Sunday, March 18, 2012

Growing Up Pint-Sized: How Comparison Can Stunt Your Growth

From as early as I can remember, I have struggled with comparing myself to other people. I think this habit started because #1 - I'm a human and that's what we do, and #2 - I have always been so much smaller than everyone my age. It was very easy to see that I was different. Being classified as "unique" is not a word you want to hear growing up. Sometimes I hated that my "unique-ness" was so visible to everyone around me. I just wanted to be able to look like and do the same things as everyone else.

I started playing soccer at the age of 5 until I was 18. I don' t know how old I was, maybe 7 to 10 years old, when I was at a soccer practice with my team. I remember playing some sort of game about how far we could kick the ball. I geared up and kicked that ball as hard as I could...and it barely flopped more than a few yards away. Most everyone else kicked the ball across the field. My dad was one of my coaches, and I remember slumping down into his lap and crying because I couldn't kick the ball as far as my teammates. I was too short, too little. Not good enough.

This is my friend Jo and I at age 9 or 10. We played on the same soccer team for 11 or 12 years.

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Here we are at our high school graduation ceremony re-creating the pose from the picture above. As you might be able to tell, Jo is a lot taller than me. I think she's at least 5' 10". That is her natural hair color, isn't that amazing?! Jo is one of the sweetest, most faithful friends, and she's an incredibly gifted athlete.

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Jo helped me score my first goal. My coach had me run up field and stand pretty much next to the goal, as Jo cleared the ball across the field to me and I punted it into the goal. Jo could pretty much kick the ball across the entire field, and no one else our age could do that. It was awesome.

As I grew up, it became easy to compare myself with others about everything - if I was as tall as her I'd be prettier, I'm not as smart as him, she could do this thing and I can't do that. It's amazing how quickly comparing yourself with people kills the things that you are gifted at. I might not have been able to kick a soccer ball as far as someone else or reach a certain light switch, but I was smart, had a lot of friends, and was actually a pretty good soccer player. Yet I pushed aside the things I was good at, as I focused on all the things that I wasn't or couldn't be. In a way, I was stunting my growth as a person by not enjoying who God made me, painfully desiring to be someone else.

As a soccer player, no one expected me to be any good because of my size. I loved the looks on the other team's faces when I would steal the ball away from a girl who stood a foot taller than me. It's possible that I would overcompensate for my height sometimes; I definitely wasn't afraid to body check a few people who were skeptical. I was called a fireball and a firecracker because there was a lot of spunk packed into one tiny person. Now, finally at the age of 24, I have embraced my unique-ness. I know that I stand out in a crowd- but that makes me quite memorable! Although I'm not the best at a lot of things, I do have talents and abilities that I am meant to use. If I spent my whole life trying to be someone else, I would be robbing myself and those around me from excelling at the things that I can contribute to others. It's a waste of time and of your life to seek after being like everyone else. You are made with an amazing purpose, and only you can do the things that God has designed you to do. I am so much happier and more content as I have embraced who I am and explored the things that I can do.

It's funny because now I am SO glad that I'm not any taller than I am. I love being the shortest person that people know. If I was any taller I wouldn't be me, and I'd be "just like everyone else." So stop comparing yourself with other people, it will stunt your growth.

2 comments:

  1. I can feel your pain. I am 6' 3" and for a woman that is very tall. I was always the tallest person in my class and used to compare myself to others. I don't do that anymore. My son is 6' 4" and my daughter is 6'. I've always told them to be proud of their height. I used to shop for pants in the men's section but recently found womens' jeans with a 38" inseam. So don't feel so bad when you shop in the kids section.
    I like your blog, your son is adorable.

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  2. We seem to be at opposite ends of the spectrum, don't we? Thank you for your sweet comment. It's encouraging to see that there are so many people in the world who don't always fit the "normal" mold - but I guess that changes what normal is, doesn't it?

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