Felix Walton has tall friends. These are his best tips for getting by in an unforgiving world.
I am not a short person – let’s get that squared away.
I am a perfectly ordinarily sized person whose friends happen to be a bunch of freaky statuesque Adonises (Adoni?). My friends are also, apparently, very busy people, because they insist on striding everywhere with gazelle-like speed and elegance. In the meantime I trot behind them, gasping for air as my tears get lost in my sweat. This is the struggle of the shortest friend.
It’s a universal experience, it must be, otherwise I have to accept that I’m unfit – which I’m not willing to do. Therefore, for all of the short friends of the world, I’ve prepared a selection of tips I’ve learned in my time trailing behind the pack.
Learn to let go
It may be hard to accept, but there will come a time when you must let your friends go. There is no shame in giving up, letting yourself fall farther and farther behind until you are simply… free. There is freedom in being last, remember this. If you love your friends, you have to let them go. You will see them again, in time.
Once you’ve set your friends (and yourself) free, you’ll need to find ways to entertain yourself. Alone time is part and parcel with being the shortest friend. As your friends laugh it up in the front, you will inevitably enjoy a fair amount of quiet time in the back. This is a perfect opportunity for you to practise mindfulness. Controlled breathing is a great place to start, although your success may depend on how fast your friends are going – being short is great cardio, but isn’t always the most relaxing thing in the world. If you can’t catch your breath, try to clear your mind and retreat to your happy place. My happy place is a vast blue sky, where worldly attachments such as legs cease to matter.
Optimise your route
With enough research and calculation, it’s possible to optimise your route so you always hit a red light at pedestrian crossings, giving you a critical window of opportunity to catch up with your friends and catch your breath. I’ve been doing this for years, and my friends are none the wiser. If you have a lot of time on your hands, you could trace out your route beforehand and set traps at various key points to slow the group down – this method requires a lot of prep but is very effective.
Pick up those knees
If your heart’s set on keeping up with your friends, it might be a good idea to practise jogging alongside them. It may use a lot of energy, but if you keep at it you’ll eventually be the most in-shape person in your group, and your friends will be struggling to keep up with you instead. This is a great way to hide your pathetic stature under a guise of fitness. People won’t notice your height if you’re jogging in place like a lunatic.
Utilise electronic transport
If you demand instant results, there’s no better way to keep up the hustle than with the wonders of technology. Hoverboards are a fashionable, current and not-at-all-stupid method of transportation, allowing you to glide effortlessly across the pavement (until you encounter a kerb). If you’re not completely braindead, e-scooters can be found just about anywhere and are a relatively affordable way to keep up with your tall friends – though the most affordable option is still a good old-fashioned pair of stilts. If an analogue solution is more your speed, consider picking up roller skates.
Exploit the buddy system
Surreptitiously befriending a fellow short person can tip the scales in your favour. The more people who are lagging behind, the more likely your friends are to slow down. This method is repeatable, and with enough buddies you could easily overwhelm your tall friends and make them the outcasts for a change. The worst-case scenario is that your friends still race ahead, but you’ll still have your buddy. Who knows, perhaps this could lead to a blossoming friendship and you could eventually develop a better, shorter group of friends.
Find a creative outlet
This is a good way to cope with any pain. Pick up an instrument – some great handheld options include the flute, the accordion, or, with enough determination, the piano. I personally find joy in the chance to record my memoirs, or practise poetry. There are plenty of productive and healthy ways to let that resentment and abandonment out.
The most realistic advice I can give is to accept who you are. Your height doesn’t define you; you aren’t short, you’re you. Accepting yourself is by far the longest and most difficult method on this list, but it’s the most rewarding and, ultimately, the most necessary. Survival tips can only get you so far, it’s time to thrive. Give yourself a break. Live your best life and forge ahead at your own pace, superstar.
The Bulletin is The Spinoff’s acclaimed daily digest of New Zealand’s most important stories, delivered directly to your inbox each morning.