This I Believe

Suzan - State College, Pennsylvania
Entered on November 19, 2006
Age Group: Under 18

The Rewards of Discomfort

I believe in wearing uncomfortable shoes.

I believe in the pair of skinny high heels that always gets jammed in that crack in the sidewalk and makes me fall, the hard rubber flip flops whose straps scrape away at my feet, the wedges that make my toes cramp as soon as I take them off, the knee-high boots that glue themselves to my calves and bunch around my ankles, the shoes that squeeze, rub, pinch, tear, slip, slide, scratch, and rip.

I believe in shoes that force discomfort on me. I believe in shoes that must be broken in, shoes I have to get used to. I believe in wearing them every day, until the bottoms mold to my feet and cushion each toe in its own indent. I believe in bearing discomfort until my calluses make me immune to those hard rubber straps on my flip flops, until my balance frees me to walk on any sidewalk in my skinny high heels.

At all of life’s turns, I have the option between familiarity and the unknown: my old fuzzy slippers that wrap my feet in warm safety, or a new pair of hard, cold, heavy shoes that must be warmed and conditioned. I fight the allure of familiarity’s comfort, and surrender myself to something new, different, terrifying, disconcerting, and rewarding. I strap on my high heels, my boots, my flip flops. I take the pain. And I learn from it. Wearing my most uncomfortable shoes, I delve into a foreign, difficult task. And as I break my shoes in, I taste a new experience.

To take the training wheels off my bike for the first time, to try a new sport, to go ice skating and not need to drape myself over a friend as a crutch, to take that advanced class I don’t know if I can pass, to smile at that girl I never really liked, to stand up for my beliefs, to embrace difficulty, to challenge myself, to improve myself, I buckle on my uncomfortable shoes and start walking. I run, jump, and play in those shoes until I have soaked up new knowledge, morals, or skills. I wear them until they have been broken in. I wear them until they merge into me, my mind, and my actions – I wear them until they cease to be a pair of uncomfortable shoes and become a lesson learned, a habit formed, and yet another pair of soft, fuzzy, reassuring slippers.

I believe in wearing uncomfortable shoes: the shoes that squeeze, rub, pinch, tear, slip, slide, scratch, and rip. I believe in unfamiliar, scary situations. I believe in the necessity of discomfort for the purpose of self-improvement.

Every day, I am forced into another uncomfortable situation. Every day, a new pair of uncomfortable shoes chafes my feet in a different place. Every day, I break in another pair of shoes. Every day, I learn.

This I believe.