The problem isn't your height. It's your mind.
As anyone who knows me knows, I absolutely love being tall. I love having the body of a supermodel. I love being good at almost every sport I've ever tried. I love being to see at every concert and show I've ever attended. (See also: Yes, I'm 6 Feet Tall. No, I Won't Move So You Can See Better.)
When Tall Girl came out, I was unable to suspend my disbelief; I thought loving being tall was a universal experience. I couldn't wrap my mind around a girl who's 6'1 and hates it.
But then my mom, who is also over 6 feet tall, invited me to join this Facebook group for tall women...
And that's how I learned that some women actually do not like being tall.
I was flabbergasted.
However, unlike many people in the digital world, I am capable of this crazy thing called "perspective taking" and "empathy." Just because an experience isn't the same as mine, doesn't mean it isn't valid or real.
Many women in this group have experienced teasing or bullying. Many have been called "trans" by men as a form of retaliation for rejection. (It's very silly, though -- do these men seriously expect us to believe that we're somehow manly looking, when they were literally just hitting on us two seconds ago? Even when we're tall, female bodies look nothing like male bodies, and a wounded beta male isn't going to convince anyone otherwise.) Many have a hard time finding clothes that fit (at 2.5 standard deviations above the mean, I have not had this problem -- but I am also okay with wearing a maxi dress as a tea-length
and I'm smart enough to throw on a pair of shorts -- usually men's boxer briefs, since they're the most comfortable -- under any skirt that would be a modest, appropriate length on anyone else.)
Image: Eva Via Music
I can empathize with these experiences, even though I do not share them.
One experience I feel morally compelled to call out as bullshit is the idea that being tall is somehow inherently awkward.
If you feel awkward all the time.
If you feel like people stare and laugh at you whenever you enter a room.
If you think being tall is the reason you are single.
Your height is not the problem.
YOUR MIND is the problem.
There are a couple of issues that may be causing this dysfunctional and untrue belief about yourself. I am going to walk you through each of them, and give a few easy, actionable strategies for recognizing and disrupting them.
Because I want you to learn how to love being tall just as much as I do.
Some girls hunch and squish and grovel to make themselves smaller because they're self-conscious about their height. I stand on a rock so I can make the boys look like ants. Image: The Happy Talent
1. You need to work on your mindfulness / flow / excitement / ability to immerse yourself in what you're doing.
If you're that worried about what people might be thinking about you whenever you go to a party, play a game, or just enter a room, you are clearly not thinking enough about the activity at hand...
And therefore, you're not enjoying what you're doing as much as you could or should be.
This is something you should start working on right away... because don't you want to enjoy everything you do as much as possible? Don't you want to spend more time immersed in a state of flow?
I'm reluctant to give advice about this, because it has never been my problem. I have the opposite problem: I get so immersed in what I'm doing that I forget anyone else is around. I've got this song, "Eroticism is Dead," in which I sing,
The majority of this song is not based on me or my personal experience -- but this line is 100% true. It's about a guy. We were at a beach in Tahoe together, and I could not stop kissing him. I could not stop laughing. I could not keep my hands off of him.
Eventually he was like, "Stop! People will see!"
And I laughed even louder, kissed him, and said, "WHO will see?"
I followed his point to a large group of children and their parents who were sitting about twenty feet away.
Again, I was flabbergasted. To me, the only two people who existed in the entire world were me and this guy. Like, literally.
Wouldn't you rather that be you?
Wouldn't you rather be so absorbed in what you're doing and how excited you are about the world around you that you have literally no bandwidth left to wonder if other people are noticing how tall you are?
Start by reading Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, by psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, or How to Train a Wild Elephant: And Other Adventures in Mindfulness, by Jan Chozen Bays.
Understanding mindfulness can transform every part of your life, from how you feel when you answer the phone to how you feel when you walk into a room full of short people.
There is absolutely no reason that experience needs to be awkward. You just need to learn how to care more about the moment that what other people might maybe be thinking.
I've said this many times before, but despite the authors I recommend when it comes to learning mindfulness, the books I've found the most helpful have always been nature guides. The more I know about the world around me -- the "boring" brown birds, the different species of squirrels in my neighborhood, edible wild plants and mushrooms -- the more absorbed I become in everything, from walking my dog to driving to work to hiking on the weekends.
One of my favorites has been The Cloudspotter's Guide: The Science, History, and Culture of Clouds.
Something to keep in mind, though. Mindfulness is definitely easier for some people than others. If you're someone who really struggles to "get in the zone," it might be worth exploring or learning new sports or activities that either present the correct balance of challenge and mastery (if something's become too easy for you, you'll never achieve a state of flow, and your mind will be free to wander into some of its darker corners).
Or, as I suggested in Yoga and Meditation Didn't Work For You. This Might Be Why, try an activity that DEMANDS your full and complete attention, such as surfing, mountain biking, or basketball. If you let your mind wander while doing yoga, so what? If you let your mind wander during surfing, you're going to get kook slammed.
Image: The Happy Talent
2. Rumination (that's when you can't shake thoughts out of your head and just let them replay over and over in your mind).
Human depression is not well understood. As I wrote in Stop the Bullshit - Women Aren't More Likely to be Depressed than Men, "People like to say that the reason SSRIs work is because some people don't have enough serotonin, so if you give them more they'll be happy.
But that's sort of like saying, People with fevers don't have enough Tylenol, so if you give them more Tylenol their fever will go away." (Read more >)
The truth is, neuroscientists know very little about what causes depression.
But we do know some correlates, including self-obsession and rumination.
In The Secret Life of Pronouns: What Our Words Say About Us, James Pennebaker describes an AI that can predict just from your pronoun use -- just from how often you say "me" and "I" -- your likelihood of being depressed.
Meanwhile, decades of research reliably show that people who struggle with rumination, or intrusive, repetitive, usually negative thoughts, are the most likely to end up with depression.
That's because people who ruminate -- especially about themselves -- all the time are more likely to feel self-conscious and miserable. They're less likely to find flow and immerse themselves fully in experiences. They're less fun to be around, because instead of being happy and present and focused on others, they're distracted and self-obsessed and always bring down the energy.
If you're someone who struggles with thoughts and feelings about how "awkward" it is to be tall, even though there is nothing inherently awkward about being tall, then you might be someone whose weakness is rumination.
And this is something you should make an effort to fix.
Unexpectedly, probably my favorite book/author on this topic is Olivia Fox Cabane's The Charisma Myth: How Anyone Can Master the Art and Science of Personal Magnetism.
Because although the book is ostensibly about charisma, a huge component of charisma is behaviors of presence -- so Cabane spends about a third of the book discussing actionable ways, such as cognitive reframing and addressing the elephant in the room, not only to bring yourself back to the present moment...
But also to bust out of toxic, repetitive thought patterns that are making you so unpleasant to both be... and be around.
Because people can tell.
When you're ruminating, people can tell.
When you're feeling self-conscious, people can tell.
When you cringe every time someone laughs because you think they're laughing at you for being tall (which is, to be frank, because honest is the kindest thing I can be, an absolutely nutso thing to think).
People can tell.
They can see the discomfort on your face -- it takes them less than a second to detect your negative facial expressions.
But since they're not mind readers, they attribute your discomfort not to your own self-loathing, but to your feelings about them.
In other words, when you ruminate, you damager not only your own mental health and self-esteem...
You also damage your relationships.
When you hate on yourself, other people think the person you actually hate... is them.
Like, even if the issue is that you've got sun in your eyes, people see you squinting and they read it like a scowl of disdain.
Which is why I've learned to squint lovingly. :P Image: The Happy Talent.
I've heard a lot of tall women complain that, because of their height, they "can't even be friends with short girls," because short girls don't like them, because of their height.
They've got it part right.
Yes, short girls don't like spending time with self-conscious tall girls...
Because the short girls make you more self-conscious about your height, which makes you look and act weird, which makes short girls think you hate them.
It's not that they don't like you for being tall -- obviously, they wouldn't have invited you out if they didn't like tall women. It's that you let your rumination run wild and kinda ruined the vibe.
If this is something you really struggle with, I highly, highly recommend Byron Katie's Loving What Is: Four Questions That Can Change Your Life.
Read the whole book, but here's the summary. Next time you feel like someone's making fun of your height, finds you unattractive because of your height, thinks you aren't feminine because you're tall, you are "awkward" because you are tall, or whatever, ask yourself these four questions:
Is it true?
Can you absolutely know that it’s true?
How do you react when you believe that thought?
Who would you be without the thought?
Is it true? Almost certainly not. Unless you're a literal celebrity, no one's paying that kind of close attention to you.
Can you be absolutely sure it's true? No, of course not! You're not a mind reader!
How do you react when you believe that thought? Wouldn't you rather live without that thought?
Liberated of your untrue and dysfunctional beliefs about your height, you'll be free to sing and dance like no one's watching and live like your height doesn't matter.
I respect my readers too much to sugarcoat. A euphemism is a lie, and honesty, though sometimes brutal, is the only way people can recognize shortcomings and begin to self-improve.
So I'll come out and say, no bullshit:
A lot of tall women use their height as an excuse for other shortcomings.
Instead of recognizing what they might have done on a date or in a relationship or job interview or social encounter -- instead of self-reflecting on dysfunctional interpersonal stuff they could work on and areas of growth -- they just blame their height.
I've had plenty of epic jobs. My height never held me back.
I've dated plenty of epic men. My height never held me back.
When I experience disappointments in my life, I never blame my height.
Because I'm an adult.
Children whine and complain and say things aren't fair.
Adults take accountability for their own actions.
I understand the temptation to blame one's height. Self-handicapping, according to psychology, is one of the four ways to feel better about yourself.
Short-term, you'll feel better if you can blame something you can't control.
Long-term, though, you're going to stay miserable.
Instead of blaming your height, think about what else might have happened that prevented that second date.
Were you self-conscious about your height the whole date?
Did you smile and laugh and enjoy yourself, or were you too worried what your date might be thinking?
Maybe you came on a bit intense for a first date.
Or maybe... maybe most people don't want a second date with most of their dates, because love is a numbers game. I personally know about 1,500 men. I've fallen in love with fewer than 20 of them. That's like a 1% success rate.
If you find yourself blaming your height for every problem in your life, you may have some growing up to go. You may have some self-reflection to do.
This is something you could try talking to a therapist about. It's something you could ask a few close friends about. "Be honest. Considering what I told you, what do you think went wrong?"
The other thing you can do... is learn how not to be awkward.
Like, sure. If you're tall, you might feel self-conscious on a dance floor. You can feel self-conscious forever. You can stop dancing. Or you can take some dance lessons to improve your skills and confidence.
That's how I ended up loving dancing. I do it everywhere now -- in the kitchen, at karaoke, at Oktoberfest, and even at the beach.
Image: The Happy Talent.
If you found yourself worrying about your height during a job interview... that is probably why you didn't get the job. Instead of focusing on the interviewer, instead of forming a personal connection and asking great questions and exuding confidence...
You were thinking about the last thing you should have been thinking about.
Unless the job is reaching items on a top shelf, your height should be the last thing on your mind. If it wasn't, then you need to go back to 1 and 2 in this post and master those skills, instead of self-handicapping and walking into your next interview with the same faulty mindset you have now.
When I first started performing live music, I was probably the most awkward person on stage EVER. (I have proof. It's on my Spotify.) But through practice, repetition, and analysis, I made enough improvements that not only do people now find me charming when I'm on stage talking about my music...
I've also developed the skills and confidence to try stand-up comedy. I'm not great yet... but it's going pretty okay. Interestingly, although I have two incest jokes and a diesel Cummins quip, I don't actually have any jokes about being tall.
Long story short, ladies. Being tall is not awkward. If you think being tall is awkward, it is because YOU are awkward. You can either self-handicap and keep living this way...
Or you can self-reflect and find ways to change how you feel.
Which will change the way others feel about and respond to you.
About the Author
Eva is a content specialist with a passion for play, travel... and a little bit of girl power. Read more >
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