Sierra Padilla, age 21

Santa Fe, New Mexico

“I am enough, I am strong, I am doing the right thing.”

These are some things that I have been telling myself a lot more these days. Things that I used to not believe and struggle with.

For most of my life I have struggled with self-confidence. I never felt pretty or smart. I didn’t have the right clothes, my hair was ugly, I didn’t have the perfect body, I wasn’t smart enough, my teeth were weird, I had pimples all over my face, and the list could go on. While these are the usual complaints you hear from a teenager in high school going through puberty, I feel like I have always thought this about myself. The older I got, the more that these thoughts would eat me up.

As I got older, my thoughts started to change to I am not enough. Why am I even going to college? Am I making the right decisions? Am I even happy here? I stopped caring about my feelings and started to care about what others wanted. I had to look a certain way or choose a certain path in order to be successful. I was making decisions for others and not myself. I also was not receiving the positive support I needed. No one cared about what I wanted or what I needed to make me happy, to feel fulfilled. I knew I had to make a change because I was starting to lose myself in these dark thoughts.

I decided to study abroad for a year and even though no one liked the idea, I knew that I had to go. I finally stopped caring about what others thought and did something for myself.

This experience opened my eyes to a lot of different things. But most importantly, it taught me about myself. I realized that I need to focus on myself. Do things that I love and that I know will benefit me. I have to stop letting others influence my decisions. If someone doesn’t approve, oh well, it’s on me. I control my life, NO ONE ELSE. I only have a short time on Earth, and letting other people influence my decisions and potentially my future is unacceptable. If I fail, I accept the outcomes and I will learn. But this is my life, and I’m going to live how I want. I don’t want any regrets.

So say it with me, “I am enough, I am strong, I am confident, I am doing the right thing.”

Respect to all the women and men out there who can say these words true fully, and if you can’t, you will I promise. Let’s give the support and kindness to those who are struggling or need it. Let’s encourage others to pursue a dream or a passion. Let’s live.