Dear Harlan: I’m having trouble at high school. I’m the shortest guy in my class. Everyone calls me “little (my name).” I try to laugh it off and make it look like it doesn’t bother me, but it bothers me a lot. My mom and dad are short, so it’s not like I’m going to be 6 feet tall. I hate being this short. Girls don’t like the shortest guy in the class. People like to pick me up. I have started running cross-country this year. I’m going to try out for the spring play in a few weeks. My parents say I haven’t hit a growth spurt. I’ll be fine. I know you can’t make me taller, but how can I get people to stop calling me little?
— Big Problem
Dear Big Problem: I’m not tall either. So I have to think big. It takes work. See, the game in school is for everyone to make everyone else feel like less so they can feel like more. And then everyone ends up feeling like less. Even the tall people don’t feel like they are enough. Get comfortable with the uncomfortable and accept that you can still have a big life. Find small big heroes. Muggsy Bogues played in the NBA at 5 feet, 3 inches. President James Madison was 5 feet, 4 inches. Prince (the music legend) was 5 feet, 2 inches. Focus on getting great at something. Run, perform, excel in class — just find something that makes you feel amazing. Do this, and magic will happen. You’ll find new friends and create powerful life experiences. As for the nickname, ask your closest friends not to call you “little.” Come up with other suggestions. Run when someone tries to pick you up. But appreciate that there will always be someone who reminds you of your height. Just like there will always be someone who reminds me of my ears. One more thought — talk to your doctor and discuss your growth. Discuss testing your growth hormone levels to see if there might be some medical explanation and treatment to help with your stature.