"What do you mean I'll never grow taller?" I whimpered, staring up at my stepmother with unhappy eyes. I was fourteen, starting my freshman year of high school and already dramatically shorter than everyone else. My friends had started using my head as an arm rest while we were standing together, and the only thing that kept me from bursting into tears was the thought that I had until age twenty-one before the hope ran out.
"I'm sorry, Tara. But you got your period at eleven years old. Girls stop growing when they reach puberty." I didn't listen. She had to be wrong! Both of my parents were over five feet tall; it was impossible for me to land below them. But I didn't grow. I stayed small, and it stung every time I was measured for my height. Years passed and that tape still refused to pass the five-foot mark.
More years passed. The wise cracks became more frequent and people liked to stand around me because "I made them feel tall." It stung every time they said that. Finally, I graduated high school and entered a junior college at a young (and feeling every bit of it) seventeen years.
This is when I got into Judo: a Japanese fighting art that uses physics (not muscle strength) as its weapon. I discovered that even with my five-foot tall, 115-pound frame I could throw a 200-pound guy and even win the fight! And the best part of it all is that I even had an advantage! How could this be possible? An advantage over a 200 pound six foot two inch guy?! And yet every time I went I found was quicker, more flexible and harder to throw than anyone else on that mat. Nobody made fun of my height, and for the first time people made comments about my skills, strength, and quickness rather than what I was lacking.
I guess it just goes to show that even in fighting situations, smarts win over size any day. Even when you stand a foot smaller than everyone else, size really doesn't matter. Even if it earns you a nickname like "48 kilos!"