So here’s the thing. I’m five foot tall and I have been petite all my life. In other words, I’m short and small-sized – “fun sized” as I like to call it.
My mum and dad are of similar height with each other – medium Asian height, if there’s a term for this – although my dad’s side of the family leans on the shorter side while my mother’s side consists of taller counterparts. No prizes for guessing whose genes I followed. Luckily for me, this has never been an issue in my family. I grew up a happy childhood filled with happy memories children are supposed to have. In primary school, from primary 1 all the way to primary 6, I was always the shortest in my class (I should get an award for this). My 8 – year old self never had any problems with this though, primary school me was always a happy cute bunny where ever I go.
It was only in primary 6, when I was 11 years old that I started to understand the reality of being short and fun-sized. We had an inter-class tournament and my teacher would ask for volunteers to form a netball team among the girls. The best team for every class competes with the other teams. Now the good thing about being small is being lightweight thus possessing the ability to be more agile than others. Which made me generally like physical ed. classes and all sorts of sports as I can run and get away from people pretty fast. So happy cute bunny me put my name in without thinking twice (possibly forgetting the very simple fact that netball players require a certain height to qualify).
And apparently, I was told to be “too short for netball”.
I did the most logically emotional thing every 11-year old does after being told she was too short for netball (okay, maybe just me). Proceed to the nearest washroom and cry my eyes off. And of course, striked off netball from my list of favourite sports. I remember comparing myself to other classmates and wishing to be taller and then asking God to please add some tall genes to my petite being when I grow up. I remember that incident as my first memory of being “rejected” and the first time I expected myself to fit into the “normal-sized people” quorum.
Fast forward to now – some things don’t change. I’m still as cute as a bunny (please don’t puke yet, lol) staying petite as an adult. As a self-proclaimed shortie, there are some things I encounter. Shopping – long skirts and pants always require some altering. You’re always mistaken as a student if you dress casually and have no make-up on. People always call you “cute” which sometimes can be pretty annoying. Sometimes you want to wear black formal looking flats when you have an important work event to attend but you can’t because other people are always towering over you.
But what’s changed is that I don’t expect to fit in into any “normal-sized people” sizes anymore (what’s that anyway?). When I think of that memory, I feel a little silly and now I can laugh at my petite self in all good manners. Obviously netball is not the only sport in town but to my primary school self, it was one of the few sports I knew.
In polytechnic, I discovered my agility to serve me well in another sport which I have come to love – rock climbing. There are some moments in your life where you just know when something is for you. The first time I climbed a rock wall, I knew. That I was meant to be a rock climber. Okay okay dramatic aha-moment announcement aside, here’s why I love climbing rock walls. Because I was lightweight, I was able to carry myself up along the wall easily. Because of my agility, I was able to manoeuver the wall tiles from the bottom to the top with ease. Sure, if you’re a tall rock climber you may reach certain tiles easily when you’re on the wall, but I could always compensate that by being flexible enough to step up a couple of tiles without much difficulty. Rock climbing allowed me to see and use my strengths to my advantage, as well as trained my mind and body to work around my weaknesses.
The point of this story is that I eventually worked around my weaknesses and focused on my strengths. I learned how to sew, so I can alter clothes easily. I learned to dress up well, so I can look more presentable. I learned to accept myself and my flaws – and found myself easily accepting of other people along the way. I learned to love myself and be grateful for all my blessings. Most importantly, I learned that it’s okay to have expectations on something or someone or yourself for that matter but there’s something that goes hand in hand with your expectations – when an expectation doesn’t meet your standard, expect yourself to let it go.