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  • Hey, it's Marie Forleo and you are watching MarieTV, the place to be to create a business

  • and life you love.

  • Now, if you ever feel different than everyone else and you suspect that that holds you back

  • from making the difference that you were born to make, this is the episode for you.

  • Lizzie Velásquez is a motivational speaker, anti-bullying activist, social media personality,

  • and author.

  • She was born with an extremely rare disease that affects her heart, eyes, bones, and prevents

  • her from gaining weight.

  • Her TEDx talk has over 13 million views, and her story has been featured on Katie Couric,

  • The Today Show, and The View, among others.

  • She's an executive producer of the award-winning documentary based on her life, A Brave Heart,

  • The Lizzie Velásquez Story, and her latest book, Dare to Be Kind: How Extraordinary Compassion

  • Can Transform Our World, is available now.

  • Lizzie, thank you so much for making the time to be here.

  • Absolutely.

  • Thanks for having me.

  • I love that, you know, we were gonna do this interview on Skype and they were like, “no,

  • no.

  • We need to do this in person.”

  • So, first, congratulations on Dare to Be Kind.

  • Thank you.

  • I loved it.

  • Thank you.

  • I underlined so many things, and you can see my little tabs here from some of my favorite

  • parts.

  • So for anyone watching that doesn't know your story, take us back to when you were 17 and

  • you saw that video that changed everything for you.

  • Yeah.

  • So I was born with a syndrome that doesn't allow me to gain weight.

  • I was undiagnosed up until the time I was 25.

  • So when you're a teenager and you're in high school, all you really want is to fit

  • in and be cool, but adding this condition that doesn't – no matter what I do, I can't

  • put on a nice shirt or change my hair color and be that popular version of whatever it

  • was in my head at the time.

  • And it was hard.

  • It was really, really hard.

  • But I knew I had to sort of stop whining in a way, and figure out a way to make myself

  • feel better.

  • And so I started joining different things in high school and things started looking

  • up.

  • And my friends were great, my family was great, and it all sort of came crashing down when

  • I accidentally found a video someone posted of me calling me the world's ugliest woman.

  • And there were millions of views on it and so many horrible, horrible comments, and I

  • felt like I had worked so hard to get my confidence up to a certain level, and then all of a sudden

  • within 2.5 seconds it was just gone.

  • I remember watching the documentary about your life and that particular section where

  • your mom is wanting you to not watch it, and you couldn't pull yourself away.

  • And it's that feeling that I think so many of us experience when we start to hear negative

  • things about ourselves where there's like a deeper part of you that goes, “I shouldn't

  • pay more attention.

  • I should move away,” and then there's some part of us that wants to like absorb

  • the whole thing.

  • And it's so painful.

  • What's funny is I didn't know everyone's, like, genuine reactions to that video until

  • I saw the first cut of the doc, because I didn't want to be in anyone's interview

  • because I wanted them to feel like comfortable and open, and then when I watched it I realized

  • how much everyone was hurting, but then I also realized that they had worked so hard

  • to put such a positive front when they were around me, so much so that years later I still

  • never knew that they were really hurting as much as I was.

  • So one of the things that you write in this book, which I love, and I highlighted this

  • and I wrote it down here, is that you get to decide how you want to define yourself

  • to the world.

  • And I think that this is so important not just from an external perspective, like your

  • brand or your business, but ourselves.

  • So I'm curious, how has your definition of yourself evolved over the years?

  • Oh, my gosh.

  • I feel like I'm in a whole other book every year of definitions.

  • I think it'll forever be changing with me.

  • I think with age comes experiences and wisdom and all these other little life lessons that

  • you sort of bring into your life without necessarily realizing it.

  • And I used to think that I would define myself as someone who would work really hard and

  • I would accomplish all the dreams and the goals that I had set for myself, and that

  • was it.

  • That was gonna belike, that was it.

  • That was gonna be, you know, everything for me.

  • Yeah.

  • And now it's just so different, because now I define myself as someone who's able

  • to help other people, and I feel like everything else sort of just falls underneath that umbrella.

  • And I don't – I don't want to say it's like a label I've given myself, but it's

  • something that I feel is more of like a gift that has come to me.

  • And instead of me just like keeping it, I'm so appreciative that I'm able to sort of

  • give that gift away every day.

  • Yeah.

  • I mean, and your talks, from seeing the doc, from seeing your TED talk, from reading your

  • book, you're just an amazing force of nature.

  • One of the other pieces about the book that I loved was about misconceptions.

  • I feel like misconceptions are so prevalent in our society, and I love this story that

  • you told about the quinceanera.

  • Mmhm.

  • And that you were looking at your cousin's life and having certain ideas about what it

  • would be to live their life.

  • Can you tell us about that experience?

  • Yeah.

  • So my family is Hispanic and we were at my cousin's quinceanera, her sweet 15.

  • And there was all of these round tables in the room and I was sitting at a table with

  • my parents and my siblings, and in front of me I saw one of my other cousins, who were

  • all the exact same age.

  • And she was sitting with her son and her boyfriend.

  • And then at another table on the other side was our other cousin with her son and her

  • son's father.

  • And I was looking at them and thinking we're the exact same age.

  • I've always, since we were little, I've always felt like I was – I felt like our

  • milestones were something that we should all hit together.

  • Yeah.

  • Which looking back is just silly.

  • But I kept thinking, “I'm their age.

  • Why don't I have that?”

  • I'm sitting here and I feel like I'm looking into a window of their life and I so desperately

  • want in.

  • And I was just sitting there just thinking about it to myself.

  • And one of my cousins came over and sat down next to me and we randomly had this heart

  • to heart in a crazy loud room, and I told her that I was looking at them and I wanted

  • that.

  • And she was telling me “I look at your life and I see that you're traveling and doing

  • everything you set your mind to, and I want that life.”

  • And it was that instant realization that the grass is always greener I guess.

  • Or in a way like we're always wanting what we don't have.

  • Yes.

  • And that's sort of where I think things get really tricky.

  • It's hard too, I feel like because both of us, you know, you make videos online, I

  • make videos online.

  • We're out there in the public, so to speak.

  • And everyone watching each other on social media, you can so easily just assume that

  • this other person's life is perfect or so much better than yours, and I feel like what

  • peoplewhat we all have to realize, is like no matter who you are, what you've

  • accomplished, like we're human and all of us are a mess inside from time to time.

  • We have our strong moments, we have those moments when we want to cry.

  • And I just loved that story, because it was so illustrative of that very salient point.

  • All of us can think the grass is greener, and it's just not the truth.

  • Yeah.

  • I couldn't agree more.

  • So another favorite passage from the book is: “the world doesn't need you to change

  • yourself, to be more normal either.

  • What is normal, anyway?

  • The world needswhat the world needs is people who truly embrace differences, physical

  • and otherwise.”

  • Yeah.

  • I mean, normal is another – I think I just have this weird thing with definitions because

  • I feel like I tie definitions to labels, and labels is something that I don't really like.

  • And I think what's most important, what I've learned in all these years that I've

  • been in my body and having the opportunity to go out and travel and meet peoplewhat

  • I've learned is no matter what experience we've had or what language we speak, we

  • all have this underlying same battles that we've all had to fight together.

  • And acknowledging that and just listening to that I feel is way more important than

  • saying, “Well, why didn't you do this?” or, “I have this problem.

  • I have this problem.

  • But mine is bigger than your problem, so mine's more important.”

  • And it's just so wrong.

  • Like, why can we just saywe all have these struggles, this is what's going on, let's

  • sort of work together to get through them.”

  • Yeah.

  • And connecting on a more humanity level versus the boxes and the labels that we put ourselves

  • in.

  • Absolutely.

  • So this leads perfectly into the time, the really challenging time, after the documentary

  • when everything changed.

  • And you shared thatall of my dreams are coming true.

  • So why am I not happy?

  • How can I possibly help inspire other people if I can't help myself?”

  • I thought this was so awesome that you shared about this in the book.

  • Thank you.

  • Because once again, it's so easy to assume folks that are so inspired by you going like

  • oh, my goodness.

  • Lizzie is so strong, she's so inspirational, she's so motivated, she's going out there,

  • and she's changing the world.”

  • And yet on the inside you were having this very new struggle.

  • Can you tell us about that?

  • It's still something that like whenever I think about it and I'm talking about it

  • I still like get this instant feeling of like, “oh, my gosh.

  • I can't believe I'm talking about it.”

  • But I want to talk about it.

  • Yeah.

  • And it is something that after I went through it I knew this was going to be the anchor

  • of the book.

  • I knew having this breakdown, what I did have it, was going to be for a reason.

  • And hitting rock bottom and really having – I think, you know, I think what was so

  • what led to that was having the time alone to not only just like rest and recover, because

  • I needed like two weeks to do that.

  • Once that time was up, I still had so much time alone.

  • Documentary time was up.

  • Right.

  • Yeah.

  • We stopped filming.

  • And so I had my break of like recovering, and then I started realizing I have so much

  • time to just think and I have so much time to Google things or to sit down and doubt

  • myself.

  • And I was allowing myself to sort of be attacked by my own thoughts.

  • I knew what I was doing, but I was still letting it happen.

  • And it kept happening and it kept happening.

  • And I thought, “well, if I take one like anxiety pill that I had and I can just take

  • a nap and I won't have to worry about anything.”

  • Well, while I was also filming the documentary I was diagnosed for the first time.

  • And finding out that I – finding out my diagnosis was a whole other thing.

  • But knowing that I'm – one of the biggest things that we have to keep an eye out for

  • is my heart.

  • And so knowing that in the back of my head and not fully processing that in the right

  • way, when I had that time to just think about things, I kept thinking, “well if this is

  • gonna happen why don't I just speed it up?

  • And why don't I notwhy don't I do my loved ones a favor and not…”

  • Be here anymore.

  • Right, exactly.

  • I've never, ever, ever no matter what I've gone through in my whole life, I've never

  • had those thoughts until then.

  • And as soon as people started realizing what was going on, because I got dangerously good

  • at hiding it.

  • Oh, my gosh.

  • I was so good at hiding it.

  • So so good at hiding the pills or so good at hiding the depression?

  • Both.

  • Both.

  • I was so good at just pretending I was just fine and I was Lizzie.

  • And I was still posting on social media.

  • And I look back now and I can instantly tell that it wasn't me.

  • And I'm hoping that other people don't really notice that, but I can tell that it wasn't

  • me.

  • And once people started finding out, once my loved ones started finding out and it became

  • a thing, I instantly went into being really ashamed, embarrassed.

  • And that's when the guilt really hit me.

  • Because a movie was being made about my life, and here I am selfishly wanting to take myself

  • out of this world.

  • I love you for talking about this and I love you for putting this in the book.

  • Because so many people struggle with depression and they struggle with those suicidal thoughts,

  • and they feel so ashamed about saying anything.

  • And I love that you're talking about this, because that juxtaposition of likehere's

  • this documentary about how brave I am and my brave heart, and here's what I'm struggling

  • with.”

  • And I just adore you for that.

  • Thank you.

  • And I want to also say too for everyone watching, it's likegoes back to that misconceptions

  • idea.

  • Right?

  • It's like putting labels on people or thinking that their lives are perfect or they don't

  • go through struggles because of whatever box we've put them into.

  • It's just not true.

  • And it leads perfectly into this idea of vulnerability and shattering the myth of positivity.

  • Tell us about the decision to post videos, kind of post this, that when you're not

  • happy, when you're having a tough time, how has that been for you?

  • You know, it's funny because I think posting videos that show my more vulnerable side has

  • kind of become one of my new favorite things.

  • And before I always thought I could never turn my camera on unless my hair was done,

  • my makeup was done, and the lightning was right.