5… 4… 3… 2… 1… Happy New Year! While everyone else in the neighborhood are busy lighting up fireworks or making loud noises as they welcome the new year, I join the hundreds of others in our mission to grow taller from my home. I jump as high as I can until I get tired, never minding how silly the act really is. When I was still a kid, my mom told me to jump by the time the clock strikes midnight, the start of a new year. “Para motaas ka,” (So you would grow taller) she said. It’s a superstition she got from her parents and grandparents. Since then, this has become my New Year tradition even though I didn’t really believe it. After more than ten years of doing it, I think I already get why superstitions remain as superstitions, not facts.
I am 4’ 10” tall. A lot of people have been asking me about my height but I almost always just smile or laugh in reply, embarrassment taking over. So there goes your answer. At least that’s what the physician wrote on my record the last time I went for a physical examination for a school requirement. I’ve come to accept that my height would never be one of my assets so I never really bothered to check.
This wasn’t always the case, though. Back when I was a kid, I did bother. I would often bug Nanay to measure my height until she’d give in. Eagerly, I would stand straight, my back on the wall, and wait as she would carve a line, a mark, right on that part of the wall where the top of my head hits. We continued to do this for quite some time, with each line moving farther up, each placed higher than the previous one. When my family moved to our own house, I measured my growth through our refrigerator. The more things I could see, the higher I could reach, the taller I felt I became. As silly as it may sound, I genuinely felt happy when the day came when I could already see the ref’s top surface. I felt like a growing kid.
At first, I didn’t think I was that short. My family doesn’t really belong to the tall department, except Tita Penny, so I thought that I was generally okay. Back in elementary school, I noticed how I was almost always in front of the line whenever my whole class would line up. This was okay; we were young elementary kids. But as I grew up and went to high school, I never really moved out of my spot. It was like that position was made for me and me alone. Since I was in front, I felt the need to do well and serve as some sort of model, especially in the dances we had to do during our school’s Foundation Days. I’m not the best dancer around but I did my best to get the steps right. On the other hand, there was one positive side to it. “Naa ra ka sa atubangan kaya dali ra ko makakuha ug picture nimo,” (You were just in front so it was easy to take pictures of you) my mom would say to me when we would get home.
You see, one thing about not being as tall as everyone else is that there’s always a chance of not seeing eye to eye—literally. There are times when a person I would smile and wave hello to would end up not returning the gesture because they weren’t able to see me. I was too short. Upon my horror, I would walk in shame, pretend to act normal, and wish nobody saw that failed exchange.
Also, I’ve always had a hard time at looking at other people in the eye. My line of vision is generally lower, so their mouth or their nose would be the first thing I would see whenever I talk to them; I would always have to look up. Add to that how I’m usually self-conscious, so I end up looking somewhere else. “Trish, you need to work on your eye contact,” my English teacher told me back in high school when I was practicing a speech. I would then continue to hear variations of that whenever I’m doing presentations. I know it’s a bad habit so I’m doing my best to go past these issues.
When I think about it, I don’t know how things would turn out if ever I would have a boyfriend. Of course, he would have to be taller than me; it would be sad for our future kids if he weren’t. I tried to give my guy friend a hug once as a way of comforting him but he declined, saying, “But you’re short.” This made me wonder if my height would be an issue for my boyfriend. Will it be difficult for us to kiss or to hug, even? Would guys immediately cross me off their list just because I’m short? Whenever I see couples who have height differences, I would somehow be comforted, thinking that it’s possible, that maybe height isn’t that big of a deal. I haven’t really had a serious relationship so I wouldn’t know until it happens. It’s funny how a trivial thing such as height can play a role in something significant, such as love and relationships. I also worry if I wouldn’t get accepted in some jobs because of certain height requirements.
Being short for more than ten years of my life has allowed me to blend in the background. Because I don’t really stand out or at least try to, I tend to be contented with looking at others from the outside. Whenever I’m with my friends, I like to be the one who listens while others talk. I guess this is why I prefer to do more behind-the-scenes work rather than being on the spotlight and that I’m more of an introvert rather than an extrovert. I prefer to do things on my own rather than being with a big group of people although I do try to go out of my shell as much as I can. Sometimes, I wonder if people would notice whenever I’m gone or if they can feel my presence, that I’m there, in the first place.
Despite her height, Trishia, in a way dominates her classmates (Neo-Marcos) academically. But she doesn’t let this go to her head as she stays modest, her personality as simple and as sweet as ever. –The Voice ’09 Yearbook
Without noticing it, maybe I’m subconsciously trying to compensate for this lack of a good height by exerting more effort in the things I think I’m good at—academics, music, or writing. I like to surprise people that I can do things they don’t really expect me to be able to do, like how I can actually score some points whenever my friends and I would play basketball. The look on their faces makes me feel like we’re equal, that I’m no different from them.
I admit that I feel good whenever I can do things better than others, like when I can win awards or get acknowledged for something I did. I guess it’s me trying to prove to myself and to others that despite being this tall, I can still do what they can do; I can even do things better than them. It’s a Napoleon Complex that I have but one that I refuse to acknowledge.
I can’t say that I don’t get annoyed when I end up not getting that tissue roll because I can’t reach the top shelf whenever I’m buying grocery at Rustan’s. I do. Or that I don’t hate how all I can see are people’s backs instead of the artists whenever I’m watching a live performance or a concert; I do. It gets tiring how I would have to strain or stand on tiptoe just to get a better view or end up just listening to it because there’s no other way to see them. Those are the times when I wish I were tall. I tried taking Cherifer and drinking milk as much as I can in the hopes of adding a few inches to my height but it didn’t work. But being short isn’t all that bad. I get to see things from a different perspective that maybe, not everyone can see. I’ve learned how to make the best of what I have and adjust to situations. So far, things are all good.
People always point out how short I am. I know. I’ve already accepted that fact. I just smile and think to myself, “It’s okay. I’m as tall as God wants me to be.”
Good. Humor is a good tone for you. -Sir Martin
Probably my most accomplished work in my current set of nonfiction works for my Thesis partners eh.
[EDIT] ^^I just realized that that did not make sense, the comment. :)) I think I was about to go to sleep when I posted this. HAHA Anyway, I meant “CNF works for my mini-thesis class” 😛