My Hair Transformation- Reflection

Greetings from beautiful Hong Kong! It is currently Saturday, July 30, 6:52 a.m. I am sitting at the hotel desk with Victoria Harbor in full view. I have a towel wrapped around my freshly washed magenta curly hair.

Wait, what?!?! You heard me right- my hair is now curly and the color of beet root. Wild.

My transformation took place yesterday afternoon. Going into the salon, I didn’t have a coherent plan of what I’d do with my hair. I knew I wanted to try curly hair for a change, but I was pretty lost in terms of color. During the days leading up to my transformation, I would look closely at women’s hairstyles while roaming the streets, trying to garner inspiration. A rising trend is that of gray hair. It actually has the potential of looking cool and flashy- if you can pull it off. I briefly considered dying my hair gray, but my mom was vehemently opposed to the idea. Plus, I didn’t want to risk looking like a grandmother.

Eventually, I settled on dying it a shade of maroon. The hairdresser, Sue, showed me a selection of shades to choose from. I decided on the brightest shade of maroon- a dark magenta color- because I wanted the difference to be noticeable on my black hair.

They did the curly perm first, following a strict 7-step process to ensure hair safety. I immediately fell in love with my new beach-wave curls. After briefly reveling in my fresh curls, it was time to move on to the magenta hair. When I saw how bright the color looked when it was painted on my hair, I was a little scared- was it too bright? What if it ends up looking too crazy? Turns out, the color always appears bolder when it is first painted on. Once you do the first washing, the color softens out.

During the long transformation process, I finished the handy book 1001 Things Every College Student Needs to Know. I got the book as a graduation present, and it is a must-read for all incoming college freshmen. I also started the movie Bride Wars, starring Anne Hathaway and Kate Hudson.

4.5 hours later, my transformation was complete. When presented with the final product- freshly blow-dried, curly magenta hair- I was shocked at how different I looked. The magenta was quite strong, although, after a few days, the color will soften. While the magenta will take some getting used to, I really love the overall look. My new hairstyle really jives with my personality: bright, bubbly, fearless, and standing out from the crowd. It was a $200 well-spent!

One thing about hair transformations that I feel is not talked about often enough is the importance of taking into consideration how others will see you. Now, I am all for freedom of expression and doing what you please with your hair. It is, after all, your hair, and you shouldn’t allow other people’s opinions to hinder you from following your heart’s desires. But, from a professional standpoint, take into consideration what your interviewer may think if you walk in with a bright orange mohawk. The power of first impression, especially in our image-obsessed society, must not be understated. Employers, professors, and peers WILL judge you, at least in part, from your hairstyle. Now, it is completely up to you whether you want to listen to such judgment or not. At the end of the day, the only opinion that matters is your own. However, note that, if you make the decision of shaving off half your head, or dying it bright pink, you are opening yourself up to the judgment of others, and you must be ready to live with whatever consequences such vulnerability brings.




Hey everyone! It’s currently Friday, July 29th, 7:38 a.m. in Hong Kong. I am sitting in a gazebo-like thing by the hotel poolside, all by myself, the Victoria Harbor in full view.

Today is the third day of our month-long family trip to Hong Kong/China. So far, it’s been nothing short of amazing. Reuniting with relatives overseas, doing some mad shopping with my aunt, eating traditional Hong Kong breakfast, morning runs at Victoria Park, basking in the delight of pure relaxation.

I’ve noticed a few distinct changes in Hong Kong since the last time I was here, 3 years ago. First and foremost, there are a lot more non-Chinese people here, and I don’t mean this in any discriminatory way. It is a mere observation. Every street I walk on, there are bound to be at least a few Caucasian’s, a few Indians, and some Filipino’s. This makes sense, since, in our increasingly global society, people travel all over the world for work. Two days ago, I was riding down the hotel elevator, when a Caucasian man walked in. Assuming this man spoke English, I naturally struck up conversation, asking if he was from America. Turns out, he was an Australian native, coming to Hong Kong for work!

In addition to the growing number of Westerners in Hong Kong, I also noticed the  South Korean subculture that’s taking Hong Kong natives by storm. Nearly everyone in Hong Kong seems to be obsessed with K-pop, Korean drama, Korean fashion, Korean makeup, Korean hairstyles. It is Korean madness!

Thirdly- and this is a totally random observation- there are a lot more Starbucks café’s strewn along the busy narrow streets of this bustling, polluted city.

A final thing that struck me is the way Hong Kong-nese people interact with one another. Here, the people are a lot more standoffish. I played this game where I’d smile at everyone I made eye contact with on the street and gauge their reactions. Almost all the people looked me dead in the eye and kept their faces completely expressionless. They were probably thinking, Who the hell is this foreigner and why is she smiling at me?  Reminds me of New York city. Yesterday, I was at the cash register getting my new Nike shirt rung up by a lady, when I noticed that the cashier seemed stressed- probably because of the store’s 80% sale. In an effort to cheer her up, I complimented her nail design- french nails, except, instead of white, the tips were a thin streak of electric orange. The lady muttered something Chinese in reply, as if she were more irritated by my compliment than pleased. Oh well!!

I’m gonna go for a swim now! Later today, I’ll be getting my hair transformed. To what, I have yet to decide! Am thinking curly perm and dying it maroon… Pictures soon to come!





Anticipatory Anxiety About Pre-med

Lately, I’ve been worrying excessively over the prospect of starting college classes in less than one week. I worry mostly about the intense academic rigor of the premed track.

Doing well in your premed courses and maintaining a high GPA is CRITICAL for medical school. UCLA is a huge university, with 43K students. That means that class sizes, especially lower-division courses, can hold hundreds of students. Crazy.

They say classes like General Chemistry and Organic Chemistry are “weeders”- that is, they separate the “premeds” from the actual PREMEDS who make it to the finish line. I fear that I will fall into the former category of students.

I know there is no reason for me to worry. I did well in high school, and I’ve developed effective study habits. College is a whole new ballpark, however, so I’ll have to work harder than I’ve worked before. That’s okay, though, because I am ready to work. I feel that my life experiences up until this point- competitive gymnastics and dancing- have given me the discipline and focus I need to excel as a student.

Nonetheless, I wonder if good work ethic alone can carry me through premed. I’m not naturally inclined to the sciences- physics is the bane of my existence. I tremble with fear when I think of organic chemistry. I didn’t take AP Bio in high school. Naturally, I am more of a humanities gal. I love writing and psychology. I am passionate about the performing arts- music, dance, theater. This makes me wonder– is medicine really the right fit profession for me?

From a young age, I’ve stated that I want to become a doctor. I want to follow in my father’s footsteps and make a positive, significant impact on the life of individuals. I love connecting with people. I have a passion for life and want to give people this precious gift. In my head, medicine has always been my calling.

I worry most that I won’t get into medical school. I don’t have a backup in terms of what I want to study. It’s always been premed. But that’s part of the beauty of being a college freshman– revelling in the freedom of exploration. Once I get to college and start my intellectual exploration, I will have more answers. It is RIGHT NOW- at the brink of a new chapter- where the mental anguish lies.



Dance Showcase: Reflection

Well, I did it, guys. I survived last night’s dance performance for a private birthday party, in front of a crowd of 150!

I just smile at the thought of last night… It’s a smile of relief, pride, and joy at the remembrance of performing three dances- cha cha, rumba, and jive- with my dance teacher, Giulio.

I was indeed quite nervous the couple days, hours, and minutes leading up to the performance. Like I said in my previous post, My Latest Leap Out Of My Comfort Zone, I was called upon last minute (Friday morning) to perform at Sunday’s party, since the original dancers couldn’t make it. After saying YES to this incredible opportunity, I spent Friday and Saturday dancing like I had never danced before. I came home from the studio Friday night, barely able to walk up the steps to my room, as my whole body ached from physical exhaustion. I had pleasant flashbacks of my good ol’ gymnastics days, where hardcore training was the norm.

My last rehearsal with Giulio was Saturday morning. We made brand new choreography for my cha-cha solo- thankfully, I remembered my steps at the performance! After 2 hours of practice, I came home and literally CRASHED on my bed, in my sweaty practice-wear and all!

I felt nervous Saturday afternoon and most of Sunday leading up to the show. Why was I nervous? Well, remember that this is the same girl who, 2 years ago, felt anxiety about going to school because she was so afraid of social interaction. So there was definitely a lot of performance anxiety. Last night, however, I managed to hold my own in front of 150 people, and I even ENJOYED the experience!

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Before the show, I was very anxious. Saturday night, I had a restless sleep. Nothing crazy there, as I never could sleep well before a gymnastics or dance competition… I pretty much put every other part of my life on hold until the show was over. I had coworkers cover my shifts at Hollister. I cancelled appointments with friends. My sole purpose for those three days was to prepare a great, entertaining performance for the spectators. When I wasn’t dancing, I was either sleeping, writing, or watching movies. Confession: I watched about four movies on Netflix between Saturday and Sunday- “The Princess Bride”, “Hachi: A Dog’s Tale”, “Yours, Mine and Ours”, and “Bring It On”. I justified such binge-watching with the excuse of “needing to relax” for the show. Yeah, right!

In retrospect, I don’t think I needed to be as nervous as I was. It was, after all, only a show, not a high-stakes competition. Shows are supposed to be fun! I guess I put pressure on myself to put on a great show for the audience and, more importantly, for the birthday boy, who was turning 70 years old. I was called upon as the entertainment, and I didn’t want to disappoint. Plus, as I am still in the stages of getting re-acclimated with the stage, I didn’t know how I would handle performing in front of such a large audience. Yes, at one point in my life, I could perform in front of crowds of any size and not be shaken. But that was before the injury, before the crisis. Now I’m working my way back up to where I used to be as a performer.

On Sunday, I woke up feeling jittery. I took a shower, which calmed me down. At 1:00 p.m. I had a dance lesson with my female teacher, Yulia, who helped me with arm styling for that night’s performance (talk about last minute touch-ups)! I got back home around 2:30 p.m. and took a nap until 3:30 p.m., while my mom went to get her makeup done for that evening. After my nap, I took another shower, and did my hair for the show- half up, half down. I got into my evening gown (aka my prom dress), and did part of my makeup (Lidia, who is Giulio’s dance partner/girlfriend, did my eye makeup at the party venue). At around 5:15 p.m., my mom got back from the mall, and we made our way to South San Francisco.

My mom and I arrived at the same time as Giulio and Lidia. Lidia did the rest of my makeup, I put my Latin dance dress in the dressing room, and we took a lot of pictures. The party’s theme was “Mardi Gras”, so there were a lot of green and purple decor and people wearing half masks. Dinner followed soon after- I had salmon with veggies and rice. I couldn’t eat too much, however, because I’d be performing right after dessert.

Getting familiar with the venue, the floor, and the people made me more at ease. I felt the nerves rise up again, however, as I was alone in the dressing room, changing into my costume. I took deep breaths, drank some water. I told myself that the stress I was experiencing was GOOD. I’d channel the nervous energy into positive energy, making my performance all the better. I looked myself in the mirror and told myself I could do this. I am, after all, Belicia Tang.

The first dance we performed was cha-cha. I distinctly remember feeling on edge as I stood in the corner, waiting for the music to start. Once the music began, however, all my butterflies flew away. I felt that indescribable feeling of freedom. Again, I was brought back to my competitive gymnastics days… Always nervous while on deck, but the minute I stepped on the carpet, I became calm, composed, confident.

This time, I channeled all my pent-up emotions of stress, fear, and anxiety into fire and joy on the dance floor. I felt nothing but excitement and adrenaline as I dance to “Hound Dog” by Smokey Joe’s Cafe. I loved playing with the audience. I loved watching their smiling faces, knowing that Giulio and I were the sources of their entertainment. The ending of the routine was difficult, with Giulio spinning me into a fast double-spin. I had only stuck it once at practice, and the rest of the tries ended with me on the floor. Thankfully, I did NOT fall down at the performance, but it wasn’t as crisp an ending as I knew it could be. Other than that, and a few slips due to the surprisingly slippery floor, I was very pleased with our cha cha. It was not perfect, but this performance was not about perfection- it was about sharing my passion for dance with the audience and bringing them joy.

The same can be said of my other two dances, rumba and jive. Were these routines faultless? Nope. The music started early in rumba, so I had to run onto the floor, instead of doing a sexy rumba walk. In jive, I forgot my routine… twice! Thankfully, Giulio saved me during my brain farts. The point is, I really don’t care that my routines had mistakes. In live performances, mistakes are inevitable. It’s the way you REACT to these mistakes that counts. I didn’t let the few hiccups in my dancing faze me or take the fun away from performing.

If you know me, you will know what a perfectionist I am, and how I’ve been trying to correct my perfectionistic thinking. Last night’s performance was imperfect… But there is a certain beauty to imperfection. I had fun with my mistakes! I laughed them off! Being able to continue enjoying yourself, in spite of the faults, is the true perfection in performing.


My Latest Leap Out Of My Comfort Zone

This morning, I was asked by a family friend to perform Latin dance at her in-law’s birthday party. In front of 150 people. With only TWO DAYS- today and tomorrow- to prepare.

My first instinct was, No thanks,  I’m gonna pass. That was the anxiety and insecurity talking. The all-too-familiar voice in my head telling me to stay away from risk and vulnerability. Let’s face it, guys- performing in front of a large crowd, whether it’s dancing, speaking, or playing an instrument, is no easy task.

I am not a natural performer. I am an introvert. Even though I was a competitive gymnast for ten years, I never really got over the anxiety of performing. Even at my prime as a gymnast, I would stress out so much before a big competition that I wouldn’t eat right or sleep well weeks before the big day. People are surprised when I tell them I still get stage fright, despite having competed and performed so frequently in front of large audiences, bearing the pressure of perfection.

The truth is, not even the most seasoned of performers truly get over stage fright. They do, however, learn to be incredibly comfortable with being uncomfortable. They learn to utilize their nervous energy to their advantage. The first step towards acquiring the ability to transform anxiety into positive energy, however, is to get as much experience as you can on the stage.

This is why I agreed to perform in front of 150 people this Sunday. So I can take steps towards achieving my long-time dream of becoming a level-headed, seasoned performer. I was fully aware of the anguish I’d be putting myself through as I replied “Yes” to my family friend. However, I knew that if I turned down the opportunity to perform, I would kick myself for staying inside the comfort of dancing in front of the mirror in an empty studio.

Sometimes, guys, you just can’t keep churning around the “what-if’s” in your mind when faced with a choice between comfort and discomfort. Yes, when faced with the choice to perform, I was indeed thinking, “Well what if I mess up? Forget my choreography? Fall down in front of all those people?” But I chose to quiet those voices down, because I know they are not serving me. Instead, I went AGAINST my initial instinct and took on Sunday’s performance as a challenge.

There are certain moments in life when it is important to do what scares you, rather than settling in “contentedness”. Because with discomfort and fear comes growth of character and confidence.

Thoughts On Leaving For College

Hey guys! As many of you know, I will be starting school at UCLA this fall. AHHHH just saying those words gets me excited/nervous/overwhelmed…

A little timeline of what’s gonna happen between now and mid-September, when school starts:

July 25th- leave for China


August 23rd- return from China


August 30th- orientation!!! This is also the day my younger brother, Chris, leaves for school at U of Michigan… There will be a lot of tears, I guarantee it.


September 8th- come back home


September 15th- MOVE-IN!!!

The journey begins…


SO. I really only have between today, July 14th, and July 25th, to bask in the memories of my hometown and spend time with childhood friends. Gosh, this feels so weird… Like I’m watching a film of my life on fast-forward. Everything is happening so fast.

There are a variety of emotions bubbling within me right now. Excitement. I am beyond excited for what UCLA has in store… I’m excited to expand my community of friends, acquaintances, and mentors. I’m excited to get my first taste of freedom away from the sometimes suffocating demands of my parents. I’m eager to grow IMMENSELY during these next four years- not only academically, but also emotionally and spiritually. I want to fill my college adventure with so many things- journalism, marching band, pre-health clubs, research, all sorts of dance clubs (hip-hop, contemporary, etc.), competitive latin dance outside of school, Russian Flagship program, the list goes on. Not to mention keeping a high GPA for med school… This leads me to my second overwhelming emotion- nervousness and anxiety. I want so hard to succeed academically at UCLA… I’m worried about the pre-med courses- physics, in particular- since I did not take all of the AP sciences courses in high school. I’m worried that I’ve raised my expectations for UCLA too high, and I’m setting myself up for disappointment. I’m worried I won’t have time to pursue my myriad of interests. I’m worried because I have no idea where I will be one year from today. I’m scared because, for the first time in my life, I won’t have my brothers close by my side. Which leads me to my third emotion- sadness. The thought that I have a little over a month left with my brother Chris kills me… As I’m writing this, I feel the all-too familiar lump rise in my throat. Chris and I are extremely close… 18 years together, and now we are forced apart- 2,279.6 miles, to be exact. I just wish that time would slow down… That I didn’t take those beautiful moments together for granted… 9pm swims at Bay Club, followed by playful musings in the hot tub where we’d discuss what we’d do during our next China trip; telling our Webkinz-based fantasy story, dubbed “The Legend”, as we’d fall asleep- him on the bottom bunk, me on top (though sometimes we’d like to switch places for the fun of it); evenings spend together in the living room, him practicing piano, me dancing/stretching/conditioning, each absorbed in our own crafts, but still feeling the comforting presence of the other. It’s moments like these I will remember. I just wish it didn’t have to end so soon. This is all too soon… Chris is away in Boston right now for music camp. The house is so quiet and empty without him. A painful reminder that this will be the reality come two months from now… No more Chris. Thankfully, I will have my brother Austin, who is also going to UCLA.


So that was my jumbled and discombobulated flurry of thoughts and emotions regarding college- a new chapter of my life that’s just around the corner. I really needed to vent out those feelings that were weighing down on me like cement… like a volcano about to erupt. I feel better after writing this post. I am also comforted by the fact that I am not alone in my crazy emotions during this incredibly exciting, tumultuous time. Most rising college freshmen are feeling this way right now, and it is completely normal. Watch us look back a few months from now, and think, Man was I totally overreacting about college… 

Because life has a funny way of always working out in the end. Promise.

Thoughts On Being A Third-Wheel

Today, as I sat in the backseat of my best friend’s car, pretending to be scrolling mindlessly through my phone, I was, in reality, painfully aware of the sounds of smooching and smacking lips up front, where my friend and her boyfriend were having a passionate make-out session. Yeah, awkward, I know. And also strangely ironic.

You see, these two lovebirds had crushes on each other for the longest time, but were too afraid to ask out the other. Thanks to the mad match-making skills of yours truly, my two friends are now “in love”.

And then there’s me. As single as ever. Never even dated a guy, let alone kiss one. So it’s funny that I am able to bring requited love out of the shadows, but have yet to experience romance for myself.

Sitting in that back seat today, a clumsy third-wheel that shouldn’t have been there, I felt a mixture of emotions. On the one hand, watching my friends be happy with each other was gratifying, as I knew that if it weren’t for me, the two would still be living in agonizing uncertainty over the others’ feelings. Beyond the happiness I felt was a dull, aching pang of desire and longing to have someone want me back, the way my two friends wanted each other.

When I reflect on my utter lack of romantic involvement, my first thought is, “That is so pathetic, Belicia. You’re eighteen, and you haven’t done ANYTHING.” Shame and insecurity set it. Is there something physically the matter with me? Is it my intense personality that turns men off? Why is it that I must ask the guy to prom, and not the other way around?

Then, to make myself feel better, I justify my alienation from the world of intimacy to the demanding nature of my academic and extracurricular involvements. I’m too busy to date. I don’t need a boyfriend- I have gymnastics. I have dance. I have to focus because I want to become a great doctor. And so I keep telling myself…

It may also be family dynamic that’s hindered me from actively seeking out romantic relations. My mom is your typical Asian tiger mom who sees dating as a complete distraction to studies. She’d used to say to me and my brothers, “No dating until you are twenty-five.” She was, of course, joking. But for the longest time, I truly believed she was serious, and was ready to obey.

My friends often make fun of my complete naivety when it comes to sexuality. Sophomore year of high school, when a friend observed that the rash on my neck resembled a “hickey”, I had no idea what she was talking about- I’d never heard the word “hickey” in my life! I am still slow to grasp sexual undertones and innuendos amidst conversation. While I take pride in my purity, I also feel as if I’ve been living under a rock when it comes to anything related to romance.

Today, when I experienced the feeling of wanting to be wanted by another, I gave myself a pep talk- a pep talk I will now share with all my single friends. It is okay not to be with someone. Being single doesn’t make you any less worthy, competent, or beautiful than the next person. Know that there is always room for self-improvement, even without a significant other by your side. When you feel ready, of course, go out and actively seek a partner who will enliven your life journey. Personally, though, I feel that the priority of youth should be spiritual, mental, and emotional enrichment. Not seeking unfulfilling relationships or hook-ups, just because all your friends are doing it. So, if you are single like me, don’t fret. Be proud! Like with anyone, your time will come. And when it does, it will be all the more amazing, because your love will not be a means to fill a void. It will be real.