Recently, the world lost an inspiring man whose life changed the lives of many through his words and his actions. He wasn’t flawless, but Mandela raised questions that people needed to be asked. His legacy lives on. Now, more than ever, there are more voices to be heard and many new wonderful people trying to make the world a better place.
The other day, I came across a video from a TEDx event. If you aren’t familiar TEDx, they are ‘a global set of conferences owned by the private non-profit Sapling Foundation, under the slogan “ideas worth spreading”.’ The video featured a talk by a woman named Lizzie Velásquez who was born with an extremely rare medical condition that means she doesn’t gain weight; she also can only see out of one eye, but that’s really only half of the point of her video. Her talk is called “How Do YOU Define Yourself” and she speaks about how we see ourselves and how our perception of ourselves is heavily influenced by with what we choose to define ourselves.
In the video, Lizzie talks about how her parents raised her to not see herself as different from other children, even when aged five, she was forced to question why the other children at school bullied her. She, like many others, has taken this early bullying and used it for good, turning the hatred into fuel to achieve. Her life goals include motivational speaking, which she is doing, along with having a family and a career. She’s using the very obvious traits, her physical appearance, to draw you into hearing about the person she is inside, the person you can’t just gloss over. She is an intelligent woman who seems to have a knack for balancing humour with seriousness in a very sincere way.
Lizzie vlogs (www.youtube.com/lizzitachickita) and has just surpassed 45,000 subscribers, something she says she owes to people having seen her TEDx video. Her initial meeting with YouTube was one filled with disgust and cruelty when someone posted a video of her; without sound and of only eight seconds in length, calling her the ugliest woman in the world. Comments to the highly viewed video told her, repeatedly, to kill herself. It’s a horrifying and sad reminder of what kind of people there are in the world. But this didn’t dissuade her and at twenty five years old she has just graduated college, become a public speaker and is happy to have a close group of supportive family and friends.
In her videos, Lizzie comes across as an endearing, friendly and self-motivated person, someone who you could laugh with and talk with, someone that you’d forget, did she not remind you, had a serious medical condition. It obviously affects her life but she doesn’t dwell on the bad days, instead she focuses on the good she has been able to do by being someone who has faced challenges all her life.
She is an inspiration to me and countless others and epitomizes what I want this year to be about, loving ourselves and defining ourselves by the good things; such as how we can be better people if we take negativity and instead of passing it on, turn it into something positive.
Watch her video and let her make you think.