Published: April 4, 2024

Undergraduate student Cristal Alvarado is the 2023-24 winner of the University Libraries Buffs One Read Storytelling Contest. The contest invited CU Boulder undergraduate students to submit creative expressions based on this year’s Buffs One Read selection, The Book of Joy: The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, with Douglas Abrams. Alvarado’s entry, entitled “There's Always More to Life Than We May Think,” unveils a difficult time in her life, when she had just dropped out of college.

After leaving college, Alvarado took a year off and traveled, backpacking around Europe. When she returned to college, she studied nursing, but she found that was not her calling and she left school again. “There was no one around to tell me that it was going to be OK. It felt like the end of the world.” Her video is a way of telling anyone who is experiencing failure, who is close to dropping out or who doesn’t like their major to have compassion for themselves.

Alvarado found accounting when she returned to community college, received her associates degree and transferred to CU Boulder. At 25, she is about to graduate and she is looking into tax law as her next move. “Everyone has their own timeline,” she said.

“I wanted to share my experience because I was ashamed of it for a long time,” explained Alvarado. “It was very liberating, letting people know that it’s OK to fail, it’s OK to not know what you are doing and it is OK to start over.”

Self care and compassion became an important part of Alvarado’s routine. “I do a lot of self reflection, which is something that I didn’t do when I was younger. I meditate and I treat myself,” she said. “I realized that those little things can add up to something big.”

Watch “There's Always More to Life Than We May Think”