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"How I became comfortable with being short"

I'm 22 years old, and I'm 4'11". 

Yes, I know I'm short. Like, *really* short. 

I haven't grown since I was in the fifth grade. Seriously-I'm not exaggerating! I still have old clothes and shoes from that age that I can still fit into. I'm shorter than most people-adults and kids alike. Even most elementary-aged kids are either taller than me, or the same height as me. Wherever I go, people tend to tower over me. 

I haven't always been short. In fact, I was a taller-than-average kid in my early years. It wasn't until sixth grade that I really started to fall behind my classmates in height. From sixth grade on, I was always one of the shortest in my class-if not *the* shortest. Once I entered ninth grade, it really started to bother me. I was always one of the shortest in school pictures. I was always near the *very* back of the line when we lined up from tallest to shortest. I felt like all my peers were so much bigger than me. 

People would always mistake me for being younger than what I was. When I would go to restuarants, the waiter would give me a kids' menu. It was so embarrassing. I wanted so much to look my age. People would always go out of their way to tell me how young I looked. I didn't understand why people felt compelled to tell me how I looked. It just made me feel worse about myself. I've had more comments about my height than I can count, from "You look like a little girl" to "You look 12". 

It was annoying, to say the least.

I would often compare myself to my taller peers, and I wished I were as tall as them. I would always dream of the day I would grow and be 5'9". I knew it was wishful thinking, but I wanted so much to grow, even if it was just a *few* more inches. 

So, I made it my personal mission in life to grow. 

For awhile, I thought that maybe if I ate healthier, or ate more food or exercised more I would grow. I tried to eat more food than I normally would, and I worked extra hard at my track practices. I was on a quest for the secret recipe to grow. I was determined to grow taller than 4'11". 

Now, here's the part of the story where I'm *supposed* to have a secret formula that can make you grow. But, the truth is, I don't have a secret formula to make you grow. I never found the secret recipe I was looking for. I'm still the same height-the same height that I've been since fifth grade, and the same height that I'll probably continue to be. 

But wait-don't stop reading just yet! What I *can* give you is the ending to *my* story. Here goes. 

Once I got older, I began to realize that there were all types of people in the world. There were tall people. There were short people. There were medium-size people. I realized that there were *plenty* of short people in the world-I wasn't the only short person on the planet (which is how I had felt). 

At some point afterwards, I began to forget about my quest. I didn't try to-I did so naturally. Nothing serious happened to change my mind about the issue-I didn't have some life-altering vision. I really think I just "grew" out of it-no pun intended. I just....stopped caring about it. I found myself not thinking about it anymore. 

I also learned to quit internalizing my height. When I was 15, my whole identity was connected to how short I was. Yes, I'm 4'11", but that's not all who I am. I'm a girl who just *happens* to be 4'11". I don't define myself based on my height anymore. 

Do I still have days when I think about how short I am? Sure, sometimes. But, it's not the focus of my day. It's a fleeting thought, and then I continue with whatever I was doing. I just have so many other things to do-I don't have time to think about my height. I'll probably never grow, and I'm totally fine with that. To be blunt-it is what it is. 

The truth is, you can't choose your height, but you can choose how you will let it affect you. Being short is only as important as you make it. Being short (or tall) shouldn't be the focus of your life. There are so many more important aspects about you as a person than if you're short or not. 

So, the next time you look at yourself in a mirror and wish you were taller, just remember, you're fine-just the way you are. 

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by Katherine Brown | 12/19/2020
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