Humans of Seven Lakes: Sofia Esteban

I know you do a lot of extracurricular activities, which can be stressful and time consuming. How do you ensure it doesn’t affect your motivation?

So I am a part of a lot of extracurriculars which can definitely feel really overwhelming, but because I’m so passionate about what I do, it actually makes me more motivated to keep up with everything. A lot of my stress is actually relieved by doing the things that I love and seeing the people that I can help. I do my best to remember the overwhelming amount of privilege I have and try my best to ensure that I always keep that in mind. It’s easy to get stressed but it’s even easier to forget how fortunate I am to have the opportunity to get this involved in the first place. Ultimately, I care a lot for every extracurricular activity that I’m in, both inside and outside of school, they are a lot of work but I don’t have a negative perception of them or anything they require of me. I want to make change, so being a leader is exactly what acts as my motivation.


Do the extracurriculars affect your mental health or your social life?

I think this is a pretty loaded question. If I’m being honest, I am lucky enough to have a really supportive inner circle that understands all that I do and my hectic schedule. Although my extracurricular activities definitely require a large amount of my time I wouldn’t say that they affect my social life negatively, instead I think they actually nourish it. Thanks to what I do and the opportunities I get to travel, I’ve met so many different people and learned so much about others. I am just such an extrovert who loves that. I think the mental health part of this gets a bit more complicated. I am fortunate enough to not have any condition that affects me mentally, yet I can’t deny that there are times where I do feel just incredibly overwhelmed. I don’t think it has a lot to do with my extracurriculars, because as I’ve said before, I love doing them. I think it has a lot more to do with the environment of the school. As much as I love this school, it is just so competitive. I love being pushed but I think what affects me the most is the academic pressure to stay on top of my grades at a school that has very high academic standards. I am always doing something; if it’s not an extracurricular then I’m doing school work, and if I’m not doing schoolwork I’m working. So I obviously get really frustrated sometimes but I won’t lie, I wouldn’t trade it for the world. 


How has doing speech events changed your day-to-day life?

I say there are two ways this activity has actually changed me and my demeanor in a positive way. First, I’ve become way more confident, and second, I have learned what it means to actually be informed. I’ve never been shy, like ever. But I definitely did do this thing where I would just doubt myself in front of certain people. I think what Speech and Debate has taught me is that having a voice is powerful and there’s no wrong way to use it. I think although I never struggled speaking up I definitely had moments where I just doubted myself and I wasn’t able to get across what I wanted to. We’re in a society that allows us to express ourselves, a nation that’s literally founded on the idea of free speech, so I think the activity has just made me more comfortable doing that overall. Secondly, I think I’ve really learned how to properly inform myself. I’ve always had big opinions and big ideas but I think a lot of the time it was fueled by my emotion towards the subject, rather than actual understanding of what the subject was. This activity taught me that there’s so much nuance within every single issue and it really forced me to analyze both sides of certain arguments, which allow me to solidify my stance of them. I feel like I can have more mature conversations over issues that I actually care about and that I’m able to truly understand where certain people are coming from as well as the lenses other people have which just makes me feel more educated and I think it’s a really important skill to have.


What choice are you consciously making that you believe that people could benefit from?

Both of my parents are teachers at Title 1 schools, which are basically schools that don’t have a community with the financial capacity that a school like Seven Lakes has, and so they receive more federal funding. Because I’ve grown up seeing these types of communities, communities that actually lack privilege, I’ve understood how different the community that I’ve grown up in truly is, I’ve made a conscious decision every single day to just acknowledge the environment I’m in. I think every student at Seven Lakes would benefit from just recognizing how much we have offered to us in the sense of opportunities, food, security, and more because it’s just so easy to take all of this for granted when you can’t see what an enclosed bubble we live in. I’m actually so passionate about this specific topic just because again I’ve been around it since I was born, it’s actually why I’m working on a project to go talk to Title 1 schools and give them more resources for college and mental health resources because it’s something that’s very near and dear to my heart. It’s something that our community has and that I have had to use before. I actually don’t know what position I would be in right now if I didn’t have those resources available to me, and I want to give others the luxury of having those near them. So yeah,  just overall people should just consciously recognize the type of situation they are around, and the gravity of what they say as well as know how easily we can be just so ignorant to our privilege.


What is the most valuable skill or thing you have learned in high school so far?

The most valuable thing I’ve learned from school is honestly being more knowledgeable over the cultures and diversity around me. We just have such a diverse group of students. I’ve been able to experience dances like Garba, organizations like the [Black Student Union], people who just moved from South America. I’ve been able to just meet so many different types of individuals. I think growing up, I felt very disconnected from my culture because I felt like I had to fit in to this super harmful idea of this very specific type of person and so I rejected a lot of my Hispanic heritage, and I think it wasn’t until I got to Seven Lakes, a school that actually allows for people to celebrate their diversity and share it, that I became proud of it. I think we learn the biggest lessons outside of the classroom and my introduction to the different types of cultures and celebrations around me is something I value so dearly and it’s definitely what I’m most thankful for.


What is a mistake you have made in the past that you believe people can learn from? How would you handle the situation differently?

Ignorance. I had a family member go through a really dark time in which they needed me and our family. During that time I was so frustrated with how my family members’ mental health situation was affecting my life and the life of my parents that rather than trying to understand them, I just got mad. I was expecting my life to continue being at this elevated level, and I expected to continue my competitive performance at the rate I was performing, without acknowledging that because of the situation my best was gonna look different every day, but also that I had an obligation to check in on my family member who was clearly going through such a tough time. I was so consumed with this idea of living this perfect life with perfect grades and competitive success and a consistent smile that I made the whole situation about myself. I completely rejected the help that my family member was pleading for. When I look back at how I responded to this situation I get really mad at myself. I understand that a lot of us feel this overwhelming pressure to be flawless, but sometimes in trying to be exceptional we become blind to the needs of others and of ourselves. I made the mistake of putting on a mask of perfection in a time of crisis because I wanted to be perfect, and because of it I not only didn’t get my family member the help they needed but also the help I needed myself. If I could go back I would spend more time with my family member trying to be understanding rather than simply getting mad and I would try to be more present in the healing process. I think we’re in an area where we all wanna be perfect. It’s important to be aware of how far we can take our obsession at certain points.