— Anne Frank, The Diary of a Young Girl
Abby Asistio might have suffered from Alopecia Areata but her condition never gave put her down, In fact, It gave her the drive to make a difference and this caught the attention of Facebook team and Mark Zuckerberg.
Last January 31, 2016, Fellow Filipino Abby Asistio flew to San Francisco and had the wonderful opportunity of being chosen as one of the eighteen invited by Facebook on their 12th Anniversary Friends Day celebration with California-based Alopecia awareness advocate, Rachel Regal. Alopecia is an autoimmune condition which results in partial or total head and body hair loss. Abby Asistio have had it since she was four while Rachel just developed it sometime in 2012, the same year she discovered that her 10-year-old daughter, Eliana, had it, too. Six inspiring stories were picked by Facebook among its 1.64 billion users and Abby’s friends were all amazed when theye’ve found out that Abby’s Alopecia story was one of them. Imagine that!
Abby recounted that it was such a surreal feeling to be in the same room as the creator of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg. Mark Z was wearing his trademark look (jeans, sneakers, shirt and a big smile on his face), and had such a friendly, approachable aura and demeanor about him. Not at all intimidating! He shared stories about how the company started, its mission-vision, the ups and downs that come along, and their future plans. Those invited also had the chance to ask him questions. When Mark Z was asked about achieving success and life’s “impossibilities”. He said, “There’s a difference between impossible and things taking a really long time. Even if you’re not going to be able to do something in a short time period, if you care about something, you want to see the world to move into that direction… So the best thing to do is just get started and not be discouraged. It’s tough because this stuff is hard, or else people would’ve already done it.”
Abby Asistio got the chance to ask a question to one of the world’s 50 most powerful, successful women in business, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg. Aside from Alopecia awareness, Abby is also an active Real Beauty advocate with girls and women struggling with various insecurities, being so consumed by the world’s unrealistic and sometimes superficial standards of beauty. So Abby asked Sheryl about her perception of it. Sheryl said that beauty is just like success and that no one could really define it for you. We are all unique. We have different stories, dreams and desires. We should explore our own inner and outer beauty, believe and embrace that we are beautiful, and never allow anyone to tell us otherwise.
Everything about the Facebook trip was overwhelming and inspiring according to Abby. More than anything, it reminded her about “responsibility”. We are all given our own platforms, in this case “accounts and connections”, to make a dent in this world. It is up to us to become complacent and take these vehicles for granted, or maximize the opportunities and use them to make a positive impact in this generation. Abby is grateful that Facebook has become a medium for her to communicate disease awareness and touch people beyond the confines of her tiny room and her country. Abby is also glad that she and Rachel are two out of millions of people choosing to recognize the importance of social media in contributing to making this world a better place, and actually doing something about it.