Photo credit: ALA The American Library Association | Flickr
By JOHN PETER TAN
Imagine someone calling you the world’s ugliest person. How will you respond to that? Will you fight the person off or will you perhaps shake it off?
Lizzie Velasquez, who was ‘crowned’ the world’s ugliest woman by the internet community, chose to respond differently. Velasquez is no stranger to bullying, as she experienced bullying first-hand since she was in kindergarten.
She was bullied, simply because she is different. Velasquez has zero body fat due to her condition where she is unable to gain weight. She is also visually impaired on her left eye, blind on her right eye and has a weak immune system. Despite that, she still manage to achieve great success, and inspire many others along the way.
Watch this short video and be inspired:
Velasquez is now a motivational speaker, a successful author and a YouTuber. She even has her own documentary in 2015 titled A Brave Heart: The Lizzie Velasquez Story.
Here are 4 valuable takeaways from Velasquez’s life experiences.
1. You define who you are
You are the one who knows yourself the best. Don’t allow yourself to be defined by people who tell you that you are not good enough, or that you will never achieve anything in life. Their words do not matter because they don’t know you and your abilities.
When people say you are disabled, correct them by saying you are differently-abled. When people label you as orang kurang upaya, tell them it’s orang kelainan upaya.
2. Use negativity as your motivation
It is always a waste of time to fight fire with fire. Instead of engaging with them to defend yourself, quietly use their harsh words to motivate you to achieve your goals and prove them wrong. Let their unkind words be your fuel for a life of breakthroughs and success.
3. Make the best out of your circumstances
Velasquez has a rare health condition but instead of giving up on life, she makes the best out of the circumstances she is in. She focuses on things she still has and can do, instead of things she does not have and can’t do.
Many of us have a tendency of focusing on the many lacks in our lives. This explains why we tend to compare ourselves with others, and wish we could be someone else but our true selves.
We should start recognising our own strengths and leverage them to impact lives. We are all capable of making a dent in the universe, but only if we set our hearts and minds to the cause we believe in.
4. Surround yourself with good company
It is crucial to surround yourself with affirmative people who see the potential in you, despite your flaws and imperfections, and can help bring out the best in you.
We all need people who can guide us and support us through thick and thin, by lending us their shoulders and their listening ears. More importantly, they could be our pillars of strength when things get tough.
Velasquez stayed her course when she found inner strength from her supporters and good genuine friends who cared for her well-being.
Velasquez’s story is a living testament that being differently-abled has its great challenges in a society of ‘normal’ people. If you are in her shoes, it can either turn you to become a bitter or a better person. Learning from Velasquez, I hope you choose the latter.