Episode 132 – Sazan Hendrix, Influence and Heritage

This week we’re continuing our series, Going Against the Grain, with social media icon, blogger and podcaster, Suzan Hendrix. Propelled by her faith, Suzan shares with Jessica how she learned to honor her Kurdish heritage while pursuing transparency with those she loves most. She also gives her perspective on the next generation of social media influencers and what it’s like being an Austin, TX resident!


Jessica: Hey, everyone! Welcome back to the Going Scared podcast. This is your host Jessica Honegger, founder of the social impact fashion brand Noonday Collection. Join me here every week for conversations on living lives of purpose by leaving comfort and going scared.

Well, this week, we have such an interesting interview because she has a very interesting story. Sazan Hendrix, she’s a globally-recognized social influencer. She co-hosts The Good Life podcast with her husband, Steve. I’ve actually been on their show. It has 12 million downloads, and on that podcast, they aim to warm hearts, inspire minds, and captivate listeners through intimate stories and powerful conversations with people who are making an impact.

You have seen her on Access Hollywood, TNT, ESPN. What’s interesting about her story is that as a Kurdish-American, she has really gone against the grain by marrying a white guy. She really shares her story on this podcast, and I just so appreciate how she held these tensions of holding on to her culture as a Kurd while eventually adopting a different faith and a husband from a different culture as well.

I think you are going to get a lot out of this conversation.


Sazan Hendrix: Influence and Heritage

Jessica: Sazan, so happy to have you on the Going Scared podcast, and happy to have you in Austin, Texas.

Sazan: Thank you. I’m so happy to be here. And, man, it feels good to be back in Texas. I’m so glad we’re here now full time. Feels good.

Jessica: I wanted to hear a little bit about it because I know that the pandemic has brought a change of pace to all of our lives. But moving from LA to Austin, obviously, that would have been a change anyway. And I wanted to hear what you’re learning about yourself both from the pandemic, but I don’t know. Have you been able to separate what you’ve learned just because of the move versus the pandemic? Because didn’t they sort of happen almost at the same time?

Sazan: Yes. It’s crazy because it’s almost like the past year and a half has been a little bit of a blur. And going back, like, this morning I was actually thinking about it. I thought, "Man, it was literally 2019." It was 2019 May, and Stevie and I were in LA. We had been in this home that we purchased in LA for two years. It was, like, the two-year mark. It was so great. And one day, we both felt it in our hearts that we needed to sell our home. It was weird. And we were like, "What is going on here?" And anytime in life where we feel that tug in our heart, we know, like, "Okay, God is up to something here."

So, we really pressed in on that feeling. And we didn’t know where it was coming from, why we felt this weight and this calling to sell our home. And anyways, we prayed through it and we finally just decided, like, "Okay, let’s put our house on the market and just see what happens, and just pray about this. And if everything starts moving smoothly and we see that this house is sold, and…" I mean, clearly, God would make it known, right, if we needed to stay and vice-versa.

So, we ended up putting our house on the market. It sold very quickly, and we thought, "Well, what are we going to do now?" We have an almost two-year-old at this time. She was like one and a half. And we thought, well, it’s May. We sold our house, like, in end of May, June. It was a very quick sell. And then we said, "Let’s go back to Texas for the summer," which is where we’re both originally from. He’s from Austin. I’m from Dallas. And I said, "Let’s just make it a Texas summer." Our daughter has barely gotten time with the families. And so, we thought, "Let’s do this."

So, we put everything in storage and we thought, “We’ll just keep an eye on the market in LA. God is probably going to bring us into a new season and we’re probably going to have maybe an even better house in LA where we can really work from home and have a studio detached situation.” Like, we just thought, "Oh, God is going to bring us an even better house in LA." So, we thought, "Let’s go to Texas." Did not even think that we would end up in Texas.

Long story short, that story ended up playing out for nine months. We were like… doors were not opening in LA. We were not finding the right home in LA. And before you knew it, you know, 2020 came. And January 2020. It was in February when we found this home that we’re in now in Austin. It was only because we thought we were having no luck in LA. Why does Texas kind of feel good? Like, we just didn’t want to separate from family at that point because we had been with them for almost a year at that time. And we saw our daughter just loving that life. So, we thought, "Let’s just look at the market in Austin." And the first house that we saw that we liked, we went and looked at it. And it was just so effortless, that process. Everything was right. And before you knew it, we bought the house in February, and then everything shut down after that.

So, March is when the pandemic really hit us and we all realized, "Wait. This is something serious." And I thought, "Wow. Praise God. We were not in LA during that time." Because the reality is, we would have probably had a really big, fat mortgage. We would have probably bought a really expensive home. And we honestly would have been sitting in it by ourselves and would have ultimately felt like we wanted to be with family in quarantine. So, like, we would have probably ended up going back to Texas just through the pandemic because you saw how that all played out.

And so, we were just like, "Thank God." For the longest time, we still didn’t understand, like, what is God doing here? Even through the pandemic, we were like, "What’s going on?" And it just became more and more known, Texas was where we belonged. And I cannot tell you today now, over…now, we’re in 2021. It’s been over a year since we’ve gotten situated here in Texas, and Austin just feels so right for us. I’m so happy that we’re here. I’ve never had more mental clarity than I do being here and leaving LA. I really struggled in LA with just mental fatigue. I always felt like there was a fog every day. It took a lot from me to just get to a place where I could focus.

And there was something about this Texas move where God just brought me so much peace, brought me so much clarity, and has totally unwrapped all of these new gifts and these new desires that have been put on mine and Steve’s hearts. And it’s just been a really beautiful, not easy, process. But it’s just been filled with so many hidden blessings. And I’m just so glad we’re here.

“God just brought me so much peace, brought me so much clarity, and has totally unwrapped all of these new gifts and these new desires that have been put on mine and Steve’s hearts.” Sazan Hendrix

Jessica: Well, and if you love Austin during a pandemic, you’re really going to love it.

Sazan: I know.

Jessica: You probably haven’t gone to really explore too much of it just yet.

Sazan: Exactly. It’s like I don’t feel like we have officially pressed start on our life here because we’ve been living in it through a pandemic. So, it’s just kind of, like, I can’t wait to see what it’s like when we’re not there.


Living by Faith

Jessica: Okay. So, you’re mentioning God a lot very casually. And I have to say, when I introduced to your brand, like 10 years ago, is right when I was starting Noonday Collection. And we shared an accountant. And I think I was kind of outside of his scope of what he was used to. And so, he immediately was like, "Yeah. You should meet up with this person, Sazan. She’s really cool. She’s a believer. She’s out in LA." My podcast is very much, you know, about courage and entrepreneurship. And then we touch on faith, too. Because I am of the Christian faith.

But I remember going and checking out your brand at the time. And faith was not a really big part. It mainly was about beauty and I thought you guys were absolutely hilarious. I loved your YouTube stuff. I immediately sent it to Jamie Ivey.

Sazan: Oh, that’s so sweet.

Jessica: I was like, "You’ve got to meet this couple. They’re so fun. Have such great presence." But I’ve noticed, over the last couple years, you’ve become a lot more… that’s become a lot more part of your public persona. And I was just so curious about that journey for you. If you could take us behind that journey.

Sazan: Yeah.

Jessica: And I don’t know if I’m coming up with the right assumption. That’s, like, from my outside looking in.

Sazan: Yes, you’re totally… I think you hit the mark there, you know. For me, I started out in this digital space, like, nine plus years ago, before Instagram and all of that. I had my blog in college. And then I ended up moving to LA thinking that I wanted to do TV stuff. And then that just did not… it didn’t end up working out. It didn’t feel right, again. And God led me to this whole virtual thing. And I thought at the time, "How am I going to make a living off of this? What is this going to look like?" At that time in my life and in that season, I was really passionate about beauty, fashion, trends. I mean, I just really loved all of that stuff. I was, at the time, not married, didn’t have kids. That was just in that season of my life for several years. That was just something I was really passionate about.

But then I realized, as Stevie and I got closer in our relationship and we got married, as I started slowly but surely opening up to my community that I had grown to love at this point, felt like I knew these women who are following me, like they were my virtual sisters. And it sounds crazy, but really, it’s like this online family that we’ve been able to establish through the virtual world. And I noticed that there was so much more to me that I was kind of keeping inside. And, for me, the faith category or department or whatever you want to call it, that was something that I felt like I can’t necessarily share that. It’s off-brand in a sense, which is so crazy at this time. But all the while, behind the scenes, God was doing crazy things in my personal life.

Stevie and I were entering this season where we were about to be married, and I knew that I needed God because I was going through it. My family at this point did not support our relationship because of cultural barriers that were in place, you know. And that was really hard on me because I knew that there was a weight on my shoulders, a decision that I had to make. And it was ultimately marry the guy who I genuinely love or don’t marry him and make your parents happy, you know. And I was just kind of, like, one leg in, one leg out. And truth be told, I needed God through that season because I was just not strong enough. That was sort of, like, the first time in my testimony where I just thought, like, "I need you, God. Like, really need you. I actually need to be spirit-led here with my decision."

And all the while, I’m taking outfit photos and I’m sharing beauty stuff and trends. I separated the two. And now, it’s almost, like, the two really do coexist. Like, faith is just who I am, and it’s part of who I am. And God really is at the center of everything that I do, whether it is mom life or my marriage or even in my business. I have seen God move through all of those different areas. And I think I reached a place in my life where I realized you don’t have to separate those things. You don’t have to be afraid to share that side of yourself if it is truly authentic to who you are.

“Faith is just who I am, and it’s part of who I am. And God really is at the center of everything that I do, whether it is mom life or my marriage or even in my business.” Sazan Hendrix

And it was during the season of me realizing, "Okay. I want to do more lifestyle stuff." I was sharing more things about my relationship with Stevie, how we got through all that stuff with my family. When I noticed, "Wait, there’s a real community of women out there who, yes, they love the fashion and the beauty, but they’re really following me because they feel this connection." They feel like they can relate on some level, on a personal level. And so, I thought, if there’s one thing that I truly love besides makeup and fashion, I just like encouraging women. I love inspiring them. I love motivating them even if that means having to bring myself to a space where I have to be vulnerable and I have to be super transparent about whatever I’m going through in that season of life.

And I started doing that more, and I started just sharing, like, “This is what I’m going through right now in this current.” And, yes, they would still see the beauty and the fashion pop up, but it was, like, this real connection like when you have a friend. When you’re meeting for coffee, it’s like, "Hey. You look so cute. I love the way you did your makeup today. But what are you going through? What’s happening in your life right now?" And that’s how I started realizing, like, “Okay, this is, I think, the relationship I really want to have with my audience.” And faith just became a huge part of that as I was just becoming more vulnerable as God was working in those seasons of my life. I couldn’t put the tape over my mouth. I just felt called to, like, share it.


Honoring Heritage and Celebrating Opportunity

Jessica: That’s awesome. Okay. So, you’re Kurdish. You have alluded to that a little bit. I wanted to get a little bit more into what your experience has been like in America. But first, can you tell us, for our listeners, can you explain a little bit about the Kurdish experience outside of the United States?

Sazan: Yes. So, growing up, you know, I grew up in America. I was born in the United States, but my parents, they came here as refugees. You know, the Kurdish people are the biggest minority group without a land. So, like, you will not see Kurdistan on the map. You will not actually see it written. Kurdistan is a region and it is split up. It’s an autonomous region split up amongst various countries in the Middle East.

So, the Kurdish region is spread out between Iran, Iraq, Turkey, and Syria, and even a little bit of Armenia. But they’re kind of just dispersed and spread out. And we are a people group that does not have our own land. And that’s our story. It’s like, to this day, we’re still fighting for that freedom. We’re fighting to have our own home, in a sense.

And so, you know, with everything in the news, I think people now today know a lot more about the Kurds than they did even 10 years ago. I remember growing up and when people would ask me, "What are you? What is your background?" And I would say, "I’m a Kurd. I’m Kurdish." And 9 out of 10 times, people would say, "Well, what is that?" And as a kid, I remember feeling, like, so much weight. Like, that was such a hard question for me to answer because I didn’t even necessarily have the answer. I just knew that that’s who I was, and I knew that I couldn’t actually point my finger on the map and say, like, “This is Kurdistan.”

And part of me felt sad about that, but also a little bit ashamed because you would hear from young kids and people saying, you know, just toying with you as a kid and saying things like, "Oh, then you don’t exist. You must not exist." There’s a lot of that torment. And even to this day, I still get some of that from various accounts and followers on my page. It’s just this toying with the Kurdish people that we see a lot of in our background. And it’s just really unfortunate.

But now, so many more people have learned about the Kurds. There’s history written on the Kurds. You can read about the Kurds. You can educate yourself on that. And it’s really amazing to see how we’ve grown in that way.

But, yeah, for me, growing up in America, I had two parents who came here when they were at the ages of 13 and 18 for a better life. You know, they were escaping Saddam Hussein’s regime against the Kurds at that time. Saddam Hussein wanted the Kurds completely annihilated, similar to how Hitler wanted the Jews to be rid of. Like, that’s how the Kurdish people were during that time. My parents had no choice but to flee. And they came to America and sought asylum. And it’s amazing to see how today I’m the first generation, you know, that is here in America. And I see the opportunities that I’ve been given, and the education, and being my own business owner. I mean, those are all things that my parents, you know, they dreamed about their kids having.

And so, my parents worked so hard and sacrificed so much so that their kids could have a better life. You know, there’s five siblings in my family. So, there’s four other brothers and sisters. And, you know, we all have that really strong work ethic as a result of just who we are. You know, the Kurds really do have that fight in them to work hard and to go after it. But also, my parents, too. You know, they sacrificed so much and have taught us what having true work ethic is and what that means, and to never take advantage of the value of a dollar. Because we grew up not having really much. So, all of that, I think, has been instilled in me. Being Kurdish, I think, too, has always made me want to fight a little bit harder, you know.

Being in America, we’ve always had to just show up a little bit more than maybe others have had to because we’ve had to fight for our rights and who we are as people. And so, I think I’m so proud today to be Kurdish, but the fight continues as we hope and pray to have our own land.

“Being in America, we’ve always had to just show up a little bit more than maybe others have had to because we’ve had to fight for our rights and who we are as people.” Sazan Hendrix

Jessica: How did you grow up Kurdish? What was your home like? Were you still eating Kurdish food? What language were you speaking in your home? Because it seems like you identify so much with your ethnic group. And so, I’m curious how that’s been passed down to you.

Sazan: Oh, yes. I really appreciate you asking that. You know, growing up, even though I was born in the U.S., it was always like my parents… it was like one foot was in this American culture, but then the other foot was always like, "Hey. You will not step your foot out of where you come from, your roots." I was like a plant. I was like a Kurdish plant that was obviously being watered in American soil. But it was almost like growing up, my parents did a really good job of surrounding us around other Kurdish families and communities in the Dallas area.

So, believe it or not, there was a small Kurdish group, community out there. And my parents, we would go, I remember, on Fridays. We’d always go to Kurdish friends’ houses. And I have so many memories where we would make those drives and go have picnics at the parks because the Kurds love their picnics. And we would go, and my mom would bring her tea kettle, little portable tea kettle, and make the Kurdish tea. And we would have all of the Kurdish food laid out on these picnic blankets. And the kids, we’d be running around and playing with other Kurdish kids. That was my community growing up.

I didn’t really have a lot of American friends. You know, I was not allowed to do sleepover parties. I was not allowed to go to anything extra-curricular like camp and any of that stuff growing up. And I think my parents intentionally, you know, wanted us to, yes, have the American dream opportunity, but they did not want us to lose that Kurdish side of who we were.

And I think they did have that fear, that fear of, like, "Well, we did come to America for this better life, but we don’t want our kids to forget about who they are and where they come from, because that may be easy to do." You know, the Kurdish identity was so strong for them to continue living and breathing, especially because the Kurdish people, to this day, are fighting to be recognized and fighting for our identity and our purpose to be on a map and have a region of our own. And so, knowing that my ancestors really literally died for the Kurdish cause, my parents, it was like their religion was the Kurdish name. It was being Kurdish.

So, you can imagine why, when it came time for me to decide who I wanted to marry, my parents did have that fear again come back, come crawling back of, like, "If she marries an American man," the fear, I think, was like, "This is it. She’s going to leave her Kurdish roots behind her. And she’s going to forget who she is and where she’s come from."


Trusting God and Following Your Heart

Jessica: Was it clear growing up? Like, were they already kind of trying to match-make you and…

Sazan: You know, it was never, like, this whole, "We want to arrange their marriages," thankfully. Thank God, my parents genuinely found each other and fell in love. But there was always that conversation with me and my two older sisters. There was always that conversation of, like, "Just so y’all know," my dad would always say, "I’ll give you anything in the world. Just always promise me that you’ll never marry outside of the culture." That was kind of, like, dad’s rules. It was like, "I will give you guys anything and everything you need and want. I’ll buy you what you want. Don’t ever disappoint me by marrying somebody outside of our blood," basically.

So, growing up, that was my dad’s voice that was always in the back of my head. I never allowed myself to have boyfriends. I never allowed myself to actually let genuine crushes that I would have, you know, as a young girl in middle school and high school, I never allow… I never even watered that thought. I never even went there. Because my dad was, and is today, somebody who I just love and respect and admire so much.

And as a young girl, you don’t want to disappoint your daddy. You don’t want to disappoint him. And he was my rock, my everything, and an example of the only man, at that time, I’d ever had in my life. So, what he says goes until I reached a place in my life, when I was 22 years old where I was going through what I think every 22-year-old goes through. And that’s like, “What do I want to do with my life? What is my life going to look like professionally and emotionally and relationally?”

And I just was in a relationship with a guy, actually, for a while prior to that. And he was Kurdish. I actually met him at a wedding. And I thought, "Wow. Like, I actually like this guy. And he’s Kurdish. This has got to be the perfect situation." So, I thought, "He’s the one. He has to be the one." And he wasn’t the one, and I was trying so hard to make him the one. And ultimately, my parents even thought, "He’s not the one for you," you know. But they thought, "Well, if he’s not the one, just don’t worry about getting married. How about you don’t get married at all?" Because they knew it was slim pickings when it came to finding Kurdish-American men in our community who they even felt that were worthy enough for their daughter.

So, it was never a conversation we would have. It was always like, "Let’s just not talk about it. And when it comes to that time, that guy will show up on your doorstep." That was how it was. And I’m like, "Oh, God. I’m never going to get married if that’s the case," you know.

Jessica: Yeah, seriously. So, walk us through… because I know you eventually did marry Stevie, and your worst-case scenario did happen. Your parents did disown you. Walk us through that, and then what your relationship is like with your parents today.

Sazan: Yeah. So, you know, we’d been in LA. It was 2014. Stevie and I had been dating at this point for three years in secrecy. It was also around the three-year mark that I had gotten saved. I was a very new believer. I was walking that walk while also walking in a walk where I was being dishonest. Like, I just was like, "How can God do anything when I am honestly walking in a lie out of fear?" And I knew what God was doing. He was getting me to that place where I could truly trust him, getting me to the edge of the cliff, which is where I had been in 2014, three years in, and knowing that this is the man I want to marry. We’ve been dating for three years, and I know he’s the one. And being at the edge, I knew that I needed to jump. And jumping meant you need to tell your parents.

“I knew what God was doing. He was getting me to that place where I could truly trust him, getting me to the edge of the cliff.” Sazan Hendrix

Now, in my culture, you don’t really go and tell your parents when you’re dating someone, whether he was Kurdish or not. It’s almost like, when you tell your parents about somebody, he better be the one. You know what I mean? And so, for a couple of years, when I was dating Stevie, I was genuinely just feeling that relationship out. We were going through what normal couples go through when you’re dating. I mean, it’s not like I met him and said, "Oh. He’s my husband."

Had I gone to my parents at that season of my life and said, "I’m with this guy. He’s American. We’re dating. I don’t know if he’s the one, though, because we’re just dating," that just, to me, would have probably freaked my parents out more than what they needed to know. I grew up in a house where it’s like, don’t give every single detail. You might give your parents a heart attack. Just sort of figure it out as you go and hope for the best. So, I was still very much living in this white lie of a life, which I had been doing a lot throughout my life.

So, at that point, three years in, I knew it. I knew it was time. I knew he was the one. And Stevie really encouraged me through that season. And his parents had known about me, but my parents didn’t know about him. And so, I remember we set a date in the calendar. It was one of those things in life where it’s like, if you have to rip a Band-Aid and you know it’s a ticking time bomb, the more you let it sit, it’s going to fester. And you’re going to convince yourself why you shouldn’t go and rip the Band-Aid off.

So, we set a date in the calendar. We said, "2014 Thanksgiving, I’m going to be back in Dallas. I’m doing it then." This had been back in August when we had that conversation. So, I knew I had a few months to really prepare myself spiritually and mentally and emotionally. It’s going to get done whether you like it or not.

And so, Thanksgiving had come around. I went back to Dallas. I didn’t end up doing it then. I don’t know why, but… I actually do know why now. It was because I was seriously, in that moment, looking around at the Thanksgiving table, and I looked around and I saw all of my family members’ faces. And there was that innocent, fragile girl in me and this voice that said, "If this is going to be the last Thanksgiving that I get with my family before I get disowned, I selfishly just want to enjoy it with them one last time." And that’s what I had thought in that moment and on that day.

And I ended up coming back to LA, and I felt like I let Stevie down. I felt like I let God down. I felt like I let myself down. I had been almost kind of, like, you’re getting ready for, like, a training for a marathon. I had somewhat gotten myself to that place of, like, "This is when we’re doing it." It’s on the calendar. I saw it every day, and then I didn’t do it. And I thought, "Ugh." And then I remembered, if anything, I said, "I need to let God lead the way on this, really, truly. It’s time to take, instead of one foot in, one foot out, it’s time to plant both feet in on God and let God let me know about his timing and when it’s the right timing for him, and to learn that, and to just surrender to that. And I said, "Fine." I said, "God, when it’s the right time, will you just put it in my heart in that moment? Like, I want you to make it so clear, God. I want to know when it’s the right time."

“It’s time to plant both feet in on God and let God let me know about his timing and when it’s the right timing for him, and to learn that, and to just surrender to that.” Sazan Hendrix

So, fast-forward to two weeks later, I’m in LA and my dad’s in town. And I remember he came and saw me at the apartment. I was the only one there. My sister was out of town. We’d been living together. And he literally… my dad gives me a hug and I felt the holy spirit literally say to me, "Tonight’s the night, sister. Like, you’re doing it tonight." And I knew that there was no backing down. In fact, there was this peace that followed the anxiety that I knew what was about to happen. I ended up telling my dad that night and, obviously, it went exactly how I had imagined — not good.

But there was this… for the first time in my life, there was just this weight that had been lifted that I felt like, "Oh my gosh." You know, when you reveal how you’re feeling, that’s when the true healing can begin. So, I knew I needed to just come out and tell my dad how I was feeling. And the day after that was like day one of healing. “And now, I’m walking in my truth. I’m not being dishonest. God is literally in this now. I’ve given 100% of myself to him because I have no family now.” That’s what I was thinking at this time.

And long story short, we ended up getting married five months after that. My parents were not at my wedding. And Stevie and I, we did it. We got married, and it was literally on my honeymoon when my mother texted me and was just like, "I have had a crazy dream, and I just realized that I can’t treat you this way. I can’t do this, like, not being there with you." I guess, she had realized not being at my wedding, like… Anyways, it was almost like the healing was beginning.

And so, we ended up doing a little reception for my family. Kind of, like, a remake of the wedding with all my family, except my dad. But my mom and everybody was there, and it was just a few months after we got married. And it was just like God was moving in my life and showing me, like, "Do you really think that I was going to get you to this place where you had to really walk in true faith and then just to remove your family from your life and them never coming back? No." God sort of allowed me to let go of my family, but he brought them back. And we were stronger than ever because we were finally starting a foundation on honesty. Like, our relationship was finally… I could be honest with my mom. Like, here’s the guy. Here’s the guy I’m with. I’ve never been able to bring a guy around you, but this is my life now. And this is who I am.

My dad took longer to come around, but when Teeny was eight months old, my dad met Teeny for the first time as well as Stevie for the first time, all in one day. It was honestly one of the most God-filled days of my life. I cannot tell you how beautiful that day was to see that. My dad, when we pulled up to the house, he walked outside. There was something about that that really blessed Stevie to see that my dad wasn’t just sitting inside waiting for us to come to him.

Jessica: He came out to welcome you.

Sazan: Yes. And my dad is a very, kind of, emotionally closed off person, naturally. He’s just very introverted, sort of to himself. But he came out to us and he hugged Stevie. He hugged me. He saw Teeny, and it was just this full circle moment.


Taking a Step Back to Breathe

Jessica: That’s awesome. I want to switch gears very abruptly. And I wanted to ask you about Gen Z. And my daughter is almost 15. And I am getting to be friends with some of the — I call them — kids in her life that are kind of mentoring her that are in their early 20s. And I’m thinking, “Okay, you were in your early 20s when you started on this journey of Instagram influence.” Even as I was prepping for this interview, Amelie was like, "So, who is she? Why is she so famous? How did this all happen?"

And it just made me wonder, like, "What is the future for these Gen Z-ers that want to follow a similar career trajectory?" I mean, is it like TikTok? Like, how has the landscape changed? I noticed you got on TikTok for a hot second. I don’t know if you’re still active on there. I just kind of wanted you to riff a little bit. What do you tell the young 22-year-olds that are in your life and are like, you know, "Hey, I want to be an influencer."?

Sazan: You know, it’s so funny that you say that, because we have a babysitter who’s been coming during the weekdays to help us out with the girls. And she literally just turned 17 years old, but she is such a Gen Z-er that, you know, her 17th birthday was this week. And I remember the morning she came in, she looked stressed. I said, "What’s going on? Are you okay?" She goes, "Ugh. I hate to say this because I don’t want to make you feel bad about your age, but I feel like I’m getting so old."

Jessica: Oh, God. They’re so ageist.

Sazan: Yes. And I said, "What?" She said, "Well, the truth is, like, I have two older sisters and they have their head on their shoulders. Like, they know exactly what they want to do with their lives. I just have a TikTok following." She has, like, 25k on TikTok and she’s like, "I don’t know what the heck to do with that or if that’s even something or what. But I just need to figure out, like, I’m a junior now. I need to figure out what I want to do with my life."

Jessica: Oh my gosh.

Sazan: And I literally was just like, "Wow. Your generation is so quick, and I mean that in every sense of the word." They feel like they have to really rush what they want to do, where they want to go, what they… even the way that they absorb media, it’s very quick. You know, it’s quick, quick, quick.

Jessica: It is quick.

Sazan: I need to go, go, go, go, go. And I need to be on it. I need to be on the trends, I need to be… And I was just like, "Girl, slow down. Breathe," you know. I wish somebody would have told me that, because me being the type-three Enneagram that I am, as a 17-year-old, I was in the same headspace of like, "Oh my god. What do I want to do with my life?" Granted, I didn’t have the distractions of social media at this time, the TikTok-ing at this time and just the noise, I think. And I just told her, I said, "Sarah, you are so young. You are still young.”

“So, take a sigh of relief. Breathe through that. You are not old. You are not getting old." But I said, "It’s so important that you know that you just need to show up and just be whoever it is that you feel that you are right now in this season of life. And don’t try to be anything else." Because when you’re trying to race to whatever finish line that you think is out there, a lot of the times, you’re actually going towards dead end alley.

“You just need to show up and just be whoever it is that you feel that you are right now in this season of life. And don’t try to be anything else.” Sazan Hendrix

Jessica: If there’s one thing I’ve learned during this past year of this pandemic, it is to take the long view. During those days when I thought I was just going to be swallowed up in all of the suffering that’s been going on, right beside me with friends, but also globally with many of our artisan partners, I just would remind myself, “It’s not always going to be like this.” And I really believe that Sazan’s story really speaks to this idea of being able to take the long view and to hold on to hope.

Before we go, I would love for you to review and rate this podcast because it helps more people find conversations like this.

Our wonderful music for today’s show is by my good friend Ellie Holcomb. Going Scared is produced by Eddie Kaufholz. And I’m Jessica Honegger. Until next time, let’s take each other by the hand and keep going scared.