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 by: Johnathan H.

All of my life I have been the odd one out, the one who is made fun off, pointed at by children and treated differently by my peers. As a young adult who stands at just 4feet 3 inches tall, I have been made fun of for my height or looked at differently because of it. Although I may look different on the outside because of my stature, I go through the same experiences that all other "normal" or "average" height teenagers go through. But one question I had was what does normal really mean. If you could describe normal, there isn't one specific person that reflects all the attributes of what is to be a "normal" person.

When I was younger I would always get questions like "why are you so short?" "are you going to grow anymore" ''what's Achondroplasia?" Now I would never get mad at someone for being curious but when I didn't know the answers either it would be hard just to say I don't know. Also kids would say "you can't do that your too short" so I didn't even bother to try to do it. At the end of the day when people made fun of me, I would get off the bus, go to my room, and cry for a good half hour but I never ever tell my mom what went wrong during the day. Eventually I gained enough guts to try and put a stop to people making fun of me. I would make fun of them back, that didn't work. I would ignore it, that didn't work. I would tell a teacher, and that worked for about two days, which didn't really help either. So one day I asked my mom and she explained to me why I was different. This made some of the questions that I got asked go away and also some of the tears as well because I was starting to understand that being different from everybody else wasn't so bad. I found out that I have a condition called Achondroplasia which is a form of dwarfism and this condition makes me who I am today, which is a 4 foot 3 young adult. Achondroplasia is the most common type of dwarfism, which makes the person who has this condition to be a maximum height of anywhere between 4 foot and 4 foot 6. I would eventually be able to answer these questions and educate others on my condition.

Once middle school hit I decided that I didn't want to be the one that people made fun of anymore and I wanted to be noticed for something different, being smart, friendly and athletic. So I used my intellect, and athletic abilities to become the one that people wanted to be friends with and not the one that they laughed at. One major change that I experienced during this time period was that instead of being kind of shy and a kid with a lack of confidence, I began to think more highly of myself and listen to those who were supportive of anything and everything I did, like my family members, teachers and close mends. I tried out for the 7th grade basketball team and made a whole bunch of mends when I was on that team. Also whenever I played in a game, the crowd would cheer a little louder when I got the ball because of my disability. I noticed that people who I have grown up with got more mature and embraced me for who I was, not only did they embrace me, but I did as well and stopped trying to be someone that I wasn't. That became the circle of friends that I spent the most time with. My teammates were the first ones who embraced me. Whenever I would have a problem with any of the other kids they would always be there to stop kids from making fun of me. Now I was with a group of mends who didn't care how different I looked from an "average" person, the only thing they cared about was the fact that I was a good mend and someone fun to be around.

Another way that I would be able to meet new people who would have a good impression of me was through studying with them at lunch. I was and still am a very good math and science student. I also love to tutor people in these subjects because they are easy to learn if they are just explained in the right way. I got to meet some new people and make some new friends with my good studying habits.

As I progressed to my high school years, I was noticing that there are a lot of benefits from being different. I am more noticeable and easier to remember. In fact, I was the only dwarf or person with Achondroplasia in my school. The good thing about this was that when I was separated from my peers for my differences, my successes were also recognized which was good because the teachers; and administrators were left with good impressions of me. With this advantage of being noticed a little bit more than all the others, I made my voice heard in a few things. For example, being the president of a club in the high school and also the captain of the bowling team. With my new found perspective of my differences when compared to my peers, I knew that me being a little person was definitely an advantage.

All of my life, I have been noticed as one who has overcome a disability, one who didn't let anything, stand in my way, a leader to my peers, and a son who my parents are proud to say "that's my kid". As a young adult that stands at 4 foot 3, my peers have noticed me for my differences such as being both athletic and smart, a leader and voice for a group of people as well as well-respected gentlemen who may appear to come up short in many ways, but now know that he can do anything he strives to do despite the differences and unusual challenges that he may face in life.