Maria Shriver

Maria Shriver Introduces ‘Defining Moment’

Welcome to our corner of the NBC world. Here we will explore; we will profile; we will converse. Our mission is to elevate the individuals worth knowing and the stories worth reflecting upon. This is a place for women and men to engage on how we see the world, how we see each other, and how we can learn more about one another. We want to get things going by talking about defining moments. We all have them. They sneak up on us when we aren't looking and throw our lives into a new trajectory. Sometimes it's a moment at work when you realize something big about yourself, who you work for, or the job you have. Sometimes it's a conversation that moves our hearts and minds.

Jillian Mercado is a 26 year-old fashion blogger, editor, and now the celebrated star of Diesel’s new advertising campaign. Jillian was diagnosed with spastic muscular dystrophy as a child; here, she shares the moment she realized she was different and the powerful epiphany that followed.

Image: Jillian Mercado
Jillian Mercado pictured with Lily "Little Lion" Mercado Courtesy of Emily Mercado

“When I was really young, I would say 12 or 13, there was this girl in my school who one day made it real clear that I was different from everyone else in my class. Now, I would call her a bully, but I didn’t understand what a bully was at that age.

I went home and I remember just bursting into tears and hiding in my closet and my Mom found me and all I kept telling her was that I didn’t want to live anymore and that life wasn’t fair. That was the moment when I realized I actually was really different from everyone else, physically different. I was saying, “Why me? Why couldn’t it have been somebody else?” And I remember my mom saying, “You are special, you are my first child. No matter what you will always be different,” but different as in I’m not the same as that girl; that I’m not mean, that I’m kind. And this world had so many better things for me in the future.

I remember taking a nap that day and waking up and feeling like, you know what? I am going to be part of something special in this world. And I kind of just felt it, like a weird feeling that I was in this world for something greater. That I was different for a reason because I had a message to share with everyone: That even though I’m different, I’m still the same as everyone else. I still have feelings. We’re all human. I just come with a chair and that’s it. That was a moment when I kind of collapsed in my spirit and my mom was there to put me together and tell me it’s going to be OK, that life will give you millions of obstacles and bumps, but you just have to be strong and make your way around to the finish line”.