By Qin Sun Stubis
While a baby is often described as a bundle of joy, it is a lot harder to explain and predict its future and what the squirming little tyke will become –whether or not he will inherit his mother ’s nose or his father ’s height. After all, our mysterious DNA blueprints are not only unique for each person, but also invisibly mapped within us. Only time will tell.
By the time we reach adulthood, we have grown quite drastically, especially in height. While some of us become very tall, others remain closer to the ground, like I did. We learn to accept our height as something wired within us, something we can’t change, like our looks. We are who we are, which makes us special. When I was little, I was the shortest person in my class and was always ordered to sit in the front row. Shanghai was different then, and very poor.
Our small classroom was jam-packed with almost 50 students. Being in the first row meant my nose could practically touch the blackboard. I didn’t like it at all. My biggest wish then was that I’d grow tall one day and sit all the way in the back. Disappointingly, that never happened.
Besides my genetic disadvantage, I also lived a deprived life during the Cultural Revolution. Like lots of Chinese people at the time, my family faced political persecution as well as physical challenges. Food was scarce and rationed, and heating and air-conditioning were non-existent. Going to bed with an empty stomach on a cold, cold night wasn’t going to help me fight my fate.
Over the years I didn’t grow much in size, but I started to appreciate the way I was. For one thing, I could readily squeeze through a crowd of people in a city of millions. I also realized that I could still become a bigger person in other ways. And, the perfect example was right in my home.
At 5 ft. 6 in., my father, An Chu, was not a tall man by any means. Yet everyone who knew him thought he was a big man and they looked up to him, figuratively, if not literally. He had a big, deep, and confident voice. When he spoke, his words shook the room. He also had an infectious smile, a kind heart, and a strong sense of jus- tice. He was never afraid to stand up to fight for what he believed in. What he had was a big personality, and I wanted to be like him.
Unlike our physical size about which we can do little, our personality can be cultivated and enlarged long after we’ve reached adulthood. Its size grows with us from day to day, if only we keep working on it. Ultimately, it’s the personality, and not the physical size, that determines who we are.
Both physical and personality sizes matter a great deal in every culture. It is even more so here in the United States. Generally, taller people are seen as more important and make more money. As a matter of fact, most famous American presidents tend to be tall. While it’s not up to us to decide how tall we’ll grow, we can always compensate for our height with our personality.
Growing personality is an important ongoing process for people of all ages and sizes. It’s vital to train our children early to form a lifelong habit of personality cultivation. Teach them by example to have open minds, think positively, speak out loudly and clearly, and build self-confidence, as these are some of the essential building blocks in helping ourselves grow. Remember, we are the driving force behind our own size.
You can always reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org