My favorite childhood movie was National Velvet, and I yearned to someday be a jockey like Elizabeth Taylor. I loved horses and knew that will dedication and skill, I could someday win the Preakness and the Kentucy Derby. My ambitious dream of becoming a jockey was dashed by age 10, when my height reached six feet. Jockeys could be young or old, male or female, but they were all well under five-foot-six.
As an American woman, I've never appreciated everyone's obsession with being tall. Maybe because my stature was genetic and unwanted, I was especially reluctant to embrace it. Throughout adolescence I was taller than most boys and was never asked to dance at parties or social events. Boys seemed to prefer the short girls, who wore adorable clothes and tiny, cute shoes. Trust me, it's impossible to look even remotely cute when you tower over the boys by a good six inches and wear a size ten shoe! Since early adulthood, I've learned to embrace my height and do everything possible to accentuate it.
I wear slimming, sophisticated clothes and usually appear more mature than my 25 years. My superiors tend to take me seriously, somehow equating stature with wisdom and experience. I'm also a killer basketball player, a starter for all four years for the Kansas State Lady Cats. In my more honest moments, I'll admit that I actually enjoy being the center of attention when I walk into a room. As a six-foot-four, naturally blonde amazon, I always get noticed. People are usually delighted to discover that the "tall blonde" is also funny, smart, hard working and talented.
Yet a small part of me will always be 10 years old, dying to be short like everyone else. I could be a jockey, a gymnast or simply a small, cute girl. Maybe I'd have become a "diminutive rock star" like Madonna or Gwen Stefani. Yet destiny obviously had another fate in mind, blessing me with a tall stature, an intelligent mind and a devastating sense of humor. I've learned over time to use and develop all of my gifts in a positive way to benefit my friends, employers and society. If that means forfeiting my win at the Kentucky Derby, so be it.