We had the good fortune of connecting with Sania Ahmad and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Sania, what’s your definition for success?
I’m only sixteen and have gotten told before that I have a pretty idealistic view of the term “success”, but in all honesty, I’m the founder of a non-profit organization which provides me with literally no monetary gain, yet I somehow feel like the most successful person ever. Reading a message from someone halfway across the world that claims that they found encouragement from what Revive does makes me feel successful. Seeing my teammates interact and have fun while doing amazing things makes me feel successful. Learning to love myself after years of only putting myself down makes me feel successful. I may not know the realities of the “real world” yet, but I sure do know that I won’t ever want mere numbers, whether they’re linked to test scores or a bank account balance, to determine my success and will practice that belief on others as well.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I’m a teen social entrepreneur, author, and mental health advocate. My work journey started with a seed of passion, and when a cause means something to me, I find that I go above and beyond for it. In this case the cause was Mental Health and after spending the majority of High School letting anxiety build up around me, I finally chose to do something about it after the Pandemic hit. In the process of learning more about my condition, I got educated about others as well and slowly came to understand the actual danger attached to the stigma surrounding the topic. When the recognition hit me that if I walk into a room full of a random sample of twenty teenagers, at least five of them would be diagnosed with a psychological condition, and half the remaining would have a diagnosable condition, but be too scared to seek proper intervention, I decided to do something about it – even if it was something small. After hitting my friend up with the root idea behind Revive, she agreed to start the organization, being passionate about the subject herself as well. Nine months later, we’ve managed to share almost a hundred stories from all over the world, acquire a team of fifty plus advocates (aged 13-23) from all over the world, post almost three-hundred educational posts to social media, and reach ten thousand people based on our website analytics. But again, those are just mere numbers, and I hope that Revive goes further than that. Our goal isn’t to treat mental illness or to sensationalize it. Our goal is to share stories to act as a reminder that there isn’t one person (older than ten) on this planet who has never suffered with their mental health. Our goal is to share studies to help people, never self-diagnose, but recognize that they may need to seek help. Our goal is to provide support and dismantle the stigma among youth. And at the end of the day, our goal is to ignite hope in even a small group of people, because hope is the only antidote.
My mental health advocacy has extended beyond Revive, however, and I’ve recently finished co-writing the manuscript of a book about Teen Mental Health. The book is set to publish late July of this year and is just about the ins and outs of teenage-hood, with the context of mental health. Both Jada, who is also the co-writer, and I worked with mental health professionals to provide valid information and advice in the book, and have also shared our own experiences to provide readers with more relatable content. The title is #TeenMentalHealth and it’ll be available on Kindle and Barnes & Noble.
As for challenges, I’ve definitely been faced with many of them. It’s a feat in itself to be sixteen and try to explain to your friends and family that you’re serious about what you’re doing, and don’t just have superficial intentions behind it. It was also difficult to not go out with friends everyday and dedicate some time to working, but the Pandemic sort of helped with that. To be completely transparent, burnout has become a friend of mine. I go through a period (usually three days) every single month, and accepting that it’s not healthy to just work work work is something that I’m still working on. This also isn’t some “happily ever after” story, where I tell you that after starting Revive, my anxiety diminished. No. At times it worsened. However, the difference is that now I know how to deal with it and am aware of the importance of self-care. I also recognize that seeking proper intervention whenever I’m going through a tough period is essential. It wouldn’t be right to preach something you don’t practice.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I live in Plano, but most of my favorite places would be out of the city. My favorite spot (somewhat) close to the city is probably the Mandalay Canal in Las Colinas. If I had to recommend restaurants, I would definitely talk about Fadis in Frisco, which is a Mediterranean grill with probably the best gyros I’ve ever tasted. I also really like the Great Wall Super Buffet, located close to the (now closed) Collin Creek Mall. Of course, living in Texas, we got to talk about Tex-Mex. My personal favorite is probably Wild Salsa, which I believe is in Allen (it’s by a Macy’s) – their shrimps are top-tier. If Italian was preferenced, I would suggest the Bucas by the Stonebriar Mall. I really admire the history behind the place and love their pastas. I am South Asian and if I had to pick my all-time favorite restaurant for Indian and Pakistani cuisine, I would definitely pick Al Markaz in Carrollton. They have the best (in my opinion) halwa puri, which is like chickpeas, poofy bread, and this sweet mushy side (I think it’s typically made from carrots), in the game. Getting away from food, some other spots around the area that I really like are the Sculpture Garden in Frisco, the park at White Rock Lake in Dallas, Grapevine Mills Mall in Grapevine, Deep Ellum in Dallas, and of course the iconic Southfork Ranch in Parker. That should be more than enough for a week out, and would even allow for a mini road trip.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I want to dedicate this shoutout to my best friend and the other founder of Revive, Jada, as well as my amazing mom and dad who have always supported me no matter what.
Instagram: @reviveorg @revivechronicles and @thrivewithrevive
Linkedin: Revive Mental Health