The first 31 years of my life were in the spirit of denial. I worked myself up from a naughty kid to a Financial expert, with a Master degree in my pocket. With my 6ft tall ego protecting me from the outside world.
Everything went fine, Until that one day. The day I walked from my office to my car. In that short walk, I shrunk to the 4,2ft that I am. Like Josh walking away in the movie BIG. I locked myself up in the house for weeks and slowly I started to realized that I had to accept myself as a little person to go on with my life. I decided to go the LPA convention in Seattle, and for the first time in my life I saw a little person. Not one of course, thousands!
That week was like a roller coaster to me. It was like looking in the mirror for the first time in my life. Or playing a tape with your own voice. It’s just not what you think it is. I talked to a lot of people. I also discovered what type of dwarfism I had. Diastrophic Dysplasia. So besides being little there were plenty of other shortcomings I had to deal with. From that moment I decided that I had got get everything out of life, every day again.
I completely changed my life. I quit my job in Finance and started searching where my real passion was. I started to write a book. A trip down to memory lane. The good things, but also the bad, that I’ve hidden somewhere deep in my mind. And every day that I wrote, the real Rolf appeared a bit more. Slowly I embraced my special point of view to the world. I discovered street photography and made it my niche. ‘The World from below’. Just because my point of view is special. I am special.
Back in the days I never practiced any sports. Oh yes, in my mind was a winner, but competing in sports wouldn’t be fair. So I didn’t. But now, being little and physically challenged, maybe there were other opportunities?
I went to a Paralympic talent day and met the coach of the Dutch Paralympic Sailing team. A week later I sailed for the first time and it made my heart beat faster. For more than a year I spent my days in a sailing boat. I had to convince the coach that I was the right one. My coach once said: ‘Rolf, you don’t have to fight against the wind, just use it to go forwards.’ I think it’s the same with being a little person.
A few months ago I got the news. ‘Rolf, you’re in the team!’ Since that day I travel with my boat around the world. My new goal is a medal in Rio de Janeiro 2016. I love being on the ocean. The ocean doesn’t judge. On the ocean every human being is little. At the end of the day, when I sail back to the harbor, I sometimes think back at the time when I was locked in my expensive office, pretending that I had a great live. Now I don’t have to pretend anymore.
Amsterdam, The Netherlands