Gap Year Blog Series: Day 5

Hey y’all! How are y’all doing? It’s currently 11:55pm on this Sunday night. I actually just got back from a date, which I think went pretty well! Summer classes start tomorrow– though I graduated class of 2019 and was able to walk the ceremony, I still have two more requirements to complete before I can receive my official diploma. I am taking Physiological Sciences 5 and Theater 120A, the former being my last GE, and the latter being a random upper division class to fulfill required units.

Today was pretty chill. It was my last day of “vacation” before work and classes ramp up. I took a beginner jazz funk class at Edge Performing Arts Center, and I thoroughly enjoyed it! I’m in the process of reading “A Picture of Dorian Gray” by Oscar Wilde, which is a book I’ve always wanted to read. At around 8:00pm, I went on a nice and wholesome dinner date with a guy named Gilbert. He was really sweet, and we ended the night on my rooftop, enjoying the view. While the date went well, I don’t know if I like him enough to see him again. Oh well. You win some, you lose some.

This week is going to be extremely busy. I was called for jury duty on Tuesday, June 25, which means I’ll have to fly back to the Bay on Monday– aka, tomorrow night. I’m going to call in tomorrow and see if I need to go to jury duty, or if I can possibly be exempted. If I have to go to jury duty, I would have classes Monday from 11am-4pm, then fly home at 8pm, have jury duty all day Tuesday, then fly back to LA Tuesday night at 10pm. I have classes again on Wednesday, as well as my first day of work as a dance fitness instructor. Thursday I have work all day at the figure skating rink. Then, on Thursday night at 11pm, my best friend and I are taking a bus back to the Bay, where we will hang out until Sunday. So yeah, rough week ahead. Really hope I don’t need to do jury duty, LOL.

All right, time to head to bed, even though I am not the slightest bit tired. I’ll talk to you guys soon!

 

 

 

 

XOXO,

Belicia

Meeting the “Dancing with the Stars” Pro’s

Hey guys! I have some exciting tea to spill!

Yesterday, I took a Latin ballroom dance workshop at the esteemed LA dance studio, Playground LA. The workshop was hosted by none other than Dancing with the Stars professionals Val Chmerkovskiy and Jenna (Johnson) Chmerkovskiy! Also there were professionals Maksim Chmerkovskiy, Peta Murgatroyd, and Alan Bersten. I was fangirling so freaking hard and managed to say hello to all of the dancers! I even got to dance with Alan Bersten briefly! The highlight of the workshop (besides learning the awesome cha-cha dance) was when Maks gave me a hug and kiss on the cheek, after I waved at him maniacally and gave him a high-five.

I was a little bit sad when it came time for groups to perform. Jenna hand-picked ladies from the class to perform for the camera, and I really wanted to do it. I thought I was good enough to perform in front of everyone. However, Jenna didn’t pick me. I want to believe it was just because she didn’t see me in the crowd. But my insecurities set in, and I wondered if it was maybe because I wasn’t good enough, or didn’t have the “look” to be in front of a camera. Oh well… I’m still grateful for learning the dance and having a blast!

It’s 8:50am right now. I woke up early in the morning and started crying because it finally hit me that I have graduated college! They were bittersweet tears of relief, nostalgia, and fresh fear of the uncertainty that the future holds. I still can’t believe college flew by, just like that. It was such a roller coaster, but I honestly would not change a single thing– even the lowest lows– because all these moments have shaped me into the person I am today.

I don’t have much planned for today, other than attending another dance workshop at Playground. It’s a heels dance workshop at 4pm, taught by celebrity dancer Marissa Heart. Super excited!

Alrighty, friends. Time for me to do some reading. I’m gonna pick up the book A Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde. I started the book but never ended up finishing it. Man. When was the last time I even read a book, cover to cover? It’s been too long! Okay, I’ll talk to you guys soon!

 

 

 

 

XOXO,

Belicia

Gap Year Blog Series: Day 1

Good afternoon, everyone! It’s currently 1:36pm on this cloudy Tuesday morning. Had a pretty productive morning– fit in a run and a workout earlier, learned some new dance choreography via my good friend YouTube, and called maintenance over to fix our clogged kitchen sink.

Gap years are often called “growth” years. It’s not a time to just screw around and waste your life away. Yes, of course, a big reason why students take gap years is to relax and recharge after experiencing burnout from undergrad. But a gap year should also be a time to grow yourself in some dimension, whether it’s traveling the world, gaining professional work experience, or focusing on personal passion projects. The way I see it, a gap year is a form of education in itself. It’s an out-of-classroom learning experience. A transition from student life to post-grad life. Oftentimes, when you are stuck in the insular environment of college for 3-4 years, you tend to lose sight of the fact that there is indeed a world beyond classes, exams, drinking, partying, and hook-up culture. I definitely lost perspective on the bigger picture. I also lost a big part of myself while at UCLA– the self-disciplined, focused, passionate Belicia who worked hard each day for her goals. A big part of my gap year will be devoted to getting back on track, straightening myself out, cutting out the bad habits and temptations, and living my best life once more. Heck, I’m thinking of rejoining the Mormon church, so I can be surrounded by a wholesome community who will help me get back on track.

I found that I’ve been writing less and less frequently on this blog, especially these past two academic quarters. That lack of daily self-reflection has honestly taken a toll on my well-being. I am no longer living with a calming sense of clarity. I feel like I don’t really know who I am anymore, as I am so different from the person I used to be, before UCLA. Some of that change is good, but some of it is really toxic and unhealthy. For instance, my lifestyle. I’ve gained a considerable amount of weight from stress-eating and not exercising every day and drinking/partying too much. I am currently in the worst shape of my life, both physically and mentally. It’s easy to point to college and college culture as the scapegoat, but really, all of my actions and choices were in my control this whole time. It’s my fault I chose to go down a toxic path, and it’s up to me and only me to change my direction.

Warren Buffett once said, “Write down your top 25 goals. Draw a circle around your top 5. Focus on those, and say no to the rest.” Here are my top 5 goals for my “growth” year.

  1. Live a healthier lifestyle. This means getting back my physical shape, cutting out alcohol, meditating, doing yoga, sleeping early and waking up early, and staying away from toxic people who don’t serve me.
  2. Take care of mental illness. Meaning, finding a bipolar specialist and attending regular therapy sessions. Staying on my meds. Practicing mindfulness meditation every day for 20 minutes. Checking in with myself regularly to see if I’m doing okay.
  3. Get back into dancing. I think I started losing myself the minute I stopped dancing as a hobby. I miss the feeling of getting hooked onto a passion and waking up each morning with intention and eagerness to continue improving. As scary as it may be, I think I need to get back into Latin ballroom dancing to feel like myself once more.
  4. Become financially independent. My dad is retiring next week, which means I need to start supporting myself. I need to pay my own rent, at the very least, and cut down on unnecessary spending.
  5. Continue writing. Voraciously. This is a given. I love writing so much, and like with dance, once I stop writing regularly, I feel like a big part of me is missing. I’m actually planning on writing a book (I know, it’s been my goal for a long long time). And now that I’m out of college, I will finally have time to do so! I’d say, working on the book for an hour or two a day is enough to get started.

So, there you have it! My top 5 goals for the immediate and long-term future. I will make it my purpose during this growth year to tackle these goals, and ultimately get back to living my best life. I’m getting started today– I’ll be taking a Latin ballroom dance workshop taught by Val and Jenna from Dancing with the Stars! Super pumped to meet and learn from such great dancers. I’m sure I will walk away super inspired!

I’ll talk to you guys later. Happy Tuesday and keep on growing each day!

 

 

 

XOXO,

Belicia

I Graduated from UCLA (and got dumped by a guy)!!!

Hey y’all! How are you guys doing? My life this past week has been pretty ordinary… eating, sleeping, studying, doing laundry… oh, and get this—I GRADUATED FROM UCLA!

Commencement was this past weekend. My parents drove down to LA on Thursday and attended my Friday and Saturday commencement ceremonies. Friday was the College of Letters and Sciences ceremony (the one people pre-game and drink before), while Saturday was the psychology department one (where you actually get to walk). It definitely was a time of great celebration and joy, and I’m honestly still processing it all!

So how have my first couple days of post-grad life been treating me, you may well ask? Well, in all honesty, it got off to a pretty rough start. Last night, I got “dumped” by a guy I had been seeing for a few weeks. That’s actually the topic of my blog today. My experience of being dumped.

Let’s call this guy “Ben”. He’s a PhD math student at UCLA, and I met him at a bar in Westwood a couple weeks ago. We hit it off and saw each other on and off for the past fortnight, and I honestly was starting to like him a lot.

Then, last Wednesday, I met up with him, and he told me about a past girl in his life who had just returned to LA. I was a little shaken, upon hearing this, but he reassured me that it was “no big deal” and a complete “whatever”. So I brushed it off. That night, we made plans to meet a few days later, on Saturday night. Sounds good, right?

Come Friday morning at 2am, I texted him to confirm our meeting for the following day. He replied, “yea, definitely”. Saturday at 6pm, however, he texts me and says, “Hey, can we actually reschedule? I partied too hard last night and feel like death right now.” I thought that was totally sketch and was pretty disappointed, but I simply replied, “Hey, no worries I hope you feel better! Let me know when you want to reschedule!” And that was that.

Sunday night, my friends and I continued our celebratory activities at Rocco’s Tavern. When I walked in, I saw Ben sitting alone at the bar. So I approached him. Except this time, instead of smiling and greeting me warmly, he stayed at his seat, looking completely aloof. I said hi to him, and he greeted me back with a lukewarm, half-hearted wave. At this point, I had already suspected something was up. The past few days, he had been texting me less and less frequently, and when I told him that I graduated college, he merely replied, “oh hey, congrats!” So I knew something was wrong. My suspicions were confirmed when I started talking to him last night. He wasn’t making eye contact with me, and did very little talking. Somehow, we got onto the topic of the girl from his past who had resurfaced in his life. Long story short, he basically told me that he preferred her over me, and was going to choose her. Humiliated, I bade him a heartbroken farewell and left the bar, in tears.

So that was last night. Today was really rough, as all first days after heartbreak are. But, I’m happy to say that with the help of supportive friends and family, I’m ending the day doing alright. Ben is just one fish in a sea of many. And honestly, it’s his loss that he chose her over me. I’m sure she’s a great gal… but he definitely missed out all I had to offer. Lol.

I’m about to head to bed, so I will talk to you all later. Just thought I’d share my experience. I’m still hurting a little right now, but I know I will be okay.

 

 

 

 

 

XOXO,

Belicia

Life Update 5/28/19

Hi everyone! Long time no talk! How’ve you all been?

Life these past couple weeks have been… hard. Motivation is at an all-time low, and I’m not doing as great in my Chinese class as I’d hoped. Worried about keeping my 3.8 GPA up, I am currently waking up at 5:00am every day to study for a few hours before class. After class, it’s straight to the library for another study session. It’s the grind before finals, and I absolutely hate it. But I have no other option but to do well, so I must grind away.

Another reason why these past couple weeks have been difficult is because my moods have shifted to a low. I think stress is a trigger for my depression and anxiety, and I’ve been taking on a lot of commitments beyond schoolwork. I recently wrote an article on ballroom dance legend and UCLA alumnus, Victor Fung, and published it a few days ago. The article has gone viral in the ballroom dance community, garnering over 6,000 views thus far. My heart is so very full because of the article’s success, and I am so glad that Victor’s story was able to inspire so many people, particularly young dancers worldwide. However, I encountered a lot of stress trying to meet my hard deadline in submitting the article. Moreover, I’ve been preparing for my numerous post-grad jobs, getting all the paperwork filled out and attending new hire trainings. Finally, I am continuing to run my club, Bruin Burlesque, which, while fulfilling, is also a lot of work. Sometimes I need to remind myself to slow down and take time for myself. Yesterday was Memorial Day, and in addition to honoring veterans who have honorably served our nation, I took the holiday as an opportunity to recuperate. It was a great day– in the morning, my best friend and I went to the beach and chilled there for a couple hours. My only qualm was the fact that a giant piece of tar got stuck on my shin, and it took a long time and copious amounts of baby oil to remove the sticky substance. After the beach, I went to Sawtelle with some other friends to eat some good food for lunch. At 3:30pm, I had a 30-minute tutoring session– this time, I was the student! My friend Izzy is fluent in Chinese, and she has agreed to tutor me for the final exam. At 4:30pm, my friends and I watched the live-action version of Aladdin. I honestly loved the movie so much. Beautiful soundtrack (give the song “Speechless” a listen, I promise it won’t disappoint) and brilliant choreography. The movie is a must-watch for lovers of musicals and performance arts. Naomi Scott and Will Smith killed it as Jasmine and the Genie. The actor who played Aladdin was not bad, either!

What else has happened these couple weeks? Ah. Regents’ Scholar Society end of the year banquet! It was only these past two quarters that I’ve gotten more involved in RSS, first through SPIEL, and then through the Inter-UC Conference. At banquet, the RSS board members gave toasts to individual members. I received a toast from my friend Irena, and honestly, I was so moved. Irena was my coordinator for the Overnight Stay Program back when I was a senior in high school, so I’ve known her for quite a while now. Her words really resonated with me, and I am forever grateful to have met her. For superlatives, I earned the award for “Best Splits”. At the Inter-UC conference, which is a two-day event where Regents’ Scholars from all the UC’s gather for a day of fun activities, the group of UCLA students took their group picture, and I decided to show off in the front and do the middle splits! Hence, “Best Splits”.

This Thursday, I will be hosting my graduation party, cleverly named “Bye Belicia” (it’s a spin-off of the popular meme, “Bye Felicia”). The party will be a lot more low-key than my birthday party. It’ll take place on the rooftop of my apartment building. There will be food, drinks, and dancing! A last hoorah of sorts, before I graduate and transition to post-grad life.

Alrighty guys, it’s currently 6am. I’m sitting inside Peet’s Coffee, sipping on my iced mocha and munching on my sausage and egg sandwich– both of which I bought from Starbucks. Lol. I’m feeling a lot better today, and I’ve learned that the best way for me to stay stable is take it one day at a time, and try my best to stay positive. I mustn’t anticipate the next mental breakdown, because that will just fill me with anxiety and dread. My medications have been working to keep me stable, which is good.

I’m going to head to the gym right now. I’ll talk to you guys later!

 

 

 

XOXO,

Belicia

T-Minus 1 Month Until Graduation!

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!

 

 

 

XOXO,

Belicia

Bel’s Post-Grad Plans!!!

Hey guys! It’s been a couple days since I dropped the bomb about my decision to graduate from UCLA a year early. Since then, I’ve received an outpouring of support from friends and family about my difficult decision. Thank you to everyone who’s stuck with me along this crazy journey and have exhibited nothing but love and support as I navigate my way through life.

So, your next question may be, what am I to do, after I graduate?

In all honesty, I don’t have a clear-cut plan yet. I have a general idea of what I want/need to do. First and foremost, I need to get the bipolar disorder under control. Learn coping mechanisms and identify triggers and figure out a lifestyle that will allow me to function at maximum potential, while keeping the bipolar at bay. My psychiatrist in LA has already linked me to an intensive group therapy program for when I move back to NorCal. Until I get my mental health in order, forget about career plans and ambitions. Health comes before all else. If I am not healthy, I cannot possibly function at maximum potential.

So the main focus of my gap year is to heal and get mentally stable. During this time, I will fill my life with things that make me happy and give me purpose, including writing, dancing, figure skating, acting, reading, and spending time with family. I must be careful not to overload myself with activities, though, because the whole point of this gap year is to heal mentally, not spread myself thin across a million different activities.

In terms of work and making money, I have a couple options. I plan on starting a small essay-editing business, geared towards high school students applying for colleges. I already have several parents of high school juniors asking me to help their kids with their college essays, so that’ll be a good way for me to utilize my writing skills whilst making a bit of money on the side.

In addition to tutoring, I plan on becoming a dance fitness instructor. In a couple weeks, I’ll be getting my certification as a LaBlast Dance Fitness instructor. LaBlast is a fitness program created by former Dancing With the Stars pro, Louise Van Amstel. It’s basically like zumba, except more ballroom dance focused. I took a LaBlast class about a month ago, and really enjoyed it! Becoming an instructor will be a great way for me to share my passion for ballroom dance in a fun, healthy way with the general public. So that’s another thing I’ll be doing, when I get back home.

Finally, I plan on reuniting with my rhythmic gymnastics community and working as a gymnastics coach at a local gym. I also plan on getting my judge’s certification and becoming a gymnastics judge! All very exciting things to come.

I don’t know if I will be taking a single gap year, or perhaps two/more gap years. Depends on how things work out. But my ultimate goal is to earn my PhD in sports and performance psychology, and work with athletes and professional performers on mental toughness coach, teach coaches and mentors more effective and less abusive ways of coaching students, and chip away at the mental health stigma that surrounds mental health in the world of sports.

I am truly excited about graduating in seven short weeks. Can’t believe college has flown by. Freshman orientation feels like just yesterday. Truly.

Alrighty, guys, gonna go back to studying for my two midterms next week! Take care!

 

 

 

 

 

XOXO,

Belicia