classes were over. I called my mom and told her, “By the way, I’ve decided to graduate early.” Keep in mind that this happened shortly after I made the equally momentous decision of sticking out my four years at UCLA. I even wrote a lengthy, heartfelt Facebook post about the beauty of staying in college. And then, all that went to sh** in one moment of, shall we say, misguided inspiration.
But back to my main point– why looking back and reflecting on past experiences may not be as reliable as we think. See, when I made the decision to leave UCLA, there HAD to be some driving force that caused it. This kind of thing doesn’t just happen spontaneously. There must have been a trigger. Looking back at the events leading up the decision, I vaguely remember being incredibly stressed with school. At that point, I had experienced many mental breakdowns (aka, depressive or manic episodes). I guess I was just fed up with it all and wanted to escape as fast as possible. So yeah, it’s easy to be angry at myself for making a seemingly erroneous decision. But I must remember that at the end of the day, I made the decision of my own accord.
When I decided to graduate early, I wasn’t happy. I was anxious, stressed, sleep-deprived and depressed. My pre-existing mental illness didn’t help, either. Many college students, especially those in a competitive environment, struggle with all the aforementioned things. Burnout. Anxiety. Depression. But most would not base a life-changing decision on a transient state of being. As I was manic when making that decision, I wasn’t thinking clearly, at all. My mind was all over the place. If I had known that impulsive decision-making is a hallmark symptom of mania, then I would have thought twice before completely changing my life course. But at that point, I was under-medicated and uneducated about the illness. As were my parents. I didn’t know better. And so I jumped. Took that leap of faith, but where did it land me? Depressed, lonely, embittered, regretful.
Sorry guys. I know this post was downright depressing. But it’s how I feel. Ernest Hemingway once said, “Writing is easy. You just open a vein and bleed.”
And here I am, bleeding out my heart onto the screen.