How my height genetic shaped my life | by Sandeep Thapa | Aug, 2022


Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash

Introduction

I’m a 5’5 ft guy from a region where men often top out at least 5’10 ft. Statistically, 93.69% of the males in my own country are taller than me. That means that in a room of 100 men, 93 would be taller than me. When it comes to conforming to social norms, my genes have given me the finger. For the longest time, this has made me feel like a misfit. For the longest time, this has allowed my crippling anxieties to live in my head rent-free. For the longest time, many career avenues have been out of reach. For the longest time, many of my condoms have reached their expiry date. I’m sorry if I sound like a whiny brat. I understand that there are others who have it much worse than I do; some people are born without the ability to see, and others are born without the ability to hear. Nonetheless, I’d like to share with you today the ways in which this one physical trait has affected me, for better and for worse.

Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash

Let me address what my dating life looks like as a 5’5 ft male in a predominantly heterosexual society as heterosexual. More ears perk up when I speak about this.

Rejections. A lot of them. If I had a dollar for every time I was turned down, I would have bought my parents a big crib on a big hill.

It used to hurt a lot when I’d approach a girl and have her reject me, just to find out that the main reason was that I wasn’t tall enough. My inner critic would beat up on my sense of self-worth as if it was a punching bag. Even though I’m a lot older and wiser now, those unpleasant feelings still come up from time to time. But with each rejection, I learned to be more mindful about the thoughts that surface. Although I haven’t gotten a vaccination, I do feel that my resistance to rejection is growing. These days, if a girl rejects me, I just shrug and say, “Meh, you know what I get it.” and carry on with my day.

Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash

I am aware that there is a broad continuum of socialization among 5’5 ft men.

I had a hard time avoiding bullies in preschool. Defending myself felt impossible, and I felt little and helpless. As a result, I had to resort to self-deprecating humor as a form of self-defense and so I became the class clown.

By the time I reached high school, everyone else had already experienced their own personal growth spurt, and I was still living in a constant state of mild anxiety around other people. Since I knew that if I talked smack, someone would beat the heck out of me.

Slowly, I found myself withdrawing from social interaction. Slowly, I found myself to be open and intimate with a select few. Slowly, I learned to derive satisfaction less from social interaction and more from solving problems in my math books.

Even as a youngster, I made peace with the ideology that I would be happiest if I never had to rely on anyone ever again. But I’ve learned that I’m a social animal at my core as I’ve gotten older. Human connection is inevitable. I acknowledge that eventually, I will have to join together with a mate to create offspring and accomplish my goal as a living being. To compensate for my awkward adolescence, I’ve been reading a tonne of books on interpersonal interactions. As a result, the “social-engineering with AI” Ph.D. button might be the button I press in the near future.

Photo by Stefano Bucciarelli on Unsplash

Thoughts like “You are too small, you are not good enough,” and “You are too small, you don’t deserve this” became automatic, habitual, and repetitive. Being invisible and coming from within my own head made it difficult to disengage from them. I realized how much I had been habitually focusing on these ideas. The more massive they became. My mind began to accept the possibility of its truth. I began to see myself in it. It started to dominate my life more and more.

It was like I was some kind of monster chasing cars down the highway. Some cars were really tempting to chase after because of their content and quality. The more I tried to catch up to a car, the further it sped away from me and the more exhausted I became. I wished I’d realized earlier that I was best suited to take a backseat and watch the cars go by from a high vantage point, taking in the sights and sounds of the city below while remaining in the present moment and appreciating the orange sphere fade into the distance.

When I think back on my school years, I realize how preoccupied I was with my grades, the approval of my peers, and getting even. I now wish I had been more thoughtful at the time. Really wish I had been taught about meditation in school.

Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash

Though I am only 5 feet and 5 inches tall, I am aware of my spirituality. A sense of otherworldliness permeates my perception of both this universe and the planet I call home. Yes, I believe there is a force far more massive and extensive than myself at the helm of the cosmos.

My spiritual journey will always be unique to me. I stand on the fence when it comes to accepting the premise that there is a higher entity that is almighty, all-knowing, all-powerful, indestructible, and infinite. The possibility that religion is a social construct is one that I am also open to. It could have been designed to safeguard the mass from widespread dangers like mass predation, infectious diseases, and greed.

How stupid is my chimp brain, worrying about particularly something so insignificant in the scope of the universe?

Black holes are sucking matter out of existence. Elements are falling like rain from exploding stars all over the universe. The very fabric of space-time is trembling, like guitar strings. While there are more stars and planets visible in the sky than I could ever hope to count, ordinary matter accounts for less than 5% of the universe. Maybe we really are “rare.” Maybe we’re all just really, really tiny. Maybe it is just a matter of perspective.

Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash

I’m only 5’5″ ft, but sometimes I really wish I was 6ft. This act of comparison is the thief of joy; it has stolen my sense of joy on countless occasions. When social media is so embedded in our everyday lives, I find it to be difficult to refrain from constant comparison. My skinny, little body always seems so puny in comparison to those of the Instagram influencers who look like Greek gods. I feel unsatisfied with who I am. Though it has motivated me to make some healthy changes to my routine, I am more unhappy with myself now than ever before because of the never-ending cycle of comparison.

When I was younger, I didn’t realize how much my surroundings dictated my actions. My understanding of my relationship with social media has grown. I’ve learned more about the transparency issues plaguing the fitness industries as they are portrayed on social media. It’s impossible to achieve a certain body type through natural means. Although I still struggle with the temptation to compare myself to others on a daily basis, I now make a conscious decision to focus on the positive, constructive, and growth-promoting aspects of such comparisons.

Photo by Joel Filipe on Unsplash

As a 5’5 person, self-actualization ranks high on my list of priorities. I desire to become the most that I can be.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that it’s best to focus my energy on the things I can control rather than those I can’t. Although I have no say over my biological make-up, I am free to choose how and where I invest my time. It’s a cliche for a reason, but I’ve found that my own happiness and contentment increase in direct proportion to the amount of value I generate and give to the world. It gives me a sense of direction and helps me feel like my life has meaning. I make a concerted effort to keep my total time spent on consumption below the time I spend creating value for the world. In this day and age of Tik-Tok and click-bait, this is a particularly difficult task.

According to conventional wisdom in the West, success is more likely if you devote yourself entirely to a single pursuit. I am often told to chase productivity at home and work. Perhaps, this is true to a certain extent.

This aspect of Western culture strikes me as hypocritical, though. To some extent, one’s success may be a function of another person’s unproductivity. To give just one example, the popularity of the “cat videos” subgenre on YouTube is directly proportional to how much of my free time I can devote to watching them. Does this mean that for a service/cooperation/person to succeed, society needs to be unproductive to some extent?

In many ways, my entire life and choices have been predetermined by my genes. This article is a reflection on the growth and pain that this experience has brought me.



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