La tensión entre los que deben defender ciertas normas, opiniones y valores, y los que luchan por otras nuevas, es el resultado sobre el que descansa la evolución de la sociedad.

Serge Moscovici

Reflections on growth (Ventolilla K, 2008) (doc)

I was asked to write about one of my many life experiences, given that at this “height” in my life it is thought that I have many things to tell. I don’t know if I should tell of one experience, given that I think that life can be considered one experience for those who have a different appearance or a physical disability. For this reason I should tell my whole life and every moment of it. Many people consider achondroplasia as one of the “better illnesses”, given that it doesn’t affect a person’s mind or locomotive system (in some cases), so they think that it’s not such a dramatic situation.In my opinion, I consider it to be one of the worst problems given that one doesn’t feel ill or different, but is faced with the “looks of society”.

When I was small I didn’t understand why people looked at me or why they made fun of me, as I felt mentally and physically well, just like everybody else. As the years passed by, the differences became more and more noticeable, and that’s when I began to understand many things. At this time (at the time of writing this note) I am undergoing limb-lengthening treatment. It was a big challenge for me to make this decision, since up until some years ago it was hard for me to understand that simply a difference in height could make a person’s life so difficult. When I was 18 years old, a doctor who I approached with an insole problem asked me if I would like to grow some 15 centimeters. I responded negatively without hesitation. At that time surgery involved, for me, achieving greater acceptance of others. I said to myself: “I will not get an operation for other people. People who accept me, let them accept me for who I am and for how I am, not for a change in my physical appearance”. After about two years, I realised that if I were to accept the operation, it was going to be for me, via my own decision.

It was then that I was able to feel a strong internal desire to change for my own good and that was how I made the decision.As I said before, it was not easy.Having the operation implied leaving aside many important things in my life, such as my studies, my work, outings with friends, leisure time, etc. I had to put things on the scale to decide what was most important to me.Finally, I considered that it would only be three years (the approximate time that complete leg-lengthening treatment takes) against the rest of the years that are left for me to live. Returning to the illness itself:Very often it occurs that the idea of physical smallness is unconsciously transferred to the inner aspect of the person.The person in this case feels belittled, not only physically but also intellectually devalued. They underestimate themselves.Although we don’t realise it, this feeling is transmitted to others; that is why if we don’t value ourselves as the people that we are, how can we want other people to value us? This is why, in these cases, more often than not, much emphasis must be placed on internal growth. We must make our intellectual qualities stand out. For example, when a person has no arms, he or she develops and stimulates movement of the legs and feet to the maximum in order to be able to best overcome the obstacles that life places on his or her path.

The same thing would happen with us. Faced with a flaw, we must not keep crying about what we don’t have or what life hasn’t given us, but rather try to seek the best part in ourselves and exploit it to the fullest and thereby take the world on.

This is why I say and maintain that many things depend on us, and thus the world will see us how we want them to see us, without denying, of course, that in many cases the situation is out of our control and how much we can do.Perhaps everything said above seems very true and sensible, but many things come from my mouth, like the saying:”Do what I say but not what I do”. Even if somebody believes that he or she has everything under control, something always appears at some point in life that hits hard and makes us lower our guard.As much as people try to be okay, sometimes feelings of sadness and pain surface and one feels overwhelmed with so much struggle and fighting against life itself.But there is no other way.We must stand up and move forward despite everything.

Karina Ventolilla