By Emily Yao:
“Would you like a kid’s menu?” It’s a question I thought I would never hear after entering high school. Every time I go to a restaurant, the servers will ask me that same exact question, and it can be quite embarrassing at times.
Even at school, I’m mistaken as a younger person. How? I believe it’s because I own a heavy backpack, I am extremely short, I think our P.E. uniform is stylish and I use a campus map when lost. These are the acts and adjectives that are used to describe the stereotypical freshman at Gunn. Unfortunately, I also perform these actions on a daily basis. Ever since I was a sophomore, countless people have mistaken me as a freshman, and even as a junior, I’ve continued to be bombarded with the same questions: “Are you an underclassman? Did you skip a grade? If Yao Ming is so tall, why are you so short?”
[pullquote]“Are you an underclassman? Did you skip a grade? If Yao Ming is so tall, why are you so short?”[/pullquote]
For the record, I did not skip a grade, and I’m not related to Yao Ming. In fact, I’m just the average junior who just so happens to be a bit below-average in terms of height. Because people have to look down to talk to me, they automatically assume I am younger than them. In addition, when I hang out with a few of my friends who are underclassmen, people immediately get the impression that I am in the same grade as my friends.
At first, I could tolerate being mistaken as a freshman because it didn’t occur frequently. However, as the number of times escalated, I started to feel like people were disregarding me. Because freshmen are young, they are often thought of as immature, so people don’t pay attention to them. At times, I felt like people shunned me because I look so much younger for my age.
I do know that it’s common for us to form opinions on strangers based on first impressions; I’ve done it myself. r, I feel that sometimes when people misjudge you, they associate you with “negative” stereotypes. In my case, short people are spontaneously labelled as someone who is young.
In the past, it was horrible to be thought of as younger than I actually am. Because it was embedded in my brain that being the underdogs of the school was not cool, I would get frustrated when people automatically assumed that I was a freshman. However, I realized that no matter what people call you, whether on purpose or on accident, you must always embrace yourself. Don’t let other’s comments determine who you are. Be happy that you possess unique traits instead of wishing that you had other qualities. Even though I wanted to be just a few inches taller just so I could fit in with others, I now realize that it’s important for us to be different and that our differences make us who we are.
In addition, I’ve learned not to get automatically frustrated at at people who think I am a freshman. In the past, when someone met me for the first time, I tended to forget that they knew nothing about my background and thus, I would get mad when they assumed I was younger than my actual age. It is important to remember that it is our nature to judge people based on first impressions and that those impressions are not always correct. Thus, now when the people I first meet accidentally call me a freshman, I try to forgive them for their mistake because, after all, I naturally display characteristics that are similar to those of a freshman.
Now when people label me as a freshman, I completely understand why and I am not as frustrated. However, it’s important for us to get to know a person better before forming opinions about them.