All the tall people I have ever encountered have at some point in their lives secretly wished to change their height to fit usual standards of our society. For me, this occupied my teenage brain for several years. I kept asking my self: Why can’t I just be normal size? Why can’t I find normal clothes? Why do I always have to stick out of crowds? or why is it always me at the very back of every picture being taken?
It was as if my height and my personality was so closely connected, that my idea of how others perceived me was solely based on my stature. I was the tall guy – period. To others this meant that I was bound to be good at ‘tall people stuff’. As an example I spent a year in a US high school, when during our first indoor PE class I was first to be picked for basketball, but this tremendous succes lasted about one game – the rest of the indoor season I was always last to be picked.
Sports involving any handling of spherical airfilled objects (aka balls) has never been a strong competence of mine – and never will be. Instead, I decided during my teenage years to become the ‘funny guy’. I developed many of my social skills due to my height – I couldn’t hide much in crowds so instead I tried to be at the center of them instead.
I developed a sense of self irony and generally tried to get the elephant (or rather the giraffe) in the room (me) accepted, which turned out pretty well. I had a great social circle in my high school years, with many friendships lasting to this day. I figured this would also help me approach girls as well. Girls would have an excuse to be with me “oh yeah he’s, tall I know.. But so much fun though”.
As with many other things in my teens the strategy needed to be refined – and my initial crude attempts were not very successful. I had rejections and I kept telling myself that the rejections were due to my height, while in fact I was probably just ‘single minded’ or ‘insensitive’ at times. In my mind I always felt I needed to defend myself to break the ‘tall guy spell’.
If people asked my height I would casually remark: “I don’t know – but it’s just below 2 meters” (somehow 2 meters seemed to be the benchmark of tall people). I deliberately kept it below 2 meters when asked – as if I wanted to say “yeah I’m pretty tall, but not a gigantic freak above 2 meters”… But no matter what I did I was always ‘tall’ first and ‘fun’ secondly.
The tall and fun guy strategy gave me lots of friends – many of whom I still see to this very day. And eventhough I was rejected by some girls I also met some very nice ones and managed to have a normal love life, in fact I met my current girlfriend during this period of my life.
At any length I guess I found a way to deal with my height – mostly by trying to move focus away from it.
Now in my thirties I realize I got it somewhat wrong, I have pretty much spent 15 years of my life accepting the fact that: yes, I am tall and yes, I do stick out of crowds. I have taught myself to cope with the “ohhhs” and “ahhs” of people I meet for the first time. And I have learned to embrace the fact that even if I’m a pretty good sailor, I will always be the ‘tall sailor’ or as a pretty good amateur photographer I will always be the ‘tall amateur photographer’.
So now I try to embrace it instead and I try to look my best while doing it. I put great care into trying to find sailing clothes that fit me well and to focus on how I can utilize my height when sailing.
When taking pictures I also utilize my reach and I sometimes offer myself to others with a camera if standing in a crowd – this is usually highly appreciated.
Occasionally I bump into tall people who do not seem to have overcome the fact that they are tall and that this is an inseparable part of their personality. Tall is a fact of life, it is a condition which is not to be modified. In a world of cosmetic surgery there is little we can’t change about our bodies if we’re not content with what we’ve got – However, tall is unchangeable.
It is about time that we tall people embrace our height instead of hitting ourselves on the head with it. After all, height has always been seen as a sign of health and strength – tall workers were always in favor for their strength and stamina, tall men across Europe are drafted for elite army units and to guard royals. Tall sports stars are celebrated worldwide and the term: “tall and handsome” has been included positively in countless languages.
I have a son aged 3 and I hope he’ll grow as tall as me. I have found that given the few downsides (among them airline seats) most effects of being tall are in fact upsidesand despite popular belief, it is not about reaching stuff without ladders or playing basketball.