The Strength Project #2 ~ Sophie Earl...

By Lucy Harbron - 11:47

"I took a deep breath and listened to the old brag of my heart. I am, I am, I am."

I've followed Sophie Earl on twitter for a while and I've always been awestruck by her infectious positivity. At 18 years old Sophie is a passionate vegan currently travelling the world on a gap year. Her strong opinions and beliefs and her experiences of travelling solo made me desperate to hear her thoughts on strength. 

So here's our chat about what strength means to Sophie...

Could you tell me what strength means to you?

To me, strength isn't about the things you achieve, or the way in which you handle a situation, but instead encompasses the way you are still alive after something truly heartbreaking happens to you. I think that strength can be categorised and perceived in an abundance of different ways, from forcing yourself out of bed after days of not being able to move, to just smiling at someone who truly broke you. But all in all, I think strength is something you cannot pinpoint or capture, it's merely something that shines from a person, strength is everywhere & within everyone and sometimes you may not recognise it in yourself, but believe me when I say others can see it radiating from you.

Could you tell me about a time when strength was really evident in your life?

It's only within the past few months that I really feel I have grown as a person, and developing my strength is definitely something that has gotten me here. A time that really stood out for me was during my gap year travels, when I landed in Sydney. I had already been travelling for about 6 weeks, but this was the point where I was truly alone for the first time. I stepped out of the airport, with my huge bag, and for the first time ever had absolutely no idea what I was doing, where I was & where I was going. I was completely lost, both physically and spiritually. It was getting late, I was in a huge new city on the other side of the world and completely alone... and I had the biggest panic attack of my life just outside of Sydney airport. I honestly could not breathe, think or even distinguish what I had to do next, I ended up sitting in the airport bathrooms for about an hour just sat there crying & not knowing what to do! Eventually I was like okay I have to get out of here and just find my way to my hotel, it would have made complete sense for me to just get in a taxi and go there right? But no, a taxi was over $50 and I was solo travelling Australia & Asia, I could no way afford that when I could get the subway. So just after having a huge panic attack, alone in a huge city, did I get on the subway at rush hour and travel half way across Sydney to where I was staying. Turns out, I learnt more about myself in that week in Sydney than I have in my entire life, it changed me as a person and I would never ever take any of it back. It was only when I was sat with a group of girls that I had met off of Twitter and Instagram in a vegan restaurant in Newtown, did I think I am so glad that I put the trust in myself and my strength, to be here.

Pictures from your gap year look amazing! Do you think education about issues and different cultures/societies can help develop strength?

Thank you so much! I definitely agree that education about the issues faced in different cultures develops strength! I can only really talk from my experience but volunteering in Thailand during my gap year was definitely a pivotal moment in my life. I think the key to developing your character and to really discovering your essence is to immerse yourself in as many different cultures and situations as possible. I found that living and working in a rural village in the south-east of Thailand really opened my mind to what strength means to different people, as the villagers there were living such a different style of life that I am used to, and therefore were facing completely contrasting issues! Spending time with people who had so little in terms of materialistic goods, however who possessed so much more spiritually than I have ever seen in people was truly life changing, and made me realise how much importance people in the western world put upon materialistic and luxurious commodities when in fact people who do not have these things are often so much happier within themselves. Just getting the chance to play games and talk to the local Thai children helped developed my strength as I really saw how you do not need much to be happy and that I often take things for granted.

You’re a great advocate of living a vegan lifestyle, do you think there's such a thing as ‘eating strong’?

Of course! To me veganism is so much more than just a way of eating. It's a lifestyle that is based on compassion and empathy for every sentient being on this earth and it definitely encompasses strength. It does take a lot of strength to put others before yourself, and that really is was veganism is all about, putting the suffering and cruelty experienced by animals within the meat, dairy and egg industries before trivial things such as taste, convenience and habit. I believe that eating strong is only one element of it, as you have to hold strength in all aspects of your life also! Treating your body right is extremely vital to strength as we need to treat our bodies in the way we wish to live! I myself, along with many others have experienced bad relationships with food, however once you start treating yourself with love and admiration, the strength will blossom from that!

When do you feel strongest?

I feel strongest when I am surrounded by people that empower me and empower themselves! When you are young and constantly surrounded by people who may impact negatively on you (for example in school) it is very easy to forget how strong you are and how much you can achieve in your life, however now I have finally left school I have realised that you really do have to surround yourself with people who make you love yourself and feel your best! Having the choice to surround yourself with people who love and support you is the best feeling, and being part of such a beautiful supportive community online really has helped me understand that and cherish those around me. As one of my favourite people online, Luke Cutforth, once said : "Keep people in your life who truly love you, motivate you, inspire you and keep you happy. If you know people who do none of these things, let them go". Removing toxic people from your life is one of the strongest and most important things you can do, and I hope everyone finds the strength to do that.

Do you think part of strength is having the ability to be strong and supportive for others, and be a positive, empowering influence on the lives of others?

Definitely! I think that is the key to having strength. So much energy in this world is used through negativity that is is often much easier to be hurtful towards someone than it is to show them love and support. I think that it really shows strength if you can put yourself into the mindset of others to help support and empower them in every aspect of their lives.

Could you sum up what strength means to you in 3 words?

Oh wow that's a hard question! I would have to say : selflessness, empowerment and compassion.

Sophie is one of those people that is so passionate and driven that it blows me away. Definitely take a look at her YouTube and blog where she talks about her travels and shares loads of vegan recipes!

Find Sophie-

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