One Youth. Infinite Hope.

I have the Power to Change the World

STEPAHNIE ALEXANDER


by Lauren Patterson
22 years old
Torrance, Calif.

I was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder when I was 9, which left me feeling so small and miserable. It got to the point where I didn’t want to leave my house, because I felt that people saw me as a joke, just a waste of skin.

In high school, some of my best friends started chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, and I wanted to see what it was about. I had never come across such compassionate people as I did at my first SGI meeting; they wanted nothing other than for me to succeed. I felt extremely empowered and became an SGI member on Nov. 18, 2013.

The big shift in my Buddhist practice came in the beginning of 2019, when I ended a four-year relationship. I didn’t know how to move on, or who I was anymore. That’s when I threw myself into SGI activities and took full responsibility as a chapter young women’s leader. When I made the Gohonzon and kosen-rufu the center of my life, I realized that I was much more capable than I had imagined. I became a research assistant for my college professors, completed 18 units in one semester, attended many SGI activities and still had time for friends and family! I’m graduating college in May and want to make a change in society by providing mental health services to those who may not have access.

Things that were once overwhelming are now an impetus for my growth. And regardless of how busy my life gets, I still feel joy! I now know that my life is not insignificant; I have the power to change the world.