How's the Weather Up There?

February 23, 2010
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My earliest recollection is one of friends, and even perfect strangers, coming up to me and exclaiming, “You’re so tall!” Their combined look of amazement and curiosity has become a familiar face over the years. As a young child, I literally did not fit the mold of normality. The swing height was too low on the playground, the jungle gym at the local McDonalds was too small for me to fit into, and my gangly legs always reached the top of the desk at school. I never took my height under much consideration, and I regarded myself as an averaged-sized kid. At home I was normal; my dad is 6’2” and my mom is 6’0”. Looking back at photos of myself alongside my first-grade peers, much to my surprise, I tower at least six inches above them.

During the turbulent waters of middle school, I grew a total of eight inches, including five inches between the sixth and seventh grade alone. Everyone around me noticed my head popping up above the crowd. I was constantly asked if I played basketball, if I was done growing, and if I “liked” being tall – as though I had a choice in the matter (amputation?). I felt awkward and lonely; no one understood my point of view. My short torso, long legs and arms never moved gracefully or smoothly like other girls my age. Jeans were impossible to find in the store … ordering online became the norm for shopping. I remember measuring our wing-span in the seventh grade – mine was around six feet while everyone else measured in at four to five feet.

But I don’t want your pity. I’ve embraced the tall. My sophomore year in high school ushered in a new period of my life. Everyone finally figured out that Erica is the tall girl. No longer were people looking at me because I was tall, but they looked at me how I wanted to be seen: an intelligent, kind, honest person. My point of view also changed. I realized I am not the only brown-haired, blue-eyed, 6’1” girl in the world, and that “it’s the inside that counts”. But in my little Blue Valley microcosm, I am an individual, which sparked my desire to be different in many other aspects. My height accompanies my choice not to wear hip-hugging skinny jeans or smear on layers of eyeliner or straighten my curly hair. Instead of fearing differences, I have learned to love the weird qualities that make me… me. The height factor I used to despise became the personality trait I learned to love. And I know one thing is for certain: I’d much rather stand out than blend in.

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ChowD This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Feb. 26, 2010 at 8:26 pm
amen to that.
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