ON THE SURFACE, 22-YEAR-OLD MEAGHAN MICHEL from Orange County, New York looks like any typical college student at SUNY Buffalo State; hardworking, tenacious, and insanely driven. But, if you were to try to decipher the origins of her hardworking, tenacious, and driven personality based solely on the few glimpses that she might have allowed you to see, it would be unintelligent of you to assume that you truly knew who she was. Like most people, Meaghan Michel has had her share of struggles—-throughout her short, young life. But unlike most people, Meaghan, with grace and a strong sense of determination, has managed to keep going.
To hear Meaghan herself tell it, her perseverance and her strong sense of determination was less a product of practice and persistence than it was of good fortune and luck. For almost two decades, Meaghan’s passion used to be Softball. “Being on the diamond,” she said, via email, allowed her the opportunity to steer away from the problems that she was going through at the time. But it wasn’t until she discovered another kind of passion that she truly began to learn not only how to manage all of her problems but also how to use what she learned to inspire the people around her.
“My passion is the gym,” she said, “Because it saved me from depression and the confidence I lacked. I was able to find myself through pushing myself in the gym and I became stronger: physically, mentally, and emotionally. Dedicating myself to the gym has helped me prosper in so many different aspects. It has helped me to find out who I am, what my purpose is—-and, it has allowed me to feel what self-love is.”
A lot of the lacking of confidence that Meaghan talked about, used to come from her struggles with weight loss. But going to the gym almost every day, eating right, and holding certain people in her mind—like, talk-show host Ellen Degeneres and English supermodel, Iskra Lawerence, has kept her inspired and motivated to the point that the issue of weight loss is no longer so debilitating. “My inspiration for others come from their growth or based off of their character. Iskra Lawrence is an English model who created a website meant as an outlet for women of all shapes and sizes,” Meaghan wrote. “Her everyday life is focusing on embracing her curves and imperfections along with motivating others to do the same. She has been someone that has inspired me throughout my weight loss journey. Just following her on social media has helped me find more self-love for myself and allowed me to accept a lot of the things I never used to.”
I am not surprised that Meaghan felt inspired by English Model, Iskra Lawerence—because, when I briefly accommodated myself with her work, I too was blown away by what I discovered. For instance, let me describe to you a video that I found of Iskra, and what she said, while she was on a crowded train: so, basically, Iskra is standing in front of people with her clothes still on. But then out of nowhere, she starts to give a very powerful speech about “Body shaming” while slowly taking her clothes off. “I want to make myself vulnerable today,” she said, while the moving train caused her body to sway from side to side. “So you can see truly the journey I’ve come on with my own body and how I feel about myself today. So I am going to reveal myself to you, to prove that we are in control of how we feel about ourselves.” While calling her body a “vessel” Iskra went on to say to the crowd that while she was growing up she hated her body because it didn’t fit in with the “small standard” of beauty that society seems to perpetuate—via, the media.
To say that what Iskra did wasn’t brave, selfless, or even admirable would prove that those who cannot imagine the kind of struggles that people like her has gone through are in deep denial of the unintentional consequences of such perpetuated standards. But, and although the latter group of people are not entirely at fault in their denial of something that, perhaps, they, themselves, are not affected by, what I find interesting is that “Body shaming,” like most unforeseen consequences perpetuated by our media, can only continue to debilitate its victims when they haven’t learned how to take back control of their lives. And in knowing this, I feel, gives people like Ellen, Iskra, and Meaghan all the more reasons to continue to do what they do, not only for themselves but for other people as well.
For Meaghan, and this is what some people may not be able to decipher just from looking at her, is that taking back control of our lives, and being proudful of our bodies are some of the many maxims that lie at the origin of her hardworking personality. No matter if it’s seeking out people to have in-depth, intellectual conversations with, motivating others to strive for greatness, or even pushing herself to go the extra mile during a workout, Meaghan is constantly reminding not only herself, but others to take control of their lives.
And the reason she’s so determined to get people to take back control of their lives is because she knows how emotionally painful the alternative can be.“Throughout my life, I was belittled and was put down more often than not. I fought depression and lacked confidence. I felt that I didn’t have the freedom others had because I battled my insecurities…,” she wrote. Knowing this, that is why “I’ve learned that I have the tools to shine a light on other people’s values and their worth,” she wrote. “We don’t give ourselves nearly enough credit as we should. I believe that I’m that outlet for those who struggle with finding motivation to applaud themselves.”
When you look at Iskra and Meaghan, you can’t help but to see that they both share a commonality in their pursuits—commonalities, that can have amazing effects on the people that they are trying to reach. And such commonalities display themselves in the fact that one; wants to encourage us to reimagine a life without “body shaming,” while the other; wants to empower us to own and feel proudful of our different body types. Each are beautifully intertwined, and each, are necessary for inspiring people to take back control of their lives.
Like, Iskra Lawrence, there is something deeply humbling and honest about Meaghan—and what she is trying to do in the lives of others. If you glanced at her social media you would seen that she’s very open and transparent about her journey, and if you’d bothered to read her statements you would have also discovered that she’s always highlighting the uniquenesses of the people around her. Having learned this for myself, it didn’t surprise then, when Meaghan described herself as a selfless person; “I learned that I’m a selfless person and love going that extra mile to make sure everyone around me knows how much value they truly have.”
Meaghan attributes her drive and selflessness to the many quotes, motivational speeches, and bible verses that she has been lucky enough to come across. One of her favorite quotes is; Starve your distractions to feed your focus. “I could physically live out words,” she said very poetically, “however; mentally and emotionally it would be extremely challenging for myself. I relate to quotes, motivational speeches, bible verses, etc., to find my motivation to get by. It’s a sense of encouragement and it eases my stress levels in all aspects. Although it might just be a bunch of words followed by a period, it speaks often to me. I feel that I’m being related to and that I’m not alone.”
After four years of schooling—putting so many pens to papers and perhaps staying up late nights to study for exams that were scheduled as early as the cock-a-doodle-doo’s of vexatious roosters, Meghan is slated to graduate in May, with a degree in Journalism-Communication and Leadership. “I intend to go to graduate school after I graduate in May for Higher Education and Student Affairs,” she said. “My project as of now is to continue critiquing my resume and personal statement letter so that it creates a successful and smooth process for my school(s) of choice.” When Meaghan obtains her degree in May, I’m sure that even she, herself, would agree that, that would be a perfect example of how she managed to starve her distractions to feed her focus.
Although Meaghan has the drive and focus to always strive for something greater—-and, also the compassion for the people that she is trying to empower, she admits that there are still some days when she, herself, feels more challenged than others. “I have many days that I see as challenging or difficult for myself,” she wrote. However, and because she’s come too far to give up now, she’s not planning, anytime soon, to let those days get the best of her. “I try to take the trials and tribulations I face and allow those series of events to motivate me and encourage me to persevere. Just a couple of years ago, whenever something went left in my life I automatically found myself shutting down and giving up. But I believe that God gives his hardest battles to his strongest soldiers.”
“Everything one goes through is for a purpose,” she continued. “Whether it’s a lesson or a blessing, it’s something that I can either let make me or break me. We have more power than we think. We have the power to decide whether we’re going to persevere and keep fighting the battle that is in front of us or give up and get defeated. I see my bad days leading me into better days. When I feel that I’ve reached rock bottom I tell myself that there’s only one other way and that’s up.”
To watch the video of English supermodel, Iskar Lawerance, that I previously described, click the following link; Brave model Iskra Lawrence on a train
To see some of Meaghan’s amazing photos, and to follow her journey, look for her on Instagram@Megmichel
And don’t forget to click the following link to read about our last “Weekly Inspiring Person;” Maria TenHave-Chapman, a young aspiring fashion designer from Detroit, Michigan.