“Good evening, three adults and one child correct?” This is the question commonly posed when I go out to dinner with my family. Is this a blow to my self-esteem? Sometimes I feel that it is. However, I believe that dynamite comes in small packages and short people are just as capable of doing everything tall people are.
For as long as I can remember, I have always been an athlete. I chose volleyball, completely contrary to my body type. As a vertically challenged girl of only five feet and two inches tall, however, I knew I had to work ten times harder than everyone else in order to prove myself worthy of playing time. Day in and day out I pushed my body to the extreme during daily practices and workouts. Constant discrimination against my height only fueled the flame that burned inside of me. There were times when I felt like my hard work would never pay off and that putting forth so much effort only set me up for a greater disappointment come game time, but, much to my surprise my endeavors were very successful in many ways. I started for five years, was captain for three years, and played in an international volleyball tournament in Hawaii. Four-hundred and eighty girls traveled from across the country and gathered for this tournament. I was in the less than one percent of players whose height was five foot two or shorter. Again my efforts proved to be the difference because there were nine others who were five foot seven inches or taller. Even at a height disadvantage my hard work helped me gain yet another starting position and through our teamwork we placed fifth out of forty-eight teams.
Along the way, I also played basketball and soccer and, although I was still the smallest on the team, I became a leader and inspired others to do their best regardless of the odds or the outcome. Sports taught me that even when the odds are against you and you are looked down upon, both literally and figuratively in my case, you must use this as an opportunity to prove yourself worthy of what you’re fighting for. Mark Twain once said, “It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog.” I take this statement to heart and believe that every person is just as big as they think they are and sometimes you have to give a little more in order to gain that credibility.
After eighteen years I finally learned to accept and embrace the person I have become. Now, when people ask me if I need a kid’s menu, I simply smile and reply, “Only if I get crayons.”