Contributed by: Jordan Watts, GEN Development Intern
Lizzie Velasquez is one of the Featured Conference Speakers for the We Are Girls Houston Conference 2017. A Texas native, she is widely known for her motivational speeches about her experiences with bullying and low self-esteem, including a TED Talk titled ‘How Do YOU Define Yourself.’ Because we’re so excited for you to hear Lizzie speak at We Are Girls Houston, we wanted to pass along five lessons we’ve already learned from her. We can’t wait to learn even more from her on Saturday, April 29th.
1. Make your flaws/weaknesses your strength
According to Lizzie, everybody has flaws and weaknesses, and everybody can use them to their advantage. Lizzie says her genetic disease that affects her physical quality of life is her weakness, but she decided to use it as an aid in promoting anti-bullying and self-love. Throughout her time in Elementary, Middle, and High school she was constantly bullied for being outwardly different than the other children at school, and even became the victim of a cruel internet joke calling her “the ugliest girl in the world.” She decided that she had to either let herself be a victim or use her newfound popularity on the internet to jumpstart her successful career. Her story proves that flaws and weaknesses do not have to stop you from accomplishing your goals.
2. Confidence starts with loving yourself
Lizzie always makes it clear that before she became an author and activist, she would let her bullies’ comments get to her, causing her a great deal of self-hate. She realized, though, that she could not overcome the damage her enemies had caused until she truly loved herself. Once she stopped being so hard on herself for her appearance, and other uncontrollable conditions in her life, she found herself far more confident than she was as a child and teen. She constantly works on finding the good in herself and changing her perspective on the way she thinks about her condition and appearance. The longer you actively work on self-love, the more you will begin to be at peace with who you are.
3. The struggles you face make you stronger in the end
Everybody that has been bullied before knows that it can make everyday life extremely challenging and sometimes feel almost impossible. And many who have persevered through the troublesome time of being bullied knows that the grass is often greener on the other side. Without struggles in our life we would never change or grow into a stronger and wiser person.
4. Let your accomplishments be your revenge
One of the most important lessons to learn from Lizzie Velasquez is that pettiness is not the best form of revenge, a better form is success. Lizzie easily could have fought fire with fire by letting her antagonizers feel her anger, but she realized that would not end the hate. In fact, it would only add more negativity to her life. Instead, she decided to let her accomplishments speak for themselves. She focused on using the hate as her fuel to spread positivity.
5. You have to face your demons
At only 27 years old, Lizzie has endured more in her time on this earth than most people do in an entire lifetime. She lives every day with the symptoms and side effects of her incurable disorder. Living with these conditions is a struggle in itself, but the hostility from others that came along with her condition made it almost unbearable for her. Although she made a conscious decision to not let the negativity get to her, she still accepted the fact that people were using social media as a platform to cause her extreme suffering. She looked at the pictures, read the comments, watched the videos because she needed to know what people were saying about her, so she could move on from the negativity once she recognized its existence. Facing her fears head on enabled her to rid her life of the malevolence she once experienced.