#SWW: A Conversation with Andrea Santoyo

We’re continuing to explore the idea of what #selfworthwednesday means to people in our community. Earlier this week, I got to talk to Andrea Santoyo about her journey, #selfworthwednesday, and how she found Dream On Youth in the first place. For those of you who have been around for a while, you may remember that she used to intern with us.

Emily: So, I know you pretty well, but let's assume that our readers don't. Introduce yourself to someone who doesn't know you!

Andrea Santoyo: Hello, someone who doesn't know me! Let's be friends! I'm just a girl currently facing the sophomore slump, trying to find her way in the world, working to make her life be about helping people through their hardships. I rock red lipstick, drink at least two cups of coffee each day, stare in awe at the sunset every evening, dream of a life in New York City, and believe in the power of Taylor Swift lyrics. I sometimes have no idea how to go about my day each morning, but I do make sure to walk each day with Jesus Christ, paying attention to His little gifts of grace, allowing me to love others as He loves me.

E: You used to intern with us, and had to have been following Dream On Youth for a while before applying to be an intern. How did you find Dream On Youth?

AS: I first found Cydney Irby through mutual followers on Twitter. I saw what she was doing with Dream On Youth and was immediately amazed and impressed with her mission. I then found out she was opening up applications for DOY's first online intern positions and I knew I had to get on board. Cydney is all about helping and inspiring people and that is something I value so greatly. While I am no longer an intern, I still offer my support and I'm rooting for all of the work the team is doing everyday.

E: That is so true about Cydney! We value your support, and hope that you know we're supporting and rooting for you every day as well. I'd like to shift gears now and talk about #selfworthwednesday. Why do you think #selfworthwednesday is important?

AS: #selfworthwednesday is such an important concept. There are people out there who have no idea how to value themselves or they truly believe they don't have any value. Those people need to know that they are absolutely deserving, that they are absolutely worth great joy. Little by little, I know that #selfworthwednesday is helping people see the value that lies within their hearts. 

E: And what does #selfworthwednesday mean to you?

AS: #selfworthwednesday is all about taking pride in every aspect of who you are. We live in a society that criticizes people for feeling good about themselves, but there is nothing wrong with posting a selfie when you're proud of your makeup and there is nothing wrong with having a big smile on your face when someone compliments your outfit. We should be building each other up, not tearing each other down. #selfworthwednesday helps us do that.

E: I think that there's an aspect of vulnerability that comes with #selfworthwednesday too. Taylor Young has recently been doing what she deems as #AnHonestPost, where she is completely vulnerable with her Instagram followers and sharing about her life. You have such an amazing journey--I know you're in the middle of a lot right now, but I'd love for you to share some of that with us. What is the biggest challenge you've faced in the past year?

AS: Due to circumstances no person should ever have to live through, the biggest challenge I've had to face is learning how to treasure every moment, good and bad. The good moments are meant to be basked in and thanked for. The bad moments are there to help us learn important lessons and grow stronger. It's so cliche, but it is so, so true: life is short. I'm learning to enjoy every moment I am blessed with, how to love on those who mean the most to me even harder. It's a challenge I have to face when I wake up every morning. For me, a bad time is what brought me to understand what life is all about. Don't let something terrible and irreversible be the wake-up call for you. 

E: And what's the biggest thing that you've learned from dealing with this?

AS: As I said, I am blessed that I am given the opportunity to learn about what life is truly about when I do wake up every morning (right there is the chance to be thankful that I got to wake up and start a new day). I am learning how to see God's presence in a brand new light, through a lens I never had in my heart before. The Lord is always with us; He is walking with us through the easy and the hard, even if it doesn't feel that way sometimes. In allowing God to take my burden (which He is happy to do), a weight is lifted off of my shoulders (another cliche, but it is also so, so true). He can handle the hard. I can't. We can't. And we were never meant to. When Jesus died for us, He was promising to help us through anything and everything out of pure love in His heart. That's something that I never truly understood until recently. In times of difficulty and weakness, God is there. In times of bliss and smiles, God is there. He wants us to find peace in His plans for us, knowing He will lead us in the right direction, all while loving on everyone around us.