One strategy that has been shown to be helpful by researchers and that was mentioned by those we interviewed was having a positive role model of someone who shares your difference and has succeeded in spite of this difference. Although these individuals have not necessarily been my role models, there are many short guys who have been quite successful. The first astronaut in space, Yuri Gagarin, was 5'1". Comical actor Danny DeVito is 5’2". Founding Father James Madison and actor Michael J. Fox are (or were) only 5’4”. Star Wars creator, George Lucas, and Napoleon Bonapart are (or were) 5’6”.  If you aren’t aware of successful people who share your difference, a quick Google search could reveal a number of role models you might choose from.

It’s often easy to discount famous people who have succeeded by thinking, "Oh they just got a lucky break," or "They just had amazing talents that I don’t have and that’s the only reason why they were able to succeed despite X difference." However, we often do not realize the extreme challenges that they endured along the way. Sometimes, you may not feel like you can fully identify with these individuals. Therefore, I suggest that you also take careful stock of people you know on a personal level who share your difference and who have succeeded despite their difference. For example, I didn’t need to look far for a great role model. My mom is only 4’10” but has a giant spirit. She is the type of person that everyone loves and admires, the type of person that makes you feel important and loved. She experienced many challenges due to her height but became a very successful mother and school teacher despite these difficulties.

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!

About the Author

Nathaniel Lambert, Ph.D.

Nathaniel Lambert, Ph.D., is a psychology professor at the University of Utah.

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