The teasing, name-calling and bullying were very challenging to deal with, but thankfully as people matured, most of that subsided. However, one thing that didn’t seem to change or improve with time was that I couldn’t seem to get girls to like me romantically. I remember in 9th grade, I had just started making some serious friendships with girls. The “girls have cooties” stage was far behind me and I found it thrilling to “hang out” with girls for the first time. During this time, I had a crush on a girl named Heidi. She was outgoing, petite and had beautiful curly hair.
Our school was having a dance and I was dreaming of the prospect of slow-dancing with Heidi. While walking home from school on the day of the dance with Heidi’s best friend Jen, she said she knew something that Heidi had said about me. She said that it was a secret and she wasn’t going to tell me. My heart fluttered as I wondered whether or not she was going to tell me that Heidi had a crush on me. Was this the moment that I would finally get some good news? Was the long night of unrequited love about to come to an end?
I went back and forth with Jen pleading for her to tell me the secret. Finally, Jen relented and told me Heidi’s big secret: “Heidi does NOT want to dance with you tonight. She would feel awkward because you’re short.” OUCH. Rather than being elevated to cloud nine, I was crushed into the ground. Unfortunately, this was not an isolated incident but seemed to be the story of my adolescence and it made me wonder if I would I ever find love.
The rest of this post has now been published in my book Standing up for Standing Out: Making the most of Being Different in Kindle or hard copy.The book includes experiences from 74 people I interviewed who share their struggles and coping strategies on the topics of relationships, belonging, standing out, self-acceptance, working against labels, gaining understanding and compassion, and personal growth. Check it out!
Here are some excerpts from those we interviewed, included in this chapter of my book:
"I think that I felt really insecure about myself with guys, not with feeling rejected, but feeling unable to enter the social world with dating because I felt like my ethnicity was a barrier that I could not overcome..."
"I feel like what we do as individuals in a society, is put too much stock into what the media says..."
"You want girls to feel pretty and like the princesses they are. When your presence is prone to make them feel less princess-ish, it’s really frustrating..."