Standing out in a crowd (pun intended) was never something I struggled with. Truth be told, I always perceived the spotlight as a platform to showcase my abilities. From playing the lead in school plays to performing in innumerable chorus concerts, sorry mom and dad (there’s only so many times one can sing Rockin’ Robin before it gets old), to being asked “wow, you’re incredibly tall, do you play basketball?”, I truly enjoyed it all. To those wondering if I was skilled at basketball, I hate to disappoint but I was downright awful.
I knew people with half my height who could steal the ball faster than I could follow its trajectory in the air. All my middle school friends knew better than to pick me on their team. To those who picked me nonetheless, you all are the real MVP’s.
Since when are long legs a disadvantage, anyway?
As an impressionable young girl, I certainly had my self-conscious moments, especially during those instances when boys would benchmark their height against mine to measure how many inches were outstanding to cover. Charming. Or that time when I refused to wear heels to my high school prom. Okay, I wore heels but they were merely one inch. I surmised if I skipped the heels and my friends wore stilettos, I would fall into the median height category, right? Wrong. I still stood an entire head taller to my group.
However, my parents were always quick to encourage me to celebrate those features and predispositions that were unique to me, for I was always made to feel like a jewel in the world crown.
Fast forward to the present day and I have people asking me to distribute a portion of my height to them in jest. Women in the workforce are almost always sporting high heels. Height is now considered to be an asset, in large part due to the fashion and apparel industry, but it is one of many physical features under scrutiny by society. We often categorize people with superlatives: too short, too tall, too skinny, too broad, too fair, too bronzed, etc. But have we ever stopped for a moment to consider the benchmark against which we compare ourselves to others? Too tall or too short according to whose standards, the ones that society sets for us or the ones that we set for ourselves?
Why fit in when you were made to stand out…
Why is it that as self-identified groups we collectively desire the exact opposite of that which we are blessed with? Consider for example, the prevalent skin brightening advertisements in Asian countries versus those of tanning salons halfway across the world. Have we failed, as a society, to move past primitive ideologies of a certain skin color or body shape as "universally beautiful?" We were not born into this world with self limiting beliefs, it's only through social conditioning that we begin to scrutinize our "flaws" as opposed to celebrate the inherent individuality that is comprised within them.
Today when I look back at the young Karishma who used to pose with her knees bent to look several inches shorter in pictures with friends, I smile at the naivety of it all. I stand tall and grateful today, carrying my stature with pride. Sometimes all we need is a gentle reminder that fitting into a glass slipper isn’t as important as breaking a glass ceiling.
There will always be as many opinions as there are people in a room. Learn to listen to the one that matters the most: yours.
While diversity of opinion aids in the collective dynamism and evolution of our society, it also gives birth to the “grass is greener on the other side" phenomenon. The seeds that we sow in the minds of young children germinate as they grow older, leading to self-conscious or self-confident young adults. If the world is your oyster, it is most important to recognize that YOU are the pearl: the most perfect, precious pearl in the entire world.