On Adversity

As we go along this journey called life, roadblocks and challenges are inevitable — tempting to derail us from happiness, from pursuing our passions, from feeling fulfilled.

Unfortunately, adversity is a natural part of our existence — but we can control the way we process, and ultimately, bounce back from it.

I speak from experience. When I was 20 years old, I lost my mother to a decade-long struggle with addiction. At the time, I was interning at NBC, and had just finished my sophomore year at NYU Gallatin. My father was undergoing major legal issues, leaving me and my siblings alone to climb out of the wreckage. That time feels like a blur — I was overwhelmed, lost, and numb.

At times, I wanted to quit — to fall under the pressure of everything I was going through, drop out of school, and simply give up. I was unable to pay tuition, struggling emotionally, and suddenly parent-less.

But I persevered. I applied for scholarships, leaned on a support network of friends and mentors, and invested my energy into navigating these obstacles — sometimes stumbling, but never giving up. By exercising an unwavering commitment to my dreams and ambitions, one step at a time, where there was “no,” I made “yes.”

Now, in my late 20s, I look at that career I’ve built — from NBC to YouTube to Condé Nast — and I appreciate my adversity. It helped me get here, because it endowed me with an unbreakable belief in myself, a deep gratitude, and the ability to look anyone in the eye, and say definitively, confidently: “There’snothing I can’t do.”

When I experience challenges today, I tap into the reserves of fortitude I’ve cultivated and I know that I am a champion — and I encourage you to embrace the negative experiences in your life as fuel for your fire. Transform setbacks into successes, leverage these opportunities to be resilient, use the ugly to propel forward into beautiful and powerful achievements.

“Fall seven times. Stand up eight.” I may be down — but never, never out.

Put your game face on and triumph.