The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

October 19, 2012

Inspirational speaker: 'World told me I was weird'

By Dani Palmer
CNHI News Service

LAPEL, Ind. — Never give up, don’t be a bully, and show a little more kindness to those around you.

Nick Vujicic (pronounced Vooy-cheech) is an inspirational speaker who has met U.S. presidents, seen AIDS firsthand in Africa and talked with sex slaves.

He draws attention not only for what he has to say, but also because of his looks. Vujicic was born without arms and legs.

One of his topics that resonated with the 800 students he addressed was that of bullying.

Growing up, Vujicic said he knew he was different but “it was not a big deal until the world told me I was weird.”

It’s bullies who put the thoughts in children’s and teens’ heads that they’re not good enough. Bullies made him think he may never get a job, get married or have a baby and that he didn’t have a purpose, he said.

He told the students he tried to drown himself once because he felt alone, like there wasn’t anyone else out there like him. It was the thought of his family’s tears at his grave that stopped him. It’s hard to tell what will push someone over the edge, and he noted that some bullies are abused at home.

But he told the students they shouldn’t value their own worth based on what others say.

Mikalah Hanes, a junior at Lapel High School, said she enjoyed his message and hopes the bullies were really listening and realize what they’re doing.

“I think he hit every single aspect of peoples’ problems here,” he said. “He relates to everyone.”

Nick Browning, also a junior at Lapel, said Vujicic is “a very good person to inspire people” and appreciated that Vujicic found a little boy who was like him.

Six years ago, while traveling the world to deliver his message, Vujicic encountered a baby boy who also had no limbs. “When you don’t get a miracle, it doesn’t mean you can’t be a miracle for someone else,” he said.

Vujicic is now married with a child on the way. He’s influenced others, gone skydiving, surfing and fishing.

He said people can’t change the world until they’ve changed themselves and helped those around them.

“Don’t be afraid to be different, to be you,” he said.

Some think money and good lucks equal happiness, “but if my mom dies tonight, a billion dollars can’t fill my soul,” he said.

Back in 2008, he met a wealthy banker whose teenage daughter had been told she was ugly, even though she was beautiful; she wouldn’t eat due to the criticism.

He said people should love themselves and give their “broken pieces” a chance with someone who really loves them.

"I'm a work in progress and so are you,” he said. “Every failure is a step closer to success.”

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Dani Palmer is a reporter for The Herald Bulletin in Anderson, Ind.