Embrace "YOU"

I wish I started counting the amount of times I’ve been asked the question, “do you play basketball?” or have been told, “oh, you must play basketball.” Guess what? I’m sorry to report that no, I have never played for a basketball team in my entire life. I suppose that’s just peoples’ first assumption when they see a recognizably tall, blonde girl who stands at 6 feet 1 inch.

    As I worked as a cashier at Market Basket from eighth grade through high school, I began to grow angry with these types of questions. It was as though customers noticed my height and felt obligated to ask me a question or make a comment about it. Not only was the basketball one a frequent flyer, but more often than not I would be asked, “hey, are you standing on anything behind that register?” during each shift. Additionally whenever walking through aisles, I’d even get stopped and asked to help people reach items off the high shelves. This I didn’t mind as much, but it’s just another example of how absolute strangers took note of my stature.

    As a young fifteen year old girl scanning groceries, questions like these frustrated me. The other cashiers weren’t being attacked about their appearance, and all I wanted to do was be able to respond, “yes, I do play basketball, and I’m fabulous at it.” I can vividly remember one day working at the Basket during Christmas break of my freshman year of college when I said to myself, “Why the hell not just go along with it?” Once I had made this conscious decision in my mind, and the next customer asked me if I played basketball, I responded by saying yes, and that I played in college. The thrill was unreal. The man left my register and continued with his day as normal, bagged groceries in hand. Meanwhile for me, those short two minutes of interaction have stuck with me to this day.

    Currently as a sophomore in college, I look back on these high school years spent as a cashier and realize my height was something I should’ve been embracing. While I didn’t have to lie to every customer and tell them that I played center for a Division II college basketball team, I certainly didn’t need to be angry with them. They were probably just being inquisitive and trying to spark an innocent conversation. In fact, only one percent of U.S. women are over six feet tall, and that makes a sight like me pretty unique.

My height then was something that I felt targeted for, but today, it is something that helps me walk tall with my shoulders back. It’s something that makes me stand out, and stand out in a good way. It’s something that comes in handy and makes me a fierce and intimidating competitor when playing the net during doubles tennis matches with the Saint Michael’s College Women’s team. And finally, it’s something that makes me, well me.

    If you’re also someone who has some characteristic that may catch the eye of others, learn to embrace it! It’s definitely not something that will happen overnight, and for me it may have taken upwards of twenty years. However, I look back now and wish I didn’t spend those years in embarrassment and shame. Whether you’re tall, short, wide, freckly, or curly haired, you are you. And to me, that’s pretty cool.