Molly Burke: Seeing Light Through Darkness
Molly Burke is 20 year old woman who became legally blind in her teens as a result of a rare medical condition. As a result of losing her sight, she was tormented by bullies and suffered from depression and anxiety throughout her teens. Today, she is turning her experiences into positive power. As a motivational speaker and YouTube professional , Molly is passionate about educating, motivating and inspiring people with her story of overcoming adversity and accepting diversity. She has travelled the world and spoken to audiences as large as 20, 000, sharing the stage with some of the world’s most influential people.
Molly Burke is an inspiration beyond words. At just four-years‐old, she was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa, a rare retinal disease that caused her to lose her vision by the time she was in her teens. Despite the resulting obstacles that came her way and the mental health challenges that followed, Molly refused to let her world be dark.
As a motivational speaker and an incredibly passionate YouTuber, Molly candidly shares her experiences with youth, families and organizations across the world. Her presence and optimism lights up the room and the lives of her audiences, but this ability did not come without immense hardship – it was only once Molly reached out to others for help with her anxiety and depression that she was able to view the world in such a positive way. Her goal is to educate and inspire others to discover their own inner light even in the darkest of days.
We spent some time with Molly Burke to find out more about her unbelievable zest for life and her fulfilling career. Read her powerful messages in the interview below:
Question: Why do you share your story?
Molly: I share my story because I want to be the role model that I didn’t have when I needed it most. When I was struggling and at my lowest point, there were a lot of people telling me it would get better, without actually telling me their own story of struggle and success. People were still too ashamed. I want to be a part of breaking that stigma and sharing real, raw stories, you don’t often hear. I want other young people who are in that dark place I once was in, to have someone to relate to so they know they’re not alone because that’s what I had needed so badly.
I also want to share my story in honour of all of those who don’t make it to share their own. I’m lucky to still be here. My story is not just mine; my story is all of theirs, too.
Question: What support helped you overcome your toughest years as a teen?
Molly: I was blessed to have love and support I did. Yes, I was horribly bullied and lost all of my friends, but I had an incredible family who were there for me every step of the way. I know that’s something not everyone has.
My road to recovery wasn’t quick or easy and there’s no one thing I can say helped me manage my battle with mental health. It was a combination of my family, new friends, a team of professionals and eventually, my drive within, that helped me through. I went to a wonderful psychologist who I really connected with and trusted. I also looked at therapy as a package, working on my emotional and physical health as well. I started working with a nutritionist, doing yoga, finding spirituality, and reading self-help books. I began dressing how I wanted to, not how I felt pressured to. I started doing the things I loved, like listening to music I actually enjoyed and doing things I truly thought were cool. Being my true full self allowed me to find new people to surround myself with that were so like-minded with me. This all helped me make more real and genuine connections in my life and truly be happy with who I was.
Question: Your positivity and love for life radiates through the work that you do. Where do you seek your greatest inspiration from?
Molly: I share the most vulnerable and painful moments of my life with the world through my work as both a speaker and a YouTuber and believe me, it’s not always easy. My life can sometimes look pretty perfect from the outside – getting to travel the world, work with celebrities, and so on. But I still have the odd day when all I want to do is cry in bed and hide from everything. Knowing I have an audience of 1,000 high schoolers waiting for me pushes me to pull myself together.
I am beyond grateful for those things and for getting to live my dream but that doesn’t mean it’s perfect. Life will never be perfect and I’m okay with that. In fact, I never want to reach perfection. Reaching perfection means there is no more growth and no more learning and those are the things that make life so interesting. The bad moments help me to appreciate the good ones. I always try to be realistic with my followers and openly share when things aren’t going well because I want them to see that although I may be a role model, in many ways I am still just like them.
Nothing inspires me more than when I get those letters, emails or comments on my YouTube videos or Instagram photos telling me that I have given someone strength, pushed them to keep going or even saved their life. My followers, the beautiful people who choose to share their stories with me, inspire me to do what I do every day.
Question: When you hit a bump in the road or are feeling low today, what motivates you to keep going?
Molly: I know I’ve done this once, so I can do it again. I live life by enjoying the “ups” and riding out the “downs,” knowing they’ll eventually end again and I can move on to enjoy the next “up.”
Question: What’s the one message you hope to express to others struggling with mental health issues?
Molly: Hope is there. If you feel you have nothing else in your life, just have hope. If there is one thing that can push you forward, it’s that burning drive within you to get better, and that burning drive comes from your hope.
Molly Burke is adding her voice to those of spokespeople Clara Hughes, Serena Ryder, Marie-Soleil Dion, Étienne Boulay, Michael Landsberg, Howie Mandel, Mary Walsh, Stefie Shock, Michel Mpambara, and ambassadors Mike Babcock, Andrew Jensen, Kevin Breel, Shea Emry, Robb Nash, Bruno Guévremont and Séan McCann as they spread the word in the lead up to Bell Let’s Talk Day on January 25th.