It’s 9:47pm on this Saturday night (I need to find a more original way to open my blog posts, haha). So, I’m gonna keep this post short and direct, with very little sugar-coating. Today was hard. It was yucky, it was dark, it was twisty. I was exhausted after my night out in SF last night, and when I got home at 1am last night (or early this morning, rather), I wrote the following in my private diary:
Feeling yucky yucky yucky. Got back from SF partying and I didn’t even go that hard but honestly I’m so sick and tired of living this kind of life. Balance is one thing, but going out every weekend instead of doing things that are actually meaningful and shirking my other responsibilities and diet and training is just… not okay with me. I draw the line here. Going out to SF, spending so much money on transportation and expending all that energy that leaves me physically and mentally exhausted the following day just isn’t it. I’m not living my best life right now, and I recognize that. I’m not living in accordance with my values, and it feels gross. No. It’s a new leaf from here on out.
Anyway, I woke up this morning, exhausted (understandably). I had acupuncture treatment in SF at 10:30am, so I woke up at 9:30am, and my dad was such a dear for giving me a ride. I slept on the car ride there and back. I tried taking a nap upon coming home, as I needed energy for my busy day ahead. But anxiety kept me awake, and after an hour of tossing and turning in my sheets, I decided to plunge into action mode. Got dressed, did my makeup to look less death-like, and headed to the dance studio. I taught one private lesson at 1:30pm (subbing for another teacher), then taught 2 Latin dance group classes from 2:30-4pm. I then headed to Bay Club, where I taught another Latin dance group class from 5-6pm. After finishing my day of dance teaching, I drove home, took a shower, and then tutored a kid remotely from 6:30-8:10pm.
Okay, now filling in the blanks. Cry session #1 happened on the drive to the dance studio, around 1pm. Was feeling exhausted and hated myself for going out Friday night which left me drained and completely not in the mood to stand up in front of people and put on an enthusiastic and happy face for teaching. Thank god for my best friend, Mikey, who has been my rock throughout this mess. I gave him a call, and I told him to transmit some good vibes through the phone to help me get through the day. And transmit, he did.
Cry session #2 happened on the drive from the dance studio to Bay Club. I was wiped out– physically, mentally, emotionally– after teaching those group classes. I’ve been teaching dance and dance fitness since May of this year. I’m definitely feeling a lot more confident standing in front of my people and teaching. But the insecurity never fades. I feel it in the moments during my class when I face my students and ask if anyone has any questions, and am left with blank stares and dead silence. They hate me. I’m doing a terrible job at teaching, because everyone looks confused. I’m a terrible teacher. I feel it when someone comes up to me after class and makes an offhand remark: “[The former teacher] used to teach like this. Will you be doing the same?” They hate my style of teaching. Why doesn’t someone more qualified teach this class?
I arrived at Bay Club a bit early, got to the studio, pulled out a yoga mat and laid down, hoping to get some shut-eye before my last hour of dance teaching. To my dismay (and I feel like a terrible person for saying this), an enthusiastic student walked into the class early and struck up conversation with me. Bless her soul, she was so sweet. But I really just wanted to rest before teaching, and after so much teaching and talking, I was socially exhausted and running on fumes. From 5-6pm, I taught a samba dance class. After holding it together for my last class of the day, I felt better after receiving some positive remarks from my students. I exited the gym and sped-walk to my car, as I needed to hurry home for my 6:30pm tutoring session. Got home around 6:10pm, then took a shower. I sat on the bathtub floor, where cry session #3 commenced. When I finally pulled it together, I hopped out of the shower, dried off, wiped away my remaining mascara, and got ready for my tutoring session. Tutoring went from 6:30-8pm– helped a student with his Romeo and Juliet essay, which was due tonight at 10pm.
After concluding tutoring, I headed downstairs for dinner, where I very candidly told my parents that I wasn’t doing alright mentally. My efforts at honesty were reciprocated with stern lectures from my parents: “Belicia, you’re feeling this way because you’re not getting enough sleep. You keep going out to San Francisco and you are tiring yourself out. If you didn’t go out, you would be more well-rested and wouldn’t feel like this.” Back and forth my parents volleyed, taking hits at me. What they were saying may have all been true, but sitting at the dinner table, picking at my cold food head resting dejectedly in hand, everything my parents said was noise. Noise, noise, noise. I didn’t want to be lectured. I wanted emotional support. I wanted them to listen without judgment. I wanted a hug. Maybe that’s too much to ask. But after my failed attempt at seeking help from my parents, I left the dinner table and had cry session #4 while trudging up the stairs back to my room.
I sat down at my desk and opened my computer, prepared to write this post. I looked up at my wall, where I had taped various notes, affirmations and sources of validation from over the years to remind myself of my worth. I re-read teacher “shout-outs” from high school: one from my calculus teacher, Mr. Ramroth, who was instrumental in helping me through my social anxiety, and commended me for my efforts to raise my hand in class. There was the guest judge’s positive comments from a dance showcase I had performed in, back in 2016. There was my Regents’ Scholarship recipient letter from UCLA, which I had worked hard to obtain. There was the National Merit Scholarship finalist letter. There was a letter written to me by a former high school friend, Shirley, who expressed deep appreciation for our friendship (how I wish we had kept in touch, after high school).
As I read these various acknowledgements of my past accomplishments, I started crying (cry session #5), as I saw what I was then, and the person I had become since. Bipolar happened at the start of college, and that diagnosis shook up my world, my self-concept, and my confidence. College was also a time when I was introduced to a world of “degeneracy”, and I regretted my regression from model (stencil) child to hedonistic, vagabond sinner. At age 23, I am as confused as ever regarding my life path– do I continue grad school next semester? If I do, should I do it part time so I can continue working and pursuing my passions, or should I plunge back into a full-time track, and speed through my graduate program like I did undergrad?
And now, here I am, recounting the events of this yucky day. The magic of writing, particularly expressive writing, is that even in the worst of times, I can always count on the healing power of writing. I began this post feeling a 3/10 in terms of mood. Now, I’m about a 4.5/10. A modest increase, but uplifting, nonetheless.
I am grateful for a lot of things in my life, and I find counting my blessings to be a healing practice during rough patches. Following are 3 gratitudes:
- My students. Especially those who express their appreciation for me and remind me that I’m not a terrible teacher.
- Social support. Friends, parents, brothers, mentors. It’s the people you love who get you through.
- Dance. I can’t imagine life without it. Even if it doesn’t become my profession or primary source of income, I know I will dance until I die.
- Tacking on a fourth gratitude because this one is too important not to acknowledge: writing. As stated above, writing makes me feel better. In my toolbox of coping skills, writing sits on the top shelf (alongside physical exercise, deep breathing, and social support).
It’s 10:30pm now. Gonna sleep soon, as I have an early-ish morning at the studio. Thank you for reading, to anyone out there who has cared enough to stick around until the end of this post. Sending much love to you all, and I wish you all nothing but health and happiness and peace of mind.