Meet Lauren D’onfro!
Hey, how are ya?
Each month going forward I will introduce a “Guest Blogger” to share his/her personal experiences and how they have overcome tough challenges. Also, I will highlight certain people that have or are changing the world for the better. In the past, I have written about certain obstacles and how I managed to get through them. However, I am far from the only person facing obstacles and battling through tough times. My hope, through this “Guest Blog,” is to give you the chance to hear more amazing stories from people who have truly embraced their time on Earth, and who strive to be the best version of themselves every day. I am honored to introduce my first guest, and a great friend: Lauren D’onfro. Lauren and her family, who live down the street from me, are AMAZING people who I have gotten to know well over the years. She’s a wonderful person and I’m excited to introduce you to Meet Lauren D’onfro!
Meet Lauren D’onfro:
Hey! My name is Lauren and I am twenty-seven years old and have been unofficially diagnosed with Meier-Gorlin Syndrome (MGS), a rare form of primordial dwarfism that impacts my height and bone development. My journey with MGS started the day I was born when I earned the title of “smallest baby in the hospital”, a title I would earn in every grade and most social settings moving forward. After years of medical interventions ranging from feeding tubes, multiple hospitalizations, reconstructive knee surgeries, daily growth hormone injections, and seeing no change in my physical stature, my family and I made the decision to stop with all that mumbo jumbo. I was destined to be exactly the way I am. I realized I wasn’t the one who was unhappy with my size, it was the rest of the world that seemed to have a problem with it. I recognized I can only control myself and my reactions, so I choose to live loud. I maintain a sense of humor and a positive attitude. I let my big personality define me.
When Joey asked me to be a guest writer on his blog, I was honored. Truthfully, I don’t feel worthy to speak on the same platform as Joey. I could never be big enough (pun intended) to face the challenges and adversities with such grace, strength, and positivity as he has. Living in the same neighborhood as Joey and his family, I’ve been blessed to see him grow into the strong individual you are all getting to know today. Thank you for sharing your story, Joey, and giving me the confidence to do the same.
In preparation for this blog, I spent a week jotting down thoughts, observations, and feelings. The biggest takeaway from my notes was that people have a need to understand things, including other people’s physical differences. When something is unfamiliar, there is a strong desire to “make sense” of the situation. I experience this reality through comments and stares from people. Standing at 4 feet 8 inches and being extremely petite, strangers have always been very vocal regarding my physical differences. At the age of twenty-seven, it is not uncommon for me to be a victim of bullying questions, ridicule, and hurtful curiosity.
These experiences have brought many emotionally defeating moments, tears, and pain. However, they have also brought some pretty hilarious situations. Like the time my sister and brother-in-law visited me my first weekend in college. I went to the University of Maryland in College Park and was very excited to show them around. We decided to grab dinner near campus. Living on my own for the first time and in a different state than my family and friends, I had never felt like more of an “adult”. Unfortunately, my dream of adulthood was quickly shattered when the waitress sat us and brought me a coloring book and crayons……brutal. Sitting among your peers and being confused as a child is a tough pill to swallow. Anything that hits your ego hurts, but the best you can do is find humor in the situation and keep on trucking. My artwork was incredible that night.
Thank you for taking time to Meet Lauren D’onfro! Aside from plenty of funny/embarrassing stories to share, my challenges have taught me about compassion, diversity, empathy, and acceptance. Viewing life from a unique lens is what inspired me to return to school and earn my Master’s in Social Work to help individuals feel empowered in the face of adversity, just as others have helped me to feel. We all face challenges and it is how you choose to respond to such challenges that truly defines your character. Like me, I hope others who are reading this have found purpose and humor among their challenges and acceptance of all our differences. And to all those reading who are vertically challenged, never forget: the greatest gifts come in small packages.
Joey and Lauren