The advantages and disadvantages of being (very) short in everyday life

To me, being (very) short is a large part of my identity. More often than not, my height is the first thing people notice about me. At school, however, I was almost made to feel like it was problematic; the observation “you’re so short!” was made daily (that’s right: every single day for five whole years), to which my response to the boys would be a sarcastic “well, obviously” and to the girls a nicer “haha, I know”. I’ve learned as I’ve grown older (and no further in height), however, to love my shortness; needless to say, it certainly comes with its disadvantages when trying to accomplish everyday tasks. In light of such, I thought I’d gather some of the perks and the not-so-easy aspects of being as short as I am, beginning with the latter.

Disadvantages

Reaching for things. While climbing on the kitchen worktop to grab something from the elevated cupboards can be fun at times, it definitely has its downfalls; the fear of slipping off and cracking your head open on the tiled floor is one extreme, yet very possible, example. In our kitchen at home, we genuinely have a little stool for us shorties (my mum and me, mainly), which, when I do rightly decide to pull it out instead of recklessly jumping around, makes life a hell of a lot easier. It’s a shame it’s not socially acceptable to carry a stool to the supermarket when you can’t reach for something on the top shelf; though I’m not embarrassed to find either an employee or a passerby and laugh “I’m sorry, could you grab that for me, please?” (in my overly polite British manner), when nobody’s available, what do you do? Well, if I’m feeling brave, I might riskily attempt to place one foot on the bottom shelf to bump me up a notch, or scout for another item that I can use as a manoeuvring device to shuffle the item on the top shelf closer to me. If those options fail, well, great: I can’t buy my essentials because of my damn little legs.

Public transport. Every time I opt to get on the train in rush hour and have to painfully stand as I gawk at and envy those who sit comfortably in the red-cushioned seats, I always wonder what the viewpoint for taller people is like; “they can actually see other people? Like, they can see across the entire carriage?”. Because, every single time, I involuntarily end up in the midst of a taller guy’s sweaty armpit, an older lady’s side-boob and a school kid’s Nike rucksack as we all hold onto the bright orange handrail for dear life. What’s more, commuters on public transport only care about themselves and their own comfort, so I have to endure this pleasurable combination of sweat, boobs and bags crushing me for the entirety of my journey. I know what you’re thinking: “if you drove, you could avoid all this havoc!”. Well, one: I don’t have my license yet, as driving is just another thing I’ve managed to conjure up an excuse for the procrastination; two: when I’m travelling to Central London… nah, I wouldn’t drive anyway; and three: public transport is ~ relatively ~ cheap and works for me anyway so, for that reason, I might as well try to learn to embrace the revulsion that is the “07:57 South Western Railway service to London Waterloo”.

Always. Being. Told. Everywhere I go, everything I do, everyone I meet; I’m always the shortest one. That, I don’t mind; it’s the mere constant need for everybody to remind me all the time. I’ve heard the “oh my God, you’re so tiny!”, “wow, how come you’re so short?” and “oh, you’re so cute!” more times than you can imagine. Well, guess what? I’m the one who’s 4’9”, so I am very aware of the fact that I’m “so tiny” or however you want to describe it. I’m a product of a full-Greek-Cypriot mother and a half-Burmese, quarter-Irish and a little bit of Italian, French and apparently Native American Indian (according to my auntie’s ancestry test; isn’t that AWESOME?) father, so that’s probably why I’m so short, since you asked. And finally, you think it’s cute? Aw, shucks. (That’s my favourite remark, really.)

Me with my tol friends (I think it’s obvious which one I am)

Advantages

People offering to do things for you. Contrary to the nuisance of trying to reach for things myself, oftentimes people will kindly offer to grab things from a great height for me to save me from straining my oh-so-tiny arms and legs. Be it at work reaching for my diary above the desk, in the university library aiming to reach for a book from up above or at home struggling to obtain a glass to quickly quench my thirst, there are many considerate people out there who look out for their smol friends and family members (thanks, guys).

Fitting into junior-sized shoes. This doesn’t necessarily apply to short people, but people with small feet, and I’m sure each and every one of us would agree that being able to buy trainers from the junior section is a blessing. I mean, they’re usually half the bloody price of the size 5-and-aboves! If you’re a size 4 like me or below and have been shopping in the general shoe section, you’ve wasted hella money, my friend. Most places I’ve shopped at for trainers and boots have a junior section, and if they don’t, then maybe – just maybe – I won’t shop there.

I LOVE IT. As I said, I’ve learned to love my shortness. It contributes to the characteristics that make me… me. In some ways, I also feel like it enhances my femininity (not that tall girls aren’t beautiful, because they are – shoutout to my tol friends!). I sometimes even forget myself just how short I am; I’ll be cuddling Dan and he’ll impulsively point it out (just like the rest of ‘em) after almost 5 years of being together, or I’ll order some trousers from the petite section online and make the mistake of not checking the leg length and thinking “eh, they’ll be fine” and, unsurprisingly, they’ll still be too long (top tip for my fellow shorties: buy cropped-length trousers and jeans for average-sized people for the perfectly-lengthed bottoms for yourself). But, when I remember, it makes me happy.

Daniel and me in España

Short people, tall people, ALL people: remember, we are all beautiful and unique in our own ways! But, in particular, to all my fellow tiny people: may we embrace our fun-sized selves together!

Love,

Soph, Little Pav

(If you hadn’t figured already, do you see where the blog name comes from now?)

“This is a pandemic, not a productivity contest”

I came across this quote on a post shared by Glamour UK on Instagram during my evening social media scroll one day last week and, damn, did it hit home. Just a couple of days before, my linguigals (the name I’ve assigned to my gal friends with whom I studied linguistics at university with; original, right?) and I were discussing this very topic on our group chat: how we’ve kept ourselves occupied during lockdown. One bravely revealed before-and-after photos upon completing a 30-day workout challenge (in which she looked INCREDIBLE), two painfully cried that they have predominantly been swamped in master’s assignments (I know that feeling, girls) and another proudly declared that she has managed to consume a whole can of Pringles to herself (this one clearly wins). While us linguigals always intend to empower one another, this conversation had the opposite – and unintentional on their behalf, I know – effect on me: it made me feel useless. While most of my friends have been working their arses off to keep fit or submit assignments displaying the best of their abilities (or eat as many snacks as possible, in one’s case), what have I been doing? As I mentioned briefly in my previous blog: playing Animal Crossing. A lot of it, for that matter. “For over 205 hours or more”, my Nintendo Switch profile confidently tells me. Call me mad. Call me crazy. Call me nuts. I am all those things.

Credit: @glamouruk on Instagram

Of course, that isn’t all I’ve been doing (though, undoubtedly, it has taken up a lot of my time). I’ve ensured that I take my dog (my sweet, sweet Diesel) for a long walk at least once a day, be it alone or with my mum, dad and/or fiancé Dan, for both mine and Diesel’s good. I’ve been playing ball in the garden with Diesel when the weather has been too nice to stay in my bedroom glued to the Switch. I’ve emptied my (and Dan’s) entire wardrobe and chest of drawers out only to place our clothes back in, but more neatly. But, is that enough? Should I be doing more? If so, what should I be doing? These are just a few of the many questions that began to occur to me following the aforementioned conversation with my friends. Beforehand, I believed that everything that I was doing was fine; it didn’t even cross my mind that I “should” be doing anything else or differently. In fact, from the onset, I perceived this time as an opportunity for me to rest and recuperate after a few full-on years of studying (“half a decade”, almost, as one of my linguigals pointed out when reassuring me that how I’ve spent my time is O.K. also). After completing my A levels in July 2015, I went straight on to study for my bachelor’s from September 2015. After completing my bachelor’s in May 2018, I went straight on to study for my master’s from September 2018. After completing my master’s in September 2019, I went straight into full-time work that same month. I’ve never taken a break, like a gap year or simply “time off” to give my mind and body a rest. Up until that conversation, I counted myself lucky that I didn’t have any assignments to complete for once; I counted myself lucky that I had so much time to spend on the wonder that is Animal Crossing: New Horizons.

My baby Diesel

Upon expressing how I began to feel a little bummed to my linguigals after seeing their successes, each and every one of them reminded me that there is no “right or wrong” way to spend our time in quarantine (don’t they sound amazing? That, they are!). In sum, our conversation – and, subsequently, that Glamour UK post – made me realise that the pandemic experience is different for everyone, and it most certainly isn’t a competition as to who has achieved the most during this time we have imperatively stayed at home to protect ourselves and each other. To some, it has provided an opportunity to learn new or pick up old hobbies such as exercising, cooking and reading; to others, it has provided a break for their mental and physical health. The latter is most certainly what I relate to the most, and however you have spent your time is O.K., too.

To all our NHS and key workers, thank you so much for what you do. To those who, like me, have stayed at home to assist in preventing the spread of COVID-19, how have you been spending your time at home? I’d love to know!

Love,

Soph, Little Pav