I have heard about him, read about him, and I respect him for bringing hope and inspiration to millions. His life is a testament to me that no matter how many lemons Fate throws you, you can make glasses after glasses of lemonade.
But what I did not know about Nick Vujicic (pron. Vooy-cheech) is that he attempted suicide at the age of 10.
He was bullied from a young age, and suffered from loneliness and depression. He hated God then for making him the way he was and was terrified of what would happen to him if his parents weren’t there to take care of him.
Being ‘different’ was already tough enough for this Serb growing up in Melbourne. It became tougher when his family moved to Los Angeles because not only was he the only kid in his school with no arms and no legs, and the only kid in a wheelchair, he also became the only kid in the school with an Australian accent!
“The most common bullying experience is being taunted or ridiculed for being ‘different’ in some way. I’m the poster child for this,” he says in his latest book, Stand Strong, on bullying.
“Most of us are familiar with childhood bullies who threaten to beat us up, make fun of us, or turn friends against us. Adults may experience bullying in the form of sexual harassment or as discrimination based on race, religion, sexual identity or disabilities. Bullies can be your boss, coworkers, teachers, coaches, boyfriends or girlfriends – anyone who abuses his power or position.”
When I hear Nick’s definition of bullying, it puts some things into perspective for me: Lately, there have been religious leaders in Singapore making discriminatory remarks against pockets of people in the community who are ‘different’. And when their actions were exposed, they tried to turn the tables around to accuse those they attacked for being the ones discriminating against them.
Seriously? When people who are ‘different’ – who have been marginalised or discriminated against all their lives – speak up, they are not discriminating against you. They are standing up for themselves against your bullying.
Nick Vujicic is an inspiration to me because despite what he has gone through, he exudes JOY.
And he is unapologetic about attributing it to God and His faith. And while this may seem a little out of place – in theory – in a secular press conference filled with journalists, it was not out of place at all. I did not get a sense of him speaking about God from a place of self-righteousness or a ‘holier than thou’ pulpit. He was coming from a space of love.
During this press conference, Nick announced three projects he’s working on:
1,000 Videos in 1,000 Days
About a month ago, Nick launched a project to put 1,000 messages of hope – each about a minute long – on YouTube, where anyone can access. These are broadcast through 36 YouTube channels in 36 different languages. At this point in time, there are about 30 clips up, and you can expect another 970 over the next three years. One every day. You can access these clips here.
Here’s a taste of it:
A Movie on His Life
Nick also revealed that a movie on his life is in the works, and is scheduled to be released in the United States in 2015. This movie is produced by 10 Elephants Pictures, a film production house he’s set up with some partners. “I’m not sure if I will be acting in it, or if they will use my body and CGI the actor’s head on!” he jokes. “But we do have a budget for a Class A actor and Class A director.” (A little narcissistic though?)
Love Without Limits
Many people have been asking Nick Vujicic how he met his beautiful wife, Kanae. The couple were married in Feb 2012, and a year later, became parents to a healthy baby boy whom they named Kiyoshi. Nick announced today that his wife Kanae and him are writing a book about their love story.
The book is entitled Love Without Limits and will be released in the United States on Nov 18. “If you’re inspired by me, I’m even more inspired by her,” he says with pride. “What I’ve gone through is nothing compared to her. She has not shared her side of our story.”
I’m excited about what’s in store for Nick. He is the keynote speaker for the 2014 National Achievers Congress in Singapore this weekend, but his talk Success Without Limits has been sold out.
But you can grab a copy of his latest book, Stand Strong, at all major bookstores. Launched here on 15 April, it has claimed No. 1 spot on the Sunday Times Bestsellers List for the past three weeks, and counting…
Truth be told, I have not read a single book of his. But after meeting Nick today, I think I may start with this one.