After I came to America when I was 12， I started gaining weight. Back in China， my friends and I walked everywhere. But in New York I was scared to get lost in my neighborhood， so I got into the habit of staying home. I just sat around all day eating.
By the time I was 16， I had stopped growing， but my weight kept increasing. I was 52” and weighed 155 lbs. People began teasing me by calling me “fat guy， ”“short guy” and “big head.” I dont think they meant to be cruel， but those words really hurt. Telling them to stop didnt work， so I usually ignored what they said or tried to tease them back.
The truth is that it really hurt my feelings. Sometimes when I see myself in the mirror， I hate myself and ask why I have this body. I want to have a hot body and a handsome face. Being short and chubby makes me sick， and I feel jealous of my friends.
No One I Could Talk to
My heart felt like it was lost in the desert， waiting for someone to offer me water to drink. I had nobody to talk to about my true feelings. I dont talk with my parents when difficult things happen to me， because I dont want them to worry. They work long hours and theyre very tired when they get home late at night.
I wouldnt want a teacher to get involved because I think that could make things worse. And I worry that if I talk to my friends about it， theyll think I cant take a joke. They might stop sharing things with me.
For a while I blamed my parents. I decided it was my mom and dads fault that I was short since they were short， too.
“Is your height what caused me to be short？” I asked my mom one day.
“What？ It isnt me who caused you to be short， I fed you healthy foods，” she said. “Its your problem that youre too lazy to go outside to get some exercise！”
I thought she was probably right. Although my height was out of my control， I had the power to get more fit. So I asked my mom to sign me up for the YMCA， where I could work out. She was happy and told me if I worked hard at it， Id see results.
The first day I went to the YMCA， I saw many perfect bodies with six packs and big muscles. I felt ashamed of my body. But I decided to learn to swim. It took me two months to teach myself； I practiced by observing other people.
As I practiced， I could feel myself getting stronger and faster. I thought I was fast enough to try swimming in the fast lane， but after a few laps， a man told me I was too slow. I felt really bad. My first thought was that my short legs and arms prevented me from swimming as fast. I also tried weightlifting， running， and the stationary bicycle. But I didnt know how to use the equipment correctly. I felt hopeless and gave up on the YMCA.
I started staying home every day to play computer games. On the Internet you can create an avatar， or character， that looks any way you want it to. No one called me fat， short， or small. My life online felt better than my real life， and I got addicted to computer games. Soon， Id gained five more pounds. I realized I was sitting in front of the computer too much， trying to forget the real world. I decided to give the YMCA another try.
A Triumphant Moment
Since then， Ive gone to the YMCA more often， and even made a friend there who helps me out with equipment that I dont know how to use. He also taught me how to keep my weight down. Now Im training regularly and I feel good.
It has paid off. One day my friends asked me to go play basketball with them. We separated into two teams. I was the last one to be chosen because I dont play that well. At first， every time I tried to get the ball as it bounced off the backboard after a shot， the other team was like a pack of tigers hunting for food. I couldnt jump in between them and get the ball for my team.
Then， suddenly the ball bounced into my hands. It was like someone hit me with a stun gun—I didnt think I could move， but I took the chance and shot the ball with my arms. The ball flew toward the basket and went in. I was so happy that Id scored for my team.
At that moment I realized that I had the power to achieve. I might have different abilities， and maybe I dont look as good as some others， but my differences are what make me who I am. I started to play different sports and discovered that I like handball. Its fun， and you dont need to be tall to be good at it. I really enjoy it.