As you may or may not know, Emily is my cousin from my dad’s side of the family. We are closer than CLOSE, so to kick this series off I thought who better to begin with? No one! Emily has had a life-changing year of struggles but she ultimately found happiness. Let’s get into the interview!

Question: What is something you wish people knew about you?

Emily: Something I wish people knew about me is that I am a very caring and loving person. I am quite introverted, and very shy when I first meet people and I think that can sometimes look like I just don’t care or appear uninterested. But the truth is I care very much about every person I meet, it just takes me a little longer for me to open up and be comfortable around people.

Question: What are you passionate about?

E: I’ve struggled with this question for a while. I think with recent changes in my life, I’ve found that I am passionate about change. I don’t like being in the same place for too long, the world is too big to stay in a routine. I love to travel, explore, and find the beauty in every place I go to. I want to move around a lot when I get the chance to and learn about more places.

Question: Who do you look up to?

E: I look up to every person who is close to me for different reasons, but I mostly look up to my mom and dad. They taught me to have strong morals, to be loyal, and to always do what’s right. They both have the biggest hearts I know and showed me that when you put love into the world, the world will give it back to you.

Question: What is your current job and how did you end up there?

E: I am currently a production assistant at Sony Studios. I do my best to help out the director and editors of the movie while they are busy with their work. My sister Lauren actually had this job, and when her boss was looking to hire a new PA, she asked if I wanted to give it a shot knowing I was interested in this type of work. Needless to say, I was very interested, and she helped me learn the ropes of what a PA entails.

Question: What do you see yourself doing in five years-career wise?

E: Ah- another question I’ve struggled with. Well, because I don’t love the idea of routine, I am interested in the film industry. Since my dad is a cameraman, he gets to travel a lot to different film locations and I can see myself being a part of something like that. I’m undecided about what role I will play in production, but there are several jobs I could see myself enjoying, so hopefully in 5 years, ill be traveling with a crew.

Question: What would you tell a teenage girl who wants to be in the film industry?

E: I would tell her to follow her dreams. Take some film classes, learn what it is you really want to do and then do it. Don’t get discouraged. It isn’t the easiest industry to get into but if you’re passionate about it and work towards it, you’ll get there.

Question: You really started gaining followers when you went viral for this Christmas card. How have things changed since then?

E: My social media life has never really changed my real life. The card going viral was very unexpected and unplanned, and I will say that it had its perks, but at the end of the day, it was just a silly photo that a lot of people saw and nothing has really changed because of it. A lot of people do see my posts but I still live the same life as I did before I had any followers.

Question: Best piece of advice you have ever received and who was it from?

E: The best piece of advice ive received is that there is really never any reason to be stressed. I learned this from my English teacher in High School (shout out ms.Mora). Imagine you are dealing with a stressful situation. Is it something that can eventually be solved? then why stress? is it something that can not be solved? Why stress? If something is out of your control, there is no need to add stress to it, because the stress of it only makes it worse. Sometimes, you just need to let things be knowing there’s nothing that can be done. If something is in your control, no need to stress there either. Relax, and solve it out with whatever amount of time is necessary. There is never a situation that added stress can solve. It is human nature to feel stress when things arent running smoothly but if you stop and ask yourself, what is stressing out about it going to do, you’re likely to feel calmer about the situation. That advice stuck with me through all of these years and really did make me stress less and stay positive.

Question: What would you tell your 16-year-old self?

E: I’d tell my 16 yr old self to relax. This is the age where all of my insecurities rose to the surface and I became incredibly self conscious and introverted. In high school everyone feels pressure to look their best and fit in. I wish I didn’t care so much. You are young, have fun, high school isn’t that serious and your life truly doesn’t begin until after you graduate so just have fun and don’t worry about how you look to other people. Nobody cares as much as you think they do. Also I would tell her to do her homework, she was a slacker.

Question: What was your most life-changing moment?

E: To me, my most life-changing moment was one of survival. I was in an accident and I almost lost my life. Every day I told myself I was going to get through it and fight through whatever I had to. The night of my accident I felt my body giving up. My family was in the room next to me and I wasn’t willing to let go without telling them I loved them, so I held on really tight, and I kept pushing through. Those months in the hospital were the hardest of my life but it gave me a brand new mindset and changed my life forever, I somehow gained a positive view of life through a very negative experience.

Question: What an inspiring story! What specifically did you do to deal with this life-changing moment?

E: I had two options, I could have thought “why me” and spend my days of recovery sad and negative, or I could have thought “why was I so lucky to survive something that most people would die from” and I decided to stick to that mindset. Sure, not getting into that wreck would have been ideal, but it happened and it could have ended much worse. I reminded myself that I was still very lucky, even in the midst of an unlucky situation. I almost felt powerful just knowing that I could get through something so difficult, keeping a strong mindset resulted in a strong and speedy recovery for me.

Question: What advice do you have for someone going through something difficult?

E: Be patient. Any problem you have feels never ending at the time, but eventually it passes. Everything I once thought would break me, I hardly even think about now. No matter what, everything you go through will make you stronger in the end and will help shape you into the person you are meant to be, as cliche as that sounds.

Questions: What do you do to stay positive when you’re feeling down?

E: When something goes wrong, do you very best to try and find the positive meaning inside of it, no matter how hard it is to find. One of my favorite quotes i’ve heard is “Sometimes, the wrong train will get you to the right station”. Even though things go wrong or unplanned sometimes, there is usually a reason for it. I am a strong believer that everything does happen for a reason. Staying positive when you’re down is definitely easier said than done but the more positive you try to remain in any situation, the easier it becomes to naturally be positive. When i was in my car accident, my boyfriend told me that there are hidden beauties behind every disaster, so everytime there is a “disaster” I try and think about what the hidden beauties are within it, and i could always find at least one. This is how i keep positive and it is very helpful for me.

With Love/// Sam

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Genesis Jara is a first-generation college student who was raised in Downey, California. She attends California State University Long Beach where she fosters her passion for being a leader and serving