inspiration · women who reign

Women Who Reign: Maya Ganesan

You live longer once you realize that any time spent being unhappy is wasted. – Ruth E. Renkl

Tell us about yourself along with a fun fact!
Hi, I’m Maya. I’m a freshman at Stanford, with an undeclared major — I’m still exploring my options! I grew up in a family of computer scientists, so technology is kind of in my blood, but I also love history, English, and politics (although I’m not too optimistic about the upcoming election). I also love to sing! I’m a member of Everyday People, an a cappella group here on campus that performs R&B, soul, hip-hop, and Motown music. In my free time, I like to play the piano, read, write poetry, and take walks. I’m also interested in typography, fashion, and Shakespeare, and I’m a news junkie. A fun fact: I started writing poetry when I was four — and I haven’t really looked back since!

What # would define your life journey?
2. One of the most important lessons I’ve learned is that it’s okay to be second-best. I used to compare myself incessantly to other people and frustrate myself because I wasn’t the absolute best at anything, but as I grew up, I started to realize that I didn’t have to keep self-evaluating against other people. As long as I loved what I did, and as long as I kept working at it to become better for my own personal satisfaction, that was all that mattered.

Favorite website / app:
Favorite app: Spotify. I use it all the time, both on my phone and my computer. I love making playlists, and I love the live feed feature to see what my friends are listening to. I honestly can’t imagine how I would organize and discover music without it.

Favorite website:, for their incredibly entertaining and astute commentary on fashion, and The Guardian, for being a rich source of culture and news.
Maya headshot

Someone who inspires you and knowledge they have imparted (if any):
This might be cliche, but my mom is such a huge inspiration to me. I am always amazed at her ability to juggle so many things — she’s a hands-on parent, extraordinarily talented singer, career woman, boss, and (if I do say so myself) excellent cook. She keeps the house together, really. Talking about my mom always makes me a little teary, because words just don’t seem adequate to explain exactly how much she has done for me and how much she means to me. I will forever be indebted to her for teaching me the value of hard work, for teaching me kindness and empathy, and for giving me her encouragement and support as I figure out what I’m doing with my life. She’s such a rockstar and the greatest role model I could’ve asked for.

Song that makes you want to dance:
Hands to Myself, by Selena Gomez. I have fond memories of dancing to this song with friends on a weekend retreat — hearing it always takes me back to that weekend, back when this song was brand-new!

Ideal job / where you see yourself in 10 years:
I get asked this question a lot, and I don’t really know! As someone who is such a planner, I find it hard sometimes to accept that I am, in essence, walking into my future with no clearly-defined goals and a lot of blind hope. If there’s anything I’ve learned in the last few years, it’s that life is unpredictable — it has a funny way of turning your plans upside down! I hope I’m happy in 10 years, and I hope I love what I do. But beyond that? I don’t really have a roadmap. I’m really looking forward to seeing where I end up.

What knowledge would you impart to women in order for them to REIGN their lives?
It is okay to say no! It can be easy sometimes to keep piling on responsibilities — often because every opportunity sounds interesting, and you keep convincing yourself that you can handle all of it. But it’s more important to know yourself and your personal limits, and do what works for you. For example, if you know you need at least 6 hours of sleep a night, make that a priority and fulfill it. Or if you know you can only get work done in silent places, make sure you find those workspaces. The better you know yourself, and the more comfortable you are with saying no to things that compromise your needs, the happier you’ll be, and the more productive you’ll feel.

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