It’s no big secret that I am a tall person. Rather, I mentioned this in my ‘Portrait Of’ presentation; one is bound to hear me before they see me. But when someone does see me, it’s usually about half a head above everyone else. Everything about me is like this: I am loud, tall and energetic. I am possibly one of the least subtle people alive.
And people notice. Be it at family events or at school, my height is something that people never fail to mention. One time, my mom was introducing my brother and I to a lady at a family friend’s place. She introduced us as the “Older and younger child”. The lady took one look at us and responded with: “Are you sure?”
Really? Are you sure? My mom went through a lot on those May and February nights. When my brother fractured his arm, everyone we told had to make sure it was my brother we were talking about, not me. Because it would be totally understandable that I would get myself hurt, but never him! It’s always the energetic one who has to mess things up, no?
What gets me every time is that someone mentions my height, they comment on how it must be such a good thing to be, and how it ‘must be so nice’ to be as tall as I am. For the most part, it really is. I do enjoy my height. What I do not enjoy, however, is that some people automatically assume that being tall means that I will be aggressive and tough, that I will resort to using my body as a method to intimidate people. I do everything in my power to make people not think of me like this. I am physical, and will proudly punctuate my words and thoughts with a physical action (I liken myself to Mrs. Reichelt in that regard, throwing her arms forward with a massive grin at the mere thought of Physics). When I am passionate about something, I make it obvious. However, I never intend to be intimidating or overwhelming. This is why I am so shocked to hear that people get this notion, simply because of my size or actions.
People have asked me if I am going to become a policeman or a wrestler or any job of that physical caliber. People who I have just met, making me feel slightly unsafe in being who I am. I don’t want to be known to others as that tall brown kid – I’d rather have people know me for who I am, and what I do. So here’s a perspective from up here: It’s not as great as people make it out to be. It’s really not this amazing advantage that I get over people. If anything, it works against me as much as it does for me. People always comment how funny I look reaching over to do anything, how disproportional my legs are compared to the rest of me (My legs are longer than a boy in school who pushes 6′ 8″), and how I must be great at basketball. And this used to make me feel like a lesser-than. It made me feel excluded and scrutinized for something that I had no control over.
Being different is both wonderful and terrible. It sets you apart from other people, but also sets you up for judgement and people having preconceived thoughts about you. It’s a question I’ve always had; why can’t I just be normal? What does it even mean to be normal? To blend into the background and not make too much noise? And using that definition, do I even want to be normal?
A quote from a book I have read explains this rather well: “Every parent, when they have [a child], wants their child to be the smartest, the fastest, the brightest, the best at everything. But just under that thought is the want for them to just be normal. Normal enough to have a happy life and never have to face judgement” (Derek Landy). I’m rather certain I was born to be anything but normal. Even the day I was born, I let out an ear splitting cry which was enough for the doctor to tell my parents “I will check the rest of him later, but I can tell you his lungs are really strong”. I was born large and loud, and grew to be confident and expressive. I no longer get a shot at fading into the background and being ‘normal’. It would be a disservice to the person I will someday become if I were to try to suppress my personality.
That being said, I can just pray that the sheer energy that comes with being an Areeb will never scare anyone. Know that you, the reader of this, should never feel intimidated or scared in my presence. And while I talk about being above people physically, know that I am nothing more than equal to all of you in every other respect. So feel free to comment on my oversized legs or too loud voice – things like these just make me proud to be me.
But hey, that’s just a perspective from up here.