As a young boy, he was teased by his classmates about his size.
He was called names like "midget" and would attract weird stares from strangers.
Mr Muhammad Diroy, 22, suffers from dwarfism.
Dwarfism is a condition, usually caused by genetic disorders, which results in sufferers being short in stature.
Mr Diroy is only 1.23m, but he stood tall on Saturday as he received the Youth Aspiration Award from SPD, an organisation that represents the disabled, at a ceremony at Safra Jurong.
He said: "I am very happy to win the award. It makes me feel validated."
But Mr Diroy was not always this happy, especially when he was growing up.
"When I was young, I didn't understand my condition," he said.
"I didn't know why I was different from the others and I got into fights with my classmates who called me names."
Mr Diroy even blamed his mother, Madam Rohayati Jimin, who also suffers from dwarfism, for his condition.
"I used to shout and scream at her and ask her 'why am I born like this?'," he said.
Mr Diroy was brought up by his mother after his parents divorced when he was in secondary school. He has an older brother and sister who are of normal height.
But Madam Rohayati, 58, who is unemployed, never took her son's anger at her personally.
She said: "Of course I was sad at first, but I got used to it.
"Now, he's a lot more mature. He even baked a cake for me on Mother's Day."
Mr Diroy credits his change to his passion for art.
"In school, I would get an A for art and Bs and Cs for everything else," he said.
"My teachers encouraged me to pursue art and motivated me to keep going."
One of those teachers is Madam Rahidah T. Shah, 50, Mr Diroy's former form teacher in Si Ling Secondary School.
She said: "Once he found his niche in art, his confidence bloomed.
"He became very popular and was voted class chairman."
Now a final-year visual communications student at Temasek Polytechnic, Mr Diroy hopes to become a graphic designer.
He intends to buy a MacBook with the $5,000 cash that comes with the SPD Youth Aspiration Award.
"I've been using my current laptop for five years now and it always lags. With the money, I can buy a MacBook which is more compatible with the design software that I use."
Apart from the money, Mr Diroy is also thankful that his passion for art has given him a new lease of life.
"In the past, I hated being different," he said.
"But now, art makes me want to be as different as possible."
This article was first published on Feb 2, 2015.
Get The New Paper for more stories.