“I know that there are thousands of kids just like me dealing with the same things that I am, and it is my hope that my documentary will be able to help them know that they are not alone.” – Liz Holthouse
Elizabeth Holthouse is a senior at Willard High School in Willard, Ohio. For her senior project, she made a video documentary about her life called “Normal on the Outside,” which includes the story of her complicated medical history, and candid interviews with her sisters about Liz’s struggles and triumphs growing up. Since posting the documentary on YouTube in January, Liz has had over 6,700 views,
including from many teens about how they relate to her story. HA sat down with Liz to interview her about her experience making the video and the message she wants to send to the world.
HA: How did you come up with the idea for a video for your senior project?
LIZ: I had to choose a topic with an end product, and I wanted a product that could help people. I had never really had a chance to tell my story, but always wanted to.
HA: What was the most challenging part of making the video?
LIZ: Probably deciding what things to film and what video and pictures to use.
HA: What was the most fun part about making the video?
LIZ: The most fun part was being able to video my siblings and being together with all of them.
HA: Was the video shown at your school? If so, how did your classmates react?
LIZ: The video was shown at my senior project presentation. It was also shown by other teachers to their classrooms. A lot of people came up to me and told me that they thought it was really good. One of my friends told me that she thought of me differently after she saw the video and understood me better. It made a lot of people cry.
HA: Were you nervous for your friends to see the video? For strangers to see the video?
LIZ: I wasn’t nervous for my friends to see the video because I think it was good for them to see so that they can understand what I have gone through in my life and why I am the way that I am. I wasn’t nervous for strangers to see the video because maybe I can help someone just like me, or help people understand teens like me.
HA: What kind of feedback have you gotten from the video?
LIZ: People have told me that they thought the video was really good and that it helped them understand me better. They tell me that they will keep sharing it. They also tell me that they had no idea I had gone through so much. I had all of my surgeries at the Cleveland Clinic and some of the staff there have shown my video to help people understand what a lot of kids with disabilities are feeling.
HA: What was your favorite comment(s) you received?
LIZ: My favorite comment was from an adult in our community named Marty Sowers. He has faced many challenges with his disability. He thanked me for sharing my story and told me to continue telling it.
HA: From your own life experiences and what you share about some of the challenges of living with hydrocephalus, what tips or suggestions do you have for teens just starting or in high school?
LIZ: I look for other kids who might be feeling left out or lonely and talk to them. There are a lot of kids who feel like that, especially just coming into high school. I know how it feels, so I don’t want other kids to feel that way. The most important thing is to be yourself. Not everyone is going to like you or accept you, and that’s okay.