Bel’s 2018 Year in Review

Hi friends! Happy New Year’s Eve! Hope y’all are ready for 2019, ’cause it’s just around the corner! 

Sorry I’ve been totally slacking on the blogmas series. I’ve just been so busy building my website and writing feature articles about athletes, I haven’t had the time or energy to keep up with my daily blogs! 

As usual, I end each year with a year in review. The good thing about blogging is that I can look back on past blogs and jog my memory of everything that happened this past year. So. How was my 2018, you may ask? 

January

Let’s start with January. I watched my very first figure skating competition at the beginning of the month, right before heading back to school for winter quarter. And what a competition it was! The US Figure Skating National Championships 2018 was right in my hometown of San Jose, CA. Since 2018 was an Olympic year, nationals was a big determinant of who would get on the Olympic team. I watched the ladies singles’ free skate portion of the competition, and was sitting on the edge of my seat the entire time! Right then and there, I told myself that I would begin taking figure skating lessons once I got back to school. The sport is simply mesmerizing. 

In my post, “Rejected, Yet Again”, I talk about my experience of being rejected by a guy I had a little crush on. It was not the first time I had been rejected, but those two painful letters, “N-O”, still stung like a bi**. I concluded that learning how to handle rejection is an important life skill. You can’t fall into a pit of despair and self-pity when someone else doesn’t like you. Screw what they think! The only opinion that matters is your own, and if you love yourself, then no one can hurt you. 

February 

February was a rough month. In “Slipping Into the Underworld” , I talk about losing myself in a hedonistic world of partying and drinking. The typical “college experience”, if you will. This kind of life is like a whirlpool. It sucks you in, and once you’re caught up in the cycle, it’s so difficult to get out. Especially when you previously came from a super sheltered background. You just can’t believe all that you’ve missed out on, throughout all those years of discipline and focus– first as a competitive gymnast, then as a high school student vying for a spot at a top university, and THEN as a pre-med gunner shooting for that 4.0. This wild life is new, fun, exciting, intoxicating. It’s like a whole new land you had never traversed. Here’s the thing, though. This underworld is not reality. Stay in it for too long, and you lose sight of the important things. Your goals. Your ambition. Your self-respect. Your friends.

So yeah, February sucked. I wrote several blog posts about how unfulfilled I felt living that unwholesome life, and how I wanted more than anything to get out. I won’t make excuses for my behavior, but a part of me does wonder if my mania had anything to do with this wild, reckless behavior. It could have been a factor. I even wrote, in “I’m Manic Again”, that my mania was flaring up, causing me to experience feelings of grandeur and overly ambitious thoughts. 

March

Yay for March! My birthday month! I began age 20 with a list of goals to facilitate self-improvement: take better care of my body, become more financially responsible, and take care of my mental health. If I’m being real, I haven’t accomplished any of these goals to the degree I had hoped. My eating habits remain poor. I continue to spend money without checking my budget (my parents gave me a big lecture about it, yesterday). As for mental health, towards the end 2018, I really began tackling this goal in earnest. I stuck by my medication regimen. I scheduled therapy appointments. I made sure I got enough sleep each night. I plan to carry this healthy pattern of behavior into 2019. 

The remainder of winter quarter was challenging, academically. It was the first time I took 4 upper division psych classes in one quarter. And the classes were not the easiest. I finished off the quarter in the end of March and ended up getting my very first B+. Not my proudest moment, for sure. I blame myself and my lack of focus and discipline, that quarter, for I had every capability of getting straight A’s. I just didn’t apply myself. Plus, I was manic most of the time, which alone affected my ability to sit down and study. Winter quarter 2018 was rough, indeed, and I’m glad I can now put it behind me. 

Spring break 2018 was fun. My then-friend Chiana (yeah, I won’t go into the details of that friendship breakup…) and Jung came over to my home in the Bay and stayed over for a few days. We explored SF together, did high-tea at the Rotunda, and shared deep, meaningful conversations. It was a great time. 

April

Ah, spring quarter. ALSO difficult academically. I was taking the notorious Psych 100B, arguably the most challenging psychology major requirement. I struggled and toiled throughout the class, and ended up with a B. I was satisfied. 

I only took 3 classes that quarter, but on top of academics I had joined a beginner’s hip hop dance team that met for training 8 hours a week, not including outside practice. It was difficult, balancing my challenging classes with dance. 

Week 3 of spring quarter, I made the decision to switch back to pre-med, for like the umteenth time. In my post, “Back to Pre-Med”, I talk about my roller-coaster relationship with pre-med and why I kept hopping on and off that darn path. I basically spill out my entire college history, in that long post. I justify my decision to be pre-med again by saying that having medical school as my goal, even if I didn’t end up going, would pull me up by the bootstraps and get my head back in the game. Once I made that decision to be pre-med again, it was like a flipping a switch in my head. I became so much more focused in school. I stopped going out as much and chose studying over partying. 

May / June 

I notice that I didn’t write as much during the months of May and June. Only three blog posts, the entire two months. This is probably because I was so busy studying, after I made my proclamation to be pre-med again, alongside dancing on the hip hop team. I distinctly remember writing “Enamored and Intoxicated”  one night, after I had just finished watching two-time Olympic gold medalist ice dancers, Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, perform their Moulin Rouge free dance at the 2018 Olympics. Even through the computer screen, I was so deeply moved by the beauty of the program… the subtle nuances in the music that were masterfully hit; the tragic love story these skaters told through their dance; how they were able to bring my favorite movie to life on the ice… I may have also been a little manic, when watching this program. But my emotions were real. My soul was touched, and right then-and-there, I knew I had to figure skate, so I could find another medium beyond dance to feed into my creative side. 

Joining the beginner’s hip hop team was definitely a new and fun experience! We ended our ten weeks of training with performing out set in front of over 900 people. It was a new experience, sharing the stage with 40 other individuals, as I’m so used to being alone in the spotlight. I did have my spotlight moment, however, in one of the dances, “Partition” by Beyonce. In addition to being exposed to hip hop, I had the chance to meet many new individuals, which is always a good time. 

My sophomore year ended with me coming down from the mania at last, and falling into a depressive state of burnout and stress. Getting through finals was a hardest thing ever, but I made it out alive. I remember being the first to finish my Psych 133A final, and my professor asked me if I checked my work, and I said I did. In reality, I was just so ready for school to be over, I zoomed out of that classroom as fast as possible. I didn’t do as well as I wanted to, in that class. But given everything that happened, is it really that surprising? 

Once finals ended, my brother Austin and I flew back home to the Bay. The following day, we caught a flight to Hong Kong, where we met up with the rest of our family, who had been there already for a couple weeks. It was always great to catch up with relatives overseas. I was actually very nervous to see everyone, as I knew I had packed on a considerable amount of weight, since the last time I saw them, two years earlier (summer before freshman year of college). I knew that my mainland Chinese relatives were not above body-shaming. That’s a major cultural difference between China and the US, the former of which is less in tune with mental health and body positivity. As expected, a few relatives commented on my weight gain– comments that I tried hard to stave off. In spite of my efforts, it was still difficult, hearing other people’s rude remarks. But, whatever. It’s in the past. Time to move on. 

July

After vacation in China, I headed back to UCLA the following week, for summer session. I enrolled in a philosophy class for session C, which began in August. But I decided to go back to school early because history has shown that, when I stay home for too long over the summer, I get depressed. So I decided to make a change this summer, and kept busy while away from home. It worked, for the most part. For the month of July, I was skating every day and reading books, like Aly Raisman’s autobiography, “Fierce”. Blog-wise, I think the month of July was my “advice-giving” month, because I wrote several posts dispensing random advice, like “3 Things I Do When Feeling Down or Depressed” and “7 Truths About College”.  Having all that free time left lots of room for self-reflection. I also began making my own dance choreography, which is a challenging but stimulating and rewarding experience. Towards the end of July, I started to miss home, and spontaneously decided to fly home for a week before summer class began. It was great being home for a short time. Really helped me get in the right headspace for the next six weeks of crash-course philosophy. 

August

My Philosophy 7 class started in August. It was a challenging class, just like most philosophy classes are. The reading was overwhelming and difficult to understand. I had to go to office hours regularly to clarify concepts and run paper ideas by my TA. I ended up with an A- in the class, which I’m honestly happy about, since I struggled so much with the readings (if you didn’t know, I love writing, but struggle more with reading). 

By August, my social anxiety had started to return, largely because my bipolar diagnosis I had received the previous summer shook up my sense of identity and made me question whether or not I was truly confident, or if my “confidence” was just the mania talking. So the anxiety slowly began to creep back into my life, until it stared me straight in the face, when during the first day of discussion for philosophy class, I found myself gripped with fear, while introducing myself to the class during icebreakers. 

I capped off that month eager to break free from the shackles of anxiety and freshly motivated to develop my social confidence.

September

September was… interesting. I went to my first male strip club, where I was “discovered” by one of the strippers, who wanted to recruit me to a ladies Burlesque dance group he was managing. Against my better judgement, I decided to give it a go. One rehearsal later, I realized I was mixing with the wrong kind of people, and ended up leaving them completely. It was a good learning experience. Never fill your life with toxic people, unless you want your life to go to sh**.

Junior year of college started in end of September. I was both anxious and excited to begin my third and final year at UCLA. I was motivated to put behind me the academic flop that was sophomore year, and end my college years strong, with a solid GPA. More than that, I wanted to experience as much as I could during my remaining 9 months in school. And no, I’m not talking about unwholesome things. I’m talking eye-opening, enriching, fulfilling experiences that you learn and grow from. And so, I decided to start my own dance club, “Bruin Burlesque”, where I share my knowledge of femme and Burlesque dance with members of the UCLA community. The idea to start my own dance club had been in the making for a while, but I didn’t have the courage to bring it to life, until I was able to adopt a “what do you have to lose” mindset. So I jumped. And, as I grow older, I’m finding that the more times you “jump” without overthinking, the greater you grow and the more unique experiences you have. So, keep on jumping, you guys! 

October

Most of my October blog posts were about studying. Always studying. Which was a good thing, as it showed that I had left behind my past unwholesome life for good, and regained my focus in academics. I remember going to a few parties in October, but enjoying none of them. I guess that really shows that partying is no longer my scene. I have effectively exorcised that demon. 

In Heartbroken”I reflect on how far my social confidence has diminished since my freshman year of college. The night before I wrote the piece, I had attended a party hosted by my friend’s film fraternity. This wasn’t your typical get-yourself-as-wasted-as-humanly-possible frat party. Here, you actually had to mingle with people. And I realized how uncomfortable I now was, meeting new people. I saw some people I had known during my freshman year, and stuck by them. They were introducing me to their friends as the “super confident British accent girl” (if you don’t know the story of my British accent… I’ll tell you some other time. It’s a pretty fun story). And in that moment, I realized that yes, my mania during freshman year of college drove many of my “out-there” and “ballsy” behaviors, but in believing I was a confident person, I started to act like one. Which made me put myself in situations that I’d used to cower from– teaching dance to the UCLA gymnastics team; becoming a choreographer for the fall musical; accosting a neurosurgeon and grilling him with questions; following an oncologist to his car, also asking him the same questions. For that period of time, I WAS confident, not because of the mania, but because I put in the work to live outside my comfort zone. It’s so interesting, how powerful a single belief can be. 

November

I started the month off with a life update post. Midterms season was happening, and I was studying, all the damn time. Fall quarter of my junior year was the second time in my college career that I took 4 upper div psych classes, one of which was a notoriously difficult class (not quite as hard as Psych 100B… but still a doozy). Funnily enough, that hard class ended up being my favorite psych class I’ve taken thus far, at UCLA. Anyway, back to November. I had found a dance partner the previous month– Mert, an extension student from Turkey– and we decided to compete at the UCSB Beach Ball competition in early November, after only 3 weeks of training together. We had good results at the competition, but I didn’t feel confident on the floor, at all. I was stressed, because I didn’t feel prepared with such little training. Practices with Mert were pretty negative, since I get frustrated easily and usually take it out on my partner. So after the competition, Mert and I terminated our partnership. It’s funny– we didn’t even have a conversation about it. We LITERALLY just stopped talking to each other. Oh well. 

I had my mental breakdown of the quarter during midterms season. It was the week after Beach Ball. I had spent the entire weekend competing in Santa Barbara, which meant I did very little studying. I had a midterm for my Psych 188B class the following Tuesday, and I was SO underprepared. The most underprepared I’d ever been, for any exam in my life. The exam was a flop. I ended up with an 80%, which was 3 percentage points below the average. Because of that exam, I ended with an A- in the class. Thank god I did well on the final and got the full extra credit points! 

December

And now, here we are, on the last day of December. This month has been wonderful. During week 9 of the quarter, I taught my first Bruin Burlesque workshop, and it was a success! I gained a tremendous amount of social confidence after that, and I expect to continue this momentum as I host more workshops this coming quarter. 

Finals were AMAZING. I studied the hardest I’d ever studied, with a “failure is not an option” mindset. I did well, and ended fall quarter with 2 A+’s, 1 A, and 1 A-. Not too shabby, and definitely a huge improvement from last year. See, Bel? If you apply yourself, you WILL succeed! 

This past break, I did a LOT  of writing. I started my own website, “The Athlete’s Corner”, which y’all probably know about, since I talk about it so much! It’s basically a website where I share the stories of members of the athletic community and their experience in competitive athletics. I want to give athletes, coaches, and parents of athletes a VOICE. Because there’s so much the public doesn’t know about what goes into shaping a competitive athlete. When I reached out to members of the athletic community, be it gymnasts, figure skaters, synchronized swimmers, dancers, Cirque du Soleil artists, or coaches, I was completely unaware of how people would respond. Surprisingly, most of the people I reached out to were enthusiastic and supportive of my website idea, and gracious enough to agree to an interview so I could share their stories! I’ve gotten many interviews lined up, with former national team members and elite athletes, a former DWTS professional, and even current world champion ballroom dancer, Victor Fung! I feel like I’ve been given a new purpose– to share these stories and give athletes a voice. This newfound sense of purpose has further developed my confidence and my sense of purpose in this world. I feel like I’m actually doing something impactful, which is a great feeling to have. So, I end this year with great hope and excitement for what’s to come. From my new website to my new club on campus, I truly believe things are going to look up for me, in 2019. 

I’m also ending this year still completely single… but instead of feeling like a lousy wallflower about it, I celebrate my life as a single woman. People ask me if I think 2019 will be my “year”, in terms of getting a boyfriend. I just tell them that, in all honesty, I have no idea. I am open to the idea of dating casually and seeing where it leads me. But at this point in my life, with all the new and exciting projects I’m taking on, a boyfriend is the last thing on my mind. 

It’s 5:23pm right now. A little less than 7 hours ’till countdown. For the first time, I’ll be spending New Years Eve with friends! Going to their house at 9pm and gonna have a grand ol’ time. Here’s to health, happiness, and growth, this coming year. I wish you all the very best!

 

 

XOXO,

Belicia 

Blogmas Day 12: Half Moon Bay Family Bonding Day

Hey guys! Welcome to Blogmas Day 12. It’s 10:44pm on this Friday night as I begin this post. I’m currently listening to one of my all-time favorite songs, “Come What May”, from the Moulin Rouge! OST. I’m planning on doing a dance choreography to this piece, which is why it’s important for me to listen to it repeatedly.

Anyway, today was a nice day. I woke up around 11am but felt a little bit under the weather. I hadn’t quite recovered from my cold, so I stayed in bed for a while before my brother came into my room and opened the curtains to wake me up. Reluctantly, I rushed through my morning routine. My family decided to go to Half Moon Bay for dimsum at Koi Palace. On the way there, we drove the scenic route, where you could see the oceanview and hills laden with goats and horses. We got to the restaurant at 2pm and had to wait a little bit before getting seated. Dimsum was delicious, as usual.

After lunch, we stopped by Whole Foods to buy some groceries. Then, we headed to the Hillsdale Shopping Center, where my brothers and dad got their shirts tailored at Nordstrom. While waiting for them, my grandma and I sat in the bench area outside of Macy’s admiring that year’s Christmas decorations. After the boys got their shirts fixed, we headed to Nob Hill foods, where I deposited some cash into my bank account, and my dad picked up some medication for my grandmother. Finally, around 5pm, we got home. What a wonderful time spent with family! Gotta cherish our time together, because they won’t last forever.

Once I got home, I immediately began networking for athletes to interview for my website, “The Athlete’s Corner”. I had no idea whether or not people would be receptive to sharing their stories with me. But I had to try, right? So I started by asking people I knew personally, and I already have several interviews lined up! I honestly have a good feeling about this project. I was blessed with the gift to write, and have no intention of wasting it. I’ve always been fascinated by the stories of exceptional people. And for the first time in my life, I’ll be able to use my voice to share these stories with the world. Which, in my opinion, is super exciting.

It’s almost 11pm now. I’m going to try to fix my sleep schedule and wake up early to exercise tomorrow morning! Have a great night, guys!

 

 

 

XOXO,

Belicia

Blogmas Days 9, 10, and 11: Christmas Day and Wisdom Tooth Removal!

Hey guys! It’s currently 9pm on Thursday, December 27, 2018. I apologize for not having kept up with blogging these past few days! Between Christmas parties, skating, building my new website, getting my wisdom tooth removed, and catching a cold, I haven’t had much time to sit down and just write.

I guess I’ll start from the present and go backwards. Today (12/27/18) was a pretty big day– I got my right lower wisdom tooth removed! The entire process was pretty quick, though I can’t say it was painless. My appointment was at 10am, so I made sure to eat a REALLY big breakfast of congee, smoothie, and blueberries (oh, and I might have snuck in a slice of Uncle Tetsu’s cheesecake, for good measure) before we left the house. Once we arrived at the dental office, the dentist got me started my applying a local anesthetic to the area around my lower right molar. I always hate that darn needle they stick into your gums when injecting the anesthesia. Sometimes, that part is more painful than the actual tooth extraction! We waited about 15 minutes for the anesthesia to kick in, after which the dentist began the extraction process.

CAUTION: SEMI-GRAPHIC CONTENT AHEAD

I felt a strong pressure on my lower right molar, followed by sharp pain when I felt the tooth being pulled out of my gums. I worried that I was not given enough local anesthetic, which got me really scared. My eyes were closed the ENTIRE time. At one point, I heard something crack in my mouth, which was probably the sound of my wisdom tooth being dislodged from the rest of my jaw. Ouch. Before I knew it, though, the procedure was done. The dentist, who also happens to be a good family friend, remarked that I got lucky, because the extraction was so easy! I wasn’t expected to feel much pain during recovery.

After we left the dental office, my mom and I went to the local pharmacy to pick up antibiotic medication for the sutured-up hole in my mouth, as well as extra strong Tylenol. No need for any strong prescription pain meds, like Vicodin. I sure did luck out, with this particular wisdom tooth. Hopefully this will be the only one that needs to get removed!

When I got home, I started feeling pretty under the weather, physically. I must have caught a cold from the past few days of skating in the cold rink without a jacket. So I took my medications and went to sleep for a few hours. When I woke up, it was about 4pm. I felt a little better, but not enough to get out of bed. So I watched the 2014 movie “The Theory of Everything”, which tells the story of the late Dr. Stephen Hawking, British theoretical physicist. Absolutely loved it– and the soundtrack was superb, as well. I would love to dance/skate a routine to the soundtrack, one day!

For dinner, I had a gigantic bowl of congee, seeing as it was the only thing I could eat! After dinner, I drove to Nob Hill Foods to buy myself some applesauce and pistachio ice cream. It was my first time trying the Italian ice cream brand “Talenti”, and my goodness it was delicious! I’m eating it right now, as I type out this blog!

Alrighty, now that we’ve caught up to the present, let’s turn back TIME (lol, reference to Hawking’s obsession) and talk about what I did the past couple days.

Tuesday was Christmas Day. It’s weird. When I was a little girl, I’d wake up every Christmas morning feeling like the happiest person on Earth. I’d scream, “MERRY CHRISTMAS”, to all my family members still asleep in their warm beds, and effectively wake everyone up. I’d dash down the stairs and sort through the presents to see which ones were mine. I was a good girl, though, and never opened them until my mom gave me permission to.

Christmas used to be a day of great fervor and excitement, something I’d look forward to for months on end. Once Christmas was over, I’d be very sad, only to perk up at the thought of next year’s Christmas. Then I’d break out my little calendar and start the Christmas countdown, 364 days in advance. THAT is how much the holiday meant to me, when I was a kid.

Nowadays, I’m most definitely NOT that energetic. Nor do I find myself counting down the days for major holidays, be it Halloween, my birthday, or even Christmas. I kind of just let it happen, silently smiling and soaking in each moment. Then once the celebration has passed, I am sobered back to reality, and life goes on. I suppose this is what happens when you grow up. The big things don’t seem to matter as much, and it’s the little things that bring us the greatest joy.

So that’s what Christmas was this year. I woke up like it was any other day of winter break. I put on my red and green Christmas outfit for pictures. Went downstairs, ate my usual breakfast. Then cracked open my laptop to work on my blog, until my mother said it was time to take pictures and open presents. The stockings were emptied, and as usual, we found red envelopes filled with lucky money from our parents and grandmother. We expressed our thanks and proceeded onward to open our individual presents. I received a new pair of Raybands sunglasses, a pair of Adidas running shoes, coupled with a pair of Calvin Klein sweatpants, a beautiful angel ornament, and a bookmark that reads, “Keep Dancing”.

Since it’s been two days since Christmas, I can’t remember what my other family members received as their presents. All I can say is, I feel super grateful that my family can afford to give each other presents as tokens for our love for one another. Not all families are fortunate enough to engage in the act of gift-giving. And even though, at the end of the day, most Christmas gifts are just material possessions, it’s really the thought behind it that warms the heart and makes you smile.

By the time we finished opening presents and taking pictures, it was around 1:30pm. I drove myself to the ice skating rink (yes, I survived the freeway!), where I skated from 2pm to 4pm. Normally, the public session starts at 2:30pm, but the manager was nice enough to let me skate in the freestyle session with the competitive skaters, if I paid $4 extra. Since it was Christmas, there weren’t that many freestyle skaters on the ice. But it was still cool being able to pretend I was “one of them”, for those brief 30 minutes (one day, Belicia, one day).

After skating, I drove home and got dressed for the Christmas party my family and I were invited to. The party was hosted by the very family friends who brought my mom and dad together! So I actually owe my very existence to Auntie Ella and Uncle Henry!

The party was mainly for the adults. Us “kids” were relegated to a table of our own. The food was amazing as usual. I especially enjoyed the clam linguini, which I will attempt to make for myself when I go back to school.

It was around 10pm by the time we got back home. I hit the hay early that night, since I had a 7am phone appointment the next morning, with my psychiatrist in LA.

Which finally brings me to yesterday, December 26, 2018. Miraculously, I managed to wake up by 7am. The doctor checked in with me, heard that I was doing well, and put in another prescription for me to pick up once I got back to LA. The rest of the day was kind of a blur. I didn’t go skating that day, because I had some pretty nasty blisters on my left foot, and I think my body needed to rest and absorb all the new information I was getting. I spent most of the day working on my new site, “The Athlete’s Corner”. I think I already told you guys about this project of mine. If not, here’s a quick elevator pitch: it’s a website dedicated to giving current and former members a platform to share their experiences in the world of sports. Many people don’t know what goes on behind the scenes in the shaping of a competitive athlete. The strict training regimen. The number of sacrifices one must make for one’s sport. The mental and physical abuse. The constant pressure to perform to perfection. Body image issues. Injuries. And, once the athlete inevitably retires, how they are able to make the difficult transition to a life outside their sport. I want to educate the public about life in sports, and I want to do it through the voices of athletes, coaches, and parents of athletes. It’s a big project, but it’s definitely one I am passionate about.

So that basically wraps up what happened with me, these past few days. I’ll talk to you guys tomorrow! ❤

 

Blogmas Day 8: Christmas Eve!

Merry Christmas Eve to all of my readers who celebrate!

Today was a great day! I woke up at almost noon because I stayed up writing until past 2am, the previous night.

I had originally planned on going ice skating in San Francisco Union Square with a friend from high school, but he canceled last minute because his plans changed. I get that things happen, so it was no matter. I still wanted go ice skating though, especially since I had made a big breakthrough in my skating the previous day, and I was eager to keep improving.

I ate a brunch of leftover noodles cooked in the last night’s hot pot soup base. It was delicious! After eating, I took an Uber to the ice skating rink, because both the Lexus and Volks Wagon were taken by my mom and brothers, and I did not feel comfortable driving our minivan on the freeway, especially not on a rainy day.

I arrived at the rink at 2pm and had 30 minutes to kill before the 2:30-6pm public skating session began. I did some stretching in the corner of the waiting area. At 2:30pm, I strapped on my skates and hopped on the ice. I skated around for about an hour, doing basic stroking, crossovers, swizzles, and one-foot glides. After about an hour, I felt sufficiently warmed up and comfortable on the ice. I then practiced my spiral, which happens to be my strongest skill. A spiral is when you glide either forwards or backwards on one foot while lifting your free leg in any position– front, side back, you name it. So far, I am only able to lift my back leg up, while skating forward. Because of my flexibility, I am able to lift my back leg quite high. I hope to one day be able to do a spiral like the legendary Sasha Cohen! Her spirals were really something else.

After spirals, I practiced my spins. I’m so happy to say that I’m finally getting the hang of spinning! I actually taught myself how to spin, as I did other skills, like spirals, lunges, bunny hops, three-turns, ski glides? (not really sure that’s what you call them), and skating backwards. I attribute my steep learning curve to my strong background in gymnastics. Thank you, gymnastics, for all the doors you’ve opened for me!

I had two big falls and a few small ones today. The first fall happened when I was practicing forward crossovers– I was going very fast and placed my weight too far forward, causing me to trip over my toe pick and land HARD on my knees. Sadly, I wasn’t wearing any knee pads, so my knees are now purple and bruised. It’s all part of the fun, though! My second fall was when I was performing a spiral with my back leg up in an arabesque position and right arm up, like a ballerina. I lost my concentration, as I was trying to catch a profile view on the sideboard reflection of my leg position. My front skate slipped under me, and I flopped flat onto my butt. I HATE falling backwards, as that’s the most dangerous kind of fall. If you don’t know how to fall, you could potentially hit your head and get a concussion. Thankfully, no such thing happened to me. But my glutes hurt for the next ten minutes, after which the pain subsided and all was well. I experienced a few mini falls when attempting new tricks, like a spin in the lunge position, and a skill called “shoot-the-duck”, where you are essentially down in a one-footed squat position, with the free leg pointed straight forward in front of you.

I was planning on skating until 6pm, closing time, but at around 4:15pm, the power went out in the ENTIRE rink. There were no lights, no music, nothing. People continued to skate in the dark, so I followed in suit and made sure to watch out for the reckless little kids. About 10 minutes later, the manager of the rink told everyone to get off the ice, as the power wasn’t coming back on anytime soon. I was so disappointed! I wanted to keep on skating and practicing and improving, despite the painful water blister that popped up on my left foot. Well, there was nothing anyone could do. So I left the rink at about 4:30pm and caught an Uber home (Mom was out running errands, brothers were getting a haircut, and dad was still at work, so I couldn’t get a ride home).

On the car ride home, I got a text from my friend from my Psych 110 class, saying that the grades for that class were finally posted online. I had a little freakout session in the back seat of the car. My heart immediately started pounding and my palms grew clammy. I tried getting online to check the grades, but there was no wifi and my data was going SO slow. It was agony! Once we got off the freeway, my data got faster for some reason, and the page was able to load. My hands were shaking as I took a deep breath and clicked on “Exam and Homework Grades”. I scrolled down to where it said “Final Grade”, and… (drumroll please)…

I GOT AN A IN THE CLASS! I couldn’t believe it. Well, I mean, I did study like hell for the final… So I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. And the curve in that class is pretty generous. I guess I was just paranoid because of that one time in my Psych 150 class that my scantron went into the wrong pile, and as a result, my initial score was a 26%. After that experience, I made sure to always double check that I filled in the correct exam form number before handing in the scantron. Couldn’t have a repeat of what happened before.

So, as you could imagine, I was a super happy camper by the time I got home. I told my dad about my grade, and he reacted very calmly, saying, “I don’t know why you were so nervous before. I knew you could do it. You are always so anxious before and after exams… I don’t understand why.” And to that, I replied, “Well it’s because I am a perfectionist!” And he said, “You don’t need to take it to such an extreme.” He’s honestly right, though. I can’t worry so much about my grades, or any other form of evaluation, for that matter. As long as I try my best– and by best, I mean studying little by little each day, reading and outlining the textbook diligently, getting enough rest so I can retain information better, and going to office hours if I don’t understand a concept– I will be fine.

I was super hungry when I got home, so I decided to eat leftover soup noodles from this morning. Chris made his famous milk tea again, but didn’t add sugar, so it didn’t really suit my taste. But hey– at least it was healthy!

After eating, I considered taking a nap, because 2 hours of nonstop skating (minus a water break) is pretty draining, especially if you haven’t exerted yourself physically in a while. Learning a new skill is very mentally taxing as well, as you’re in the process of ingraining new information into your muscles. Once you practice enough and get the hang of the moves, it becomes more natural, and you don’t have to think so much about every movement. One of my skating coaches, Lili, was right– it took me roughly 3 months to get comfortable being on the ice. Once I broke through that barrier, I was able to reach a new level. It’s so fun and fulfilling to see tangible improvement in your skill! This is what I love about sports– the improvement is so concrete and tangible and is directly proportional to how much time you devote to practicing. I’m more motivated than ever to improve my skating and plan on skating every day for the rest of break. I understand that once I go back to school, it’ll be a lot harder to fit skating into my busy schedule… but even going once a week for a lesson and a few hours of practice is better than nothing.

So, where was I? Oh yes. I wanted to take a nap, but decided against it, as I didn’t want to ruin my sleep pattern. So I opened this laptop and began writing today’s Blogmas!

It’s almost dinner time now. My family celebrates Christmas, but we aren’t an especially festive family. This year, we didn’t even bother getting a tree! It’s all good, though– at least we’re spending Christmas Eve together, as it should be. And tomorrow, we’re attending a family friend’s annual Christmas party, where there will be good food and fun games. The party is more for the adults, but the ambiance is always very nice, and you definitely feel the holiday spirit when at the Youngs’ home.

So that’s it for my Christmas Eve post! I wish you all a Merry Christmas– have fun opening presents and spending time with your loved ones!

 

 

 

XOXO,

Belicia

 

Blogmas Day 7: Figure Skating, Writing, and MORE WRITING!

Hello, everyone! Welcome to Blogmas Day 7, aka Christmas Eve-Eve! It’s actually 8:18pm on Christmas Eve as I write this post. I told you I’m falling behind on my Blogmas series! But I made a commitment to write about every day, so I’m sticking to it.

So I have to take a minute to jog my memory, since I’m writing a post about yesterday. What did, I do?

I woke up. We know that much, lol. I think it was super early, like at 6am, or something. I remember being super excited to continue learning a new choreography from YouTube, which I will then teach to my Bruin Burlesque students.

I arrived at the gym at around 7am. Normally, there’s a yoga class in the studio, but I suppose the yoga teacher took a holiday break, so the class was canceled, and I had the dance studio all to myself! I practiced the choreography to “Another One Bites the Dust” by my new favorite band, Queen. Before watching the movie “Bohemian Rhapsody”, I knew a few of their hit songs, including “Bohemian Rhapsody”, “Another One Bites the Dust”, “The Show Must Go On”, and “We Will Rock You”. All very catchy songs and super fun to sing and dance to. After watching the movie, I gained a newfound appreciation for the band and their courage to expand the boundaries of music and create unconventional art that the public loved. So my latest obsession is Queen. That, and figure skating. Speaking of which…

At around 12:30pm, my friend Louise picked me up and drove us to the ice skating rink. It was my first time back on the ice in about a month, so I felt a bit rusty in the beginning. Usually during skating practice, I skate around the rink a couple times then jump right into practicing spins and other elements. This time around, I did something different. Louise and I basically skated around the perimeter of the rink for an hour, engaged in deep conversation about a wide range of topics– college, mental health in sports, mental health in general, and more. It was a really great conversation. After an hour, we decided to do some real skating. Normally it takes me a few tries to get on the right part of my blade during a spin. This time around, my first spin of the day was well-executed. In fact, everything element I did was on-point! Spins, spirals, 3-turns… It was all falling into place and making sense. You know those “ah-ha” moments you get in the classroom, when suddenly, you understand a concept with newfound clarity? Well that’s exactly what I experienced yesterday, on the ice. My first skating coach was right– it would take me roughly 3 months to get down the basics and feel comfortable on the ice. It’s been roughly 3 months, and I gotta say, I feel like a totally different skater than before. Don’t get me wrong– I am still a beginner. But I have a newfound confidence on the ice. I am no longer hesitant and afraid to fall. I’m not afraid to try new skills. My focus has shifted from simply trying to stay on my feet, to actually executing elements with correct technique. I guess you could say I’ve found my “ice-legs”. And all that happened within a single skating practice session! As the public skate session ended, Louise and I were the only ones left on the ice. There was Christmas music playing in the background, and I didn’t hesitate to dance/skate to the music. For the first time in my short skating career, I felt free to express! It was the most magical feeling!

So after yesterday’s breakthrough practice, I’ve learned that I skate my best when completely warmed up. My new skating warmup routine is as follows: stretch for 30 minutes, then skate around the perimeter of the ice for at least 45 minutes, practicing stroking, swizzles, cross-overs, and one-foot glides. Also, I need to fall a few times to get it out of my system. Only after I have completed my warmup can I move on to practicing more complex skills, like spins and spirals and jumps.

At 3pm, Louise’s parents picked us up and dropped me off at my house. I can’t remember what I did next. All I know is, I had dinner at 7pm then headed up to my room, where I wrote for 5.5 hours straight on both this blog and “The Athlete’s Corner”. What a great feeling it was, to lose myself in my words and to release all my pent-up thoughts and emotions onto the computer screen. I was completely immersed in my work, unaware of time passing me by. I wrote my opus of the year– the story of my career-ending injury, which you can read here. It was 2am when I finished.

And of course, after a jam-packed day of writing and skating, I was all tuckered out, and went to bed immediately after uploading my blog post. And so concludes Blogmas Day 7!

 

 

 

 

XOXO,

Belicia

 

 

Blogmas 2018 Days 6: Becoming a Rhythmic Gymnastics Judge

Hey guys! Today is Sunday, December 23, 2018. It’s 8:09pm. I just finished a hot pot dinner with my family and some family friends. Now, it’s time to fill you guys in on what’s been happening these past couple days! I’ve been trying to keep up with my Blogmas series, but I’ve just been so busy spending time with old friends and keeping busy with fun activities that I find myself coming home late each night and wanting nothing more than to go straight to bed.

So, let’s see where we’re at. Okay, rewind to yesterday, Saturday 12/22/18. I woke up later than usual– almost noon. I suppose I had gone to bed late the previous night, which is why my sleep schedule went out of whack. After speeding through my morning routine and eating breakfast (well, it was more like a brunch), I caught the 1:30pm train to San Jose, where I decided to visit the gym once more. I arrived at the gym and caught up with the parents and fellow gymnasts, including a girl who I used to compete against! I did a bit of stretching and coaching. At around 3:45pm, I reunited with my former teammate’s mother, who I had not seen since two summers ago. She was essentially my “gymnastics mom” back when I was still training in San Francisco. She would always drive me and her daughter to the gym and travel with us to competitions. She kindly offered to drive me all the way home from the gym, just like the good ol’ days!

After I got home, I headed to the local fitness center, as I figured that if I were to become a full-time coach after college, I’d need to gain back my flexibility so I could demonstrate skills to the little girls. Another thing I’m planning on doing after college– I’ve decided that I want to become a rhythmic gymnastics judge! I know. WILD, right? In all honesty, it’s really not too difficult to become an RG judge. Technically, you don’t even have to have been a gymnast to judge! You just need to read over the RG code of points and pass an exam to be a certified judge (there may be a step or two I’m missing… but that’s the general gist of it). Being a judge would be a great way for me to put my gymnastics experience to good use. And it will reconnect me with a community that is near and dear to my heart. You may be wondering why I fell off the face of the rhythmic gymnastics Earth, once I got injured. The truth is, I was hurting so much emotionally after the injury, I couldn’t bear to watch former teammates and competitors continue to pursue the sport that I loved so much, but was unable to do. I was grieving the loss of a past life. And people have different ways of grieving. I think I needed time away from the community to fully come to peace with my injury and close that chapter of my life. But now I realize that just because I am no longer a gymnast doesn’t mean I have to cut all ties with the RG community. These past couple days spent at the gym really showed me how happy rhythmic gymnastics made me. I felt as if I was reconnecting with a piece of my soul that had been missing for a long time. In the past, going back to the gym would have broken me down emotionally, as any reminder of my past life– a life I was forced to leave behind prematurely– would evoke feelings of bitterness and regret. But, as they often say, time is the best medicine. And I’ve expanded and developed my identity in so many dimensions since leaving behind my sport, 6 years ago. I am okay, now. More than okay. And it is now and only now, when I am fully at peace with my past, that I am ready to reunite with old friends, coaches, and judges, and take on a different role in the world of rhythmic.

So, back to my Saturday night. I got home from the gym, ate dinner, then sat down at my desk to do some writing. I decided to get started on a new passion-project, namely, creating a new blog dedicated to members of the competitive athletics community (athletes, parents, coaches, sports’ enthusiasts, etc.). The blog is called “The Athlete’s Corner”, and it is on this platform that I share my own experience as a former gymnast and all the triumphs, hardships, and lessons learned from my life as a competitive athlete. The fact of the matter is, being a high-level athlete is HARD. Athletes are often treated as physical machines that are expected to perform to superhuman standards. There’s a lot of abuse, both physical and psychological, in the world of athletics, and because many athletes are taught to never admit weakness or show emotion (it’s all part of the “game”), the mental health stigma in that world is so pervasive. My goal with this new blog is to chip away at that stigma and to urge athletes to take care of their mental and emotional health, instead of silently suffering at the hands of abusive coaches and crippling pressure and perfectionism. For my ten years in gymnastics, I struggled to find my voice. I was effectively silenced by authoritarian coaches and the system as a whole. Every part of my being– my body, my thoughts, my emotions– were at the mercy of my coaches and the external validation of competitive results. In training, I did as I was told, with no objection. If my coach praised me, I felt happy. If I got high marks at competition, I was elated. If my coach yelled at me, I grew frustrated, angry at myself, and sometimes despondent. If I delivered a subpar routine at competition, I’d internalize the “failure” and ruthlessly blame and bully myself for my ineptitude. As much as I loved gymnastics, I don’t hesitate to say that the sport is corrupt and abusive and oftentimes beats young, healthy, happy girls to a pulp– both physical and psychologically.

Wow, what a digression. No wonder I made this new blog– I have SO much to say about my time as an athlete. It’s as if all ten years’ worth of pent-up thoughts and emotions are being released onto the computer screen!

So Saturday night, I began this new blog. I stayed up until about 3am writing and editing and perfecting my website. It was crazy, how invigorated and passionate I felt while writing my first introductory post. The words just spilled out, and the blog post wrote itself. I have such high hopes for my new blog. Truly. I believe we all have a purpose on this Earth, and I think I have found mine– to heal broken athletes, who are only human, like the rest of us. This is why I am so sure of studying sports psychology. There are SO many important issues surrounding mental health in the world of athletics. It’s essential that top athletes have a strong emotional support system to survive the crazy pressure of competing with the weight of the world on their shoulders. And, more importantly, athletes transitioning out of their sport and into the real world should not have to face their struggles alone. Because there are many, many challenges during this transition. The process of rebuilding one’s identity. Finding new meaning in life outside of sports. Facing disillusionment after disillusionment. Learning to live inside a new body. Dealing with the aftermath of years of psychological abuse. Developing a voice. My transition out of gymnastics was the most difficult thing I’ve ever faced in my life. I was depressed for most of my high school years, before I finally told myself, “Enough is enough. I refuse to live like this any longer.” So I sought out a life-changing therapist who helped me through my grief and ultimately write a new life chapter.

Okay, guys. That’s enough for one post. If you made it this far, I know you’re one of my most loyal readers.

 

 

XOXO,

Belicia

Blogmas 2018 Day 5: Interview and Shopping Galore!

Hey y’all! It’s 10:50pm on this Friday night as I begin this post.

I woke up around 3:30am, for some strange reason, and could not fall back asleep until a couple hours later. I woke up the second time at 11:00am and got ready for my 12:00pm Skype interview. The interview was for an assistant choreographer position for UCLA’s HOOLIGAN Theater winter quarter musical, “Fame”. The musical is about a group of young artists who attend a performing arts’ high school. Each of them have dreams of making it big, whether as an actor, dancer, or musician. I suppose the musical encapsulates the life I sometimes wish I had led. All throughout middle and high school, I begged my parents to homeschool me, or let me do online schooling, so I could have more time to pursue gymnastics. At one point, I even considered transferring to San Francisco School of the Arts, where I could pursue a dance education. There always seemed to be a strict divide between school and gymnastics, or school and dance. For some reason, I was never able to go to school, FOR gymnastics, or FOR dance. I suppose, when applying for colleges, I had the option of choosing dance as my major… but even that wasn’t an ideal option for me, as my style of dance, Latin Ballroom, was not covered in UCLA’s dance curriculum. It was always one or the other. Never both. I wish I had the option of going to school for my PASSION, like these kids in “Fame” do. So, long story short, I would really love to be a member of the creative team for “Fame” because the message of this musical resonates on such a deeply personal level for me.

Okay, I just ranted a whole lot about “Fame”. Where was I? Oh yes. The interview. So the interview took place over Google Hangouts. Me, being the technologically-challenged being I am, could not for the life of me find the chat-room where the interview was being held! At almost 12:30pm, 30-minutes after my scheduled interview time, I finally was able to click the correct link and join the group video chat. The production team was really understanding about the challenges of technology, and we proceeded onward with the interview.

The interview went very well, in my opinion. I was confident in my reasons behind why I wanted to choreograph “Fame”. My past experience as an assistant choreographer for “Cabaret” last year gave me an edge, I think. “Fame” is a very dance-heavy production, and I do believe I have a lot to offer this musical, with my experience in ballroom, ballet, jazz, and hip hop.

After the interview, I went to the gym, where I danced and learned some new choreography that I will teach to my Bruin Burlesque students.

By the time I got back from the gym, it was a little past 3pm. At 3:30pm, my high school friend Rachel picked me up from my house, and we headed to the Hillsdale Shopping Center for a day of shopping and bonding! I bought a fur coat and sparkly party dress from Forever 21. Rachel also got herself a sequined party dress and this really cute leotard with rhinestone straps. Honestly, Forever 21 is the only store I can afford to shop at these days. #brokecollegestudent , amirite?! I’m not actually broke though– if I were, how could I afford to go shopping TWO DAYS in a row??

At 6:05pm, we headed to California Pizza Kitchen and ate dinner there. I had the holiday special: Mac-N-Cheese with Beef Brisket. Rachel had a Cali Club Pizza (basically a club sandwich, pizza version). After dinner, Rachel drove me home, and we bade farewell, for the time being. Don’t you just hate goodbyes, no matter how long the separation duration?

I went home to an empty house. My parents and brother were out for dinner. So I did the rational thing and celebrated my alone time with a horror-thriller movie, “Bird Box”. The movie was pretty intense, and I found myself buried underneath my bedsheets for the duration of the movie, as if somehow the warm comfort of my blankets would protect me from any scary monsters lurking in the dark.

By the time I finished the movie, my parents and brother were back home, so the house was no longer so dark and eerie. I showed off my new fur coat to them, and my brother said the coat was very prostitute-esque. But he quickly added that I myself didn’t look like a prostitute (thanks, for the reassurance, Chris).

After trying Chris’s delicious homemade pineapple-custard buns, I went back up to my room and finished writing Blogmas 2018 Day 4. And now, here I am, finishing up Day 5! It’s currently 11:31pm. My computer battery is running low, so I’d better end this post here. Today was a nice, simple, relaxing day. Sometimes, those are the best kinds of days.

 

 

 

 

XOXO,

Belicia