We had the good fortune of connecting with Brenda Sarai Zuniga and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Brenda Sarai, why did you pursue a creative career?
I love to bring joy to others and make people feel good. I’ve always been an artist. A singer, dancer, performer through and through, with a passion for philanthropy. However, If you would’ve told me I’d be a comedian/performer, who created a mental health comedy podcast, and has a mindfulness coaching company, I would’ve never believed you. Everrrr. I was smuggled into this country at one year old by a coyote (this is what we called those who help people cross the border). I was raised by teenage parents who risked our lives for the chance at the American Dream…and they never let me forget it. LOL #NoPressureThough
A creative, through and through, I live to help heal the collective through the arts. Last year I launched my video podcast “Getting Mental with Brenda Sarai Zuniga”, which brings mental health education in a fun and relatable way. I sing, dance, and perform comedy as I share my mental health journey. It’s my outlet where I’m 100% ME. Raw and honest, I share my struggles, how I overcame them, and how mindfulness changed my life. #LetsHaveFunGettingMental
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I blend music, comedy and mindfulness together, performing mental health education in a fun and relatable way. I live to perform for others. I’m a musical comedian, singer, songwriter, composer, pianist, director, podcast host, mindfulness coach and mental health motivational speaker.
It hasn’t been easy, whatsoever, but hard work pays off. Having been smuggled into the U.S. at one year old and raised by teenage parents was no joke. My parents divorced when I was six, I lived in 15 homes and attended 11 schools growing up. All while being undocumented. Being deported back to Mexico had always been my biggest fear. In 2018, After a grueling process, my biggest worry subsided when I became a US Citizen, a triumph 25 years in the making. In addition, it wouldn’t be until I was 25 that I was given an ADHD diagnosis. It was a huge relief to put a name to how I’ve operated my entire life. Hyperactive, loud, never stopped talking, creative artist who would burst into song and dance in the middle of class…everything made sense.
Upon diagnosis, I began to treat my ADHD and my life changed for the best. However, I’m grateful for my adversity filled upbringing. I credit all that instability for making me highly adaptable to my environments, building massive resilience, compassion, and LOTS of humor…around everything that happened to me. I was raised in a Mexican household that never spoke about mental health; it was highly stigmatized. I began showing signs of anxiety as a child and depression in my teens. My parents would say things like “What do you have to be sad about? You have a roof over your head, food on the table, and clothes on your back. What are you anxious about? We wished we had your life. Why can’t you be normal?.” – That’s when began to internalize a deep sense of shame and felt “not normal” for experiencing said conditions. I didn’t grow up with a supportive family, so I relied heavily on my school counselors, teachers, and friends to be my support system in my teen years. They validated my reality and made me feel seen. I don’t know where I’d be if I didn’t talk to people about what I was going through on a daily basis. I’ve always had a fascination with the human psyche.
In college, I majored in Psychology and loved every minute of it, but my anxiety and depression became severe to the point of developing panic attacks. Full-blown panic attacks where I thought I was going to die. Everytime. This is when I decided to seek professional help and find a therapist. It wasn’t easy beginning my mental health journey, but it’s been the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done. I began to heal generational trauma by completely rewiring my cognitive perceptions and responses. I work on myself daily, and there’s nothing more I love than being challenged by a self-limiting belief and overcoming it with my new set of positive coping skills. Trust me when I say, If I can do it, you can too. 🙂
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
We would visit the beach, mulholland drive, eat in-n-out burgers, and sidecar donuts alll week long. Yes, ALL WEEK LONG. hahaaha
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
First, A big shout out to everyone who told me to keep going, believed in me when I didn’t, and encouraged me to share my talents with the world. Every. Single. Person.
Second, read the following book. “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill. It changed my life. To everyone reading this, know that you are strong, you matter, and you create your own future. Be an unstoppable force. Whatever you decide to pursue in life, go after it with every fiber of your being. The most important thing to remember though, and I can’t say this enough, is to stay kind in the process. Kindness is the driving force behind everything I do and the thing that keeps me going. May this post bring you inspiration to know that if I can do it, you CAN too.