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by Rosaleigh H.


I am a living definition of a human dichotomy. At five feet four inches tall, I am both the average seventeen-year-old American girl and a rose amongst daisies in the eyes of my family and our closest friends. To be able to blend into a camouflage blur in the midst of my peers, yet to stick out like a Mercedes Benz in a trailer park amongst many that I hold dear, this has taught me that it is not what I am that defines me, but rather who I am. I have learned this very valuable lesson from my brother.

My teenage brother Johnathan, at the young age of fifteen, stands at just one inch over four feet. Besides being a terrific athlete, a popular high school freshman, and an all around high-spirited kid, he is also a "Little Person." Johnathan has lived with Achondroplasia (the most common type of Dwarfism) all his life, yet just like his ability in sports or his successful year in school, it is only one component of who he is, not an entire identity. When I hang out with my younger brother and the plethora of friends he has made through various Little People conferences and conventions, I can't help but feel like the odd man out. I feel like a mammoth giant in a world where I don't fit in. It is during these scenarios that I remember, this is exactly what Johnathan goes through every single day, (excluding the "mammoth giant" part). It is an extremely strange feeling to know that you are continually in the public eye yet to know people are never actually looking at you. Whenever I go out with Johnathan, people always manage to stare, sometimes out of confusion and other times out of plain distaste but no matter what the reason, we are definitely always noticed. It is neither my brother's choice to stand out nor would it ever be his wish to blend in. He was born into a harsh world that was just as unprepared for him as he was for it.

Although I have to literally look down at my brother, for once I find myself looking up to him because he has discovered his true identity, regardless of the remarks and whispers, from his peers and strangers. In Johnathan's eyes, his life is not different or unfair, it's just simply his life, and it's all he has ever known. Despite the numerous doctor visits and surgeries that remain in his future, my brother has proven to me, through his pursuit to lead a normal life, that life is not about living within the confines of your physical self and capabilities.  It is instead about accepting who you are physically and allowing yourself to grow as a person and develop in soul, in spirit, and in mind.

These are the ideals that I am striving for with the inspiration that I derive from my brother. It is knowing the obstacles that Johnathan has dealt with on a daily basis, that gives me conviction to succeed in all of my future endeavors.

It is my dream that someday people will comprehend disability. Disability defined as

something that restricts; limitation; disadvantage. If just for one day we could overlook the physical restrictions and look deeper into the disadvantaged person, we may find that they are not that different from us. They just have to work harder to achieve their goals. This might just make us as the human race become more passionate instead of judgmental.

It’s like my mom always says, “Its better to be big on the inside, than on the outside.”