Candlelight Conversations Volume 11: Sofia

TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOU! WHAT ARE YOU PASSIONATE ABOUT?

My name is Sofia, but all my close friends call me Sof. I’m 22 years old and I grew up in Silicon Valley, which is where I’m living now! Last summer, I graduated with my B.A. in Psychology from the University of Minnesota. During the week I work in fundraising for a nonprofit and in my time off I love to practice yoga, write and listen to Broadway original cast recordings.

WE BELIEVE THAT JUST LIKE BROKEN POTTERY PUT BACK TOGETHER WITH GOLD, WE ARE MADE WHOLE AGAIN IN SPITE OF OUR TRIALS AND TRIBULATIONS AND ARE MORE BEAUTIFUL AND UNIQUE HAVING BEEN BROKEN. WE WOULD LOVE TO HEAR YOUR KINTSUGI STORY!

I feel like being anxious has always been a part of my identity, but I first heard the label “anxiety” after having a panic attack during class in fourth grade. I was officially diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder and clinical depression in seventh grade, and managing my mental illnesses has been a big part of my life since then. The worst part of growing up depressed and anxious was how alone I felt. It wasn’t something that was widely talked about and I only shared my diagnoses with my closest friends. I have always been very ambitious and drawn towards leadership, and I hid my struggles thinking that if people knew about them they would think I was unfit to lead. After an incident at age 18 that gave me symptoms of PTSD, I could no longer hide or avoid my symptoms, and the next few years were pretty rough. At age 20, after completing an intensive outpatient program for behavioral health, I decided I was tired of hiding my mental health struggles and started being straight-up with people. It was a pleasant surprise that everyone has been understanding and accepting, and a lot of my friends shared their personal mental health struggles as well. I still struggle with managing my mental health while trying to balance other pursuits and passions, but it has been incredible to have a community going through this with me.

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I want anyone going through a rough time to be able to find someone to follow who makes them feel less alone, because there is such power in community.

-Sofia

SHARING YOUR STORY AND OWNING YOUR TRUTH IS SO IMPORTANT! HOW DO YOU PROMOTE AUTHENTICITY?

My mental health & lifestyle blog, Active and Anxious, is all about showcasing an authentic portrayal of mental illness as a young adult. Depression is not glamorous or romantic, and I try to combine uplifting and encouraging content with real talk about mental health. We live in this “influencer” world of social media where there is lots of beautifully curated content to consume, and with my Instagram I try to create a feed fully representative of my life - the high points and low points.

Ultimately, I want to be the account I needed when I was a teenager desperately searching for representation. I want anyone going through a rough time to be able to find someone to follow who makes them feel less alone, because there is such power in community.

HOW DO YOU PRACTICE SELF-CARE AND SELF-LOVE?

In all honesty, the primary way I practice self-care might be off-putting to some:

I am incredibly choosy about who I give my time and energy to. I show love to everyone I come across, but I am protective of my energy and try to focus it on people and activities that bring me joy. I am lucky enough to have the most incredible friends and family, so this isn’t that hard.

Other activities I like to do for self-care include singing, reading and practicing yoga. I used to sing in competitions and showcases in high school, and I’m slowly trying to work my way back to singing in public again. My yoga and meditation practice started fairly recently, but I fell in love quickly and it’s been a great way to release stress both physically and mentally.

NEEDLESS TO SAY, WE ARE BIG PROPONENTS OF AROMATHERAPY. WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE SCENTS?

Favorites that come to mind are mint, lavender, and vanilla. I find mint invigorating, lavender perfect for sleep, and vanilla when I’m feeling indulgent.

I’m trying to delve more into earthy scents like cedar and sandalwood to help ground me. I’ve been telling myself for years to get an essential oil diffuser so this just reminded me to get on that!

YOUR STORY IS ONE THAT PERSONIFIES COURAGE AND RESILIENCE. WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR OTHERS WHO ARE THRIVING TO OVERCOME AN OBSTACLE OR FIND BEAUTY IN THEIR BROKENNESS?

You are successful not despite your struggles, but BECAUSE of them. Feeling broken sucks beyond belief, but the lessons it teaches you about resilience and strength are unmatched.

There is strength in vulnerability. Sometimes the bravest thing you can do is just let yourself be and not pretend to be anything else.

Finally, healing is not linear. There are always relapses and bad days and low points but that does not negate all the work you put in earlier. You’ve survived everything thus far and you WILL survive it again.

WHO DOESN’T NEED AN INSPIRATION? WHAT INSTAGRAM ACCOUNTS DO YOU TURN TO FOR YOUR DAILY DOSE OF INSPO?

I always find myself going to @marissalace for my daily dose of self-love.

I love @barry_happy, @thebalancedblonde, and @nakedwithanxiety for fun content mixed with the realities of dealing with chronic illness.

When I need motivation to step outside my comfort zone and live a little bolder, @officiallyquigley is my go-to. We actually went to the same university!

WE WOULD LOVE TO CONTINUE TO FOLLOW YOUR JOURNEY! HOW CAN WE STAY CONNECTED WITH YOU?

Instagram: @activeandanxious

Twitter: @sofmadden

Blog: www.activeandanxious.com