On being 4'10
I hated being small. The last time I remember feeling even remotely tall was sixth grade - I was the tallest out of all my friends. I liked it. By the time I was in ninth grade, however, everyone had surpassed me. And then some.
I thought about my height daily. I suppose people of average stature don't think about their height. In that regard, I suppose I actually have more in common with tall people.
I was teased in high school. And I don't just mean the teasing where taller acquaintances would place their elbows on my shoulders and say, "You're the perfect height for an arm rest!" and smile. Or the countless times people offered up their fast fact, "Did you know that at 4'10 you're legally a midget?" even though I always responded saying, no, actually, there isn't a legal definition for a midget, but there's dwarfism which is a medical term marked by slow growth and I'm not actually a dwarf or a midget, thanks very much. (Can you tell I spent hours researching up on this? I was 15 and very, very defensive. There's nothing wrong with dwarfism but even if I was a dwarf, why would people keep reminding me that I am?) I mean the kind of teasing where complete strangers shouted at me, "Why are you so short!" and point and laugh with their group of pals as I scurried between classes. I think being pointed out and yelled at by total strangers hurt the most.
I begged my family to get me one of those X ray bone scans, just to see if my bones had finished fusing. If they hadn't fused, I could take a growth hormone that would (hopefully) make me taller. I just wanted a couple inches, that's all. My family agreed. They let me take the X ray.
The results came back, and showed that my bones were done fusing, and I wasn't going to grow anymore. But my family didn't want to tell me. Actually, they never really did. I only found out by accidentally seeing my aunt's inbox with an email titled, "Nicola's Results" and the beginning excerpt: "Nicola's results are in. She is done growing as her bones are completely fused ..." and the rest was cut off. Whoops, the secret was out.
I sobbed at 14 to a family member because I wanted to grow just a few inches. I wasn't greedy. I just wanted at least two inches - then I could be five foot flat. A respectable petite, in my eyes.
One day I read Tolkien, and he told me, "Even the smallest person can change the course of the future." Hobbits were fictional, of course. But being like Sam and Frodo and Merry and Pippin and Bilbo served as decent consolation, because the small unassuming hobbits were the real heroes of the saga. (Gandalf, too. And Aragorn. Legolas was pretty. Golum looks like my cat. I'm getting distracted here.) I was the underdog, and I always rooted for the underdog. (P.S. I wanted to be a hobbit, but without the hairy feet.)
It took me a while to make peace with my height. Thankfully, after high school was over, I didn't get teased for my height as often. (Except the arm rest thing was still happening occasionally.) I stopped fixating over my height (and instead fixated on other things, like the rest of the world: my weight, my clothes, how much money I had, how many Instagram likes I got, how many people opened my Snapstory. The usual millennial stuff.) and moved on with life.
But I still think about my height daily. How could I not? It affects my everyday living. I ask for coworkers if they could, please, reach the glass I want on the highest shelf and grab it for me. And before every flight, I have anxiety over whether or not I'll be able to successfully lift my luggage onto the overhead bins. (Sometimes the suitcases slips out of my hands. My worst fear is that it falls on an innocent but disgruntled passenger. It would be entirely my fault for dropping it on their head. I would understand completely if they chewed me out for it.) Maybe you think these problems are trivial. Maybe they are trivial.
There are some upsides to being small. Children's size clothing is usually cheaper. Asian clothing stores typically carry "one size fits all" which usually translates to "this tiny size will probably fit other small Asian girls." Halloween shopping can be very simple when you've got a huge array of children's costumes to choose from. (I want to be Spiderman, so badly, this upcoming Halloween. The fake muscle/onesie kind. It's going to be great.)
I never felt like I "conquered" my hatred for being short. I mostly just forgot about it. I think my biggest takeaway is that time will pass and you learn to accept some things you cannot change. And you just have to continue on with your life.
To end today's ramble, I give you quotes about short people (that I Googled):
- Sometimes, said Pooh, the smallest things can take up the most room in your heart. (Winnie the Pooh)
- A person's a person, no matter how small. (Dr. Seuss)
- Although she be but little, she is fierce. (Shakespeare; also found on merchandise everywhere on Etsy and Pinterest)
And my favorite:
- Let me give you some advice, bastard. Never forget what you are. The rest of the world will not. Wear it like armor, and it can never be used to hurt you. (Tyrion Lannister)