Inevitably, I am asked "How tall are you??" The question is so prevalent that when I first started studying Japanese (long story, I'll fill you in later), I learned how to say my height, in centimeters, in Japanese.
Let's just say I put the phrase "Hyaku Hachi Jyuu cenchi" (186 cm) to use on a regular basis when living in Tokyo. My height was so unusual in Japan, that people often did a double-take when they passed me on the street, causing my friends to let me know by saying "She's HUGE!!" in English.
This wasn't a new phenomenon for me. Since kindergarten, I have regularly been the tallest person in class. The summer I shot up 6' inches, growing pains were not just a phrase, but a literal ache in my bones. Junior high dances. left me towering over the boys, leaving me self-conscious and with few dating prospects.
I settled out at 6'2, and, although I leaned toward the brainiac and band crowds, inevitably, I was asked about my interest in volleyball and basketball. Apparently, God granted me height and sports was the best way to use it.
Here's the thing about height. It is viewed as a positive trait. People complain that "they want my height," and that "I should be a model." But the reality of it is much more complex. It can be an embarrassment to be the tallest person on the room. It can be difficult to hear someone below 5'3. Shopping is a nightmare. Cars, chairs, countertops, doorframes, airplanes and just about every other mass-made product is not made for my height. And I get asked about it. Constantly.
It sometimes makes me feel alone, self-conscious, and awkward. I feel like it is the first - and sometimes only - thing people see. I wonder how it colors my interactions.
So I started to think of it as my "Orange Nose." This very visible thing that people felt free to comment on, without any true understanding of what it felt like.
The more I started to talk to people about how my height made me feel, the more I realized how many people have an Orange Nose of their own. Some, like mine, were visible from the outside. Some, like trauma, diseases, mental conditions or debilitating fears, could feel just as obvious to their owners. This thing they carried around, hoping someone wouldn't find out about their Orange Nose.
It gave me great comfort, knowing that others felt as I did.
So here we are. A community of Orange Nosers. The misfits. The ones that feel "nearly" or even "not so nearly" normal. Sharing our stories so that we can bust the myth perpetuated by our society that "normal" has a single definition and one look.
Sharing that thing that we want to hide, so that we can be not so alone, together.
I Invite you to embrace your Orange Nose!
Melissa Reeve, Founder