Forever a small fish in a big pond

Tuesday 23 June 2020

MY FIRST BLOG POST- 2014 Flashback

My very first blog post; written 2nd May 2014.
Growing up without being able to grow. 

Teenage life is never easy but living in a world built for people twice my size brings extra challenges. My form of dwarfism Achondroplasia means that at just 3ft 11, I am much shorter than my friends, family and classmates.  It wasn't till I was reaching the end of my second year in primary school that I started to notice the extent of the size difference between myself and my classmates. As they grew it was becoming apparent that I wasn't. I remember going home asking my mum why. As you can imagine it was a hard question to answer for my mum and like any six year old, I wasn't quite sure what I was being told. No matter how many times I got told, no matter how many times it was explained, it never quite sunk in. Why was I different? And why was no one else different? By the time I reached the age of 9, I was well aware of my size and my condition however it was something that never got mentioned, even in my family it wasn't something that got talked about, In a way, I saw that as a positive. My family saw me as me and so did my friends but as my time at primary school was coming to an end, I started to wonder what people like me were going through. Did people like me even exist? 

In my world it was only me, with no contact with any other families like ours and any people like me, it felt isolating. Like I was alone. Ever heard the story of the ugly duckling? Well, I was feeling very much like that duckling. As time went on, my fear grew, how was I supposed to grow up if I couldn’t grow and more to the point, how could I do it alone?  When I joined secondary school in 2010 my world was upturned, no longer was I in the comfort in my 300 pupil primary school but I was now in a 2000 pupil secondary. For the first time in my life, I found myself going home in tears, waking up in fear and wishing that I could change, wishing that things would change. I was surrounded by people but I had never felt so alone. It not only affected my confidence but it also affected my health. Gone was the happy full of life girl, who my family and friends once knew, I don’t think they really knew me at that point. And if I’m honest, I didn’t even know myself. The phrase “what they don’t know, won’t hurt them” is well known and in my case well used. For years I had experienced laughs, points, and comments both in school and on the street but as a child how was I supposed to know what it meant. Well at the age of 11 I was learning quite well what it meant and once I knew, I was hurt. With the knowledge of being seen as a weirdo, a freak, a laughing stock constantly in my mind I lost the power to smile and walk on. I lost confidence in myself and what was worse... I believed them; I believed what they were saying. Every word. If everyone is telling you you’re a freak surely they can’t all be wrong, everything my family and friends have told me about being unique and special were they lying? Was I really the freak that so many claim I was? Was this really how my life was going to be...? Something had to change but the thing was I knew I couldn't. I couldn't change who I was, but was there a way I could change how I felt.

In February 2012 I looked for comfort in an organisation that was just starting up... Little People UK aimed to support people with dwarfism their friends and their families... Could this be what I had been looking for? Could this be the change that needed to happen? Well, there was only one way to find out...It’s now 2014, and after just celebrating our 2nd birthday, Little People UK has over 500 members and is now a registered charity. Since their first get together both me and my family have worked closely with the charity and as fund-raisers and committee members we are very much involved. LPUK turned out to be exactly what I needed but it wasn’t the change I was looking for. LPUK didn’t change things, but they changed me and I changed things. That was the change I needed so badly, it wasn’t the people around me, it was the person within me. With the knowledge of knowing I wasn’t alone and that I wasn’t a freak or a weirdo, my confidence began to grow. I never got my old self back but I found my new self... My real self.

 If you look around at where I am today, to an extent nothing has changed. I still get laughed at, pointed at, treated like a freak but one thing for sure has changed. I no longer believe them, I believe myself. I may have had to learn the hard way and my childhood was not the easiest of rides but looking back I wouldn’t change anything. Before I had always seen myself as my disability now I’m starting to discover the person within. I will never be able to change what I am but maybe it’s not me that has to. My disability doesn’t stop me from doing anything, as I go into my last year in school and start planning to move onto college and thinking about possible careers I know that I have a future however the people who put me down maybe won’t be so lucky.   People see me as disabled but maybe I’m not the disabled one. I have a condition which means I have a physical difference... that’s it! But if you look at it from another perspective the real disability isn’t what’s on the outside it’s what lays within and in that case maybe it isn’t me that’s disabled! My condition isn’t going to influence my future as far as succeeding goes however being a bully might. For years I felt sorry for myself, felt like I was the victim and that I was the one that had it hard but really I should’ve felt sorry for them, I should have felt sorry at the fact that they would grow up being immature and judgemental and that they wouldn’t ever realise.. well until it’s too late. I still have bad days, I still have wobbles, I cry and at times I wish things were different. But I know that deep down I don’t want things to be different, I wouldn’t be who I am if things were different. I am who I am because I am different... Maybe I’m growing up without being able to grow, but I’m growing up with the confidence, the maturity and determination to succeed. The bullies, however... well I’ll let you imagine how that story ends.

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