How Dwarfism Has Developed My Maturity
In my younger years, I was opposed to acknowledging my dwarfism. I threw away the idea of going to any type of Little People of America conference. I was unaware that the reason I was being bullied in elementary school was because of my dwarfism; instead I thought the bullying was sparked by my personality, academic abilities, or the fact that I wasn’t as perfect as everyone else around me seemed to be.
Today, I question why I was thinking all of this. Was it because I have hypochondroplasia, so I thought my height was somewhat (though it was actually hardly) similar to average height people? I will never know the answer to this, even though it was my own mind thinking it.
I was just like any other kid in my younger years. I played on my Tamagotchis 24/7, I brought my pink Nintendo DS on every road and plane trip, I had at least ten pets on my Webkinz account, and I asked for an American Girl Doll every Christmas. It didn’t make sense when kids would stare at me, whisper, or maybe laugh at me once in a while.
Everything changed when I turned 10. What a year. We thought 2016 was bad? The time from 2010 to around 2013 was worse for me. I started to realize that the people who were whispering, staring, and laughing at me were all doing it because I was a little person. It hurt. Badly. I cried myself to sleep some nights thinking of how I would never have real friends because of my dwarfism. I stopped being myself at school. I was so insecure that I started acting out just to get attention from others and validate my acceptance among my peers. But this weird person I was acting like wasn’t the real me at all. My immaturity had gotten the best of me.
As I transitioned into my pre-teen and early teenage years, I used my dwarfism as a way to gain attention. I would do things such as calling attention to myself when I couldn’t reach something, loudly asking for help because I couldn’t reach it. I am sorry to the unfortunate yet amazing people who stepped in when I said I need help reaching or grabbing something. You didn’t have to contribute to my hunt for attention, but you did.
All of this changed in the past couple of years, especially after my first Little People of America National Conference in 2015. These other people like me weren’t making up excuses. They weren’t saying “I can’t do it so I’m throwing in the towel.” I realized I shouldn’t be complaining about my short stature, I should embrace it and strive for success and change. As I continue my love of advocacy for dwarfism, I am not going to come up with excuses. I’m trying to create steps toward a more accepting and inclusive world. My success and proof of ability causes others to not think of me as a weaker being because of my stature.
As I got into older levels of my sports and school life, I have learned to stop using my dwarfism as an excuse. I play hockey, and when I skate, I have half the legs my opponents and teammates do. Take a single skating stride of my teammates, double that number, and your answer will be how many strides I take. I don’t have a long stick either, so therefore I don’t have a long reach. If I reach for a girl with the puck instead of skating to her, and she ends up skating around me, I can’t have an excuse. If my coach asks me why I reached for it instead of skating towards it, I can’t say that my dwarfism made my legs not move. That’s impossible. I have the same mobility as others, I just have to put more work into it.
Maturity is rolling with the punches and persevering through the difficulties and insecurities with the knowledge that it will make you a better person. As I have gone through many trials with my dwarfism, I have realized it’s my journey to maturity. My dwarfism. My personality. My athleticism. Me. Other people like my coaches, teachers, and parents deserve credit for this too, but it’s up to me if I want to listen to them or not. Looking back and forward, I am very grateful I didn’t end up shutting them out all the time, and I will try my best not to in future situations. Instead, I will take their support and constructive criticism, put it in the back of my brain, and utilize it.
Every day we come across decisions that will test our maturity. To pass these tests, we need to take into account not only who we are, but also who we want to become. I believe anything is possible, and doing what you think is impossible will aid your growth into becoming a more educated and mature person.
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