This speech was given in August 2009. As a senior, I spoke to the Freshman during the traditional Freshman Retreat, which was held at Camp Carpenter.
Don’t you hate it when you walk into room and you’re either way too overdressed or underdressed? You all of a sudden enter this zone where you do not feel comfortable in. You feel like all eyes are on you and you just want to leave. Try walking into every room you have ever entered, feeling that way. I do! Everyday I live my life being starred at, judged, made fun of, and questioned. I’ve never gone through a day where I don’t catch a stare, or hear a little kid asking his mom or dad why I have a big head and am so short. I can be the best looking kid, the best dressed in that room, yet all eyes are on me. Is it fair, no? Is it my life, yes?
When I was born, doctors told my parents two things. They told my parents that I was going to be born with a type of dwarfism called achondroplasia. My parents didn’t know what that meant or what symptoms came with being an achon. The only vision they had in their head was from the Disney movie, Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. The only question they had in mind was, which one would I turn out to be, Happy, Grumpy, maybe Dopey? The second thing the doctors told my parents was that there wasn’t a great chance that I would live past the hospital stay. My dad without any hesitation called a priest over to our hospital room, where I was baptized for the first time. Later on I had a more formal baptism at St. Catherine’s where family and friends attended.
I am seventeen years old and stand at four feet tall. I live in a world that wasn’t made for me. I have the two most amazing parents who should be proud for the job they’ve done raising a son, who doesn’t see himself as any different. I’m given every opportunity a 6 ft person gets. Because of my personality, heart, and attitude I am respected and my height is overlooked. I like to take opportunities that are given and use it to my advantage. I will find a way to make things adaptable for me.
Everyday I experience pain, but that doesn’t stop me. I experience discrimination, it makes me stronger. I experience support, which makes me feel wanted. I know I can always count on my family through the rough times. My friends accept me and watch out for me. I attended a LPA convention and brought a long two of my best friends to show them what it’s like in our world. We were in a meeting with all teenage dwarfs and we all shared our experiences and what the ups and downs of being a dwarf were. My friend Dylan Clark spoke and it really touched me. He said that he doesn’t like it when people stare and comment, he feels bad when situations like that occur. He doesn’t like it when I can’t compete or take part in activities because of my height. He says that he would do anything for me and made sure that I felt like I belonged.
I use to be the kid that would observe everything going on around him. I wouldn’t interact that much because I would always think I was being judged twenty-four seven. I thought I was part of a minority that was the living example of people who shouldn’t be on this earth. I’ve heard it all throughout my life, smurf, wee-man, mini-me, bobble-head, clown, oompa-loompa, elf, Zach Roloff, and of course the “M” word, midget. The most derogatory word out there for us LP’s. I always thought that if you were tall you’d ball, and if you were small, you’d fall, until I decided to take control. I wouldn’t allow myself to fall into that situation and decided to put myself out there for everyone to see who I really am. Of course, in the end you are entitled to your own opinion, but I feel my new strategy people like a lot more than my old one.
If I had the opportunity to start my life over from day one and be born of average height, I wouldn’t. I love who I am and what I have become. I believe I have just as much potential than the person sitting next to me. I put my heart and soul in everything I do. I know I have to work extra hard to be respected. I will never forget something my dad said that has really motivated me. I showed him my report card one day and he wasn’t very pleased with it. He told me that I will not be hired to dig a hole, but I will be hired to think of ways of how to dig that hole. What he meant by that was that I wouldn’t be hired to perform physical labor. I will be hired to be the thinker, do the labor that involves thinking and brainstorming. That’s something that I will never forget and thank my parents. They are giving me opportunities that most kids won’t get. Every door is open for me. I just have to follow my dream.
I was given a gift, to attend Trinity High School. A school that I’ve heard nothing but good things from, and heard from prior teachers that it would be a good fit for me. I was probably standing at 3’6” walking down the halls on day one of freshmen year. I’m walking down the halls heading to Mrs. Belushko’s class with a big smile on my face. I’m feeling pretty cool giving high fives to upperclassmen as a walk to class. At this point, I’m feeling like nothing can intimidate me. That suddenly changed when I look right and see big Mr. Smith standing in the doorway, saying, “Myers, tuck in your shirt.” Still to this day, Mr. Smith intimidates me, but that never stopped me from giving my high-fives.
From that day on, a school with arms wide open welcomed me. It was so easy to adapt and find new friends and keep the old ones that would share memories with you that will last me the rest of my life. Trinity has allowed me to expand and show my fullest potential. I can be whatever I want to be when I’m here. If I want to be president I can be president, if I want to help out the hockey team, I can help out the hockey team. I owe a lot of people more than I can offer throughout my life, and a lot of people on that list, have been apart of my Trinity experience. The best decision I’ve made so far in my life is attending this high school, cause it was an option. I hope you enjoy these next four years and let nothing stop you from being who you truly are. You will find deep down inside who you really are and what your purpose is while you’re at Trinity, use it as an advantage. Ask me questions throughout your first year here. You can pull me aside and talk to me about anything, school related or not. I’m also open to talk more about the ups and downs of being a dwarf. I want you to have the same freshmen experience I did, and that was a pretty good one. Thank you for listening to my story, and now I leave you with this one question, Who’s going to “bring the flavor?”