This I believe: Happiness is who we are and how we choose to accept it.
All my life I’ve been abnormally small. I’m 17, a junior in my high school of 1300 kids, and quite literally look up to most of them. I have yet to break a hundred pounds and learn how to use a razor. In our Digital Information Age, I’ve only used a telephone book to sit on.
I’m currently employed as a pianist at a local fine dining restaurant. Thanks to my deceiving looks, many guests tip a fair amount and then ask, “How old are you?” Several more wonder if I’m the owner’s son. Most think I’m twelve. After my friend’s dad met me for the first time, he guessed eight. Eight?! A few months ago, I had three different people stop me within the space of an hour to say that they didn’t think I was old enough to be driving. They were barely convinced after I pulled out my license.
Dating has been a concern. Why would a pretty girl my age want to go out with a kid who looks like her little brother, and speaks with a voice to match? Oh, the shame! I tell myself, ‘Just wait until you’re six feet tall – they’ll be lining up.’ I didn’t need reinforcement; but it came. Shortly after I finished a performance in our school’s recent talent show, a breath-taking senior girl stopped me with enthusiasm, saying, “If you were just a few inches taller, I’d be your girlfriend!” Okay, thanks… I’ll keep measuring.
Thankfully, some girls don’t care quite as much about it. I couldn’t always say the same about myself. For years, it weighed me down and haunted me as the reason for which I didn’t succeed in any aspect of my life. I was also sick and tired of people judging me based on my appearance before they even got to know me. So one day this fall, I decided to change my paradigm. I knew who I was and what I was capable of. Why did it matter what anyone else thought? Or more realistically, did they even think anything? Doesn’t each of us feel inadequate about something in our life?
Our Father of the Constitution and fourth U.S. president, James Madison, weighed a mere hundred pounds and stood just 5’4”. Deng Xiaoping, the former Chinese premier was five feet. People smaller than I have occupied the two most powerful offices in the world!
After putting to rest my inward struggle that always provided an excuse for “falling short”, I started to grow up. People were attracted to who I was and my own ease about it. Girls appeared to be more interested in who I was than what I looked like. At one of this year’s biggest dances, the female student body voted me “Most Preferred”. In an open election process, they could have picked their date. (To put this in perspective, the girls screamed my name below me while 6 foot football star, Sam Roden, spontaneously held me up like a Simba at Pride Rock.) Recently, in a student body election, I was voted in as my high school’s next Student Body President with my campaign theme, “Life is Short—Vote Nic B–.”
Through my experience, I have found peace and confidence in being honest with my strengths and my short-comings. I’ve also discovered an empathy for others who may feel they don’t measure up.
In short, this I believe: Happiness is who we are and how we choose to accept it.
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