Personal Statement

January 21, 2010
I hated being short – I’m 4’ 8” – at least until I came to Culver. The first time I hated being short was when I was five years old at the zoo and couldn’t see over the fences to watch the animals. Then in the fifth grade, I had to sit every day in the front row with the other short people. Covered by white chalk, we looked like snowmen and never got a chance to breathe the fresh air at the back of the room. That’s the second time I hated being short. And when I attended music concerts as a teenager, I found it impossible to breathe, squeezed into a wall of chests and backs. There simply wasn’t enough oxygen for me in a crowd. But what I hated most about being short was that whenever people met me, I could see by their expression that they were thinking, “Wow, she’s short.”
I tried a thousand ways to get taller. My parents made me drink milk instead of water. They forced me to jump up and down before I went to bed, in an unsuccessful attempt to stretch and strengthen my bones. Nothing worked.
My mom also tried dozens of traditional Chinese potions to make me grow taller. The worst of all was “change bones” soup, a black and bitter and oily soup that I hated drinking. I spent an hour gagging on my first bowl. After that, I learned to drink it fast so I didn’t have to taste it.
I grew one-and-a-half inches during my year of drinking “change bones” soup. But my mother wasn’t satisfied; she found a second traditional Chinese way to help me grow taller: massage. But I didn’t grow as many inches as she hoped I would. After nine years of doctors and soups and stretches and exercises, I had grown only eight inches. At fourteen, I stopped growing.
But there are some advantages to being short. First, people easily remember me. I’m the shortest person on campus. Second, it’s more comfortable sitting on airplanes, especially for long trans-Pacific flights home to Taiwan. Third, I can buy clothes and shoes in cheaper youth sizes, my favorite part of being short. But the biggest advantage of being short is that it’s shown me how unimportant being short is.
I have played a stringed Chinese instrument called the Guzheng since I was nine years old. But when I came to Culver, I didn’t want to stick with the Guzheng. I decided to challenge myself by tackling the most difficult instrument for a short musician – the drum set. Four drums, three cymbals, two foot pedals. When I’m playing, I look like I’m doing yoga, stretched out and twisted into weird positions. I refuse to let being short determine what instrument I play, much less who I am.
When people see me, they see that I am short, but my close friends know that I am also nice and kind. Size doesn’t matter to them. Even though I’m short, I’m the one my friends talk to and confide in. I’m the one they come to with questions or problems.
I don’t hate being short anymore. Short is only one of my descriptions, one I now can enjoy. I am not going to be a normal short person. Short won’t be all that people see when they see me. They will discover far more than that.

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