Why College Has Not Been My Best Three Years

Hey, friends! It’s currently 1:48am on this Sunday morning. I just got back home from a night of KBBQ and karaoke with my closest friends. We had a great time bonding, laughing, and catching up on lost time. It’s priceless moments like these that I love most about college, and I would not trade it for the world.

In spite of all the good that’s come of being at UCLA– forming close relationships with great people whilst earning my psychology degree– I would be lying if I said my time in college has been the best (almost) 3 years of my life. It’s been a rough ride. Filled with tremendous growth, yes. But definitely tumultuous, for different reasons.

Freshman year was my greatest year at UCLA, and arguably the best year of my life, given all that happened during those three formative quarters. I came into college radiant and filled with hope and optimism for what was to come. Eager to break free of my former shell, I made it a point to challenge myself in every way possible, especially socially. I made lots of friends my freshman year and transformed into this incredibly outgoing and confident person light-years different from the shy, reserved girl I was in high school. I became a social butterfly, and with my newfound eagerness to put myself out there, I met some pretty incredible people and experienced some unique and eye-opening opportunities. I look back fondly on my freshman year at UCLA as a high-flying time of grandeur, ambition, and burning light. It was also the time my world was shaken tremendously, when I first questioned whether or not medicine was my path. Ultimately, I decided that it just wasn’t in my heart to become a physician, as much as I tried to convince myself otherwise.

Sophomore year was a lot rougher than freshman year. The summer going into my second year at UCLA, I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, which explained much of my behavior and moods during my freshman year. I realized that, for most of freshman year, I was living in a state of hypomania, which caused me to experience such elated moods, markedly decreased social inhibition, and delusions of grandeur. Again, my worldview, self-perception and identity was shaken. I started questioning everything I thought I knew about myself. Had I truly broken free from my former shell, or was my outward display of confidence simply a manifestation of my mental illness, rather than genuine confidence? The mood stabilizers my psychiatrist put me on ended up bringing me back down from mania to reality. As nice as it was to be more stable and grounded, I often found myself longing to be manic once more, for the world is never quite as beautiful as seen from the sky. As the bipolar illness progressed, the mania was slowly overtaken by its evil twin of depression. I spent much of my sophomore year depressed and struggling to survive. Moreover, with the mania no longer in my life, I once again began doubting my social ability and found my social anxiety creeping back. I began dabbling in unhealthy coping mechanisms like drinking and partying to excess. Some may call it belated rebellion. I went wild and out of control. As a result, my GPA fell. I completely lost touch with the former disciplined, focused, driven girl I was, coming into college. Forget about dancing. I was sinking in my own self-destructive behavior. I gained a significant amount of weight. I did not recognize the girl in the mirror.

Junior year– this year– has been better in the sense that I’ve regained some of my self control, and am no longer living such a self-destructive lifestyle. However, this year has challenging academically thus far. Eager to graduate in three years (for reasons I will highlight shortly) I took on a heavy courseload this quarter of 4 upper division classes. As a result, I haven’t had much time to dance. Cue more weight gain. Can I even call myself a dancer, any more? Nowadays, I lack the confidence to even step foot inside a dance studio, for fear of being judged for my body. Sad. Academically, I’ve been feeling the effects of burn out, despite majoring in something (relatively) easy like psychology. My view towards college has changed from that of hope and optimism to bitterness and dismay. In spite of all that’s happened since coming to UCLA, I remain steadfast in my belief that I am, at heart, a creative soul, with passions for dance, music, writing, and most recently, figure skating. Anything to do with creative expression, I love. And to me, college is a hindrance to what I truly wish to be doing with my time. In an ideal world, I’d spend my time at the dance studio or skating rink, or sitting inside a coffee shop, working on my book. Not sitting in a crowded lecture hall listening to my professor drone on and on about a topic I have no interest in. Don’t get me wrong– I’ve taken some pretty cool psych classes at UCLA. As luck would have it, though, all of my classes with interesting content have been taught by boring, monotonous professors, which kind of ruined the experience. Well anyway, I am so so close to earning my degree, and despite tripping up academically during my second year, my GPA is not terrible.

So here I am today… a shadow of my former self. Devoid of self-confidence, struggling with social anxiety and depression, in the worst physical shape of my life, and consumed with thoughts of “what could have been”, had I chosen a different path. Like, for instance, what if I had gone to NYU instead? Studied psychology there whilst continuing my wholehearted pursuit of dance.

My goodness… How did I become like this? College is supposed to be a place for one to blossom in all directions. Not regress. I am confused and heartbroken at what has happened.

I understand the importance of earning an education, which is honestly the only reason why I am still at UCLA, even though my heart is no longer in it. I’ve shared my sentiments with many fellow Bruins and found that many feel the same way about academics– burned out and eager for it to be over. Who can honestly say studying is fun? I for one have never been an academic or scholar. I am not much of a classroom learner, but I put up with it because I don’t have much of a choice.

I am bitter. Bitter and confused and heartbroken. And finals are coming up. I need to snap out of this funk and deal with my angry emotions after I finish exams. Just two more weeks, and I’ll be back home to recharge.

I think I’m experiencing some major growing pains. Each year I spend in college is one more layer of illusion being stripped. I’m learning and growing. But change is hard. When I first renounced premed, it took me a while to come to terms with my decision, but eventually, I came to peace with it. The bipolar diagnosis was another big ripple in my life, and I’m still trying to wrap my head around it. At least now, stripped of all former delusions, I can begin the long process of building up my confidence from scratch. College has not been easy for me. But I certainly don’t regret coming to UCLA, for I would never have grown nearly as much or as fast as I have, had I chosen to forgo education.

The Final Push Before Winter Break

Hello, friends. It’s 1:11am on this Monday morning. I really should be asleep… but for some reason, sleep wasn’t coming easy tonight. So I decided to write this blog post, mainly as a way to sort out my thoughts regarding the last three weeks of this quarter, before winter break.

This is it. It’s the final stretch of the marathon. I’ve worked hard these past 8 weeks, struggled a bit with mental health, but am glad to say I’ve averted a mental breakdown. These next few weeks are critical, though. Here’s the rundown:

Week 9

Monday, 11/26: fly back to LA; study sesh with friend, 8pm-10pm @ Powell library

Tuesday, 11/27: Psych 110, Psych 188B lecture; skating group class @ 7pm

Wednesday, 11/28: discussion, final class of Psych M140, before the final during week 10

Thursday, 11/29: Psych 110, Psych 188B lecture; friend’s 21st bday party, 10pm

Friday, 11/30: no class; study day; work out, skate

Saturday, Dec 1: study/dance/skate

Sunday, Dec 2: church; meet with Bishop; host a dance workshop

 

Week 10

Monday, Dec 3: no class; study day; work out, skate

Tuesday, Dec 4: Psych 110, Psych 188B

Wednesday, Dec 5: Psych M140 final

Thursday, Dec 6: Psych 110, Psych 188B final lectures

Friday, Dec 7: no class; study day; work out, skate

Saturday, Dec 8: study; work out, skate

Sunday, Dec 9: study: work out, skate

 

Finals Week

Monday Dec 10: study

Tuesday, Dec 11: Psych 188B final, 3:30pm-4:45pm

Wednesday, Dec 12: study for psych 110

Thursday, Dec 13: study for psych 110

Friday, Dec 14: psych 110 final, 9am-11am

Sunday, Dec 16: bus home

FALL QUARTER IS OVER!

The final stretch is always the hardest for me. On the one hand, it’s nice because the end is in sight. However, being so close to the end of a battle can make the days seem longer, the studying more tedious. I can’t complain, though. I’ve had a chill quarter, despite piling on 4 upper division classes. I planned out my classes such that I didn’t have class Monday or Friday, which meant I had 4-day weekends every week! Next quarter will be nowhere near as luxurious. I’m taking 4 classes again, this time with a language class in my schedule (language classes are always a lot of work). And winter quarter is notorious for being the most difficult quarter. Unlike fall quarter, which has a lot of breaks (Veteran’s day, Thanksgiving), winter quarter has close to none. It’s also the time when burn-out starts to set in. On top of all that, the weather tends to be a lot gloomier during this time, which can lend way to seasonal depression (but again, can’t complain, since I’m living in LA, where the winters aren’t nearly as brutal as some other states).

If all goes as planned and I score in the top 90s in my finals, I’ll be guaranteed an A in all of my classes, which will surely boost my upper division GPA (which isn’t great, right now). I know I have it in my to get those A’s. And you may ask me why I am so adamant on getting perfect grades. It’s kind of ridiculous, how much pressure I place on myself to do well academically, especially considering I’m no longer fighting to get into med school. It’s really unhealthy, actually. I’m living and dying with each exam, and the pressure is getting too much. I don’t think college is supposed to be this hard. But I insist on making it hard for myself, and for what? I think my obsession of getting straight A’s is just that– an obsession. An addiction to that external validation. See, this is why it’s so important for me to seek therapy!

Anyway, it’s time for me to sleep. Have a good night, everyone!

 

 

Best,

Belicia

Lovestruck

Hey guys! It’s 8:17pm on this Saturday evening. I’m still at home in the Bay and will be returning to LA on Monday afternoon. I’ve been home for over a week now. While this mid-quarter Thanksgiving break was much-needed, I was honestly such a couch potato the entire time I was home. A part of it was the depression that resurfaced. It’s weird– coming home can sometimes be a trigger for my depression. Maybe because most of my close friends are in LA, and leaving them can trigger feelings of loneliness. I’m not sure. I suppose that, when I’m at school, I can’t afford to fall into a depressive slump, because I have so many academic responsibilities to juggle. So I fight harder to keep the depression away when I’m away from home, because to succumb to my depression in the middle of the quarter without my family around to catch me can be catastrophic. But when I come home, I feel that I can let my guard down completely. I feel safe. So perhaps I give myself greater leeway and permission to not only feel depressed, but also to let the depression run my life (which is not good). Well whatever the cause, the fact of the matter is, I am currently riding out one of my depressive episodes, and I’ve never been more eager to get back into the academic grind, once I return to UCLA. Staying busy with structure has always worked well for me in keeping the depression away. Remember, the quarter is not over yet. We still have finals. But winter break is coming in literally three weeks! I am so so excited!

Onto the meat of today’s post– LOVESTRUCK. I was bitten by the lovebug a couple days ago, after one of my past crushes randomly resurfaced in a dream. Now, all I can think about as I go to sleep each night is him! Ben! Remember Ben, guys? The waiter from Maui? Well if you don’t know who the heck I’m referring to, that’s alright. I wrote about him over three years ago, when I was 17 years old, in the summer of 2015. Let me copy and paste what I wrote in the blog post about him (that’s the beauty of blogging– one click and you can relive a memory)!

“On a lighter and happier note, though, I’m glad to say that my day ended very well, despite the bad experience. Shortly after getting ambushed by the woman, my family and I boarded a ship for a cruise dinner. There was a waiter on the ship named Ben, who (even in my state of semi-shock) caught my eye with his good looks and friendly demeanor. So throughout the cruise dinner, I watched him, simply because, well- he’s nice to look at! After the dinner ended, we all got off the ship and said our goodbyes to the crew. When it reached time to say bye to Ben, I shook his hand, and he gave me this gorgeous smile. He didn’t let go of my hand, though, which was surprising, but hey, I’m not complaining 🙂 He then said to me, “I hope you had a great time tonight, after what happened earlier.” Apparently he heard about the incident from some people on the ship- probably eyewitnesses. Ben told me to just black out what happened, as this world is full of crazy people who just aren’t worth my time and energy. He repeatedly apologized that this happened to me, and gave me several hugs. His words and actions were actually very comforting. My family, who was aware of my partiality towards Ben, asked if they could take a picture of the two of us. One picture turned into an entire photoshoot! After pictures were over, we talked some more. I mustered up the courage to tell him how handsome he was, and he replied by saying I have a beautiful smile.. I quickly discovered that, along with having looks, Ben has a brain. He graduated college three years ago with an aerospace engineer degree, but after falling in love with the sea, decided to choose a different path. When it was time for Ben to get back on the ship, we hugged about three times, and he gave me a kiss on the forehead and cheek.

I didn’t get his number, which I’m not sure I’m regretting or not, but like I said- a great end to a bad day.”

I never did see or hear from Ben again, which is to be expected. I have no idea what was going on with my little brain a couple nights ago, when the memory of Ben resurfaced in a dream. I woke up feeling enlivened and, well, just a little bit lovestruck! I know the chances of me seeing Ben again my lifetime are very slim. And don’t you worry– I am sensible enough to know that there will never be a “Benicia”. A with such handsome looks and heart-melting charisma, Ben could have anybody. Chances are, when I met him three years ago, he was already with someone. And if he wasn’t then, he probably is now. Heck, he might be married with children, at 28 years old!

Ben was a teenage crush. Barely even a crush, since our interaction spanned 20 minutes, max. It was more of a fantasy, an infatuation. I can’t even begin to imagine what true love must feel like, if nursing a fantasy already feels this good. Imagine someone loving you just as much (if not more than) you love them. There’s a song lyric by Nat Cole, which just so happens to be the mantra of my favorite movie, Moulin Rouge: “The greatest thing you’ll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return”. I have never experienced anything remotely close to true love. This is something I long to experience before I leave this Earth.

Okay, guys, you’ve found me out. Underneath all this drive and focus and goal-oriented nature is a passionate, helpless romantic. I am a dreamer in all aspects of life, including that of intimacy and love. I like to believe that there is someone out there for each and every one of us. You may meet each other at age 5 or 50. But somehow, someway, the stars will align one day… that fateful day… when the two of you will cross paths. And the rest will be history.

Usually, in cases of unrequited love, when I have feelings for someone I know will never feel the same way about me, I try to black out the memory of that individual. But I’m not gonna do that with Ben. I’ll cherish the sweet memory and occasionally go back to it, perhaps when I’m in need of a pick-me-up.

Wherever Ben is now, I wish him all the best. He seems like such a great guy, and I know whichever lucky lady he ends up with is so so blessed.

Alrighty, folks. Gonna submit my project, add some final touches to my paper, then go to bed (trying to get back into the early to bed early to rise routine). Hope you guys enjoyed my heartfelt, lovey-dovey post. And if you’re feeling depressed about being single during cuffing season, don’t you worry one bit. You may not find your person this winter, or even the next, but one day you will. And you’ll be that couple that all the single folks will envy. Just be patient, and trust the universe to make it happen.

 

 

 

XOXO,

Belicia

Happy Thanksgiving 2018!

Hi guys! It’s 12:47am on this Black Friday morning. I’m about an hour late, but I just wanted to do a quick Thanksgiving post highlighting all the many things I’m grateful for in my life.

In all honesty, I’ve been acting like an ungrateful brat lately, especially regarding college. Let me begin by saying that it’s a BLESSING to be able to attend university, not to mention a good one like UCLA. It is a privilege that I’m able to get a degree from a reputable university while being financially supported by my dad 100% of the way. I am so freaking lucky, and sometimes I totally lose sight of that. Lately, I’ve been so stressed with midterms and projects– but what college student isn’t? My stress and frustration has lent it’s way to negativity and bitterness. I find myself longing for college to end, so I no longer have to study for classes that are either annoyingly difficult or do not interest me. And the worst part is, I find myself complaining to my parents about how rough a time I’ve been having at UCLA. How college hinders me from pursuing my creative passions for dance and skating, and how I’ve gained a significant amount of weight since coming to UCLA (that, of course, is completely my own doing). I look back now and think, “My goodness, Belicia. Can you imagine how your poor parents must feel, hearing this from you? They’re paying a fortune for you to be ungrateful and miserable?” I need to stop this self-pity bullcrap. I have nothing to complain about. I am blessed, I am privileged, and I have a great life– better than many others.

Needless to say, I am so grateful for my wonderful, loving, supportive family. Without them, I could not do anything or go anywhere in life. I sometimes forget that many of my peers are not quite so privileged as I am to have been born into a life of stability, comfort, and overflowing love. I kind of just assume that everyone has an unconditionally supportive family. Honestly, the fact that I can even dream so big is a blessing. Some people can’t afford to follow their passions, or even go to college. They have to help provide for their family from a young age. I’m lucky, because my parents have never given me a reason to worry about money. Never ever. So I’m grateful for my parents. I’m grateful for my grandmother, who, even at the age of 85, insists on helping around the house and cooking meals for us. I’m grateful for my brothers, whom I can’t imagine my life without. I’m grateful for my cousins and aunts and uncles who, even from afar, remain supportive of me and my dreams.

I’m grateful for my friends, most of whom I met at UCLA (see? college isn’t all that bad!). If y’all aren’t familiar with my story, you probably don’t know that I didn’t have many friends back in high school. I was depressed and socially anxious throughout the latter half of my teenage years. I remember those lunch times spent sitting alone in the hallway, eating my homemade lunch while reading a book or reminiscing on my gymnastics days by watching old competition videos. It wasn’t a high point in my life… I was so lonely. It was only when I reached college and was able to open up that I found true value in friendship. Life is filled with so much more color, when you’re able to share memories with people you care about.

I am grateful for the opportunity to pursue my passions for rhythmic gymnastics, dance, figure skating, and writing, even though I haven’t had much time to do any of these activities lately, with academics as my priority in my life. A part of me wishes for all the time in the world to pursue these passions, every minute of every day, instead of being stationed at my desk, head buried in a book. But again, I mustn’t dwell on what I don’t have. Instead, I must focus on the fact that God blessed me with these gifts, and that they are there for me to cherish, whenever I need an escape from reality. Not everyone at my age have found their passions; I was lucky enough to have found mine at the age of 5, with gymnastics, and to have found so many others, subsequently.

And of course, I am grateful to my small but loyal base of readers! To those who’ve stuck by my journey since the beginning, I am grateful to you. My hope with this blog is to make a positive impact on the lives of my readers. Doesn’t matter if I reach 5 or 5,000 people. It means so much to me that you guys are interested in what I have to say to this world… it makes me feel like my voice really matters. So thank you all.

Most of all, I am grateful for my health. The recent shooting in Thousand Oaks that took the lives of many college students reminds me of how lucky I am to be alive and well. Even though I face mental health challenges, I know that I can get through my struggles with my strong support system of family, friends, and therapists.

Alright, folks. Time to hit the hay. I’m going Black Friday shopping tomorrow for the first time with friends, and have to be up by 6:30am. I’ll talk to you very soon– stay tuned for my December “Blogmas” series!

 

 

Love,

Belicia

Sinking

Hey friends. It’s 5:31am on this Tuesday morning. I wish I could say I was doing well… but lately, I’ve been consumed with thoughts of regret, constantly wondering whether or not my past decisions were valid. Living in the world of hypotheticals. Wondering, “What if I had done something differently in my life? Would I be better off than I am currently?”

I’m drowning in my own thoughts. Suffocating. Living in the past and not appreciating the present.

Another source of my worry and negativity is the midterm I’m taking today at 3:30pm. It’s for my Psychobiology of Sexual Behavior class. Never have I felt so unprepared for any exam. I am still behind on two whole lectures and have not completely mastered the three other lectures I’ll be tested on. A big reason why I am so behind in this class is because for the past two weeks, I’ve been putting all my resources into my two other classes that had midterms last week. On top of that, I had a dance competition in Santa Barbara this past weekend, which took away from my study time. I tried my best to study over the long weekend, but my depression came back full-force, rendering me completely unable to focus on my studies.

I am sinking. I am in disbelief at how much I’ve regressed since coming to college… in terms of self-discipline, social confidence, and dancing. My college journey is ending in a little over two quarters. I really thought I would grow so much more than I have. When I first began college, I was hungry for self-improvement. I was determined to break free from my former shell. And break free, I did. I excelled academically and was the most confident I had been in my life. I was an unstoppable force, powered by rocket-fuel. I felt as if nothing could stop me from my rapid ascent towards success.

I am not 100% sure what happened in my life that brought my progress to a halt. I suppose it all started with the bipolar diagnosis. When I realized that most of my freshman year of college I had lived in a state of hypomania, I questioned so much of my identity. I didn’t know how much of my past actions and achievements were attributed to mania, and how much was the actual Belicia talking. I questioned EVERYTHING. Everything I thought I knew about myself may have been a lie.

Perhaps it was the identity crisis that drove me to bury myself in all sorts of vices during my sophomore year of college. A part of it was a normative part of my development as an individual– delayed rebellion, shall we say. I had lived such a disciplined life before college, it was almost inevitable that I would snap, at some point. Gradually, I lost my self-discipline. I began to party and drink to excess. Thus came my second identity crisis. All my life, I had identified as as hard worker. Sophomore year completely changed my self-perception. Who was this new person who, once so pure, was poisoning both her body and mind on a daily basis? I lost a big chunk of myself, sophomore year of college.

Add to the mix my utter lack of life direction in terms of career plans. Sophomore year, I had no idea what I wanted to do in life. Medicine, dance, psychology, writing… What could it be? Instead of facing this psychological dilemma head-on, I found it much easier to avoid it. For the first time in my life, I chose the easy way out. And gradually, the easy way out became a pattern. I started drinking to suppress my anxiety and depression, when really, I should have been seeing a therapist and dealing with my mental illness in a healthy way.

I gained a significant amount of weight during my sophomore year of college. As a former gymnast and dancer, body image is something I have always struggled with. I don’t know a time in my life where I loved my body. I place so much weight (hah… pun intended) on the way my body looked that when I gained a few extra pounds, my self-confidence plummeted. The summer going into junior year of college, I refused to step foot in my local dance studio for fear of being judged by those who had known me back when I was thinner.

I watched my dance videos from this past competition and am shocked at how far my dancing technique has regressed. I mean, what could I expect? I haven’t been taking lessons or training regularly for almost a year now. But to see how far a step backwards I’ve taken, I was… shocked. Regretful that all my past hard work had been wasted.

I am sinking, guys. I’ve dug myself into a deep hole with no idea how to get out. I am seeing a therapist next week (literally had to book an appointment two months in advance). Perhaps I should turn to God for help. Go back to church. Surround myself with a kind and loving community.

The one light in my life right now is figure skating. I am picking up the hobby once more and find fulfillment in my rapid progress.

I’ll also be going home for the next three weekends, which is another thing to look forward to. Perhaps being back with my family and roots will do me some good. I definitely need to get out of the school environment and all this academic stress. Yes, I do believe a change in scenery will be good for me.

Alright guys. It’s time to continue cramming for this exam. As much as I don’t want to study this stuff (it’s literally all about cells and hormones and molecular biology), I can’t avoid it.

I need to change. I need to rebuild healthy habits. Regain my focus. Build up my confidence from scratch (oh, if I had a penny for every time I had to do that in my life).

Have a wonderful rest of the week!

 

 

 

Belicia

 

 

“Why Columbia” Transfer Essay

Please provide a statement that addresses your reasons for transferring and the objectives you hope to achieve. You can type directly into the box, or you can paste text from another source.


When I first chose UCLA, I had defaulted to the linear pre-med track, silently resigning my passions for writing and Latin-American dancing to mere hobbies. Two quarters into UCLA, I realized that, while I did well in my STEM classes, my heart laid as far from science as the Bay Area is from New York City. I am drawn to human emotion and spirit, with my transformative therapist serving as a beacon of what I aspire to become– a soul-healer. Medicine, something I had always envisioned myself doing, was not for me. Many a sleepless night followed my renunciation of pre-med, but eventually, I learned to stop seeking comfort in a path of certainty, familiarity and societal approval, and start living one of authenticity, risk and faith. Freed from the illusion of needing to follow my father’s footsteps into physician-hood to attain career “success”, I opened my mind to the exploration of other fields beyond medicine, living with my heart as my compass. During my third quarter at UCLA, I took classes in theater, explored improv-comedy, continued writing for the Daily Bruin, picked up competitive dancing once more and offered free private dance lessons to UCLA students. Through exploration and experimentation, I affirmed my suspicion that I was indeed an artistic soul, drawn to all modes of creative expression– dance, writing, music, and theater. What better place than New York to pursue my penchant for performance? At the close of my freshman year, I knew this much: pre-med was out of the picture for that moment. Psychology sounded promising, as the field aligned with my interest in human emotion and motivation. Whether or not I pursued a degree in English, I was certain writing would forever remain an unshakeable life pillar, grounding me during turbulent times. The same went for Latin-American dancing– my primary mode of performance.

English has been my strongest school subject since the second grade, but my writing did not blossom until the start of college. I started my personal blog during junior year of high school as a cathartic means of grieving, after a career-ending knee injury uprooted me from my ten-year gymnastics career. For the past two-and-a-half years, I’ve been documenting my life journey on this public platform and found the experience both rewarding and empowering. To write is to inspire, comfort and humanize the universal life struggles we all face. Every time someone tells me, “Belicia, you literally conveyed the story of my life through your writing,” I am at once humbled and fascinated by the positive impact I can wield on others through my words. Having only recently discovered my voice through writing, I hope to find greater opportunities as a writer in New York, as therein are where the necessary connections and valuable internship opportunities lay for aspiring writers like myself.

My second passion after writing is competitive Latin-American dancing, which I started during junior year of high school. Going into UCLA, I expected Los Angeles, one of the world’s greatest entertainment capitals, to be a hub of Latin and Ballroom dance. Dishearteningly, I was unable to find a good-fit dance instructor within 10 miles of campus. The difficulties of commuting on and off campus without an efficient means of transportation also negatively impacted my dancing, as I was unable to take regular lessons. Dancing in LA, then, became costly, time-consuming and a large source of stress.  The greatest opportunities for ballroom dancers in the U.S. undoubtedly lie in New York. The Empire State is home to the best dancers in the world. Former world champion Latin-American dancers can be found in the heart of Manhattan, there to build up the next generation of artists.

My dream would be to move to New York to continue my undergraduate education at a reputable school, whilst pursuing my creative passions under the mentorship of the world’s greatest academics, writers and dance instructors.


 

I ended up getting waitlisted, and ultimately did not make it off the waitlist. Here is my second appeal to Columbia University, which I wrote after getting waitlisted:

It’s been four months since I pressed the “submit” button on my Common App portal, and, in spite of my mercurial moods and occasional bouts of youthful indecision, my heart has stood steadfast in its longing for Columbia University. In addition to keeping up with my academic performance at UCLA, I continue to dance day-in and day-out, dreaming of the day when I finally get to live in the Empire state– the mecca of ballroom dance. Wherever on this Earth I may be, I aim to inspire and impart happiness through sharing the craft that has done so much for me. These past four months, I’ve busied myself with giving private Latin ballroom dance instruction to members of the UCLA community. Winter quarter was, admittedly, shaky, as I was learning to balance my newfound commitment as a dance instructor with a rigorous course load of four upper-division psychology classes, as well as my own dance training. I’ve since grounded myself in better time management skills, and am happy to say that I am performing a lot better in my studies this present term. I continue to write on my blog as often as I can, sharing my day-to-day triumphs, tribulations, worldview shifts and enlightenments with my tight-knit, loyal band of readers. Even in the realm of writing, I dream of moving to New York City, contributing my talents to Columbia’s Daily Spectator whilst interning at some of the nation’s top journalism firms. Really, there is not much else that needs to be said regarding my sentiments towards transferring to Columbia University. Nothing has changed since December. I am still a young and hungry idealist; slightly too naive for my own good, but oh-so filled with passion and love for what I do. Could I still dance, write, and earn a college degree at UCLA? Of course. But, if I could choose, I would do all of those things and more at an institution of the highest caliber, where the dancing flourishes, the writing opportunities abound, and the quality of education remains unrivaled.

Life Update 11/5/18: Midterms, Figure Skating, Ballroom

Hey guys! It’s 12:25am right now as I sit in my bed typing away. I’m honestly so tired, but I felt the need to update y’all on my life.

Midterms are STILL going. I have two this coming week– one on Tuesday and one on Thursday. The one on Tuesday is for my really hard class, and it’s 45% of our grade. The Thursday one is a little bit more chill, but I still would like to do well so I can opt out of the final (of the three exams, our lowest grade is dropped, so if you do well on the first two, you basically can skip the third exam altogether!). I spent the whole of today studying, from around 1pm to 11:30pm, with food and youtube breaks in between. As drained as I am right now, I feel very accomplished at my hard work and am confident that I will be able to deliver when exam time comes around. A few weeks back, I stumbled across an instagram post by Mariah Bell, a US figure skater. In her caption, she stated the importance of “trusting your training” when it comes time to deliver. Honestly, these words are so true. Under high stakes and stressful circumstances, things may not always go as planned. The only thing you can control is your training that ultimately prepares you for such moments.

Speaking of skating… my latest obsession is this year’s figure skating Grand Prix circuit, a series of international competitions featuring the best skaters in the world. I went so far as to pay the $60 for an NBC Sports Gold subscription so that I could watch the Grand Prix live. Honestly, I love figure skating so much. I love anything that involves creating beauty through movement and the expression of music. I am certain that one day, possibly very soon, I will be on the ice, skating at adult amateur figure skating competitions. I know that when I love something, I get SUPER obsessed with it, which leads me to work hard and improve quickly. My biggest problem is commitment. I am a very impatient person who wants to see results fast. Unfortunately, it is this impatience that leads me to get discouraged easily and want to give up prematurely. But no. Things are changing. I am Belicia Tang, and I am no quitter. I must choose my battles wisely– namely, pursue the things that matter to me– and tread forth steadfastly with unwavering resolve.

In other news, I have a ballroom dance competition this coming weekend! My first time on the floor in over a year! I am very excited to compete and perform once more… but a part of me is also very insecure about getting back out there. I’ve gained a considerable amount of weight since my last appearance, and though I realize that most people will not care, I still feel self conscious, because that’s just me being human. I also haven’t been dancing consistently, with my academic responsibilities consuming most of my time, so my dance technique has deteriorated. So I’m worried I’ll get judged for THAT. I am just such a worry-wart. I wish I didn’t worry so much… I wish I could just have fun with what I do!

Today, my dance partner and I had a discussion about why I didn’t seem to enjoy dancing during practice. I explained to him that it wasn’t that I didn’t enjoy dancing… it’s just that I get very serious before competitions, as I want to train hard so I can put out my very best performance on the floor. In gymnastics, training was never a time to have fun. It was all work, work, work. No talking. No laughing. Do either, and you’ll get reprimanded. So is it really that surprising that I don’t smile or laugh during dance training?

The hardest part of ballroom for me is not learning the technique– it’s dealing with a partner. Seriously. For basically all my life, I’ve only had to worry about three things– me, myself and I. Gymnastics is a highly individualized sport. You learn to become a very self-sufficient athlete. You develop a training system that works perfectly well for you, and you alone. You are completely confident and at ease with your own ability to work and compete. How well you did at competition was completely in your own hands. In ballroom, you are only as good as your partnership. You can be the best dancer in the world; but if your partner is sub-par, or your connection is not there, then you’re screwed.

In gymnastics, I’d oftentimes get frustrated and emotional at training. In these moments, I’d run to the bathroom, cry a little, wash my face with cold water, then get back to work. I’d let my volatile emotions run their own course, with me as the only person caught in the cross-fire. In ballroom, when I get frustrated, I find myself taking out my emotions on my partner, whether or not he had anything to do with it at all. It’s a terrible thing, I know. But honestly, transitioning from 10 years in an individual sport to one where I must rely on another individual is NO JOKE. It’s like learning a million new skills at once. Adapting to a whole new way of operating. Ever since dancing with an amateur partner, I’ve learned so much about myself and my ability to work with others.

First of all, I learned that I have a lot of pride. Sometimes too much. I like to be right, all the time. And if I get criticized by my partner, I react in one of two ways: I either jump to defensive mode and start listing all the reasons why I disagree with the criticism, or I internalize the criticism, which gives rise to negative emotions. Really, what I should be doing is listening carefully to what my partner is saying with charity and an open mind, and seeing how we can fix the problem in a rational, emotion-free way.

Secondly, I learned that I can be very domineering in my ways. It’s always me dictating what to do next. What our practice plan should be. How many times we should repeat the dance before moving on. Even down to what music we should play. It doesn’t even occur to me to ask my partner what he thinks about all this. And most of my past partners have let me boss them around, just like that. Like I said, I am so used to operating on my own terms, that bringing another person into the equation is such a huge adjustment.

If there’s one thing that’ll hinder my progression in ballroom, it’s the whole aspect of partnership. If I wish to succeed in mastering this art, it is integral that I learn how to be a good partner. Otherwise, I’ll just spend the rest of my dance career either jumping around partners or dancing with my professional teacher– neither of which are very appealing options.

I also wonder how this translates to my ability to have a personal relationship with someone. If I struggle so much with maintaining a ballroom partnership, how in the living heck will I be able to deal with a serious boyfriend or husband? I am very rigid in my own ways, and I feel that introducing a whole other person in my life and integrating his life with my own would simply create a huge mess. Well, I’m too young to be thinking so far ahead.

I’m gonna go to bed now. Good talk, friends.

 

 

 

Belicia