Stand tall


You’ve heard it before. Chin up, chest out, shoulders back. Stand tall. Try it. You’ll be surprised with the results.

I spent my college years at a small, private Catholic school. Everyone seemed to know everybody. When I’m not rushing off to class, you’ll find me doing what I loved to do most—writing, directing and even starring in plays we performed at the college auditorium.

I was president of the theater club and one day, a sophomore walked up to me smiling during one of our club meetings and said, “Wow, I thought you were tall! You looked taller when I see you walking around campus.”

I never remembered her name or how I responded to her comment at that time, but I accepted it as some kind of compliment. I was a little bit confused because I was a mere five feet tall then and still am today. It wasn’t until much later in life that I realized why she thought the way she did.

I always feel nervous going in for job interviews or making presentations but I always feel a sudden surge of confidence as soon as I draw in a breath, exhale and pull my shoulders back. I find myself surprised when I start sounding like I know what I’m talking about —and that everything I said actually sounded really good.

Being petite can project an image of vulnerability, like someone can easily take me down. I’ve never been a power walker, as a matter of fact, I trail behind friends or family when we walk around the mall. But I’ll tell you this, when I’m out walking by myself downtown or heading back to my parked car with shopping bags, you bet I walk tall and keep my chin up with my best “I see you and you can’t mess with me” look on my face. I don’t know any self-defense moves but I’m sure I gave the impression I could take anyone down when needed.

Throughout my life, I noticed I am treated differently based on the energy I carry with me. When I enter a room with an “I don’t even know why I’m here” or “you’re not going to agree with me anyway” posture, it’s almost certain things won’t work out in my favor.

But I also quickly realized people will listen to you and give you the respect and attention you deserve when you stand tall, hold your head up high, and project complete confidence in yourself and what you have to say—whether it’s resolving a customer complaint, negotiating for a better deal on a new car, advocating for a cause you believe in, requesting a table by the window with an ocean view, or saying “no” to peer pressure and bullying.

It’s amazing how I immediately feel I can conquer the world when I pull my shoulders back and lift my chin up. When you believe in your abilities, never doubt yourself, and love what you do, your body feels invigorated and strong.

The student who walked up to me while I was in college wasn’t just imagining things. She thought I was tall because I walked tall. By walking around simply loving what I do, who I am and believing in myself, I added an extra inch or two to my petite five feet tall frame.

Although I have to admit nowadays, when I really need an exceptionally large boost of confidence, I will wear one of the two pairs of high heels I own.

Because sometimes, all you need is a little lift, an extra boost—to stand tall—regardless of your height, in order to make you feel good about yourself and gain the respect, trust and confidence of those around you.


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