The Identity Question

There I sat, with a Butcher’s knife in one hand, sobbing. I was twelve years old sitting next to the sink in our bathroom, crying, hating myself.  I had decided that I would use the knife to cut the fat off of my body.  Although, I was torn because I couldn’t decide if I wanted to die more and should use the knife to end my life instead.  I’m not sure I wanted to die so much, but rather to be non-existent. I wished I had never been born and this was the only way to reverse my existence.  I had decided that I was ugly, fat, stupid and a terrible human being.  Why was I here?  Why had I ever been born and why did God waste the time it took to create me?

I couldn’t figure it out and was completely convinced he had made a profound mistake.  So, I decided I would fix the situation.  Either I would make my body better because he hadn’t made it well or I would just end my time here so I would quit taking up space.

While my childhood was not smooth and we had a lot of major bumps in the road, I had parents who loved me.  They thought I was the bees knees and had no qualms about telling me so right up until both of their deaths.  But this deep longing to be non-existent has plagued me all of my life.  My identity and self-worth became completely destroyed at some point.  And even though I know I’m awesome sauce now, I still feel that I have to constantly be careful to not have my identity wrapped up in the wrong things.

In New York the first question people ask when they meet you is, “So, what do you do?”  Then you are absolutely judged by what type of work you do.  As a woman I am also judged by my weight, clothes, bra cup size, hair and whether I where makeup or not.  And sadly, that’s just the tipping point of how we are judged on a daily basis.

Being completely aware of all that I am judged by, I often wonder how to journey through this life without letting the way others view me screw with how I see myself?  How can I separate myself from this framework when it’s put in my face every minute of everyday?

A few months ago, I was looking for a Ted talk to listen to.  I stumbled upon a young woman speaking about how she had found a YouTube video of herself and it was entitled “The Ugliest Girl in the World”.  Someone had seen this young woman and had gone so much farther with their idea of her than anyone has ever gone with most of us.  They had decided to try to tear down this young woman based on their concept of beauty.  They had decided that because they defined themselves in a certain way that everyone should be measured by those same standards and if a person didn’t live up to this standard they were worthless.  Worthless.  When did we become so flippant with human life?  When did the “beauty definition” become the measure by which we decide if another human’s life should be kept or obliterated?

The young woman I saw that day decided to flip the script.  Lizzie Velazquez is a champion for anti-bullying. The only thing the internet trolls and creator of that video managed to do was to change a woman’s destiny so that she became a history maker.  Lizzie is raising her voice so loudly it is drowning out the words of those who chose hate over life. They created a champion, a revolutionary, a woman who is a General in the battle to change how we treat each other.  A woman who is choosing to teach us how to love each other and to spread joy.  Her heart, confidence and strength are an inspiration and the look of these should be the way we measure beauty.

Lizzie did have a rough time after she saw the video and the comments people made about her. It’s a proven fact that our brains will easily receive and accept negative words about ourselves, but it takes repeated efforts for positive pathways to be formed in the brain.  None of us are invincible.  The key is to not let them win.  I believe it is a battle that is so much deeper than on the surface.  We often believe that we are fighting with each other, but there are forces at work that do not want us to reach our destiny.  Imagine if those bullies had won over Lizzie?  Imagine if she had accepted the lies as truth?

Unfortunately, there are so many young people that have lost the battle. Their stories are not to be forgotten.  The fallen are the ones we do this for.  The war is fought so that no one else is taken from us before their time.  We fight so that their lives are not lost in vain.  We fight so that one day the bullies are silenced and we love each other the way God intended us to love each other. The world He wanted is a beautiful world full of love and compassion.  I believe that Lizzie Velasquez was put on this planet to spread this mission.

To see Lizzie’s full story, you can watch the documentary that is coming out about her life on September 25, 2015 here.  I encourage you to request a screening of the film if you are not able to find one near you.

To join the revolution against bullying, sign-up to be part of Lizzie’s campaign, I’m with Lizzie.

The first step to changing the world is extending love and compassion to ourselves and each other.  We have been so desensitized by the media and silenced by fear of what others would say.  Why do we let them drown us out and beat us down?!  My self-hatred came from an outside definition that I accepted.  I am learning to refuse the identity other’s want to give me. I have a voice, I am powerful and am called to be a world-changer.

Why are we allowing negativity and hatred to reign?  It’s time!  No more silence!  I refuse to let my niece grow up being taught her physical beauty is more important.  It’s my duty to teach the next generation and I gladly take on that task.  I proudly take on that task. It’s time for us, men and women alike, to say, “We are as mad as hell and we’re not going to take this anymore!”  Now is the time to be brave! Raise your fist in the air with me and join Lizzie and the countless others who are standing together against hatred and bullying.

“Everybody’s been there,
Everybody’s been stared down by the enemy
Fallen for the fear
And done some disappearing,
Bow down to the mighty
Don’t run, just stop holding your tongue” – lyrics from “Brave” by Sara Barellies

To the Revolution!