Commencement of My Junior Year at UCLA!

Hey everyone! It’s currently Saturday night, 10:17pm here in the Bay Area to be exact. I hope you all are doing well. Last time I posted, I wasn’t in the best of places… but being home this past week has brought me to a new level of clarity, and I’m feeling ready and recharged for the coming school year.

Goodness me… junior year of college, already? Before I know it, I’ll be graduating with my Bachelor’s in Psychology (and possibly an English minor). Time really does fly. Makes me a little bit sad, to be honest.

I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting these past few days (as if I don’t do enough of that!). Mainly just thinking about how much I’ve grown and regressed these past couple years at UCLA. Both my freshman and sophomore years at UCLA were tumultuous in their own rights. Freshman year, I made several drastic career path changes. I almost left UCLA to pursue a professional dance career, only to realize that that kind of career and lifestyle was not one I wanted for myself. And so, I returned to school for my second year… a wild year, indeed. I think every young person goes through a period of angst, rebellion, and exploration, to varying degrees and at different times. I happened to go through my phase during my sophomore year of college. Lots of partying, drinking, and boys. Am I necessarily happy about the kinds of choices I made, during that dark time? No. But I do believe that phase was a normative phase of my development. See, I was a sheltered Mormon girl all throughout middle and high school. Unlike most, I never rebelled during my early and middle adolescence. I was an angel child, brought up by wonderful parents with strong values. I think being sheltered to that extreme, however, increased the likelihood that I’d rebel and abuse my freedom, once I got to college. And rebelled, I did.

I discussed all this with my therapist, and we both agreed that I had gone from one extreme lifestyle to another. What can I say? I’m an extreme person who views the world in black and white and lacks a concept of balance. Now, it’s time to dial it back in and find a balance between work and fun. And work, I must. This coming year is no freaking joke. I’ll be taking 4-5 classes each quarter. On top of that, I’ll be cranking up on my extracurriculars. I plan on starting my own dance club, “Bruin Burlesque” (I’ll keep y’all posted on how that’s going). I’m also going to rejoin the Daily Bruin newspaper and continue as a writer in the blogging section. I’m currently doing undergraduate research under head and neck surgeon, which is a great professional development opportunity! I’m also getting back into ballroom dance (on my own terms), as taking a break from this art has made me realize how much I miss it (but I definitely did not miss the politics and drama of that insular world). Speaking of ballroom… I’m working with a group of computer science majors to create an app for competitive ballroom dancers. It’s basically Tinder, for dance partner search! If this app takes off, it’ll change the face of how dancers find partners!

So, lots and lots of projects to keep me focused and disciplined. Oh yes, I am also going back to church! I went to church last week, for the first time in several years. Seriously, members of the LDS church community are so, so sweet and kind-hearted. It’s interesting seeing people my age already married! But they are really great, wholesome people, and I think it’ll do me good surrounding myself with people who bring out the best in me.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t feeling nervous for this coming year. I’ve been through this enough times to recognize a pattern in my college experience. I’ll go into each quarter super super motivated to do well in my academics whilst taking on a million extracurriculars. Shortly into the quarter, I’ll hit an exhaustion-induced wall. I’ll be forced to drop some of my extracurriculars, which will make me feel like a failure. My mental health will take a turn for the worse. By the end of the quarter, I’ll be on the verge of a nervous breakdown. But ten weeks go by FAST, which is partly why I love the quarter system so much. The pain is intense, but it’s over quickly.

But let me say this– I’m feeling something very similar to what I felt right before my freshman year at UCLA. I’m feeling really, really hopeful. Hopeful that this year will be better than the last, just as I was hopeful college would be a gazillion times better than high school. Armed with more knowledge and experience gained from past mistakes, I will be ready for the obstacles that are coming my way. Here is a list of rules I will follow to a tee, this coming year:

  • Find a therapist, and go to therapy, regularly. Don’t throw your mental health under the bus, Belicia. A depressed Bel will not get straight A’s.
  • Get enough sleep. Take power naps, if need be. Sleep is the best medicine for SO many things, not to mention a key component of successful academic performance.
  • Exercise regularly and eat healthily. A healthy body is directly linked to a healthy mind.
  • Cut out the alcohol, cold turkey. It’s just really bad for your health, and will exacerbate your mental illness.
  • Replace partying with wholesome fun activities… like dance classes! Or skating! Or hiking! Or going on (wholesome) dates with nice guys!
  • Don’t overshoot or spread yourself too thin. It’s a recipe for failure. Focus on a few things that mean a lot to you, and do them to the best of your ability.
  • Keep pushing yourself out of your comfort zone. The most growth happens when you are scared. Don’t shy away from uncertainty and unfamiliarity. Lean into the thrill of it!
  • Really monitor your moods carefully. If you feel yourself slipping towards either one extreme (workaholic or partyholic), check yourself before you wreck yourself.

 

Alrighty, guys. I’m gonna go ahead and finish my packing, as we are leaving early tomorrow morning. I really do have a good feeling about this coming year. Last year was a dark time, but formative, nonetheless. I learned a lot about myself. I experienced things I’d never experienced before, for better or for worse. The good news is, I’ve emerged from that period physically unscathed, and much more mature and self-aware. It’s time to get back on track, and I have full faith that I will succeed this coming year. In addition to performing well academically, I will slowly rebuild my spiritual relationship with God. I will continue to grow as a dancer and writer. One of my biggest goals is to build more social confidence, especially in professional settings. Kick that fear of public speaking, once and for all. Be the grounded, super-star Belicia I’ve always envisioned.

Have a wonderful night, y’all!

 

 

Best,

Belicia

 

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