The View from Above This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

March 1, 2011
I think it’s weird the way the simple curl of my lips can hide everything that’s beneath. I smile because if someone asked what was wrong it would be too much to explain. So I sit and act like I actually love myself. It’s hard to love myself when I have labels attached to me. I’m 16 years old and six feet tall.

I feel like society has created this image that being tall is a blessing. “You should be a model.” “You should play basketball.” “You’re super tall.” I hear these phrases over and over again. Sometimes, I simply want to punch the person in the face. I know he or she means no harm, but to me, being tall is a flaw. I already know my flaws, and I don’t need them pointed out. People tell me how tall I am as if I don’t already know.

When I was little, I was always slightly bigger than everyone else, but back then being different wasn’t bad. I felt normal. I felt like I could conquer the world because everyone looked up to me – literally. As I got older, my feelings changed. I started to care what I looked like, and I began comparing myself to others, which was definitely a mistake.

When I stood with a group of friends, I always felt awkward and out of place because I was so much taller than all the girls and most of the guys. I became selective of my friends and chose to hang out with those who made me feel “average.” I was determined to be normal.

Time passed, and I eventually became more comfortable with who I was. At one point, I was actually proud to be tall. The little-girl feeling came back. I was different and wanted to embrace it. I was constantly happy and everyone knew it because I was always smiling. Then, freshman year of high school slapped me in the face.

One day in class, in my polite, soft voice, I asked the teacher, “May I please go to the restroom?”

“Yes, Sasquatch,” my teacher responded.

I was caught off guard. This man I respected more than any other teacher in history had just crushed all that admiration. He was someone I could talk to,
joke with, and learn from, but this time he had gone too far.

My eyelids felt so tight that my eyes started shaking. No matter what, I wasn’t going to let anyone see me cry. I walked to the bathroom with iron feet, ­feeling like nothing less than a beast. The good opinion I had of myself had just completely reversed.

I sat in the bathroom and cried. I felt like an unknown species, someone who didn’t belong. I didn’t want to go back to class, but I had to. I walked into the room with puffy eyes. When several people asked if I had been crying, I made the excuse, “There’s something in my eyes. I’m fine.”

I walked out of that room with my head down, feeling like a monster. My heart felt like it had just had a bad piercing job. I looked around and realized everyone around me had his or her own opinion about me. I assumed most of them were bad since I was so tall, and in my mind that was a bad thing.

From then on, I constantly felt awkward. I became a quiet, shy person. I fell into an all-time low. I had never felt so ugly and ashamed of who I was.

After I criticized my height, I began to notice all my imperfections. I hated that I didn’t get straight A’s. I felt like my parents weren’t proud of me because I wasn’t the perfect size. From bad test grades, to not doing chores, everything I did and everywhere I was, I felt like I was disappointing someone, so I just kept to myself.

One particularly gloomy Saturday morning, I sat in the fluffy recliner in my living room. I was flipping through the channels, but nothing caught my attention. I decided to watch a show on the health channel about a little boy who had a disease where his skin would constantly peel. He had to wear bandages just to keep his skin on.

This boy became my antibiotic. I felt as if someone had poured a bucket of cold water on my face and I had woken up. All of the negativity I felt about myself melted from my mind.

Adults always warn me to act my best because younger kids are learning from me, but I always seem to learn from them instead. This little boy changed my life. He lived a life full of pain but smiled because he knew frowning wouldn’t make anything better. I was complaining and acting like it was the Great Depression because someone called me Sasquatch. I was so busy tearing myself apart that I didn’t even realize how fortunate I was. I had a family who loved and supported me, I had the best friend any teenage girl could ask for, and I was perfectly healthy.

That day, I chose to live with a smile on my face. I know now that I am in control of my feelings, even though I had temporarily hand-ed control to someone else. Someone who made me feel bad but also gave me a nice emotional workout. I fell, and it took me time to get back up, but when I did, I stood taller than ever and felt like I could defeat anything that attacked me.

I also learned not to attach labels to people. I made a promise to myself: I will never hurt anyone the way that man hurt me. Although I may joke around, I never want to make anyone feel bad. I want people to be happy. I want to spread the joy this little boy gave me.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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This article has 3 comments. Post your own now!

Nicole.M. said...
Mar. 17, 2013 at 7:26 pm
This article inspired me. Check out what I was inspired to write after I read this. Don't worry, I will make sure you get credit. The article I wrote that was inspired by your article is called "This Is Me"
Kalerea said...
Dec. 11, 2011 at 9:11 pm
Love this, Mads! And I love you just the way you are! Rapunzel :)
Inkfan said...
Mar. 4, 2011 at 11:33 pm
Thumbs up, girl! :) I love hearing about girls over-coming their fear of what people think, which I believe is something girls go through more then guys.  (P,S, I like taller girls, anyway.  I don't want to have to lean down to kiss my future wife :)
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