“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

My first week at HBS, I felt the weight of the world on my shoulders. The pandemic was at its peak, my personal life had been upended, and I had not found a vocation in my professional career.

Throughout my life, whenever I struggled, I didn’t allow myself time for second-guessing. This was true when after a 16-year professional tennis career I tore a tendon in my knee beyond repair. The day my doctor broke the news, I went on autopilot mode and built a new identity and a new life. I did not take a minute to look back or grieve the dreams I was leaving behind. I focused on academics and excelled in college. I built a successful career in the business world. I didn’t allow myself to recognize I was struggling, because I forced my mind into not thinking about the difficult time I was going through.

But during my time at HBS, my mind was more strong-willed. I tried to ignore the internal battle I was fighting, but for the first time ever, I was losing control. I tried pretending I was fine, and I probably looked okay to those around me. Eventually my mental health deteriorated to a point where I couldn’t keep hiding it from myself and my loved ones. I thought acknowledging what was happening and asking for help would mean I was weak. Now I know it was the bravest thing I have ever done. It saved my life.

This experience has brought me even closer to my family, has made me more resilient, and has given me purpose. I want to live a happy life surrounded by people I love. I want to help others find joy in their own lives. I want to inspire those who are struggling to keep fighting.

— Laura Ucros Tellez