coffee date #6 with sophia ziajski
undergrad student, realtor, founder of Friends Connect Foundation, owner of killer ootds, TEDx speaker, joyful hugger
key note: Sophia was one of my biggest supporters and mentors during the launch of Happy2Thrive – forever grateful
“I’m just living for myself.” – Sophia Ziajski, 2021
me: passion fruit papaya tea | sophia: hot chocolate
location: panera bread, new jersey
Sophia is one of those people who always looks composed and flawless. She was a sophomore at Allied when I entered high school as a freshman. Until junior year, I knew Sophia as the girl who was constantly working during the lunch period in the computer lab.
When she wasn’t in the computer lab, Sophia was talking to teachers, walking briskly through the one-halled building, giving quick spiels during clubs about her nonprofit – all the while maintaining her composure. It was clear that Sophia was an extremely hardworking and ambitious individual.
My junior year of high school, I was on the hunt to search for speakers for the TEDx event I was organizing. That was when I first interacted with Sophia. After all, Sophia founded Friends Connect her junior year and managed to launch the organization into something so beautiful all the while balancing school and her other extracurriculars. Obviously, I wanted someone as vivacious as Sophia to be one of my TEDx speakers.
Fast forward 1 year later and Sophia became my ultimate life consultant during the formation of Happy2Thrive. Sanj and I knew enough to get kickstarted, but we needed help from someone who had already gone through everything that we were about to go through during the non profit process. Sophia went out of her way to share resources, helpful tips, legal input, and so much more for Happy2Thrive.
One of the things that I admire about Sophia is her ability to protect herself from being used. After she founded Friends Connect, so many others followed and wanted to do something similar only for the purpose of noting it down on their resume. Many would approach Sophia for help and input, but instead of completely putting herself out there to people who have the wrong intentions, Sophia treaded the waters carefully. She first has the other person do some initial work to prove to her that that they are passionate about the cause because if they can’t take that extra 5 minutes to research, then how passionate are they really about launching their own organization?
This is an astonishing quality that I admire in Sophia because when someone asks for help, we generally imbibe ourselves in providing all the knowledge to the other person without ever deciphering if that person is being authentic or not. This is harmful because not having a genuine motive to grow, but only gaining this wisdom in an effort to build up their resume or steal someone else’s idea, deeply affects us and those who helped us develop that idea. Sophia helped me realize that I can put my heart and soul into helping people only after I realize that that person is ready to put their heart and soul into the process as well. She taught me that it’s okay to protect ourselves from the envious eyes of others. It is 100% not selfish.
- No one has their shit together.
I’ve been feeling extremely stressed recently because of my classes, new job, and other work-related things. With that stress comes a feeling of “everyone else has their shit together except for me. You need to amp it up Esha.” This inevitably leads to even more stress and anxiety.
It’s important for people to know that absolutely no one is always stress-free and living vicariously. Life would not be life if we did not have our own personal struggles sprinkled throughout it.
This was one of my epiphanies during this coffee date because I’ve always assumed that Sophia had her life all figured out. As she opened up with her own struggles – whether it be academic, personal, or professional related – I realized that it is wrong to assume other people’s lifestyles. Assuming that will just throw you down a cycle of insecurity and unnecessary/unhealthy competition.
Focus on yourself and your own journey. Accept all the feelings that come at you and be okay with that.
The universe always seeks for disorder (aka entropy for my chemistry peeps 🙈) to function properly, so there’s no need to get worked up if you’re like me and Sophia, and don’t have all your shit together!
- Self-awareness is key for happiness.
Our mind is one of the most powerful structures in our body. It dictates our functioning on a day to day basis, so when we don’t give it the care that it needs, it works against us.
When I told Sophia about how anxious I get for every little decision or action, she told me to ask myself this:
“What is the initial thought and is it true?” – Sophia Ziajski, 2021
Notice the word “initial.” For those of us who are always anxious and big overthinkers, we only focus on the thoughts that come AFTER our initial thought. For example:
Initial Thought: “I am going to fail my bio exam this weekend.”
Thought #2: “I’m going to fail my bio class because I’ll fail the exam.”
Thought #3: “My GPA will drop too low if I fail my bio class.”
Thought #4: “I won’t get into medical school because my GPA will be too low.”
Thought #5: “I’ll never fulfill my life goal of being a doctor…..”
Can you see how one single thought can tsunami (yes I just used this as a verb. don’t come at me.) into various crippling thoughts? When this occurs, go back to that initial thought: “I’m going to fail my bio exam this weekend.”
If you studied your ass off for this exam and truly know the content, will you still fail the exam? No! But even if you do, will you fail the entire class because of that single exam? No! Even if you fail that class, will you actually never end up in medical school to become a doctor? No!
Understanding our initial thought can greatly reduce our anxiety and prevent us from getting paralyzed in any situation.
“I don’t trust that all my thoughts are true.” – Sophia Ziajski, 2021
- Life’s short, so spend an extra 5 minutes to reconnect with a loved one.
Whenever I catch myself remembering an old friend or family member I decide to text/call them sometime later or wait for them to reach out to me. Instead, I could simply take 5 minutes to shoot someone a text or hop on a quick phone call.
As noted in coffee date #3‘s conversation, social connection is extremely important if we want to live and die happily. Letting those you care about know that you care about them is the least we can do.
“Every time I think of someone, I try to do something small for them.” – Sophia Ziajski, 2021
- Direct and open communication is vital for solid relationships.
Coffee date #2‘s conversation was reiterated during this date, which helped me realize that confrontation is necessary to develop authentic relationships. In fact, Sophia shared a template to confront people similar to the one coffee date #2 shared:
“I feel _______________ when you ____________ because ________________.”
Confrontation is crucial because everyone sees the SAME thing in a different light.
“I see that you are drinking a green drink. Now, I can put my sunglasses on and I’ll see the same drink, but in a different way.” – Sophia Ziajski, 2021
Sophia shared this metaphor with me to describe how everyone has different opinions about the same subjects. When we don’t see eye to eye with someone, confrontation will be the tie breaker. Your true friends and family will not view your honest communication as a threat, so there’s no need to fret (I swear, that rhyme was completely unintentional).
- Be present in the moment: TIME BLOCK!
With college picking up, a new job, an internship, and a whole lot of other stressors, I find it difficult to take a break. For example, I’ll be watching Netflix with my brother, but won’t even be able to enjoy the show (currently watching Queen’s Gambit and we are hooked! 10/10 recommend). I’ll be thinking about the assignments I need to do, my job shift the next morning, an email that I have to send, etc. This sucks because I genuinely want to be present and spend quality time with my brother.
Sophia introduced the idea of time blocking to me. She showed me her calendar that has allotted times for her classes, work, morning routine, and free time. This was big for me. Though I bullet journal everyday and allot time for my classes and meetings, I don’t allot time for free time. This is why whenever I’m not in a class, meeting, job, or eating, I work because my mind automatically assumes that if I’m not doing any of the other mandatory things, then I need to be working. Including free time as a chunk of time in my day will allow me to be present and do whatever it is that I want to do without feeling guilty about my work.
Additionally, with this “free-time time block,” I’ll have the time to catch up with friends or family. Often when someone reaches out to meet or talk, I get hella tensed trying to figure out where to fit them into my day so that I’m not going to fall behind with work. Even when I am with that person, I end up feeling guilty for not doing work, so I’m not completely in the moment with that person. With this chunk of time purposely embedded within my days, I can meet up with people and not mourn in my puddle of guilt afterwards.
“I have time blocks for when I can make plans with people.” – Sophia Ziajski, 2021
For Sophia and me, spontaneous plans don’t work. In fact, it just makes us anxious. Thus, providing people with a time that we know we will not be working will put us at ease.
- Only got 4 years….
For all freshmen in college, Sophia talks about the importance of jumping on opportunities that you may not find in the future.
“Do things that put you in a safe, but vulnerable position.” – Sophia Ziajski, 2021
What is the point of life if we can’t explore it and do all the things that we never even imagined of doing?
We often adhere to the guidelines that society has formed – go through elementary school, middle school, high school. If your family can afford it and if you want to, you go through college and maybe even grad school. Get a job or else you’re supposedly a loser. Then work in that job until you’re 65. Retire and move to Florida, so you can chill out for the rest of your life until you die.
Education is important, but so is discovering yourself. The only way to discover is to throw yourself into situations that make you uncomfortable. It’s okay if you screw up in between! Life always goes on and the sun continues to freaking rise.
“This is your time to thrive!” – Sophia Ziajski, 2021
YES! Listen to Queen Ziajski and live it up before we no longer have the chance to!