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Sometimes all we need are some inspiring words to motivate us in seeing life in a better light.  Here are some of my favorite quotes, as well as stories I've been told by others, that have helped me a lot during my journey.  If you have any inspirational quotes or stories you would like to share, please do so by emailing me!

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“The life of inner peace, being harmonious and without stress, is the easiest type of existence.”

—Norman Vincent Peale

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"Coping with my anxiety and all the emotions of life is something super important and helpful for me. Since I was little I’ve always found something to fidget with and take my mind off it, whether it was little fidgets my mom gifted me or, as stupid as it sounds, 'anxiety rings'. They help me so much to get energy and anxiety out in an effective way instead of biting or picking at my nails. especially at school when my anxiety is at its worst and my mind gets chaotic, it is so so helpful to have a small outlet. It doesn’t matter how minuscule your struggle is, every feeling you have is valid, but not little. Do not let anyone tell you your problem is not truly a problem or that it doesn’t matter because it always does. My anxiety is not an extreme case, or as bad as when I was younger, but it does not mean it is not a valid struggle, so know that YOU matter no matter what you are going through."

Lillie Wasem, Grade 11

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“Nobody can bring you peace but yourself.”

—Ralph Waldo Emerson

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"When things change inside you, things change around you."


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“Peace is liberty in tranquility.”

—Marcus Tullius Cicero

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“Peace is a daily, a weekly, a monthly process, gradually changing opinions, slowly eroding old barriers, quietly building new structures.”

—John F. Kennedy

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"One thing that helped me cope with my anxiety at school was breathing exercises. When I could feel myself get worked up and overwhelmed, I just took a few deeps breaths. 3 seconds in, hold for 3, then breathe out for 3. I do this before tests, when I start thinking of all the work I have to do, and anytime I feel any sort of anxiety! This has helped me so much this school year because it helps to clear my head and I know I will get through the day. :)"

Jasmine Souksavath, Grade 11

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“No person, no place, and no thing has any power over us, for 'we' are the only thinkers in our mind. When we create peace and harmony and balance in our minds, we will find it in our lives.”

—Louise L. Hay

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“Mental health…is not a destination, but a process. It’s about how you drive, not where you’re going.”

– Noam Shpancer

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“The only journey is the journey within.”

– Rainer Maria Rilke

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"Hi, my name is Mikael Gonzales! I am a Junior at Redwood High school and I am a diver and waterpolo player. I feel that with playing sports there needs to be a balance in your life. As a student athlete school and sports can cause a lot of stress, and it can even leave an impact on your mental health. There is pressure from coaches, teachers, and even pressure from yourself to strive to be the best. Many athletes need to prioritize their mental health as much as their physical health. It’s ok not to be ok, and there is nothing “weak” about sharing how you feel or showing emotion. A way that I clear my mind is through listening to music as well as spending time with friends and family. I also talk to someone whenever I feel overwhelmed in order to overcome my intrusive thoughts."

Mikael Gonzales, Grade 11

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“I found that with depression, one of the most important things you can realize is that you’re not alone. You’re not the first to go through it, you’re not gonna be the last to go through it,”

— Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson

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“Anything that’s human is mentionable, and anything that is mentionable can be more manageable. When we can talk about our feelings, they become less overwhelming, less upsetting, and less scary.”

— Fred Rogers

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“There is hope, even when your brain tells you there isn’t.”

― John Green

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“Mental health problems don’t define who you are. They are something you experience. You walk in the rain and you feel the rain, but, importantly, YOU ARE NOT THE RAIN.”

— Matt Haig

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"Hi guys! My name is Haley and I am a Junior at Redwood Highschool. I have struggled with severe clinical depression since I was in 7th grade. Some days it would really get to me and I didn’t know what to do or how to handle it. My main thing to always resort to is setting time away just to focus on yourself. Get all the distractions in your life and stick them in a bottle, and forget about all the worries you have for a few minutes out of your day. Just sit in your room alone and just take a moment to relax and let all your stress go. It really does help and makes you realize some of the things you are worrying about shouldn’t be taking up your mind like that. I hope this helps you guys out in the future!<3"

Haley Jordynn, 11th Grade

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“You are the one thing in this world, above all other things, that you must never give up on...You are more precious to this world than you’ll ever know.”

— Lili Rhinehart

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“If you are broken, you do not have to stay broken.”

— Selena Gomez

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“My dark days made me stronger. Or maybe I already was strong, and they made me prove it.”

— Emery Lord

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“You don’t have to be positive all the time. It’s perfectly okay to feel sad, angry, annoyed, frustrated, scared and anxious. Having feelings doesn’t make you a negative person. It makes you human.”

— Lori Deschene

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“Tough times never last, but tough people do!”

— Robert Schuller

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"Positive thinking has had the biggest impact on my anxiety and my mindset. Believing that everything will be okay and giving myself constant reassurance has made me the happiest I’ve ever been. It’s challenging sometimes to see the good in things but if you try looking you will find it. Feeding your mind negative thoughts serves no purpose but bringing you down. Seeing the good in my everyday life makes me worry less, eases my anxiety, and keeps me in a happy energized mood the whole day. Focusing on every little good thing brightens up my day so much with every thought I have and gives me a sort of appreciation for the life I have. No matter how little or big a feat, seeing on the positive side of things is the remedy to a bad mindset and anxiety."

Clarissa Martinez, Grade 11

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“There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in”

― Leonard Cohen

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“Not until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves”

― Henry David Thoreau

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“Just because you don’t understand it doesn’t mean it isn’t so.”

–Lemony Snicket

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"It’s helpful having a hobby that you can use to give your mind a break. Exercise and sports are a really good way to clear your head and stay healthy."

Mathieu Moza, Grade 11

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"You don't have to see the whole staircase. Just take the first step.”

Martin Luther King, Jr.

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“If there is no struggle, there is no progress.”

— Fredrick Douglass

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“The challenge is not to be perfect—it is to be whole.”

-Jane Fonda

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"I recently lost my brother and my anxiety and stress got the best of me.  As hard as it was I made sure to be as strong as possible.  Although it was so hard for me to keep a smile on my face, one quote that has helped me keep going is, “Trust yourself. You’ve survived a lot, and you’ll survive whatever is coming.” 
Not every storm lasts forever! Keep your head up and that smile on your face because you're amazing."

Ariana Ramos, Grade 9

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“We cannot direct the wind, but we can adjust the sails.”

-Dolly Parton

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“It’s not selfish to love yourself, take care of yourself, and to make your happiness a priority. It’s necessary.”

-Mandy Hale

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“An empty lantern provides no light. Self-care is the fuel that allows your light to shine brightly.”


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Teng Fangyi

Design Engineer at UPenn

My passion towards volunteer service was inspired by my father. I remember my father and his friends donating coal for heating in winter to an orphan primary school in Tibet each year. As I grew up, my father recommended that I teach as a volunteer in that primary school during one of my summer vacations. I was never exposed to the situation and by the time I arrived, I felt the problems viscerally. The culture, religion, and even language being different are understatements. The infrastructure needed to nullify the education gap was non-existent and at the time, the only value add was bringing in more teachers who had free time for service. The school also experienced a financial crisis because they had no eligible accountant to record the income and expenses. Besides teaching students, I also helped them to build an accounting system which solved the dilemma.
After entering college, I still actively sought volunteer opportunities. One of the most memorable experiences was the childcare program in Lima, Peru. I worked at an orphanage for children suffering mental and physical disabilities where the majority walked with crutches or sat on wheelchairs. More than half of them needed to be fed by others. But due to lack of funding, workers cannot do the essentials like feeding them every meal or engage in physical activities. Though the communication was hard, I still used my body language to build relationships with every child. For some children whose mental disabilities are not severe, they could understand a few words and some short sentences. So I learned some simple Spanish words like “Buenos días” and “Encantado de conocerte” to get us closer. I could feel the delight when I gave my greetings and they would smile at me or say a few words back.
Besides lack of workers daily upkeep, the orphanage had barely a place for children to play. Therefore, I organized other volunteers to build a garden in an open field. Accounting for children sitting in wheelchairs, we built many facilities like ramped access and assisted handrails in the garden. My suggestion was supported by other volunteers and the orphanage. For the rest of days in this program, except doing daily care for children, we designed the layout and built a model at the first stage. Then we bought shovels and dug the dirt at the backyard of the orphanage. The hands-on experience was extremely exhausting but all volunteers in the group enjoyed the working process since we all believed the garden would provide the children a better living environment after completion. During the time we built the garden, a couple from Columbia joined us. They met in a volunteer program and decided to participate in more volunteer programs. They said they all had a tight schedule on their jobs but still used vacations to go around countries in South America to help people who need help the most. Although the garden was unfinished when I left this program, the orphanage added this task in their work log and the upcoming volunteers would continue to finish the remaining work.
Volunteer opportunities to me, personally, are a way to get in touch with people with different cultures and living backgrounds, and to help them with the abilities I have. As an industrial engineering and product design student, I always want to know what people really need in their life. I envision my future career path to work on a service system. It is important for me to deal with the interaction between technologies and people and take social responsibilities in my personal and professional life. Volunteering is not just about helping others. You are preventing yourself from succumbing to isolation, which leads to demotivation to do anything. By going out there, you will feel alive. Start looking up and contribute. You may think that you might not add value to the people around you, but trust me, that is not the case. I didn’t know anything back then, and I made a lot of mistakes. It’s the initiative that matters, and that small act makes all the difference.

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Hailey Rasmussen, Grade 11

"Insecurities are not uncommon among many teenagers and in this phase of life, it’s hard not to tear yourself apart over every little thing. Trying to be the best version of yourself 24/7 can be absolutely exhausting, especially with all the added pressures of everyday life. I myself have dealt with major insecurities my entire life to the point where I took them out on my body and stopped caring for it in the way that it needed to. After I was hospitalized for an eating disorder I spent a lot of time doing a self reflection of sorts and I have come to recognize that there is so much more to life than trying to be perfect all the time. Though these feelings of not being good enough still exist, I try to journal or talk to someone when I feel myself start to get overwhelmed and it helps to release the feelings that I have in that moment and I find that I feel a lot better afterwards. There are going to be good days and there are going to be bad days but the most important thing is to keep moving forward and when those bad days do come, have compassion for yourself and try to recognize that you are doing your very best!"

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Addie Marie's Story

          Recently, I've just found my worth and although I’ve only been alive for like literally 14 years, mentally a lot has gone on so I want to share my story which hoping can inspire you if you’re struggling or if you know a friend that is trying their best to hang on.  First, let me start off by saying I'm not sharing this story because I'm looking for attention, I am sharing this because I want to let the people who are struggling know that they’re not alone and life itself gets better.  

          Around when covid hit, I was just so isolated like a lot of teenagers, as I stayed in my room for 24 hours, didn’t get up to go anywhere or do anything.  Just sitting in front of a computer screen for 7 hours and crying my eyes out every single day 24/7.  But as soon as someone walked in my room, I wiped the tears away as soon as possible.  I put my mask on and I was perfectly “okay”. No one seemed to notice.  I was very depressed; every day I would wake up thinking to myself, "Why God, why did you decide to wake me up again? I just don’t wanna be here anymore."  I genuinely just had no energy to live I had no motivation to get up and out of bed I fell out of love with the things I loved most like dance and even hanging out with friends!! Every day was just an endless cycle that kept repeating. I was sick of it, and I really just wanted to die. I was so close to ending it.  That literally kept going on in my head for months, then I had an eating disorder. I didn’t eat, and every time I looked in the mirror I hated what I saw.  When I looked in the mirror, all I saw was ugly.   I just hated myself inside and out, then adding to that, I had girls talking down on my body.  I tried my best to eat but I physically could not and if I did I was so guilty for the rest of the day.  I  was depressed, I would sleep all day and when I woke up I’d be mad at the world because I was mad God woke me up again.  I lost myself. No one knew what was going on. I kept everything to myself; I didn’t want anyone to know I was struggling because I didn’t want anyone to think of me any differently so I just cried my eyes out to sleep when I was alone.   I prayed to God every day to help give me the strength to live, and I prayed to God to let me meet some amazing people. 

          God did put amazing people into my life. When I was around them, I felt so free! I was so happy I met a lot of amazing people who made me wake up in the morning excited to be alive. I became loved by an amazing person who made me laugh and smile, which I hadn’t done in literally so long. Although it took a little more than a year, I finally found my worth and I’m so proud of myself.  This special someone who came into my life had helped me a lot and encouraged me to eat.  Crazy looking back on it how I almost gave up on myself and wouldn’t be here today!                               

          A big lesson I learned is not to be upset about things you cannot control. Life goes on and there’s so much to live for. God is amazing and I'm so thankful for Him.  I promise you, if you are not doing too well mentally, it will get better!  Surround yourself with people you love.  Although it can be so exhausting and so very hard to get up and out of bed, I challenge you to try your hardest and to go around people who make you happy, do things that make YOU happy. Who cares what people say?  You’re loved, you’re beautiful, and just know you’re not alone.  To anyone who’s reading this, I’m here to talk whenever. Most importantly, I love you!  Your little steps are big progress and I am so so proud. You got this!!

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Rafel's Story

Rafel Adham, Sydney, Australia

I was 13 when my dad passed away, I was so close to my dad & he was a one of a kind superhero, not just for his family but for his patients as my dad was a doctor. Out of the blue, my dad had a heart attack  & he was gone in minutes so unexpectedly. I was in pain & agony for 14 years after his death due to severe anxiety & sadness. I was too embarrassed to even talk about it to my own family, I couldn’t get better until I opened up to my sister 14 years later & we searched & searched for therapy & online portals to help us shed light on this. But during that time the online portals weren’t as informative as they’re now like Alifea. I’m 38 years of age now. I wish Alifea existed back then because if I had come across it when I was a teenager, I would have realised that many other teenagers could be going through such a hard time during the loss of something special in their lives.  That would have helped me save many years of my beautiful youth & not spend them in so much self doubt, hurt & agony !

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Deana's Story

Deana, Baghdad

I live in a war torn zone called Baghdad. But Baghdad is my home & I love my home. It’s very hard to love but fear a place. Living in fear creates big emotions dominated by anxiety . Alifea inspired me. When I read about other people going through hard times because of other reasons than war, it made me feel that I am not alone. I am inspired by all the stories I read & the young people who had the courage to tell them. I  want to add my voice to say- we humans struggle many times during our lives. But if I can emerge from the fear of wars, random killing, heavy mortals & all the beautiful lives lost to that, then all of us humans can! 
My faith strengthens me.
My family gives me a reason to keep going & my cooking gives me joy! Let’s hope, love & eat well!

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Ameer's Story

Ameer, Baghdad

I am a dentist. Sounds like it is a straight forward job, right? Fix the tooth if you can, pull it out when you can’t! Not for where I live.
I’ve been practicing in Iraq, that’s where I live. I see so much injustice that it motivated me to get involved more. 
It’s easy to go into despair when all you see are dead ends: poverty, lack of basic human rights, and angry young people all leading to violence. It’s a cycle. In the midst of all my harsh realities, I came across Alifea. It gave me hope. 
I see struggles being challenged, young minds being brave & a quest to do right. It taught me that during hard times, we should step back, and look outside and inwards so we don't get stuck in despair.

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Lina Yamahara, Sophomore at Columbia University

 I think college can be uniquely challenging because for many students, it’s the first time that you are away from your family so you’re trying to figure out how you’re going to take care of your own mental health without having as much access to that support system. You also get a lot more choice in your daily life which means you’re in charge of deciding when and how to be taking care of yourself. That can definitely feel like a lot of responsibility but colleges have many resources to guide you through the transition and I’d definitely recommend taking advantage of them. 
    I do my absolute best to prioritize rest, whether that’s sleeping 8 hours a day or taking study breaks with friends or even just stepping away from studying to sit in the sun for a bit. Though rest never has to be productive to be valuable, when I was first exploring how to prioritize my mental health, it helped to remember that taking a rest can actually make your studying so much more productive. It’s also so important to make time for the activities and people that make you happy. High schoolers and college students work so hard everyday for our futures. But we also deserve to be happy along the way. 

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