All right, I have two confessions to make before I start this post.
One) I totally pushed myself into this. I felt almost called to say something. After some clarifying on what a birth defect was via Twitter (thanks, DJ Moo :)), I felt like I had committed myself.
Two) I suck at blogging, writing, and this whole world of wordy creativity. I fully support it and have a Google Reader addiction, but I don’t have the knack for writing, so bear with me. 🙂
Allow me to introduce myself: I am 17 years old, a strong believer in God, and a Starbucks addict. I talk way too much and adore my friends more than anything else in this world. I work at a preschool, as well as babysitting for two of the sweetest girls in the world. One more thing: I’m just over 4 feet tall.
Mmm, you got that right. I have achondroplasia, the most common form of dwarfism. I was officially diagnosed at 3 months, and it is just as much a part of my life as your birthmark on your forehead or her bright blue eyes. I do everything that everyone else does, just in my own way.
What has truly shaped me within my “defect”? My parents are average height. I am the only one in my entire family with this genetic disorder blessing. I walk this road alone on a day to day basis. Does it suck sometimes? Absolutely. Would I want my life any other way? Absofreakin’lutely not.
Little People of America has been the greatest support system for me. We have conferences 3 times a year – over 200 people in my district alone, as well as nationwide with over 2,000 people – that I’ve been attending since I was 3. My true second family. But 10 days out of the whole year isn’t enough to make me feel mixed in with the rest of the world.
I think the reason I pushed myself to write this was because it’s been weighing down on me lately. I am going to college in the fall, and though I’m beyond thrilled, I’m a bit scared as to how my dwarfism will hinder my college experience. I’ve battled depression, and honestly, my physical differences and incapabilities have got to be a huge source of it.
As my mom put it, “It sucks to be a teenager, you think nobody ever understands you. But to be a teenager with dwarfism – that is truly when you know people don’t understand you. It’s got to be even more impossible.”
So… yeah. It’s hard not to be able to work in the kitchen without a stool. It’s hard to be 5 minutes late to class – while you’ve got all the sympathy in the world from your teachers – because your school is so darn big. It’s hard to be stared at. It’s hard to be shrieked at because someone is truly taken aback by your height. It’s hard to be asked “how’s the weather down there?” It’s hard to be called a midget – basically the equivalent of the n-word. It’s hard to have many close friends who “get” you to a point, but will never be able to “get” that one piece of you. It’s hard to have how much you actually can do alone be underestimated. At the same time, it’s hard to have to ask someone to grab that one pint of ice cream you can’t reach because, though you’re best at shelf-climbing, it’s too risky sometimes. 🙂
But it’s what has made me stronger. I am really outgoing, and I think my dwarfism contributes to that extremely. My average-height friends have supported me in every way they can. They honestly have told me they forget I’m short. And I love that. They have seen beyond my differences.
My uniqueness is part of me, but not the whole. It has made me who I am, and I would never, ever want to change. I have more opportunities to stand up for myself. I want to educate people about dwarfism as much as possible. It’s not a “disease” that can be cured, but there are thousands of lives that hold this genetic blip that gets over-judged by everyone.
I am me. I always have been, and I always will be. I most likely won’t be growing any more. And I’m okay with that. I have learned to accept myself. I am beyond sure that God had a supreme purpose for putting me right here, right now, just as I am. I just haven’t found that purpose yet.
Thank you for listening.
I just needed to get that out… hoping to find a support system here, because the one in my ‘real world’ is slowly coming down.
I think you’ll enjoy college, if your experience is anything like mine. People at my university were a lot more laid back and accepting than at my high school. I have a disability and found that my college years were really where I was able to come into my own and “own” my quirks and uniqueness, if that makes any sense. 🙂
Sounds like you are doing a great job of advocating for yourself already. Keep up what you’re doing on that front, and things should be fine in college, at least socially — you will find your niche.
We’re here to cheer you on as well! Support is what the Band does best. 🙂
Hello there! As someone of short stature who is not affected by dwarfism, I can only partially relate. The slew of short jokes is annoying and frustrating. After all, you are so much more than tick marks on a ruler. For someone who professes not to be a writer, I think you’ve done amazingly well.
Your outlook is positive, while also remaining realistic. You already know that challenges you will face but you also know that this doesn’t define you. People can either get on board or get out of your way!
So, kudos to you. I admire your perseverance as well as your vulnerability. It’s not easy to open up to an audience of thousands but you’ve done with with grace and aplomb. I wish you nothing but the best in your future endeavors. I dare say it will be a bright one!
I just love your voice.
Thank you for this wonderful post! I love how well you think of yourself. We could all learn from you. Most of us spend so much time thinking about what’s wrong with us, how we’re not like someone else, that we forget to focus on the good in us. You’ve got a beautiful life ahead of you. I can’t wait to hear about how much fun college is for you, and how your life is forming.
Look at how far you have come! What a warrior you are, friend! Even when talking about how hard things have been, your tone is one of optimism and strength. I admire you so much and can’t wait to see all you will accomplish in your incredible life. While you are differently-abled, that also makes people take notice!! Use that to your advantage. You’ll always have people that say negative things. People say negative things about everyone that is making a difference. You have to do your best to rise above that and put your focus on those that take notice for the right reasons. College will be one of the best times of your life. Enjoy every minute. This is your story. Live it to the fullest and love hard, do your best, and fill your circle with those that bring you joy.
Honestly I love your writing. No worries there. Anybody who can get through high school with your attitude can get through college. I bet it won’t take long to find your tribe. There will always be jerks who think their short joke is the first one you ever heard. That’s true from kindergarten all the way into the adult world. But you keep just being yourself and I have a feeling you will be just fine.