Coronavirus Quarantine Series: Day 12

Hola, everyone! How are you all doing? It’s currently 9:57pm on this Saturday night. I’m in my room, listening to the song “Starring Role” by Marina and the Diamonds whilst typing out this blog post. Haven’t done the whole listening to music while writing thing in a while. Sometimes I find any kind of background noise distracting when I’m writing, but other times it actually helps me focus. Anyway, enough fluff– let’s get to the heart of today’s post!

Today was pretty productive. I taught a 3-hour SAT math class remotely. Then I tutored a girl in English– also remotely. I’m very blessed that I still have a job, since I can tutor from home. A lot of people have lost their jobs during this pandemic, and my heart goes out to them. How do they pay for rent and groceries, if they don’t have income? I feel so lucky that I live at home with my parents, where I don’t have to worry about the aforementioned responsibilities.

As I mentioned yesterday, I’m currently rewatching the entire “Divergent” movie trilogy. I tend to get obsessed and fixated on things really easily, so I spent a good chunk of today watching interviews from the actors in Divergent, as well as the author of the Divergent books, Veronica Roth. She started writing the first book during winter break of her freshman year at Northwestern University. She then found an agent who loved the book, and the first book of the trilogy was published in 2010, before she graduated from university! Talk about a precocious author! As I was watching her interview, I grew inspired to write my own fictional novel that could maybe be turned into a film. I know, I know… wishful thinking, right? I mean, the kind of writing I’m most familiar with is narrative writing, which is what I’m doing now, on this blog. I don’t think I’m creative enough to come up with something high-concept, like the Harry Potter series. Can creativity of that caliber be learned? I wish I had taken more English or creative writing courses in college. I’ve toyed with the idea of going back to school to get an MFA in English lit or creative writing; I know they have a program at University of San Francisco. My focus right now is to get into grad school for psychology, but now is also the perfect time for me to write my first novel! When else in my life will I have the time and capacity to nourish my creative passions, like writing and dancing? Once I start grad school, I’ll be focused primarily on academics and research. Then I’ll go out into the work force, and that will be my priority. And then the whole marriage and children thing (maybe). So, I’m determined to not waste anymore time moping around. I have about a year-and-a-half before I start grad school, in fall of 2021. I can get quite a bit done during that time frame, if I focus and apply myself. Write, dance, read, and grow as a person.

I was supposed to follow a strict schedule today, to get back my self-discipline. As usual, though, I wasn’t able to follow through. It was largely because I didn’t get a restful sleep last night. Couldn’t seem to quiet my racing mind. When 8am rolled around, the last thing I wanted to do was wake up. So in that sense, today was a bust. But good thing is, there’s always tomorrow! Tomorrow is a brand new day, a blank page in your narrative. I am determined to get my life back on track, and I have to start somewhere. Take a step forward, no matter how small.

Okay, folks. Gotta get my shut-eye in preparation for a bright and productive day! Stay healthy, and have faith. There is always light at the end of the tunnel.






Coronavirus Quarantine Series: Days 10 and 11

Hello everyone! Welcome to Days 10 and 11 of the quarantine. Hope you all are doing alright.

I apologize for not posting yesterday. The depression was especially hard-hitting, and I basically stayed in bed all day, watching movies. One of the movies I watched was “Grown Ups”, a 2010 comedy starring Adam Sandler and other superrrr hilarious actors and actresses. That kept me up until 3am, so I woke up pretty late today, around 1pm. That’s been my sleep schedule as of late– stay up late watching movies, and wake up late feeling groggy and unmotivated.

In other news, I finally picked up my medication refills from the pharmacy today, so I look forward to feeling more like myself, once I get back on track with my medication regimen. Depression honestly sucks. You don’t have the mental energy to do, well, basically anything. These past four days, I haven’t been exercising. I haven’t been writing my book, or making progress on my website, or studying for the GRE. And it’s so hard to quiet the self-judgment, which only intensifies with negative moods. I judge myself when I’m depressed for not being productive, for acting like a lazy bum, just sitting in bed all day, goals left unaccomplished. I hate every second of it. And despite having dealt with depression since I was 16, I have yet to find a good way to get out of the funk, besides letting the dark cloud slowly and naturally pass.

Right before writing this blog post, I re-watched the movie “Divergent”. The film is based off of the hit trilogy written by Veronica Roth. Fun fact– she started writing the first book at age 21, when she was in college! Anyway, I feel super inspired after watching the dystopian sci-fi action film. It is set in a the futuristic city of Chicago, where the people are divided into five factions: Abnegation, Candor, Amity, Erudite, and Dauntless, with each faction serving a particular role in society. The Dauntless are the brave warriors, the soldiers who protect the people of the city. Tris, the protagonist, was born into the Abnegation faction, but defects into Dauntless when she is of age to choose for herself which faction she belongs to.

The Dauntless initiates have to undergo ruthless physical and mental training to become true members of the faction. Failure to make it through the two stages of training will render one Factionless– aka, a person who has no place in society, and is essentially homeless. So, if one wants to survive, failure is not an option.

Tris starts off the training process at the bottom of her class. She is physically weak and lacks innate ability. But her drive to succeed and perseverant, dogged character pushes her to the top of her class. She puts in countless hours of practice, waking up early every day to squeeze in some extra training time. She fails, and fails, and fails again, but she refuses to lose heart. She is beaten down and belittled by her superior, who derives pleasure from picking on the runt of the litter. At the end of the day, though, she proves everyone wrong and emerges on top.

Tris reminds me of the person I used to be. A fighter. A warrior. As a gymnast, I was far from the most talented. I didn’t have the right body for my sport. I lacked innate flexibility and had to work twice as hard as my teammates to succeed. But work, I did. I didn’t achieve my Olympic dream, but I like to think that I got close to my potential– before an injury took me out of the sport prematurely, that is. I worked my body to the point where I couldn’t continue. That just shows how much mental strength, passion, drive, and discipline I used to have. I had grit. But I am light-years away from the person I used to be.

These days, I am lost. I thought I knew what I wanted– get my PhD and become a psychologist. Why, then, am I struggling so much to find my footing? I used to identify strongly with Tris. A fighter. I’d identify a goal, and let nothing get in the way of me achieving it. Now, I am but a shadow of my former self. I can’t get out of bed. I can’t commit to goals. My self confidence is the lowest it’s ever been. I don’t have faith or trust in myself. I’m growing distant from my family. I feel so… alone. And that gnawing feeling of shame… it’s the worst. I know what I am capable of. I’m just going through a transitional phase, a huge rough patch. I just can’t seem to pick myself up, and I don’t know why. Every time I seem to be making progress, something happens, and my momentum fades. The budding flame flickers into smoke.

Maybe I’m not the fighter I thought I was. But deep down, I don’t truly believe that. Not for a second. I know I’ll make it out of this… but the question is, how?

Another thing I learned from the movie “Divergent” is that no one, not even the strongest-willed person, can succeed when going solo. Tris relied on the support of her friends to get back up when knocked down to the ground. I think when we are at our lowest, social support is integral to being able to rise again. I need help. I need guidance. I need inspiration. In college, I was inspired each day. That culture of hard work and focus that characterized UCLA pushed me to strive for excellence. As much as I’d like to attribute my successes to my own work ethic and determination, I’d be kidding myself if I said that was the only factor leading to my success as a student. I had a lot of help along the way, whether I was consciously aware of it or not. I think that’s a big reason why I haven’t been feeling like myself these past 7 months back home. I am all alone, and as a result, I am left feeling stagnant and uninspired.

I can confidently say that I have hit rock bottom. But it’s not the first time I’ve fallen to the ground. The good news? I can only go up from here. What I need to do right now is set a goal for myself. The first one I can think of at this moment is grad school. I want to earn my PhD. Then, I need to break down that long-term goal into smaller, more concrete goals. Studying for the GRE is the first step. So, I’ll channel all that present pain I feel into my studies. And I mustn’t lose focus. I must strengthen my mind, regain my discipline, and control my mercurial emotions, which often get the best of me. How do I do that? I gain back my momentum. As an athlete, I know exactly how to do it. You set a daily routine. Daily habits. It’s hard in the beginning to get started, but once you exercise repetition, those actions– getting out of bed on time, exercising daily, eating healthily, getting work done– will become second nature. Habit is how we build momentum. It is the underlying driving force. You can’t be lazy. You need to have the self-discipline to fan a flame. To nurture a seed. Once you start, you can’t quit. I know all this. I just need to put it in action.

Now, can I go about this process of transformation alone? Can I WILL myself out of my depressive funk, without the help of others? I like to believe I am strong enough to do it. But why put myself through that torture, when I can turn to others to support me? I need mentors. Peers who I can look up to. Watching “Divergent” today… it made me long to be a part of something greater than myself. Interestingly, the first thing that came to mind was the military. Let’s just entertain this silly notion of me enlisting in the military. I have a feeling that if I were to do it, I’d feel right at home. I love a good challenge. I love the culture of self-discipline and striving for excellence. I’d have people to look up to who challenge me to be better every day. I am inherently a super competitive person. When I see someone who’s achieved more than me, I immediately want to push myself to their level. I know that, when placed in the right environment with the right kind of people, I will be unstoppable. But I can’t go it alone.

I guess that’s why I’m feeling stuck right now. The earliest I can start grad school is fall of 2021. That leaves me about a year-and-a-half of fighting a lone battle. I’ve already squandered 7 months of my two gap years. I’ve spent enough time nursing my wounds. I’ve validated the fact that transitioning out of college was hard. But now, it’s time to rise again.

As I’m writing this, my motivation levels are sky-rocketing. In the back of my mind, I’m already laying out a plan. Wake up at 8am every day. Take a cold shower. Sit down and study for 3 hours. Then write for 2 hours. Then run 4 miles. Then dance and stretch for a couple more hours. Then study some more. And rinse and repeat, every day. It’s the brute force, competitive athlete’s method of going about achieving a highly-coveted goal.

In the past, I’d actually be able to follow through with these insane schedules I’d lay out for myself. Nowadays, it’s all talk. I can’t trust myself anymore. I can’t trust myself to live up to my own expectations.

I guess I should start small. Instead of studying for 3 hours, maybe start with 1. Instead of running 4 miles, start with 2. Take warm showers, instead of icy cold ones. Then, work my way up from there. Even when I trained in China, the coaches told me to start slow in the beginning. No need to burn myself out unnecessarily.

Alrighty, folks. Enough talk. Time for action. I’ll keep you posted on how it goes.





Coronavirus Quarantine Series: Day 9

Hi everyone! It’s Wednesday, March 25, 2020. 8:36pm. Today went by in a blur. I woke up late, around 1pm, after falling asleep at nearly 5am. Insisted on staying up late last night to finish watching the second Hunger Games movie, Catching Fire. Spent most of today watching the the third and fourth installments, Mockingjay Parts 1 and 2.

Besides watching movies, I didn’t really do much else today. Took a quick walk on the levee, then took an online dance class taught by Dancing With the Stars professional, Maks. As the depression grows stronger (my meds still haven’t arrived in the mail), I find it increasingly difficult to find joy in activities I once derived pleasure from, like dancing. Regardless, I was able to make it through the samba dance class, and for that, I’m proud of myself.

I spent most of today in a lot of physical pain. Presently, I have two canker sores– one behind my tongue, and one on my lower lip. Eating has become torturous, with each bite sending blinding waves of pain through my mouth. I basically did not eat anything today. A shame, since my mother so graciously made my favorite fried rice for dinner tonight, and I couldn’t touch it.

In addition to the canker sores, my head was spinning all day long. I don’t know if it was a bad case of vertigo, or if I’m getting an inner ear infection, which could explain the slight discomfort in my left ear. But when I tried running on the levee, I kept losing my balance, so I eventually slowed my pace to a walk. When I got home, I was running up the stairs when I lost slipped and fell. Don’t worry, no injuries, just a couple minutes of intense pain in my foot.

Didn’t do much writing today, other than writing this blog post. Today, like yesterday, and the day before, was difficult. Words aren’t flowing. Creativity is running dry. Sinking back into the pits of depression. 100% because I’m off of my meds, since silly old me didn’t order a refill on time. Lesson learned: always stock up on your meds, especially during these unusual circumstances, when going out of the house is not always convenient.

Oh well. I’ll get through this. I keep telling myself that tomorrow will be better. But really, I feel myself slipping again. I guess I just have to keep trying to fight. Yes, tomorrow will be alright. I’ll exercise, even when my body screams for me to stay in bed. I’ll write, even when the words won’t come. I’ll study, even though my mind is vacant. And once I get back on my meds, everything will be fine once more.







Coronavirus Quarantine Series: Days 7 and 8

Hi folks. It’s 10:46pm on this Tuesday evening. I wish I could be writing to you in better spirits.

These past couple days saw a sudden halt in the momentum I had been slowly building up over the past week. At the beginning of the quarantine, I was extremely motivated to tackle my goals, get back in shape, and make the most of my time spent at home. I was setting daily goals and schedules and was, for the most part, following through with them.

Then, towards the end of last week, I ran out of my my medications. When I realized I was running low on my mood stabilizers, it was already Thursday. I called the pharmacy that day, and after put being on hold for two hours, was able to order a mail-delivery refill. However, it takes about 3-5 business days for the medication to arrive by mail. So I’m expecting my meds to arrive by tomorrow. In the meantime, I just have to stick it out and try my best to swim against the tides of depression that I sense are coming my way. Three days without medications, and my head is getting foggy again.

I spent most of yesterday and today in bed, watching movies. Finished the Harry Potter series, watched “Mrs. Doubtfire” earlier today, and the next item on my bucket list is the Hunger Games series.

This is the second day in a row that I didn’t run on the levee. I didn’t get any fresh air today. Earlier tonight, I forced myself to do a little bit of stretching and core exercises downstairs, which was a victory.

Even typing out this post is a chore. Words aren’t flowing well, at all. Writing, which used to be my escape, my oasis, my paradise, is, at this very moment, torture. I’m afraid I’ll have to end today’s post here.

Be well, everyone.




Coronavirus Quarantine Series: Day 6

Hey guys! It’s 9:38pm on this Sunday night. I just finished watching the third installment of the Harry Potter movie series. I plan on watching all 8 before my YouTube TV free trial period is over.

As of today, I’ve decided to curb my unhealthy, morbid obsession with the coronavirus. In past days, I would obsessively refresh my Facebook page every 5 minutes, searching for the latest updates on what’s been happening regarding the rampant spread of the virus. As expected, I would be met with the same grim news, the same dismal Facebook posts. I eventually realized what a detrimental effect all this negative news has had on my mental well-being, so today, I decided to cut the nasty obsession. Don’t get me wrong– I still intend to stay informed about the coronavirus. But I will do so responsibly, and not indulgently.

Today was, like yesterday, a mellow, uneventful day. But even the most mundane of days carry their own small victories. For one, I finally finished reading the book “Grit”. I also ran a little over a mile on the levee, even bumping into an old friend on the trail (don’t worry, we kept six feet apart while briefly catching up). At 6pm, I had a successful tutoring session with one of my students, a 5th grade girl. She’s the cutest little thing, and it’s such a pleasure teaching her.

So there you have it– three small but mighty accomplishments. I say accomplishments, because even just a month ago, I would not have had the wherewithal or mental strength to do anything with my days. I’d sit on my ass, nurse my wounds, and wallow in self-pity from dusk till dawn. It was a pitiful existence, and I am so glad I’m out of the dark place.

Now, onto some ways I think I could have improved my day. I should have gotten out of bed earlier (I woke up around 1pm). I also could have done with spending less time on my phone. I didn’t make much, if any progress on my book and website today. And I definitely did not crack open my GRE book. Also, I got into yet another argument with my mother over something stupid. I’m trying to mend my relationship with her, but it hasn’t been easy.

Here are some action items I’m planning for tomorrow, 3/23/20:

1) Write my book

2) Write latest feature article for my website

3) Study for the GRE

4) Start reading a new book (which one, I have yet to decide)

5) Run, stretch, condition, and dance. Gotta stay active to stay healthy!

Alrighty guys! I know today’s update was not very interesting. But what can you expect? It’s hard to have novel, exciting experiences to share when you’re cooped up at home all day. After this quarantine ends, never more shall I take for granted the little things, like eating out at a restaurant, going out with my friends, or even having sufficient toilet paper (luckily, we are still stocked up on TP… for now). In the meantime, I’m just trying to stay sane, like everyone else around me.






Coronavirus Quarantine Series: Day 5

Welcome, everyone, to Day 5 of the “CQ” (coronavirus quarantine) series!

Today was a meh kind of day. Everything I did seemed to take a little bit more effort and willpower that normal. I woke up at 7am, did some social media scrolling, then fell back asleep until 12pm. At 1pm, I hosted a virtual SAT math class using Google Classroom. It worked out pretty great, actually! From 3:00-4:30pm, I watched some of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. From 4:30-5:30pm, I tutored another student, an 8th grade girl, in English. After tutoring, I took another break by finishing the Harry Potter film. I then went on a 2-mile run on the levee– took more walking breaks than I would have liked, though. Got home, took a shower, ate dinner, then returned to my room, and here I am now, writing this post!

I didn’t get much writing or reading done today. I was planning to finish writing a feature article for my website, finish reading the book “Grit”, and make some headway on my own book, which I had planned to have done by the end of this indefinite period of quarantine.

I guess we all have down days. It saddens me to say that my relationship with my parents has not improved. My brother Austin called me earlier this evening and told me that my mom was hurt that I wasn’t spending more time with her and dad. Hearing that made my heart break. I know I haven’t been the best daughter, lately. There were a lot of factors that contributed to the ever-growing divide between me and my parents, but at the end of the day, it’s up to me to mend my relationship with them. My parents– they did nothing wrong. All the decisions they made for me thus far, they made with good intentions. I need to grow up and stop blaming them for everything that’s going wrong in my life. But I truly believe that some physical distance apart from them will help things, so much. I’ve been stuck at home for the past 7 months. This quarantine period is only wearing at my already thinning patience around them. The only time I really interact with my parents is during meals, and even then, I’m only at the dinner table for 10-15 minutes (I eat very fast).

I’m at a loss of what to do. A reasonable person would say, “Well gee, Belicia, why don’t you just sit down with the two of them and tell them what’s going on?” Well, if you knew my family, you’d know that we don’t really operate in that way. The way we communicate is through actions. I’ve always felt loved by them, not because of what they say, but because of the things they do for me. It’s time I reciprocated that love. I mean, how would you feel if you, and parent, spent the past 22 years giving everything and more for your grown child, and that child won’t even talk to you, let alone muster the words, “I love you”? I would be crestfallen. Hurt. Devastated. I think that’s how my parents must feel right now. They just aren’t saying anything. Especially my father. He’s the most stoic, reticent man I know. Sometimes, when my mother and I are arguing, my father just blends into the background, the sounds of our yelling acting as white noise to his ears. I simply can’t read what he’s thinking!

I don’t know, guys. I just don’t know. Maybe I need to let down my guard and throw away my pride and just let my parents know that I love them. So much. I love them with all my heart, and I am forever indebted to them for everything I have and everything I’ve achieved in my life thus far. Maybe they’ll stumble upon this blog post one day. All I know is, as of right now, I don’t have the courage to show them what I have written.

Anyway, I’m gonna get back to watching Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (the second installation of the series). Have a great rest of the evening and I’ll talk to you guys tomorrow!




Coronavirus Quarantine Series: Day 4

Hi friends! Welcome to Day 4 of the quarantine. How goes it with you all? I hope you guys are safe and healthy and making smart decisions regarding social distancing. If you find yourself violating this government-enforced act, please, please think about the implications of what you’re doing and how it’ll affect those around you. Be smart.

A case in point is Italy, where measures to contain the virus were enforced too late. The news there just keeps getting grimmer and grimmer. Today, Italy announced that 627 people died in a single day. One. Single. Day. My heart goes out to those affected by the virus. This is tragic and absolutely insane.

But, in order to get my mind off of this heartbreaking reality, I will selfishly steer the subject away from the topic of coronavirus and start talking about my day.

I woke up at 10am, right before my 30-minute phone appointment with an acting coach named Leah. I sought her out to give me some guidance on where to begin with my acting journey. Yes, friends, I am indeed giving acting a try, as a means to break out of my shell. I’ll keep you informed as to how it goes. After the phone call, I ate “brunch”, which was really just a late breakfast. Made myself some scrambled eggs served with guacamole and ketchup– the eclectic mix actually tastes very good! After my meal, I read some more of the book “Grit”. I aim to finish it by tomorrow. Took a break from reading by writing part of my latest feature article for my website. Stay tuned for that! Then I went to the levee and ran 4 miles. If you knew me, you’d know that I hate running, so I’m honestly super proud of myself for running as much as I did. After getting my muscles warm the run, I went home and did some stretching and conditioning in the living room. Afterwards, I took a shower, which by the way, is more important than ever, given the contagious and air-borne nature of the coronavirus. After showering and changing into clean clothes, I helped my mom vacuum and mop the house. Had dinner, then went up to my room to watch the movie “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire”. Just finished the movie, and now here I am, writing this blog.

My relationship with my parents has been quite rocky these past several months. It stemmed from a combination of them coercing me to leave LA to return to my Bay Area home, as well as my mother’s initial inability to give me my personal space and privacy. Now, the three of us have good days and bad days. I keep my distance from them (not just because of the social distancing rule), and they do the same with me. I’m not quite sure why we are so disconnected. I think all the drama and tumult that’s happened these past seven months of being back home has damaged our relationship significantly. I can’t seem to be in the same room as them for more than 10 to 15 minutes at a time. The other day, I was walking on the levee, when I saw them walking in the opposite direction. Immediately, I was overcome with a feeling of dread and, strangely enough, anxiety. I felt awkward, kind of like the way you make eye contact with someone walking/running the opposite direction, and you don’t really know what to do. Smile? Look away and pretend you don’t notice the person? Nod your head in acknowledgement of their existence? When I spotted my parents, I immediately trained my eyes downward onto the rocky road ahead of me, quickened my stride, and eventually turned my brisk walk into a run. I waved to them from a distance, and they waved back at me. My mom was wearing her cute little sun hat that I adore. As I was passing by, I curtly acknowledged the two of them. My mother said something to me, but I couldn’t hear her over the sound of music blasting from the earbuds my brother bought me for my birthday. I replied with a loud, “Sorry, I can’t hear you right now”, and gestured to my ears. She nodded, and with that, we passed by each other, and our brief interaction concluded.

Today was one of the bad days with them. For some reason, I didn’t have an appetite, so I refused to eat a proper lunch or dinner, even though my mother painstakingly prepared a nice meal for us tonight. My mom, understandably hurt, yelled at me for not appreciating her efforts more. As I trudged up the stairs to my room after rudely rejecting her food, a feeling of guilt and regret filled my heart. Why did I act so cold and rude to my mom? She identifies so strongly with being a homemaker, and a large part of her day is devoted to cooking for me and my father. She cooks three meals a day since the two of us are home all the time. Her hands hurt from arthritis, yet she insists on doing the cooking and other household duties. She’s never asked much of me. And this is how I repay her?

I should have went back downstairs to apologize and let her know that I did indeed appreciate what she does for me. But perhaps it was pride, or more likely, discomfort, that hindered me from doing just that. In Chinese culture, it is uncommon for parents to verbally shower their children with the words “I love you”. Instead, their immense love for their children manifests through their actions. My dad spent most of his life providing for Austin, Chris and me by waking up every day at 6am to go to the hospital, where he works until nighttime performing high stress, demanding work. Not once did he falter or complain. My mother nurtured her triplets’ many talents and interests and pushed us to reach our potentials in everything we did, be it school, music, or sports. It takes a superwoman to raise triplets, and I like to think the three of us turned out alright.

I’m 22, now. My parents are not getting any younger. Pretty soon, it will be my job to care for them. Yet, I still feel so dependent on them in so many regards. They never asked for much of me, other than to perform well in school and be a kind person. Well, I’ve proven that I could do the former. The latter, well… as of right now, I don’t feel very kind. I want to express to my parents how grateful I am for their efforts and how much I love them. They most likely will not read this blog post, because I have no intention of sending them a link. Why? Because like I said, I feel uncomfortable expressing my love towards them, be it verbally or in writing. I hope that changes some day, but as of right now, my relationship with my parents is shaky.

Well, I must go now, for the effects of my medication are kicking in, making me drowsy. I’ll talk to you guys tomorrow. And, one more thing. Don’t be like me. Give your loved ones an extra hug tonight, before going to bed. As we have seen from the terrible, terrible reality of the past month, tomorrow is never a guarantee. What if, god forbid, your loved one contracts the virus and is not strong enough to survive it? Let them know how much you love them, before it’s too late.



With love,


Coronavirus Quarantine Series: Day 3

Hey guys! I hope you guys are as well as can be. It’s currently 10:44pm on this Thursday night. I’m sitting in bed with a soothing, cool Korean face mask pasted on my face. Feeling… content after a long but productive day.

Nothing that earth-shattering happened today. I woke up and sped through my morning routine; went online to check the latest update on the coronavirus (was met with some more dismal news); read more of my current book, “Grit”; studied the math portion of the GRE; chipped away at a new article I’m writing on my website, The Athlete’s Corner; walk/ran on the levee for an hour and 25 minutes; watched the movie “Wonder Woman” for what’s got to be the third time; did a deep dive into the life of Gal Gadot, the titular character of the 2017 DC film; and now, here I am, writing today’s post, as promised!

I feel so drawn to the character Wonder Woman. She is everything and more that I hope to embody myself: strong, courageous, compassionate, pure-hearted, perseverant, poised, and steadfast in her beliefs. She is unafraid to stand up for what she believes is right. She personifies what it means to be brave and bold. Fictitious as she may be, Wonder Woman still stands as one of my greatest role models, which is probably why I keep watching the film time and time again, when in need of some inspiration. I love the epic scene where she bravely leaves the safety of the British trenches and steps into the deadly “No Man’s Land”. Right before she does, she turns around and carefully dons the headband of her fallen aunt, the greatest warrior of the Amazons, who died in battle whilst protecting her. This subtle but powerful act brings me chills, every time I watch it. Once out on the battlefield, she single-handedly deflects bullets with her armor and shield, assisting the British army in what once was an impossible battle.

Today, I felt a tiny spark of Wonder Woman inside me. No, I did not save the world, cure coronavirus, or suddenly transform into the radiant, charismatic beauty that is Gal Gadot. None of that. Rather, it was the little things, the little victories, like successfully solving a math problem, and surviving an hour-long run, that made me feel proud of myself. I can sleep tonight, content at the work I put into today. I haven’t been able to say those words in a very long time. For the first time in forever, my actions are beginning to align with what I say. I can preach all I want to about how I’m finally getting my life back on track after over half a year of existing in a limbo state, but without any actions to back it up, my words are rendered empty and meaningless. And if I can’t trust my own word, then how can I believe in myself?

Alrighty, guys. My eyes are starting to droop out of exhaustion. I’m gonna peel off this face mask, do some private journaling, then get some shut-eye. I’ll talk to you guys tomorrow!





Coronavirus Quarantine Series: Day 2

Hello, everyone! Welcome to Day 2 of this three-week coronavirus quarantine series. How’s everyone holding up? I know being holed up in the house can be frustrating, and by now, I’m definitely feeling the heat of cabin fever.

Interestingly enough, despite not being able to leave the house (other than to run or get groceries), I find myself being the most productive I have been in a long while. Being at home with nothing to do gives you no excuse but to tackle your goals. No more excuse of, “Oh, I’m too busy running errands or hanging out with friends”, and the like. You have all this free time on your hands, and how you choose to spend it is completely up to you.

Before this quarantine started, I was dreading the idea of being trapped in my house. What would I do with all this time on my hands?! But then, I was reminded of the 2010 Disney movie, “Tangled”, which tells the age-old  fairytale of Rapunzel. We all know how the story goes. Rapunzel, a girl with long, golden hair, spent her whole life trapped inside a tower at the mercy of her evil mother. In the movie “Tangled”, one of the opening songs is called “When Will My Life Begin”. In the song, Rapunzel sings about how she occupies her endless days in the tower. She sings about cleaning her room, doing laundry, reading two or three books, painting, knitting, dancing, stretching, playing chess, sewing a dress, and brushing her hair. See? Rapunzel has it all figured out! Instead of idling her time away on binge-watching Netflix or scrolling through social media (not that she would have access to either, in her day and age), she is actually able to stay busy and productive. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I am inspired by this fictitious character. Thus far, I have been doing a pretty good job of setting a daily schedule filled with goals to achieve, and exercising discipline to follow through.

Today wasn’t perfect. As usual, I didn’t wake up to my 8am alarm, and instead slept well past noon. I really need to start taking my sleeping medication earlier in the evening! However, I did accomplish some noteworthy goals. For the first time in forever, I picked up running again. It wasn’t that impressive– I ran in 10-minute intervals, with each set of intensive running followed by a 5-minute walking break. In total, I ran/walked about a mile-and-a-half. Not too shabby for someone as out of shape as I am. After my run, I came home, pulled out my dusty stretching mat, and did some stretching and conditioning exercises. A goal of mine is to gain back my flexibility and get back into tip-top shape. It’ll take some time, so I need to be patient with myself. What helps me stay motivated is enjoying the process of improving. I take it day by day. Instead of judging myself for being so far from my end goal and moping about how long the process will take, I catch myself when my mind starts wandering into the far future, and bring myself back to the present moment. Each day is a new opportunity to improve. Focus on the present moment, and nothing else.

In addition to getting off my butt and exercising, I also made some money by helping a friend edit his 10-page paper. It is due at midnight tonight, and he sent me his essay around 6pm. I was a little stressed because of the time crunch, but the editing process went smoothly, and I felt very accomplished at the end of the day.

What else, what else? Ahh. I made a lot of progress in reading the book “Grit”, by Angela Duckworth. The book is ground-breaking and, for many, life-changing. I aim to finish the book by the end of this week. More on “Grit” later, when I finish reading.

Of course, with all this free time, I indulged a little bit on some TV-watching. I finished the second and (most likely) final season of the HBO Now show, “Big Little Lies”. The plot twist at the end was a fitting ending to a film that explores dark themes of abuse, rape, jealousy, and greed. I highly recommend the show. Another interesting thing is that the show is comprised of A-lister Hollywood stars, including Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Shailene Woodley, Laura Dern, Zoe Kravitz, and Meryl Streep. Not many shows are able to gather together these highly successful, incredibly high profile and busy actors and actresses. So that right there is a special treat for fans like myself.

In other news, today, UCLA made the momentous, heart-wrenching decision to cancel the class of 2020’s graduation ceremony and instead move it online. The backlash from UCLA students was brutal. Many have signed a petition to postpone the in-person ceremony to after the pandemic has passed. I can empathize with many Bruins. An online graduation? Seriously? How can that possibly do justice to celebrating the end of a challenging but incredibly rewarding four years of undergrad? Walking across the graduation stage is a symbol of the end of one formative life chapter, and the beginning of another. It is heartbreaking that college seniors are unable to partake in this joyous celebration. That being said, I understand that drastic measures need to be taken during this dark time in human history. Can you imagine hundreds of people from all around the world, gathered together in the same room, in close proximity to one another? It’s a breeding ground for the coronavirus to spread and can wreak tremendous havoc on an already dire situation.

I truly hope that this virus can be contained as soon as possible, so that people will no longer suffer. What is happening right now is surreal. The next generations will be reading about this pandemic in history textbooks. This is a time when humanity must put aside our differences and unite to eradicate this global pandemic. I know these words are nice-sounding and somewhat naively magnanimous. But these words ring truer than ever during this scary, confusing, volatile time.

I also want to commend the unsung heroes who have bravely fought on the front-lines of the battle. First-responders, doctors, nurses, epidemiologists, immunologists, the list goes on. Thank you, everyone, for containing the virus as best as you can, for healing the sick and mitigating human suffering. We appreciate you tremendously. Whenever I start feeling sorry for me and my present situation, I think of those who work in healthcare and am reminded that I have it good. All I have to do to fulfill my civic duty is sit at home, while these every day heroes must put their health at risk, day in and day out, to serve others. In dire circumstances, the best of humanity shines bright. There is hope, after all.

Stay vigilant, keep washing your hands, and be kind to others. Good will always trump evil.



Coronavirus Quarantine Series: Day 1

Hello, everyone! Welcome to Day 1 of my coronavirus quarantine series. For those of you who don’t know, as of March 17, 2020, seven counties in the San Francisco Bay Area  have been ordered to “shelter-in-place”, a measure just short of a full-blown lockdown, that prevents citizens from leaving their homes other than to perform necessities like buying groceries or obtaining healthcare operations.

For the next three weeks, the streets will be empty, most businesses will close, and people will be self-quarantined in their homes. In my short 22 years of life, I have never experienced anything like this. It is surreal.

Public opinion is mixed. Some people believe that such drastic measures are absolutely necessary to prevent further spread of Covid-19. Others believe that the people are overreacting. I confess that even a week ago, I adopted a cavalier attitude towards the pandemic. I thought, “No way is this virus going to affect me or my loved ones.” Just a few days ago, I was having a wine and cheese night at my friend’s apartment in Los Angeles. I now realize that such behavior– turning a blind eye from reality– is the reason why this virus is spreading like wildfire. I take full ownership of my actions, and from here on out, I am committed to doing everything in my power to stop the pandemic and “flatten the curve”, as they say.

It’s comforting to think that you and your loved ones will remain immune to the illness. This kind of thinking serves as a defense mechanism of sorts that blinds us to the dark reality of what is really happening. Hundreds of thousands of individuals around the world carry the virus, and that number is only growing exponentially. Already, thousands of people have died at the hands of the virus, which has posed as life-threatening to the elderly and immunocompromised populations.

I think of my grandmother, who is currently holed up in her San Mateo apartment. Thankfully, she has enough food and supplies to last her for the next month. I still fear for her safety, though. She is 84 years old, and if affected, there is a very real possibility that she will not recover.

Almost 7 million California residents are restricted from leaving their homes for the next few weeks. As necessary as these measures are, I still find myself selfishly dreading the next 21 days of self-quarantine. What am I to do, if not go to the gym, dance at the studio, or attend work?

Well, last night, I made a promise to myself. I will not waste these next few weeks. I can look at it as a burden, or I can view it as an opportunity to focus on personal goals. Last night, I wrote a list of all the goals I hope to accomplish during my stay at home. These include: writing my blog, writing my book, writing on my website, running on the levee to get in shape, stretching at home to gain back my flexibility, dancing in the small open space in my living room, tutoring my students remotely, reading at least two books, and catching up on some Netflix shows. I carved out a schedule every day to ensure that I am keeping busy and staying on track to achieving these goals.

Here is the schedule I laid out for today:

8am-9am: Jog on the levee

9:15am-9:30am: Eat breakfast

9:30am-10am: Write book

10am-12pm: Study for GRE

12pm-12:30pm: Eat lunch

12:30pm-1pm: Write on website

1pm-3pm: Work from home

3pm-4pm: Dance and Stretch

4pm-5pm: Tutoring Session

5pm-6pm: Downtime

6pm-7pm: Write on blog/book

7pm-7:30pm: Eat dinner

7:30pm-8pm: Spring Cleaning

8pm-9pm: Study for GRE

9pm-10pm: Journaling / Self-Reflection

10pm-11pm: Reading

11pm-11:30pm: Meditate

11:30pm-12am: Downtime

12am: Sleep

Unfortunately, I was unable to follow today’s schedule to a tee. See, I took a sleeping pill last night to help me fall asleep, but I took the pill too late, which caused me to sleep in until 12pm. There goes the first half of my day. I did manage to achieve some goals though: I read a big chunk of the book “Grit”, by Angela Duckworth (highly recommend). I tutored one of my students remotely, which went well. I took a jog on the levee. Studied for the GRE for an hour. After writing this blog, I will work a little bit on my book. Then I’ll try my best to follow the rest of the evening’s schedule.

Thus far, I’ve learned a lot from the book “Grit”, which explores the power of passion and perseverance on the quest to excellence and expertise. In the book, Angela Duckworth, American psychologist, talks about the nature of goal-setting, which exists on three hierarchical levels: high-level goals, medium-level goals, and low-level goals. Your high-level goal is synonymous with a long-term goal. Most people focus on only one or two high-level goals at a time. For many young people like myself, that goal is career-oriented. My present high-level goal is to become a successful sports and performance psychologist. Medium-level goals give you a general breakdown of the steps you need to take to reach your high-level goal. To become a sports psychologist, I need to earn my PhD. To do that, I need to earn my Bachelor’s degree and take the GRE exam. I also need to network with people in the field and engage in extracurricular activities related to sports psychology. After I’ve set these medium-level goals, it’s time to examine my low-level goals. That is, the day-to-day tasks I need to take to accomplish my mid-tier goals, which will ultimately get me to my high-level goal. During undergrad, I worked hard to get good grades by  studying several hours a day, going to office hours, and setting up study sessions with classmates. I am currently studying 3 hours a day for my GRE exam, which I plan on taking in a couple months’ time. I have set up informational interviews with sports psychologists to learn more about the field. I am doing extensive research on PhD programs that suit my interests. These low-level, day-to-day tasks are what will ultimately get me from point A, where I am now, to point B, where I want to be. Without low-level goals, you cannot achieve mid-tier goals, which will obviously preclude you from reaching your long-term goal. Perseverance is necessary. Discipline is a must. Passion, focus, and deliberate practice are key components of the journey. The book “Grit” only corroborates what I already know, from my years as a competitive athlete.

These past seven months of post-grad life have been uninspiring, sluggish, and dull. I battled post-college depression. Identity crisis. Loss of motivation and structure and discipline. Conflict with my parents. Sadness of leaving my life in LA. Only recently have I been able to pick myself up and get the wheels turning again. It took me seven months, but I am happy to say that I’m finally feeling like my old self, again. I wake up each morning, excited to achieve the goals I’ve laid out for myself.

The hierarchy of goals can definitely be applied to the present coronavirus pandemic. Our high-level goal is to rid this world of the virus. Mid-level goal is to limit human-to-human contact and protect the most at-risk populations. Low-level goals include practicing good hygiene, washing your hands for 20 seconds, closing down non-essential businesses, switching schools to online-formatting, implementing lockdowns, preventing gatherings, and self-quarantining at home. We are united in this fight to save humanity. Here’s to a better tomorrow, and a brighter future ahead. And in this dark time in human history, these words never rang truer.