It was one of those blindingly bright days at the beginning of the school year when everything seems dreamily tranquil. My friends and I were just getting into the routine of another comfortable lunch hour. This one was going along quite successfully when suddenly we sensed an intruder in our midst. Someone who wasn’t usually under our sacred tree. An outgoing young man walked right up to my friends and I and proceeded to blatantly check us out. He gave me the up and down a few times then exuberantly exclaimed, “I like your height!”
I believe in my height. For fifteen years I have always been the tallest girl at school. I have had the plethora of phrases thrown my way from the classic, (and ever so creative), “How tall are you?” to being branded (alongside my twin sister) “the twin towers.” Although the comment from that fateful day at lunch was from one of those depressing children who are “not all there,” it was certainly one of the most polite remarks I have ever received.
Another remarkable memory isn’t really a memory at all, but a story passed down from my mother. Being 6’4”, she had played basketball through high school and college. On the day we were born, a call came from the coach of the basketball team at a local high school. He was calling my mother to make sure she got us involved in basketball and went to his high school. When I first heard this, I was dumbfounded, but glad that my mother saw through him and didn’t exploit us for our potential height.
For many years I struggled with “fitting in” when I was a head taller than everyone I knew, but I have come to terms with most of my insecurities. It helps in high school when people grow a few inches, and now there are even a few eligible guys who are taller than me. I can look my teachers in the eye, speaking on the same level with them.
Being blessed with such extreme height, I have found that it becomes easier with time to find the simple perks. For instance, I am usually the only one who knows that you didn’t brush your hair today, because I can see your part. At the same time, no one can tell that I didn’t brush my own hair. I can get envious glances and wear ridiculously high heels just to bother my classmates. And the best perk? Sometimes I am even mistaken for a college student.
I am still a head taller than most people, and jeans will always be hard to find. There will always be people asking if I am on the basketball team and those pesky up-down looks. But I can just smile as they strain their necks to look at me, because I secretly know that they look up to me, physically and metaphorically. I believe in myself. I believe in my height.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.