Lakes Health Conference attendees were treated to some pretty big ideas Friday when they heard an inspiring presentation from Amy Roloff, star of The Learning Channel program “Little People, Big World”.
Roloff told how inspiration from her father and her faith helped her deal with roadblocks created not only from others – but more importantly – by herself.
The program has chronicled the day-to-day life of Roloff, her husband, Matt, and their children Zach, Jeremy, Jacob and Molly. Roloff, her husband Matt and son Zach share dwarfism. Roloff’s family and three others did pilot shows and Roloff’s was selected for the show which is now in its sixth season.
“You could look at is as a burden, or you could look at it as an opportunity,” Roloff said. She discussed the challenges that both her parents and her own family have faced, both medical and social. She said one of the things that helped her the most, though, both as a child and now as a parent of a child also with dwarfism, was that her parents decided to raise her just like their other kids. “They gave me the same care, love, opportunities” as her siblings, Roloff said.
Roloff said she believed that was why she was able to adapt better than many others with dwarfism. “We adapt according to our environment,” Roloff said.
Still, there are the undeniable hurdles that one has to overcome just by looking different.
“You never feel like you’re quite a part of anything,” Roloff said. She said while growing up she put up an invisible barrier.
“I think I lost out on a lot of opportunities,” said Roloff. “I don’t like criticism very well. I don’t like the word no very well. I tried so hard to be somebody else that I really never learned how to be me.”
However, overcoming that adversity made her a stronger person.
“I’m a strong woman in who I am, what I do, and I refuse to let things stop me.”
Roloff vividly recalled in first grade when she refused to go to school. It was also the first day her mother was starting a new job. Her father came home from work and said something to her that has remained with her ever since.
“God doesn’t make mistakes but there’s a reason and a purpose that you’re here,” her father said.
“It keeps me focused,” Roloff said of that message from her father. “It keeps me reminded.”
She continues to tell her son Zach the same thing plus another message: “If you want to do something, go for it.”
“Everyone has challenges. Everyone has obstacles they need to overcome,” Roloff said. “It took me a while to understand that life is a beach. I love the journey. I love the adventure.