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"The only person who will always show up for me is me," she tells PEOPLE

By Sam Gillette
January 25, 2018 11:31 AM
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This Is Us star Chrissy Metz is known for her vulnerability on set, a trait she’s channeling for her upcoming memoir, This Is Me: Loving the Person You Are Today,

“I’ve found a lot of freedom in speaking my truth,” the 37-year-old actress tells PEOPLE in an exclusive interview as she amps up for the book cover reveal Thursday. “It’s really hard and it’s scary because you’re vulnerable, but I think the past two years of my life have been so well-received because [the way I play Kate Pearson] and the way that I try to live my life is through vulnerability.”

Her memoir, which is part autobiographical and part instructional, will hit shelves March 27 and delve into some of the most painful experiences of her past. From her father’s abandonment and the threat of hunger as a child, to her struggles with body image and discovering that not all love is unconditional, Metz will share her truth with an “open heart.”

“Whether it was dealing with a boy who didn’t love me the way I loved him, or a really tumultuous childhood with my mom being remarried, being the big girl growing up and not finding clothes or never feeling like I fit in … the real lesson is how do I learn from it, how do I grow and get better?” Metz says.

One of the more difficult chapters she wrote involves her biological father, who left the family when she was a young girl.

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“There is a chapter about our lack of relationship and trying to establish one,” she says, “But [I realized] that you can only hope that people will want to have a relationship with you. If they do, they do, and if they don’t, that’s okay, too.”

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She says that her father spoke to a tabloid and accused her of “abandoning him as a 9-year-old, which is just absurd.”

“How does a child abandon their parent?” Metz says. “But I also have a lot of love for him because, of course, he is my father and I’m grateful for what he’s taught me. But at the end of the day there’s only so much you can do. A relationship is a two-way street.”

This Is Me will also delve into other painful relationships. Metz says that her issues with self-worth came in “waves” while growing up.

“I had a very loving, supportive, encouraging grandmother,” she says. “[Support which] I didn’t necessarily get from the rest of my family. But I also know that people do the best that they can with what they have. The biggest ah-ha [moment] for me was knowing that things are not personal. The only person that will always show up for me is me. And so I have to continue to do that and it’s not easy.”

In her book, Metz will show explain how she tries to “show up” for herself each each day and build her confidence.

“Some days are great, and some aren’t,” she admits, “I’m definitely a work in progress, but I’ve come light years from what I was.”

These same issues of confidence and self-love manifest in her This Is Us character, Kate. Through the part, Metz has become a role model for body positivity and says that she will discuss her own body image journey in the book.

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The cast of This Is US
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“I definitely touch on it because I have been chubby since I was little. We all are trying to find a place in the world,” she says. “A lot of it has to do with my weight and my size because unfortunately people are identified by their race, or their height, or their weight, or their age, you name it.”

She adds, “That’s why the title of the book is Learning to Love Yourself Today, because I’ve heard so many times that if you don’t love yourself for who you are right now, you’ll never get to the place you want to be.”

While Metz has inspired fans with her authentic spirit, the show has also made a positive impact on her life. Never having grown up with money, Metz says she is adapting to a new sense of financial security. But wealth isn’t the only thing that’s different now.

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“My life has changed completely,” the actress says. “From money and success to how people perceive [me] and family changes and [changes with] our friends. Every single aspect has changed.”

The actress says she will reveal some details about the show and the lessons she’s gained from her cast members.

“Every single person [on the show] I learn from constantly and I’m grateful for,” she says.

But This Is Me isn’t just for fans of the show. It’s for everyone.

“I hope that [readers] feel inspired and they feel that they’re not alone,” she says, “Because we really are here for each other.”