There is no doubt that @1000dreamsfund ambassador and winner of our #1000dreamschallenge Sanah Jivani is going to change the world. From overcoming bullying to embracing her differences, she is truly an inspiration for girls just like YOU all over the world. Follow her on her journey to end self-doubt and self-hatred one insecurity at a time!
What do you do currently and how did you get here?
I am the founder of a non-profit organization called The Love Your Natural Self Foundation. It’s an organization dedicated to improving the self-esteem of individuals all around the globe. We do so many things from hosting empowerment sessions, to speaking at schools, to traveling the world and doing hands-on activities that help improve confidence. Our biggest project is a movement called International Natural Day. International Natural Day takes place every year on February 13th. On this day, I challenge individuals to let go of the ONE insecurity, physical or internal, that’s holding them back. Natural Day is currently celebrated by individuals in 28 countries around the world.
It has honestly been a beautiful journey developing my organization. It started with the small idea of hosting a Natural Day at my school. When I started to see the impact this day had with students, I knew I had to keep going. I started by having other campuses host Natural Day. Eventually, the movement began to take a life of its own and campuses around the world wanted to host a Natural Day and have me come speak. I created a non-profit organization to help me manage all of this and continue my work.
I got to where I am today through working hard, believing in myself and accepting the support of others. It’s been quite a journey, but I’m so grateful and appreciative to be where I am.
What is your biggest accomplishment so far?
I think my biggest accomplishment is the lives that I’ve been able to touch. Every individual who comes up to me and tells me that I changed their life means way more to me than any award I could ever win. It’s so special to know that the work I’m doing can impact others.
What challenges have you had to overcome to get to where you are?
The biggest challenge I’ve had to overcome, and the inspiration for my organization, was losing all of my hair. When I was in the seventh grade, I woke up surrounded by my own hair. I was absolutely terrified, and I couldn’t even get myself to look in the mirror. I soon realized I had a condition called Alopecia Universalis. My life changed forever. I watched my hair fall out strand by strand and with every strand of hair, I lost a strand of confidence, until I was left with nothing. It was heartbreaking in every way. I immediately bought a wig and turned to self-harm and self-hatred.
The bullying was absolutely endless. From getting a note in my locker titled “50 ways to go kill yourself” to having an online BurnPage made about me, I was truly pushed to rock bottom. When I did hit rock bottom, I knew I had two choices… I could continue to live in self-hatred or I could choose to love myself.
I made the decision to go without my wig and start practicing self-love. Once I started to love myself, my whole world opened up. I wanted to bring others the same kind of self-love, so I started my non-profit.
Who has been helpful in supporting you and your dream?
Throughout my whole journey, my mom has been my biggest support system. She listens to me go on and on about my huge dreams, and she never responds with even a bit of doubt. I think the most important thing she does for me is believe in me. There are so many cases where individuals have huge dreams, but they are shot down by others. Surround yourself with people who believe in you and see the best in you.
I have also had so much support from friends, teachers and mentors. Support has been key for helping my dreams come true. From showing up to my speeches to cheering me up when I’m feeling down, the support I receive means the world to me.
What has the ‘highlight’ of your journey been thus far? Perhaps a specific moment or rewarding result.
One year on Natural Day, a young girl with Alopecia posted a picture without her wig. She was in the 7th grade, and she used my story to let go of her insecurity. It touched me so much. It just made me think, “If I could stop her from going through even a little bit of what I had to go through, than this whole journey is worth it.” It was really special for me to see someone with the same condition as me drawing inspiration from my journey.
What inspires you?
The people who share their stories with inspire me. It’s the people who open up on Natural Day, come up to me after speeches, and share their heart with me. They say that I inspire them, but they will never truly realize how much they inspire me. I started an organization to change the lives of others, but it ended up changing my life.
What are the attributes that you believe are most important for young women to have in order to stand out and find success?
The courage to dream big and the ambition to work hard. Never let yourself believe that a dream is “too big” or “impossible”. My biggest dream is to see Natural Day printed on every calendar around the world and recognized as a worldwide holiday.
Ambition and hard-work is also extremely important. Remember to put your heart into everything that you do. Never give up, and always believe in yourself and your dreams.
If you could share just one piece of advice to all young girls what would it be?
Believe. Believe. Believe. Believe you can do this. Believe in yourself. Believe in your dreams. A little bit of faith can go a long way, and some of the most magnificent journey’s start by simply believing that you can.