What My Passion for Human Rights Taught Me About Creativity

Beginnings are beautiful, life-changing, terrifying, and enticing all at the same time. We shine at the idea of the beginning new relationships, starting a dream job, moving to an unfamiliar town, etc. because they lure us to endless possibility and transformational change. But this also brings about feelings of fear and doubt.

The rambling thoughts — “what’s next?” _and _“change is scary,” or even, ”I don’t have what it takes to make it”— saturate our minds.

We get overwhelmed with the possible scenarios of the unknown and don’t know where to begin or when the right time to start is.

Before deciding to pursue a career in creative writing, I worked as a legal assistant at an immigration law office where my every day consisted of engaging with courageous people who had fled impoverished and crime-filled conditions in search of new beginnings. I sat down one-on-one with young children, single mothers, and hopeful fathers from different parts of Latin America and listened as they revealed their experiences of war, crime, and violence. What was most unbelievable to me was that beneath all the tears, fright, and trauma they’d endured, they remained appreciative, hopeful and valiant, armed and ready to take on any ensuing struggle that came their way.

Despite having gone through rough beginnings and having no clear path laid out in front of them, these risk-takers held on tightly to the tiny bit of courage they had left to gain a fresh start, create a better life, and they couldn’t have been more excited about it! The unknown was alive for them —they had been pushed out of their comfort zone to a new country where the language and cultural barriers were very real —but because of their resilient hearts, they were open to possibility.

My heart and mind brimmed with admiration and respect for those willing to fight to the death for a new opportunity, which provoked reflection of my own path.

At the time, I was struggling with two worlds — my passion for human rights and creative writing. As a legal assistant, I was living my passion in fighting for a bigger cause. I found joy in the human connections I made with these brave immigrants but felt hindered by not pursuing my calling in the way I wanted to. I yearned for a more creative career in writing with a human rights twist, but didn’t know how to arrive at my starting point. I thought if I dared to start something new, all eyes would be on me, just waiting for me to fail. Rather than focusing on beginning, I fixated on the outcome before I even began! I was paralyzed.

The more I struggled, the brighter the resilience of the immigrant community I worked with shined: paralysis wasn’t a figment of their mind, there was no time for that. Only gratitude for new circumstances. They had so many dreams and new beginnings to live out, and they took advantage of them full force — new educational opportunities to study, language classes to enroll in, special relationships to make, etc. They had dreams that were bigger than them, and they were willing to do anything in their power to reach them.

Moved by how their experiences shaped them to be brave and daring, I took the leap of faith and quit my job, beginning my journey as a writer.

yellow2016-491 There’s always a list of excuses telling you why not to pursue XYZ. Before starting something, we want to know that we’re going to be secure, but the more we focus on this, the more difficult it is to begin. When the anxiety gets the best of you, remember that there is more fear in the anticipation than the actual act. It’s the dread of not knowing that keeps our worry alive. The circumstances to start are never just right so don’t let that discourage you; _ you have to go with your gut and just do it._

Change your focus and see this as your only opportunity to make moves and find new parts of you. Going forth, you will meet resistance in the eyes, but when you crusade and push through the obstacles, rewards will present themselves. In our lives, when we overcome barriers, we become more stable and equipped for life’s unexpected twists and turns. Trust in the process because it’s going to get better!

The valiant dreamer lets go of the fear and clings to the probability of something good happening by keeping their head down, tuning out the negativity, and working hard.

I’m four months into my journey as a freelance writer. It’s been challenging and unclear, but I’ve had the chance to meet, collaborate, and create with amazing like-minded people. Opportunities have presented themselves in the most surprising ways, and I’ve tried to embrace and cherish every minute of it, even the parts that feel defeating. Inspired by the human connections I made at my previous job, I’m at the beginning of co-founding an online publication that delights in the rawness and realness of the human experience. It’s a playground that marries my love for human rights with various creative mediums to share the stories that go untold.

A few months ago, I took a risk to follow my passion and here I am today. My beginning is now, and even though I’m still working towards finding my voice, I’m slowly gathering the tools I need to fight the uncertain battle and I hope you will too.

Photos by Cacá Santoro


Jessica Estrada


Currently residing in sunny Southern California, Jessica finds glory in all things creative and tries to fulfill her curiosity the best way she knows how - through photography, writing, and art. When she’s not pursuing her love for writing and human rights issues, you can find her camping out at her local coffeeshop, going on adventures, snapping photos, and learning new creative mediums.