Different

When I started Kindergarten, I was several inches shorter than most of my classmates. By the time I started fourth grade, the other kids were at least a head taller than me. Once I started sixth grade, I had to stretch my neck and look up in order to make eye contact. In seventh grade, I could hardly reach the lockers on the top. I was given one on the bottom row instead. As soon as eighth grade, my two years younger sister had grown far taller than me. Ninth grade, the doctors said I had stopped growing.

I was hardly even five feet tall.

It wasn’t until I started fifth grade that I finally realized that I was short. Mom says ever since I was a baby, I was smaller than normal. Somehow, when I was younger, I convinced myself that I wasn’t any different. I made sure to remind everyone that we were all the same size, emphasizing each word so as not to feel like the odd one out. Until fifth grade, I wasn’t aware of an apparent difference between myself and other kids. But then they got their growth spurts and left me behind.

For some odd reason, the phrase “opposites attract” came true, since all of my truly good friends had the tendency to be on the extreme of tall, always there to remind me of my abnormality. I didn’t always mind. They were my friends, after all. But there were still disadvantages to my “uniqueness,” as my family would say. Looking back, I laugh at my past experiences. But at the time, I was never allowed to forget I was different.

There were two different playgrounds at my elementary school. On my first day of fourth grade, students wandered around campus aimlessly, wondering where their age group should meet. Young students anxiously looking for their place; older ones likely not trying all too hard. Fortunately for most, not so fortunate for the cocky and rebellious sixth graders, teachers were on duty at different posts, directing the traffic of students.

Kindergarteners through second graders were to report to the small playground; third through sixth graders were to meet at the larger one. So I, a confident little fourth grader, made my way to the big kid playground, only to be stopped by a fairly tall teacher gesturing in the other direction. “Second graders go that way.”

You know the saying, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me?” It is a complete, sheer lie, because those words hurt BAD. Mustering up all of my shattered strength, I politely replied that I was actually in fourth grade, and went on my way. I’m sure the teacher didn’t think much of it, but I did. Even the fact that I still remember that experience today shows how much it affected me. But it still got worse.

The summer before seventh grade, I visited an amusement park with my sister and cousins. One cousin was younger than me by a year, the other by three. I remember us all standing there in fascination as we gazed at CHAOS, the ride that will juggle you around, shake up your insides, and leave you searching for a trashcan, or a bathroom, or a paper bag. We all silently agreed, we have to go on that ride. One by one, we were each admitted onto the anxiously awaited adventure, until I heard the dreaded words: “Sorry, you’re too short.” I was the oldest of all four of us, and the only one who wasn’t tall enough to go on. I was miserable.

Ask any of my friends now, and you’ll learn that the one who jokes about my height the most is myself. Somehow I got over my insecurity about how short I am, even though I still hear the jokes, am teasingly questioned about my ability to do ordinary, everyday tasks, and still have to put up with the elbows playfully resting on my shoulder. The truth is, I don’t mind. How did I overcome it? I owe it all to a compliment from a girl I didn’t even know much. “You have really, really pretty eyes.” From then on, I found a part of me that I could like, and another that I could accept, even though it made me different. I like being different. And that’s the reason that instead of hurting, I can laugh.

This last school year in my French class, we were doing group role plays. We sat two to a table, pretending we were in a delicious, five-star French restaurant. My teacher explained that one person in each group was to be the waiter, the other the customer. She gave us a quick second to converse with our groups and decide who would play which role. It was decided that I would be the waiter in my group. Then she asked for all the waiters to stand up. At the time, the other person in my group happened to be my best friend, who is incredibly tall. So we were about the same height with me standing up and her sitting down. My teacher’s eyes quickly scanned the room, then stopped at my group. “Which one of you is the waiter?” “I am,” I replied. “Well, stand up then!” she urged impatiently. The classroom quieted. “She is standing,” one of my classmates slowly answered for me. I was too busy giggling to respond for myself. My teacher was horribly embarrassed, and apologized over and over. After class, several other students asked me if I was offended. I replied that I wasn’t at all.

I thought it was funny.





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This article has 2 comments. Post your own now!

Ale-Felix M. said...
Aug. 30, 2014 at 1:33 pm
This is a very interesting article, an inspiring one too. Good Job!!!
 
kingofwriters said...
Aug. 27, 2014 at 3:47 pm
Words are definitely more powerful than sticks and stones, for better or for worse. I'm glad you learned to laugh at your imperfections instead of beating yourself up because of them; it's always better to laugh at yourself in those situations and brush off depression, even if it's not always the easiest thing to do. I struggled with my imperfections for a long time as well, but I got over it as soon as I learned it really wasn't that big of a deal. Anyway, good job with... (more »)
 
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