The November 2021 Diaries: Day 2

Dear friends,

Hope you all had a great Tuesday! It’s 8:07pm as I begin this post, and I’ll start by telling y’all about a running reference I have to one of my favorite songs from the movie, Kill Bill. The song is called “The Lonely Shepherd”, and I often play this song when I’m feeling lonely or in need of company. I’ve even written a blog post called “The Lonely Shepherd”, because that phrase, for whatever reason, resonates with me during times of unsought solitude.

Today was a Lonely Shepherd kinda day. I’ll tell you what happened that made me feel this way. Basically, I have a friend group in San Francisco, and I love every single person in it. As the holiday season approaches, I grew excited at the thought of all the fun group activities my friends and I could do together: ice skating in Union Square, holiday movie parties, Secret Santa, etc. I expressed all this in the group chat, and even made a Google Doc where I listed out all the activities we could partake in together this holiday season. My excitement was met with lukewarm enthusiasm, evidenced by the lack of reply from my friends. Immediately I felt embarrassed, and wished I could rescind my enthusiastic messages, which honestly seemed innocuous and friendly to me, but could have been perceived differently by others. Maybe my friends don’t like the holidays as much as I do. Maybe the message was tone-deaf against the backdrop of a waning, yet still active, pandemic. Maybe people don’t like me as much as I like them, and thus do not want to hang out with me. I’m not sure if my feelings of anxiety/insecurity are justified, or if I’m just being my usual overly sensitive self. All I know is how I felt the remainder of the day, which was a little bit lonely, a little bit hurt, a little bit sad.

In an effort to process my feelings, I decided to walk, instead of drive, to Bay Club, where I taught a dance fitness class at 5:30pm. By the time I finished teaching and began my journey home on foot, it was dark outside, and with my body aching after an hour of non-stop dancing, I really did feel like The Lonely Shepherd, traversing the levee trail with nothing but moonlight guiding my way.

Despite the strain on my body, the 3-mile (round-trip) walk cleared my head, and I am no longer so emotionally distraught as I was earlier in the day. I also unearthed my FitBit today, which was buried in my desk drawer under a pile of stationary. I used the FitBit to count my steps, which totaled to 12,300, by the time I returned home. According to the C.D.C, 10,000 steps is the recommended amount for the average American adult. So yay, I beat that benchmark by a solid margin!

It’s 8:32pm now, and I am exhausted. I’m going to do some reading and hit the hay early tonight. Love y’all and talk to you tomorrow!

Sincerely,

Bel the Lonely Shepherd

The November 2021 Diaries: Day 1

Dear friends,

November is historically a month of goal and trend-setting, with classic challenges like #noshavenovember, #nonutnovember, #nonicnovember, and any other #no-‘x’-november habit-cancelling iterations flooding the internet as we approach the year’s end.

In the spirit of challenge and personal development, I have decided to come up with my own personal goal of the month, which is to write a blog post every day of November. These posts will be formatted like reflective diary entries– with private/sensitive information filtered out, of course. This will be a great segue into my annual Blogmas series that begins in December, which also involves writing a blog a day. A blog a day keeps the writer’s block away!! (lol, just thought of that and wanted to include it).

Okay. So without further ado, welcome to Day 1 of The November Diaries!


9:48pm

What a day, it was! After an entire weekend (Fri, Sat, Sun) of Halloween festivities in San Francisco, today was recovery day. I don’t envy my friends who have to work Monday mornings. I had the liberty of sleeping in until around 11am. After mustering the willpower to get out of bed, I jumped in the shower, which is the best, all-natural wake-up method in my opinion. After shower #1 of the day, I went downstairs and made myself brunch: chicken noodle soup with ramen noodles!! Not to brag, guys, but I am becoming quite the chef. My repertoire of dishes includes:

  • scrambled eggs
  • omelettes
  • avocado toast
  • ramen noodles (not the instant Top Ramen kind, but the ones that actually take effort to make from scratch)
  • chocolate cake
  • corn bread
A breakfast dish I made a few weeks ago😋

It’s an extremely modest list, but as someone who has been stubbornly resistant to learning how to cook (until very recently), I’m proud of myself for developing this instrumental life skill. And I’m sure my mom is proud of me, too.

After brunch, I took a walk on the levee to ward off the food coma, and to get my spirits and energy up before commencing a deep-work study session. The weather was on-and-off rainy today, and it was lightly drizzling as I took my first walk of the day. It’s becoming a habit of mine to take strolls (both short and long) when in need of a pick-me-up. Nothing better than Vitamin D and endorphins and physical activity to get you feeling good. Oh, and the main rule with my levee walks is that I’m not allowed to have my phone on me, as those insidious, mind-numbing devices are stupidly distracting and defeat the purpose of mindful, soul-healing nature walks.

After returning from my walk, I did one hour of studying for my grad school class. From 2-3pm, I had a family therapy session, where we unpacked some heavy baggage that left me dazed, drained, and teary-eyed. Therapy can be intense, and therapy with parents is a whole other beast. But I am happy that my parents and I are finally engaging in much-needed open dialogue under the supervision of a clinician, who is there to facilitate the session and mediate if necessary. Upon returning home, I felt inundated by the deluge of intense emotions following therapy. I felt an urge to cry, without totally understanding why I felt that way, which was strange for me, as I am usually very attuned to my emotions precipitating a cry session. In moments of emotional distress, I turn to my toolbox of coping skills to get me through the discomfort. Today, I decided to do a multi-pronged approach, given the particular intensity of emotions (about a 7/10). I took a hot shower (shower #2), where I attempted to journal in my notebook at the same time, but I ended up splashing water all over the pages. So I scrapped that idea, and sat in the bathtub for about 10 minutes, just chewing over my thoughts and processing, and then doing the exact opposite by tuning out my thoughts and focusing solely on my breathing and the sensation of water trickling down skin. After my therapeutic shower, I put on some warm, comfy clothes, grabbed my water-stained notebook, and took a walk on the levee. I walked all the way to a wooden bench overlooking the water, sat down, and did some mad, cathartic journaling. After 30 minutes of bearing my soul onto the page, I looked up and felt… relief. Life is all good. It’s not easy, but it’ll be just fine. Having finally reached a state of zen, I walked home, notebook in hand, and smiled as the sun peaked out from the clouds. It was the first pocket of light I had seen all day, and my mood was uplifted.

My journaling spot on the levee💭

So after getting through the rough patch, I called my best friend, Mikey, who is one of my go-to people whenever I have emotional baggage screaming to be unloaded. While on the phone with him, I made myself a pre-dinner snack: two pieces of toasted naan bread lathered with Costco guacamole and sprinkled with ground pepper. At 6:30pm, I gave a stretching private lesson at a student’s house. Her parents were so kind and offered to have me stay for dinner, as it was Taco Monday! We bonded over talk of relationship/career advice, dance gossip and friendly banter. Then I watched the movie Cruella with my student, until it was her bedtime.

Now I’m back home, finishing up this blog post! Getting sleepy, so I’m gonna wrap this up. This concludes Day 1 of TND (The November Diaries)! Thanks to the few and far between people who actually read this blog. I appreciate your continued support and really enjoy sharing my life journey, especially as I navigate the Tumultuous Twenties, with you all. Take care, and have a wonderful night!

-Bel

I Got My COVID Booster Shot!

Hey folks! It’s 8:44pm on this Tuesday night as I begin this post. It’s been nearly two hours since I got my third COVID vaccine, aka, the booster shot. The shot is now available for people under age 65, and I literally just registered online two days ago and scheduled an appointment for 7pm today.

Right after teaching my dance fitness class, I drove to a local CVS that offered the Moderna booster shot and arrived in time for my 7pm appointment. I brought my physical vaccination card with me (you need the physical copy, not just a picture) along with my ID and health insurance card. There was no line at the CVS pharmacy, and the whole process from start-to-finish took about 30 minutes. Once they got me checked in, a guy took me to a private room where he administered the vaccine in my left shoulder. Quick and painless. I sat in the waiting area for 15 minutes afterwards so they could monitor me for serious side effects. Once time was up, they signed off my vaccination card to mark that I’d received my 3rd dose, and I was free to go!

I am already noticing some side effects: my cheeks are flushed and eyes are glassy, meaning I will likely have a fever, like I did after my second shot. My left arm is a bit sore, but not too bad at the moment. I expect that will change, come tomorrow. My head is pounding ever-so-slightly. I decided to go to bed early, and I’ve stocked up my room with fluids and Tylenol. Gonna drink a lot of water and take 2 Tylenol pills before sleeping. I rescheduled all my commitments for tomorrow in case I feel very sick after the vaccine. Will keep you guys updated on what happens. Have a great night, everyone!

Update: following day, 1:17pm

Hey guys! Just hopping back on this post to provide an update on my reaction to the third shot. I woke up this morning feeling exhausted, like I’d just run a marathon and was recovering. I had a mild headache and full-body soreness, but thankfully no fever. My left arm was throbbing, and on the pain scale I’d say it was a 7/10. I even had to do a tapping meditation to release some of the physical pain, before I realized I had a whole bottle of Tylenol right next to me, and popped a couple of those. I felt a little better after taking the meds. After a virtual therapy session, I took a hot shower which soothed my body aches. Now I’m ready to get my day started. I’m glad I un-scheduled all my commitments today, as I don’t know how I would teach dance with the pain in my arm. So the rest of the day is gonna be super chill!

In summary, I’d say my reaction to the second shot was a lot worse than my reaction to this one. For the second shot, I had a full-blown fever and was bedridden for most of the following day, whereas the fever never manifested for the third shot. If you live in San Mateo County and want to sign up to get the booster shot, literally just google “CVS booster shot” and you can schedule an appointment from there. Good luck, everyone, and happy vaccination!

-Bel

Noontime Musings on an October Monday

Happy Monday, everyone! It’s 12:27pm as I sit outside a local Starbucks, feasting on my lunch: a chicken caprese panini and hot chai tea latte.

I am freshly inspired to get back into the habit of blogging regularly. I aim to document even the most mundane of days, slightest of interactions, and thoughts and emotions, however fleeting or profound. I had the following thought before beginning this post: “What a gift a it would be, to look back on this blog, say, 10 years from now, and marvel at how young and dumb and overly anxious I was in my early twenties, and how far I’ve progressed since then.” I’m a big proponent of consistent self-examination as a vehicle to clarity, which leads to self-realization and meaningful existence. So, reflect away I shall. 

Today got off to a great start. I woke up around 9am, then powered through my morning routine. I made myself breakfast: a scrambled egg sandwich atop toasted naan bread, which I lathered with guacamole (store-bought, not homemade) and sprinkled with ground pepper. I also drizzled ketchup on my sandwich, because I’m so used to eating scrambled eggs with ketchup (does anyone else do this?! It’s delicious!)

After breakfast, I did some studying for grad school. Speaking of grad school, I am very happy with how I performed on my midterm last Tuesday! I got one question wrong and ended with a 195/200. A great score and cause for celebration… if only my inner perfectionist would let me celebrate wholeheartedly. Historically, whenever I’d do well on something, I’d reflexively and immediately downplay the accomplishment as a product of extrinsic factors, and thus take away personal credit for what I’d achieved. In the case of this midterm, I was thinking, “Well this is San Jose State, which is a much easier school than UCLA, so it would be sad if I earned a bad score on the midterm. Which by the way, is for an undergraduate psychology of coaching class that I have to take to fulfill a requirement. I expect nothing less than perfection.” So deeply convinced I was of this logic, when I got one question wrong on the multiple choice section (it was the dumbest mistake in the history of mistakes) I kicked myself for it. These days, I am much more apt to recognize my unhealthy perfectionism and try to catch myself in the act of negative self talk, and then reframe my thinking into something more positive/helpful. In this case, I could counter my negative thought with, “Well, Bel, even if all this were true, you shouldn’t discount how hard you worked on this exam. You had a depressive episode mid-semester and bounced back after missing several classes. Who cares if it was an undergrad class at SJSU? You studied hard and crushed the exam. It’s an accomplishment.” See? Much healthier and much more positive. 

My second little boost of the day happened at Bay Club, where I went this morning to work on some dance choreography. After I concluded my choreo session, I walked into the 77 bar/restaurant, where I ran into two acquaintances: Anna, a regular at my dance fitness classes, and also one of the biggest promoter of my classes; and Jen, the bartender. The three of us struck up a conversation, and Jen commented, “So many people at the club love your dance classes!” Anna chimed in that I was “the best dance teacher.” I repeat their words not to brag, but to honestly marvel at the positive impact I am able to enact on people’s lives, through teaching dance. It’s an amazing feeling! Truly, I could imagine a happy and fulfilling life doing this as (one of) my jobs. Teaching dance is creative, social, active, and fun. I feel blessed to have the opportunity to meet so many people through my jobs at Bay Club and the dance studio.

It is now 1:06pm. I have a therapy appointment at 1:15pm, so I better get going now. The rest of the day is super chill— gonna hit a workout, read Dune (I’m trying to finish the 600+ page book before watching the movie, so I have my work cut out for me), and write an article for Athlete Voices. Talk soon! 


5:10pm

Just a quick check-in before my next task of the day: choreographing a gymnastics exhibition routine at a gym in Mountain View. So after lunch and therapy, I headed back to Bay Club where I hit an intensive workout. I did jump rope for cardio and focused on upper body conditioning (abs and arms). Couldn’t do leg day, unfortunately, because I made the mistake of wearing pants that are not stretchy enough for squats and lunges. I’m excited to get back into my physical training, because I feel my best mentally when I’m physically in shape. After my workout, I had choreography session #2, where I reviewed the choreo I’ll be teaching the gymnasts tonight. I also made some choreography for future dance fitness and burlesque classes. After spending an hour in the studio, I called it a day. Before leaving the club, I stopped by the 77 restaurant again to say hi to Jen, who was still working. Unfortunately, I had the misfortune of running into a member who will remain nameless for privacy’s sake. Anyway, he has a reputation amongst employees for being an asshole, and I’ve witnessed him on multiple occasions give lip and attitude to several employees. Not to make this political, so I’ll leave this as a side note: this guy is also an antivaxxer, and I overheard him back in February preaching to a group of people, pontificating the dangers of taking a government-produced vaccine and saying he “wouldn’t take that shit.” So anyway, back to my little story. There was an empty seat next to this dude- the only empty seat at the bar-and I was about to sit in it, when he abruptly snatched the seat away and told me it was taken. Like literally, I was about to sit down, and he pulled the seat from under me such that I almost lost my balance. Of course, he had every right to save the seat if it was already taken. But the manner in which he did it was so rude. I looked him in the face, remembered who he was, and was not the least bit surprised at his classless behavior. Since I am now an employee at Bay Club, I’m supposed to keep all members #bayclubhappy, so I just walked away from the dude, calling him all sorts of names in my head. If I didn’t work there, I most certainly would have called him out for nearly making me fall on my ass.

And now it’s 5:31pm! I’m back home, just chillin’ and decompressing a bit before heading back out again. My mom made soup noodles and tea eggs, so that was my early dinner. Today’s weather turned out much nicer than I anticipated! It was partly cloudy all day, but no crazy rain like yesterday. There have been power outages all over my neighborhood and surrounding areas, but thankfully my house has not lost power (yet). I’m gonna conclude this check-in here! Gotta continue reading Dune so I can watch the movie, which I’ve heard great things about from my brother and friends. Talk soon!


Tuesday, October 26, 2021

8:53am

Lol, so sorry I wasn’t able to finish my blog yesterday! A quick recap: I headed to the gym at around 5:50pm. On the car ride to Mountain View, I blasted Mamma Mia tunes and pretended I was Amanda Seyfried in the 2008 film adaptation. Anyway. I had an amazing time choreographing two dances for the Level 7/8 and Level 9/10 gymnasts. It’s for their upcoming Halloween showcase, and the two songs are Whenever, Wherever by Shakira and Vivir Mi Vida by Marc Anthony. Being back in a gymnastics training environment felt pretty special, because I was brought back to one of the most formative periods of my life, and being able to introduce Latin dance to the gymnasts gave me a bit of “worlds colliding syndrome”, which is always an exciting feeling. Another reason why working with gymnasts is so fulfilling is because their bodies can do literally anything, so I have no physical limits with the choreography I give them. The girls also were able to pick up salsa/cha-cha basics within an hour, which was impressive.

I finished at the gym around 8:30pm and headed home. I’m so happy it wasn’t pouring like it did on Sunday, as freeway driving at night in the pouring rain gives me major anxiety. I made it back home around 9pm, where I was feeling pretty wired (aka, super energetic and speeding through tasks). I think I was riding on the high of being at the gym and choreographing for the gymnasts; I was just so happy and fulfilled and mildly nostalgic after being in the gym, and the emotions fueled me. Once I cooled down a bit and got through my night routine, I read a bit of Dune before falling asleep a little shy of 11pm. Was debating whether I should finish this blog before sleeping, but decided against it, as my eyelids were already closing, and the quality of writing would have been terrible.

Alrighty, guys! That’s it for yesterday’s day-in-the-life blog post! Today is Tuesday, and I have a semi-busy day ahead, with a grad school class, work at Bay Club, and getting my third COVD vaccine at 7pm! Super excited for the booster shot, though I’m not looking forward to the adverse side effects that will likely leave me incapacitated on Wednesday. I shall talk to you all soon!

XOXO,

Bel

Pre-Midterm Meditations

It is currently 11:26pm on this Monday night. Tomorrow I will be taking a midterm for the one grad school class I am taking this semester at SJSU. As I graduated college in 2019, this will be the first midterm I’ll be taking in over two years. It is not test anxiety that is keeping me up at this odd hour.

No, friends, other thoughts keep me up tonight. For one, I am wondering how much weight I should put into tomorrow’s exam. I spent the past five days diligently studying, mapping out a study plan, and following it to a T. As rough as the transition back to school has been, these past five days of grinding have been the closest I’ve felt to my old, studious self. There is something about having a clear, concrete goal (e.g., ace the midterm) and knowing exactly how to achieve that goal, that gets me into the magical flow state and makes life so simple, which is something I crave more and more these days. These past five days of preparation for tomorrow’s exam have shone a brighter light on grad school. Up until this point, I’ve resented grad school for tearing me away from my creative jobs and pursuits I’ve had to give up/slow down on, and scapegoated school as the cause of my latest depressive episode. The reality is, I never gave myself the time to enjoy and soak up grad school and cherish the experience! Maybe grad school is something I should continue for the next couple years, because it’s something I am good at, and something that keeps me focused.

That being said, I still don’t know if San Jose State’s program is a good fit for me. Thus far, it’s been heavily classroom theory-focused, which was a bit of a let-down, as I expected grad school to be more about applied work and hands-on experience. As I’ve been doubting SJSU’s sport studies program, this past weekend I took the liberty of exploring other grad school programs. Most sport psych Master’s program are out of state. For a second, I found myself considering applying to such programs, like Springfield College in Colorado, University of North Carolina, and Boston University. The premise of my reasoning was flimsy– SJSU wasn’t what I had hoped for, and I wanted to “shake things up” in my life and find a better fit program, and maybe the investment of moving out of state to pursue a degree would force me to stay motivated to graduate. Classic Bel— passively relying on an external force to drive, permit and justify action and decision-making. But unless I do extensive research and critical soul-searching, who is to say those out-of-state sport psych programs would be any better for me? And, do I even want to study sport psychology via formalized education, let alone move out of state for it? So many questions that bombard my mind, tonight. And so many left unanswered, for the time being.

All this to say, with this doubt consuming me, I question how worried I should be for tomorrow’s exam. There’s a real chance I’ll decide not to return to SJSU for spring semester, in which case, why bother stressing about the midterm? It’s not gonna count for anything. But of course, the point of exams is not just to regurgitate and discard information once you ace the exam. It’s to help you internalize concepts, and you never know what information will prove useful in the future. So the past five days of studying for an exam that may or may not be worth the effort did pay off, as I am more knowledgeable about sport psychology than I was a week ago.

As I was working on some DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy) exercises earlier tonight, I came across a phrase that resonated with me. It reads, “My thoughts don’t control my life; I do.” The quote gave me pause. I can exercise control over my thoughts, which shape my actions and mood states and relationships everything important in life? What a profound idea! And one so far removed from my reality that it is difficult to fathom.

With this newfound nugget of knowledge births my present logic: I choose not to stress about tomorrow’s exam.

To conclude this rather long-winded and incredibly disorganized post, I will say this. At this juncture of my 23 years, I feel like a lost soul, unsure of my next steps. Is it more school? An advanced degree in sport psych? Or something completely different, like pursuing writing or dance? Maybe I’ll try out the 9-5 life, which is perhaps not as soul-sucking as it sounds. Maybe I’ll like the structure and predictability of it, and enjoy a simple life and a steady stream of income with which I can fund my many passions. Vagabond I am, it is often difficult to reconcile my free spirit and primal need to explore various avenues before settling, with the practical responsibility of attaining financial freedom so that I’m not still living with my parents at the age of 30 (only 7 more years until I hit that milestone). Adulthood is hard, and as you get older, the responsibilities will become more demanding. But you will also get better, through experience and failure and learning from past mistakes. I’m hoping all this uncertainty, imposter syndrome and fear of royally f***ing up will subside as I get older. Until then, my immediate focus is tomorrow’s midterm, and nothing more than that. Wish me luck!

-Bel

I’m No Stencil Child, But Sometimes I Wish I Were…

Hello friends! It’s 10:17pm on this Thursday night. I have one grad school midterm next Tuesday that I should be studying for, but redolent of my undergrad days, I am turning to writing as a means of procrastination. Though, I will give myself some credit, as I did study a lot earlier in the day, so this is my reward. Some venting, decompressing, and processing of the difficult emotions.

Lately I’ve been doing some hardcore vagabonding. I am halfway through my first semester of graduate school, and following the latest mental breakdown that left me dropping two classes, I am strongly questioning grad school and whether I want to continue with the Sport Studies Master’s program. In truth, I don’t know if sport psychology is the path for me, at least not at this present moment. I still am very interested in the field, but whether I can commit to a Master’s followed by a clinical psychology PhD program, as originally intended, is quite uncertain. I’m leaning towards no.

To be brutally honest with myself, a part of me still wants to explore my dancing dream that I’ve tried so hard to stifle, but like a sore thumb, it always seems to resurface in the most inopportune of moments. Sport psychology is sitting in an armchair and helping individual athletes/performers improve their mental game and reach their performance potentials. But what if I want to be the athlete/performer? Will I be satisfied with helping others on their journeys, when I myself have an unresolved dream to… i dunno. Dance. Move. Perform. Be on stage, whatever that looks like. Latin ballroom, Broadway, cruise ship dancing, Cirque Du Soleil. I don’t know. What I do know is that at age 23, I have likely missed my mark on all such endeavors, and the wise thing to do is radically accept and move on to another dream, a more pragmatic one, that will ensure financial comfort and independence. At least that is what I am told by the vast majority of those older, more experienced, and less naive than I. Can someone please just shake my shoulders and scream in my face, “Belicia, get it the F*** together and stop fooling around, you’re 23, which is almost 26, which is when you’re getting kicked off your parents’ health insurance plan, so you’d better start taking life seriously.” Will I listen, then?

A friend of mine used the term “stencil child” to describe people who pursue conventional paths. Engineering, tech, medicine, finance, law, professionalism. “You’re not a stencil child, Belicia,” he remarked dryly. I laughed upon hearing this, and immediately felt bad for laughing, because by that definition, most of my friends, family, and acquaintances, are perfectly stencil-like beings. Which, of course, is not true. Pursuing a conventional path by choice does not make one any less interesting or unique, complex or multi-dimensional, than someone who chooses a more unorthodox career. I’m no stencil child. Rather, I am a vagabond with many creative interests, all of which fulfill me in different ways, and none of which I wish to live without. The question I am faced with now is, which passion can I monetize to be able to make a living and financially support myself? Because that’s a desire of mine, as well. To live in financial comfort. I am not a money-motivated individual, but perhaps that is my privilege talking. I grew up in the Bay Area in a suburban bubble, received a solid education, and my parents had the financial means to provide for us kids, and then some. I want to pursue an artistic career, but I also want to live comfortably, because that’s the only life I know. No, guys, I am not a stencil child. You know what I am? A person who wants to eat their cake and have it too. And it’s sad.

I was talking with my mom yesterday, and told her that I wish my passion was computer science. Or medicine. Or law. Something that actually pays. “Why can’t I do CS, like Chris, or engineering, like Austin? Why do I have to be like this, all scatter-brained and hopelessly dreamy?”

So this is where I sit tonight, on Thursday, October 14, 2021. Feeling lost and hopeless about an unwritten future. Not two hours ago, I was at the gym, engrossed in creating new choreography for my dance fitness classes, and I was feeling on top of the god damn world. In my element, lost in flow, at one with the creative process, with kinesthetic expression. If I could dance and choreograph all day, I would die a happy soul. If I could make a living writing, dancing and teaching dance, choreographing figure skating programs and gymnastics routines and wedding dances, and feeling free to create, my wallet may be slim, but my heart would be full. I could imagine a happy life doing just that. Being creative in all the different ways I crave, and making money through various side hustles lined up together. What’s wrong with that?

Nothing. Nothing’s wrong with that. If there’s a will to do something there is (mostly) always a way to figure it out. I think the biggest thing holding me back is fear. Fear of failure, fear of financial instability, fear of disapproval, fear of the path less taken. And maybe I’m just being an overanxious drama queen. The tone of this post has been pretty whiny and despondent, as it mirrors my present inner state. But let’s examine the facts. I have a UCLA degree. Parents who love me. Friends I hold dear. Jobs that fulfill me. A roof over my head. Plenty of social and instrumental support. I’m not a failure just because I’m not a stencil child. I’m experiencing a case of the Twenties: faking and fumbling my way through young adulthood, writhing in the discomfort of uncertainty, and hoping, praying that everything will be fine at the end of the day and that I won’t be a fAiLuRe.

(Bel’s inner hype-woman taking over.)

Guess what, Bel? Everything will be okay. You’re not gonna be a failure. Stop tripping, publish this blog post (you feel slightly better after writing it, don’t you?), read a relaxing book, do your 10-minute sleep talk-down meditation, and go to bed counting sheep, along with your blessings. Tomorrow is Friday, and you’ve made it through another long week. Pat yourself on the back! Don’t be so hard on yourself and stop thinking too far into the future. Please.

Sincerely,

Bel the not-so-stencil-like child

Life Update: I (partially) dropped out of grad school. And I don’t regret it one bit.

Hi guys, welcome to today’s post. It’s a life update, because boy is there updating to be made. As you can tell from the slightly sensationalized title, I recently made the decision to partially drop out of grad school, and I am doing so in the name of mental health preservation. The full-time courseload for grad students is 3 classes. I have decided to drop 2 of my classes and keep only 1, so I have more time to focus on myself, my well-being, and mental health recovery. Allow me to catch you up to speed on the events that led to this decision.

My decision to slow down on school followed a two-week depressive episode that started around week 5 of grad school. At the time, I was attempting the impossible: juggling 3 part-time jobs while being a full-time grad student. Lack of sleep, zero downtime and chronic stress can wear any person down, let alone someone with bipolar disorder, and by my fifth week of graduate school, my prediction came true: I flamed out spectacularly. What followed was nearly two weeks of being unable to get out of bed to study, attend classes, or work. Mentally, I just couldn’t. I needed a doctor’s note that exempted me from classes from 9/16-9/24, which bought me some time. My professors were so, so kind and understanding towards my situation, and assured me I was not alone in my mental health challenges as many people– students and faculty alike– face challenges during the transition back into the swing of things.

By week 7, I had fallen so behind in my studies that barring a miracle, there was no way I could catch up and pass my classes. Even if I could catch up, it would likely be at the cost of my mental health. And in my already fragile depressed state, I had zero fight to give. So, a few days ago, I made the decision to drop 2 of my classes and continue with only 1 class for the remainder of the semester. To drop classes selectively this late in the semester would require a petition, which I am still waiting to get approved. But one perk of living with a mental illness is, you have access to doctors’ notes, which have a lot of weight. So I’m sure I won’t have a problem getting a pass because of my chronic medical condition. I hope.

Alrighty guys, that is my salacious little life update for you all. I know now that I do not have to justify or defend my decision to anyone. So long as it feels like the right thing to do for myself, and is in what I believe to be my best interest, I have no problem slowing down with school to take care of my health. I am determined to not do what I did in undergrad at UCLA, which was recklessly and violently power through school with complete disregard to my mental health and wellness. It never occurred to me as an undergrad student that I had the option to slow down with school, or take a quarter or even two quarters off to get the help I critically needed. I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder during my freshman year of college. I didn’t know anything about the illness or how to manage it. I was not on the right meds, did not have a therapist, and was in complete denial towards my mental condition. On top of that, I was hardly sleeping, eating poorly and drinking/partying heavily. It was a crisis just dying to happen. All of college was a mental health shit-show. The past two years out of college have been devoted to recovery, to learning the ins-and-outs of bipolar and bipolar management, to getting healthy, to slowing down, to finding balance and stability amidst an internal life of chaos. And I was doing great, really great, up until grad school started. I don’t blame school for triggering this latest episode. I blame poor planning and delusive thinking on my end in the months leading up to grad school. I truly believed that I’d be able to juggle 3 jobs and be a full-time grad student, and do well in everything, and as a bonus, remain healthy through it all. How gravely mistaken, I was.

So yes, slowing down on grad school is the right call for me, and I have no regrets whatsoever. Unfortunately, I won’t be getting my tuition money refunded for this semester. It’s over $4000 wasted; but I can also see this whole ordeal as a very expensive learning lesson in self-awareness. I walk away from this most recent crisis with the following nuggets of wisdom:

  • you have a real limit, and when you try to push and exceed that limit, bad things happen. don’t be a hero and take on more than you can handle. it’s not worth it, and what are you trying to prove, anyway?
  • health is wealth. without health, you can’t do anything. so it’s important to invest in self-care– and no, you are NOT a snowflake for using that word and putting it into practice.
  • maybe grad school isn’t where your heart lies. is academia even something you want to do? you are interested in sport psychology, undoubtedly, but much of grad school is about approaching the field as a scientist. immersing yourself in research literature, deciphering and extricating meaning from abstruse academic language until your head explodes, applying the scientific method to contribute to an extant body of knowledge. i’m lucky that i’m smart enough academically to do well in the classroom. but at the end of the day, what got me out of this depressive episode was not the excitement of reading research articles and learning more about the growing field of sport psychology. the first pocket of light i experienced after two weeks of darkness was hearing a random song on Spotify that I knew I needed to choreograph to, and springing out of bed to do just that. which makes me wonder: am I a scholar? or am I not? one is not inherently better than the other. but I need to know which camp I fall under, to figure out what kind of profession would make me happiest. when people tell me, “Belicia you are too smart to not do a PhD”, I feel compartmentalized and stuffed into a box that, perhaps I could bend and contort my way into, but ultimately is not a great fit. just the thought of pursuing a doctoral degree stresses me out. for one, because my bipolar brain is fundamentally incompatible with handling that amount of stress, and until I get a handle on my brain, forget about a PhD, or any kind of advanced degree, for that matter (I already done f***ed-up my Master’s at SJSU). the second reason is more important, though: do I even want to do a PhD? I would need the PhD credential to be called a sport psychologist. I would need the PhD to work with athletes at the Olympic level. I would need the PhD to diagnose and treat mental illness in the athlete population. But what if none of those things are what I want to do career-wise, at least not right now? what if being in grad school just isn’t a good fit for me at this moment, and that is the root of my depression? if i just left school, maybe i’ll find happiness and authenticity somewhere else, beyond the classroom. not all smart people were made to get advanced degrees (yes, guys, i am finally admitting to myself that i am smart, that i have a solid head on my shoulders– when it isn’t out of control, that is). some say that a master’s degree is the new bachelor’s. i personally still believe that anything after a bachelor’s is extra credit. and never having been one to forfeit extra credit in school, walking away from the opportunity to pursue an advanced degree is a foreign feeling. but that’s not to say it isn’t the right choice, for me.

Okay, that is enough rambling and cogitating for one night. I’m tired and want to sleep. To anyone who stuck around this long, thanks for reading. This post was written in response to some inquiries made by friends who heard that I’d slowed down on grad school, but didn’t know what went behind the decision. I hope this helped elucidate some things. I know that at the end of the day no one but myself is responsible for my own happiness, and I can only hope that people around me who care for me recognize that what I am doing is for my own good. I hope those around me do not impose their own judgment on a decision that was extremely difficult for me to make, but also quite easy when it came down to it.

Take care, everyone. Might be MIA for a few weeks as I take a “vacation from life”, as I call it. Looking forward to reconnecting when I return.

-Bel

Grad School (week 4) + 3 Jobs = Crisis Waiting to Happen

Hello hello, friends. It’s been a hot sec since my last post so I thought I’d offer a brief life update before I continue onward with my study session.

Today is Monday September 13, 2021. It is currently 5:19pm as I am stationed at a roundtable in King Library on SJSU campus. I am morbidly behind on schoolwork so I must keep this post brief– I will set a timer for 20 min and see if I can whip out a blog post in record time. *sets timer now

Okay. So, where to begin? I’ll start with my stress level, which has been crazy high since school started. Not only am I a full-time grad student, I am juggling 3 part-time jobs: ballroom dance studio teaching, dance fitness instructing, and SAT/freelance tutoring. I am giving only about 40% of what I can and should be giving to school. I must get my priorities straight, because I came to SJSU to invest in my education and career, not to half-ass my way through. Mental health isn’t great. Even with reduced hours at the studio, which is currently the biggest time/energy sink, I come home from work tired beyond belief, my bones aching and head pounding from a day spent on my feet teaching dance. On these days, studying is the last thing on Earth I wish to do. The effects of burnout were made readily apparent last Friday– my least busy day of the week– when I returned home after teaching three consecutive dance fitness classes in the morning (one at Bay Club, two at the studio), took a shower, then crashed on my bed for the rest of the day vegging out and Netflix-binging, instead of hitting a marathon session like said I would do. I simply could not muster the mental or physical resolve to get out of bed, sit down at my desk and dissect dense research articles for my 3 grad school classes. I couldn’t. Going into grad school, I had egregiously misjudged the energy investment required to work three jobs concurrently with school. 2 of the 3 jobs are physical: dance fitness teaching at Bay Club (2x a week, 1 hr/class), and teaching dance at a local ballroom studio (3x/week, 12+hrs/week). My other job, tutoring SAT, is strictly mental (4.5 hrs/week). I made the fallacy of divorcing physical from mental, arguing that all the dance jobs are physically taxing, but would not affect my mental faculties. I genuinely believed I would be able to teach 9-lesson days at the studio, come home late at night, take a shower which would serve as the “reset” button, and quickly switch to study mode. My god, was I mistaken. Did I seriously believe that after spending an entire day (10:30am – 9pm) on a Wednesday at the studio, I’d be able to come home, take a hot shower, and muster a productive study session from 9:40pm-12am? The reality is, after a whole day of teaching, which is not only physically demanding but mentally/socially draining (you have to be “on” for your students), I do not have the capacity to so much as glance at a research article. All I want to do is sleep or watch Netflix.

Anyway, I’m super stressed right now, and everyone in my life (friends, parents, therapist) have told me that I should drastically slow down on my extracurricular commitments, lest I wish to spectacularly crash and burn. My therapist likened my present situation to “walking along the precipice of a cliff”. I am dangerously close to hitting my limit; will I be smart and pull the brakes now, or will I flirt with fire a little bit longer before inevitably crashing and burning mid-semester? There’s no way I can “Hail Mary” my way through the remainder of the semester. I am in for a rude awakening, if I think I can keep going at the present pace and make it out alive. My psychiatrist painted a grim image for me, earlier today: I will continue down this path of stretching myself to the breaking point, until one day in the not-so-far-off future, I will snap, and I’ll have to drop out of school and will be left loathing myself. Yeah. That is not happening. I won’t let it. But that means I’m gonna have to set my priorities straight, have an assertive talk with my boss(es), set clear boundaries with when I can work, what classes I will teach, and if they do not respect those boundaries, I will quit the job altogether. Just a note– the other two jobs, teaching dance fitness at Bay Club and tutoring, are super chill, so it’s mostly the dance studio job I have to figure out.

5:45pm. Went slightly overtime with this post, but I said my piece, and feel slightly more at ease. Now back to the grind. Hope y’all are doing well, by the way!

-Belicia

The writings on the wall have shown, and it ain’t pretty…

Dear friends,

It’s 5:38pm on this Sunday afternoon as I begin today’s post. Brief, but necessary, as I am in need of an outlet right now.

Week 1 of grad school is over, and though my workload is still light, I am filled with anticipatory anxiety for the coming months, as I fear I will not be able to handle schoolwork alongside my myriad extracurricular commitments. I am taking 3 classes, which is a full-time courseload for graduate students. If school were my only focus, I would have no doubt that I’d survive and thrive in grad school. But the added challenge of grad school is that school is no longer the only thing going on. I have part-time jobs and relationships to juggle. Following are all the things I am/will be doing outside of school:

  1. Tutoring (freelance, SAT and reading group classes)
  2. Dance studio teaching (group and private lessons)
  3. Dance fitness teaching (2 hrs/week at Bay Club)
  4. Athlete Voices website
  5. Personal dance training
  6. Dating

I’ve long relinquished my superhero complex, and I now know there is nothing glorious or noble or heroic about working myself to the ground and forsaking my mental health in the name of achievement, productivity and work output (you can’t perform at your peak level, anyway, when you don’t have solid mental health). People around me have expressed concern that I am biting off more than I can chew, and as much as I wish I could put on a brave face and soldier forward through this semester and excel at all I set my mind to, I am truthfully afraid that these people are right. What if I’m taking on way too much? I’m only human, after all. I need to set boundaries and be realistic with my goals, especially during this transitional semester as I return to school after 2 years apart, which is happening against the backdrop of general re-learning of how to interact with other human beings. On the SJSU student feed, one girl wrote, “If my professor asks me for fun facts about myself tomorrow, I’m gonna glitch.” Your sentiment is shared by many, girl.

This weekend I found myself dog tired, and I wasn’t even sure why. School barely started. Dance studio work has been light. Life has been chill. But this paradise is to be short-lived. Schoolwork will pick up in a couple weeks as the semester gets underway. Starting in September, I will begin to teach new group classes at the dance studio. We just wrapped up a six-week heels workshop series at Bay Club, and my boss wants me to keep the momentum going with another workshop series that will likely start in a few weeks. The Fall semester reading and writing group class is scheduled to begin September 5. If I was already so tired this past weekend, imagine how tired I will be once the semester and all my auxiliary commitments accelerate.

God. Just writing out all of this is getting me riled up. I feel an urge to cry, to scream, to vomit from all this anticipatory anxiety. I want so badly to do well in school, but I also enjoy my jobs and don’t want to give any of them up. I want to eat my cake and have it too. I live with a skewed sense of reality’s limitations… living with this idea that I can do it all, when that is nobody’s claim to make. I know I need to preserve my mental health and I recognize that school is a marathon, not a sprint, and if there is anything I learned from UCLA it’s that you can achieve nothing without mental health intact, and you must engage routinely in self-care (getting sleep, eating well, exercising, self-reflecting) should you wish to stay in the game as long as possible.

Okay. My cathartic rant has concluded. I am tutoring SAT English in less than an hour, so gotta get ready for that. The rest of the night, I will:

  • Eat dinner
  • Exercise
  • Prepare for school next week (get ahead on readings)
  • Re-take my student ID picture
  • (Was going to add one more thing to do, but did a self-limitation check. There is always tomorrow.)

Talk you guys soon,

Belicia

First Day of Grad School, In the Books!

8:46am

Good morning, friends! Happy Thursday! Today is a monumental day for me, as it marks my return to formal education after two years out of undergrad. For the next 2.5 years, I will be pursuing my Master’s degree in Kinesiology with a concentration in Sport Studies at San Jose State. This program is an intermediate step to my long-term goal of earning my PhD in sport psychology.

I am presently sitting on the upper level terrace of SJSU’s school gym, also known as SRAC (Spartan Recreation and Aquatic Center). Below me roam fellow Spartans– all masked up– sipping their coffee and walking to/returning from morning classes. I woke up this morning at 5:51am, and too excited/anxious to fall back asleep, decided to drive to campus early, as I heard that finding parking on campus could be horrendous, especially as many students return for in-person classes. Before making the 30-minute commute to SJSU, I made a stop at Chick-Fil-A in Redwood City, treating myself to a chicken biscuit sandwich with a side of hash brown tater tots dipped in ketchup and honey mustard (#breakfastofchampions). The commute to San Jose was smooth-sailing and traffic was not half bad, but as expected, finding parking was a nightmare. After embarking on a 15-minute wild goose chase around South Parking Garage, I found a spot on the 4th floor lot. I bought a two-day-a-week student parking permit (for Monday and Thursday when I have in-person classes) which amounted to $152 for the semester. Not a bad deal, especially if the alternative is finding street parking, which I am absolutely terrible at.

I woke up to some unfortunate news– my professor for KIN 267, Advanced Sport Psychology seminar, took a nasty fall yesterday and cracked some ribs. He had to cancel today’s 4-6:45pm class. He emailed us students apologetically, explaining the dire situation. Well, shit happens in life, and I wish him a swift recovery. Because my evening class was canceled, I technically do not have to be on campus today, as the only other class I have today– KIN 168, Psychology of Coaching– is fully online. But here I am anyway, as I want to explore campus a bit more and scout out all the secret study and relaxation and hiding spots.

The school gym is incredible, almost rivaling UCLA’s John Wooden Center in size and variety of equipment. There are two floors in SRAC. The first floor has a weight training section, cardio machines, a basketball court, and a gigantic rock climbing wall. The second floor features an indoor track, yoga and dance studios (unfortunately all closed for the time being), and a quiet lounge area that I have officially staked as my go-to study spot (SRAC is right next to all my Kinesiology classes in Spartan Complex, also known as SPX). The only thing left to be desired about the gym is its lockers, which are teeny-tiny! I entered the gym with my overstuffed purple backpack and a large tote bag containing all sorts of books, a change of clothes, snacks, and my rhythmic gymnastics ribbon (currently choreographing a ribbon routine for an upcoming dance studio showcase). Hoping to stash away my bundle of belongings, I made my way to the lockers, only to be met with a wall of pathetic brown cubicles that are like the ones in you have in elementary school classrooms, except smaller. Needless to say, I was unable to squeeze my things into the tiny boxes. Note-to-self: if you want to hit the gym for a morning workout, leave all belongings in the car.

SRAC rock wall

It is now 9:12am. I will send my KIN 267 professor a well-wishing email, then do some extracurricular work, and then send some other KIN professors an email introduction– networking, after all, is a major reason why I am in grad school. Talk soon!


12:55pm

Hey guys! I’m currently camped inside my car in the parking garage, preparing for my 1:30pm office hour with one of my professors (via Zoom). Campus was pretty crowded, and I’m still trying to find a quiet place in which to take my online class. Since everyone is required to wear a mask indoors (and many people are wearing masks outdoors as well) I preferred to attend my first class in a quiet place where it was safe to show my face on camera. My day has been chill thus far! After my workout, I sent a couple emails to professors in the KIN department, continued exploring campus, applied for a library card at King Library, got a coffee at 7-Eleven, laid out my blue yoga mat on a shaded grass lawn and did some textbook reading and course planning. Now I’m back in my car munching on an apple while typing out this post. As my second class of the day is canceled because of my professor’s freak accident, I’m excited to have the rest of the day to decompress, get ahead on readings, and maybe hit a second intensive workout at SRAC (I freaking love that gym). There are many eateries around campus, including Pizza My Heart, Gong Cha, Togo’s, and Yogurtland. There’s a marketplace on campus called Ginger Market that sells exclusively Japanese and Asian food, which was a random yet welcomed surprise. Overall this first day of grad school has been great, save for the canceled class. I haven’t made any friends yet, but I assume most of my peers will come from my grad school cohort– there are only about 50 of us total in the entire KIN grad department. Unlike undergrad, where a major focus was indeed to make friends and actively participate in student life, graduate school is much more academic and career-oriented. My goal here is to develop my professional identity, which involves networking with peers and mentors. But I don’t feel as much pressure to make friends at leisure, as I already have many close friends outside of school. Plus, as a grad student, school may be your priority, but you have many other things going on in life: work, relationships, family. Grad students are older and thus in a different life stage than undergraduate students. Many are married, and some have children and work part-time or full-time jobs. I suppose that is one key difference between SJSU and UCLA; at UCLA, my sole job was to be a student. At SJSU, I am a student, but I also have other responsibilities, and have a lot more balance in my life. This balance I think is both a blessing and a challenge. A blessing, because I know firsthand the pitfalls of being tunnel-visioned into schoolwork, which lends way to burnout, anxiety and exhaustion. Sometimes it’s important to completely remove yourself from school life and academics and venture back into the cool relief of reality and get some perspective on things. This was difficult to do at UCLA, where I was completely sucked into the vortex of school with little opportunity for escape. Yet I sometimes forget how much work I had to put into my studies to do well in undergrad. Graduate school, from what I’ve heard, is more academically rigorous than undergrad, because more is expected of you. You are no longer just a passive consumer of information. You must read academic literature, analyze and synthesize dense material, and ultimately produce your own research. On top of that, I will be juggling several commitments outside of school: my dance studio job, dance fitness teaching, freelance tutoring, and reading/writing/SAT group classes. It’ll be a challenge, for sure, but a good one. It is nearing time for my office hour, so I will talk to you guys later today!

Grass lawn area (don’t remember the name of it)

9:32pm

Back at home, snuggled under my sheets and feeling sleepy after a long first day of school. A quick recap of everything that happened since my last check-in: I had my office hour, where I met with my KIN 168 professor. This is an undergraduate upper-division KIN class, which I have to take as one of my foundational classes to get fully accepted into the KIN Master’s program. The professor, Matt, also graduated from SJSU’s Sport Studies program and is on his way to completing his doctorate in sport psychology. He is an invaluable resource, as my educational and career path is very similar to his. Matt was kind enough to offer me great advice about what to expect from the program: strive to get good grades, but also know that experience and research are equally as important as classroom performance. If you can manage straight A’s in all your classes, that’s brilliant. But know that it’s forgivable to slip to a B or B+ here and there, as grades make up just one portion of the holistic grad school experience. If I plan to apply for doctorate programs after the Master’s, then research, internships, and letters of rec are integral parts of the application that may even eclipse GPA in importance. Doctorate programs, according to Matt, want to see what you have done in your field of interest, not just how well you understand theory. All this I learned in my 30-minute office hour with Matt. I also learned that in the Master’s program, there’s no formal dress code and you’re allowed to wear anything, as long as it’s not PJ’s and sweatpants (goodbye, undergrad-wear).

After office hours ended, I remained in my car for my 2:15-3:30pm class. Matt made a joke at the beginning of class and advised me to roll down my car window, as sitting in a stuffy car for over an hour was sure to be misery. That sparked a class discussion about how to take Zoom classes while on campus, and a classmate shared a link to all the campus locations designated specifically for students taking online classes. What a relief that my car will not have to take on the added role of classroom (it’s already basically my second closet and receptacle of miscellaneous items).

Day 1 of KIN 168 was chill. Matt introduced himself, went over the course syllabus, and then put us into breakout rooms of 5-6 people each, where we got to know each other through a game of “people bingo”. It was an honest attempt to get us students to bond as best we could within the limits of remote learning. This, by the way, is my very first experience with Zoom breakout rooms, as I graduated from college right before COVID hit, which spared me from the less-than-ideal format of online learning. Now I understand the formidable task faced by instructors of fostering group cohesion through Zoom, where not half of the students show their faces on camera.

After class, Matt had the three KIN grad students (me and two other women) stay behind, where he went over additional course expectations for us. As we are on the graduate level, more is expected of us in terms of quality of work. At some point in the semester, the three of us are each required to deliver a 10-15 minute presentation about a topic related to sport psychology. It’s an exercise to help us practice the art of teaching and communicating, which is important now that we have advanced onto the next stage of higher education. I am so excited for this assignment and am already brainstorming ideas for lecture topics. Me, (aspiring Dr.) Belicia Tang, delivering a lecture to undergrads!!! Was it not so long ago, that I was one of them? The way of the world can be trippy sometimes. Trippy, trippy, trippy!!

After class finished, I decided to hit a second workout at SRAC, this time leaving everything in my car except for my handbag, which snuggly fit in the cubicle-like lockers. I itched to dance, but all the upstairs studios are currently closed, so I went to the very back corner of the second-floor gym and found some glass panels, and danced in front of them. Of course there were people behind me running on the indoor track who could see me dancing in the middle of the hallway, but people generally paid me no mind– and at UCLA, I was never shy about dancing in random spaces, wherever and whenever convenient. There was one old guy though, a male Karen (McKaren), who literally came up to me in the middle of my dance practice and loudly pointed out that there were studios were I could take my dancing to. I took out my headphones and replied that all the studios were closed (and, for good measure, informed him that the basketball court was closed too, for COVID safety), otherwise why the hell would I be out dancing in the hallway? That shut him up. As he walked away, I couldn’t help feeling annoyed that this stranger felt the need to interrupt my dancing to disseminate misinformation, as if my dancing bothered him (he was literally working out across the gym, and the hallway was wide and completely empty of other people). He also violated my 6-feet COVID bubble (he literally walked straight up to my face), so if COVID-safety concern was his reason for accosting me, well sir, you’re a freaking hypocrite. Shortly after my irksome encounter with the McKaren, a student worker at SRAC walked past me. Knowing that McKaren was still in earshot, I (loudly) asked the staff member if the dance studios were open yet, to which he replied: “no”; to which I answered, sweetly: “oh okay, then do you mind if I dance out here? Is iT GoNnA dIsTuRb AnYoNe?”; to which he replied: “go for it, hardly anyway comes up here anyway”. I threw a fat smirk in McKaren’s direction, knowing that he had heard that brief exchange, as I had made sure of it. Bel be petty, Bel be savage.

After my workout ended, I headed back to the car and grabbed my backpack and other belongings. It was about 6:30pm by then. I decided to grab dinner in San Jose, and explored some local eateries near campus. After getting lost, I eventually found my way to the local Togo’s, and settled for a BBQ Chipotle Chicken sandwich,, chased down with a lychee oolong tea from Gong Cha. I ate my meal alone outside, where the weather was a crisp warm with a tinge of summer evening breeze. Perfectly harmonious. I read a few of my favorite quotes from one of my favorite books, Educated, by Tara Westover. It’s a book befitting for me, as I level-up to the next stage of my education. More enlightenment, more technical skills and specialization, more intellectual stimulation and personal growth to come. I cannot wait to see how far I can be stretched, without breaking, of course. Self-care is important, too, as Matt made sure to emphasize.

Folks, that is a wrap for today’s reflective piece. I hope you enjoyed coming along for the ride on my first day back to school after a long hiatus. Many more updates to come!

XOXO,

Bel