The first play I ever did was a community theatre production of Hans Christian Andersen in my hometown. I was five years old, and my role was “Anna,” the smallest girl in the town and the inspiration for Hans’ story of Thumbelina. I got to ad-lib my own dance as Hans sang a song that included these lyrics:
Thumbelina, Thumbelina, tiny little thing
Thumbelina dance, Thumbelina sing,
Thumbelina, what’s the difference if you’re very small?
When your heart is full of love, you’re nine feet tall!
Though I didn’t know it at the time, that song would end up shaping me and my personality as I grew up. I remained the smallest kid in all of my classes, but I didn’t resent it. If anything, I grew up relishing the fact that I was smaller than everyone else. It made me different, it made me special, and really, I didn’t see what the “big” deal was about being tall. I could curl up in small spaces, when I danced or played people could throw me in the air, and the best part was, in pictures or choirs or plays I always got to be in the front row.
Sure, there are downsides too; I got teased sometimes, and there would be times when I’d need someone bigger to help me with things I couldn’t manage on my own, but that taught me that it was OK to ask for help when I needed it. And that’s a valuable skill to have in the grown-up world, where as much as self-reliance and independence are needed, the ability and will to help others, and ask for help too, is just as important.
But the long and short (ha) of it is, I love being small, and naming my website after Thumbelina seemed a fun way to embrace it. Besides, “you gotta have a gimmick,” don’t you?