By Edita Bardhi
“The only way I could show those people that they weren’t going to be my definition and truth was somehow make myself better,” said Lizzie Velasquez.
This quote captured the hearts of many individuals, including myself.
Motivational Speaker Lizzie Velasquez entered this world with a rare congenital disease (Marfanoid–progeroid–lipodystrophy syndrome), leaving her with an elderly-aged face, nearly blind in one eye and fully blind in another and the inability to gain weight.
All of which she continues to live with at the age of 28 years old.
Because of her syndrome, Velasquez was labeled as being “the ugliest woman in the world.” However, in 2014, the negativity she received inspired her to give a speech on defining one’s self.
While I listened to her speech, “How Do YOU Define Yourself?” I became increasingly touched by what she had to say to her audience.
And above all, I believe her words are ones that many people should follow.
Why? Because everyone is their own person, and people should not belittle others.
On personal terms, I was able to understand Velasquez’s argument.
I was born with Hemiplegic Cerebral Palsy, as well as a Seizure Disorder. While growing up, I received many judgments, torments and negativity from my peers. It wasn’t easy, and like Velasquez all I wanted to do was make the condition disappear.
“I hated when I woke up in the morning and got ready for middle school. I was looking up in the mirror and thinking, ‘Can I just scrub this syndrome off. It would make my life so much easier if I could just scrub it off,” said Velasquez.
Hearing that lightened my face for it felt nice to know I wasn’t alone.
As an English major, I continuously use the computer to write my essays, my entries, my articles, my emails, and so forth. Whatever it may be, I am forced to do it with one hand, and every time I look down all I want to do is make the Cerebral Palsy disappear. I wish to type with both hands, like everyone else.
However, Velasquez’s speech has shown me that it is okay to feel this way. Even more, it showed how everyone has their struggles in life and there will be critics.
The important thing is to turn all that negativity around.
She explains to her audience that she will not allow all the negativity to define her, but instead to better herself.
“I told myself that I am going to work my butt off and do whatever I could to make myself better. Because in my mind, the best way I could get back at those people who made fun of me, who teased me, who called me ugly, who called me a monster was to make myself better.”
She continued, “Tell me those negative things, I am going to turn them around, and I am going to use them as a ladder to climb up to my goals.”
And she has, bettered herself.
Despite the awful things she has heard about herself, she chose to hold onto her goals. They included becoming a motivational speaker, writing a book, graduating college and having a family of her own and career.
This was also motivational.
She knew what she wanted in life, and she made sure she got it.
Since 2014, Velasquez has accomplished three out of the five goals she had. Stereotypically, life-long goals seem impossible; however, as Velasquez has shown, they most certainly are not.
Alternatively, if you really want to achieve something and are willing to do it, it can be done.
Very often, people forget this factor, and why? Because we allow all the negativity and belittlement to get the best of us.
Somehow, we begin believing all the negativity to the point that it holds us back.
In her speech, Velasquez encourages us to do the opposite.
We get to decide who we want to be.
It’s that simple.
As individuals, we must understand that we cannot control other people. We cannot change them. We cannot stop them from bullying us. We cannot stop all that negativity.
However, we do get to choose whether we allow it to build our character or destroy it.
Overall, I find that the negativity is more of a battle than the goal(s) we set for ourselves.
Velasquez is only one of many motivational speakers, and she has shown this to be true.
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