This I Believe

Emily - Lafayette, California
Entered on December 6, 2006
Age Group: Under 18
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I believe in shoes. Rain boots with pink strawberries, fancy cowboy boots, and slippers that resemble ‘skinned Muppets’ to be exact.

It all started last summer when I walked into an old country western store and decided I wanted cowboy boots. The first thing my mom said when I told her this was, “But you’ll never wear them!” And, knowing me, I probably wouldn’t; they would sit in my closet and be looked at fondly every day but never actually be worn. So I made a promise to myself. I promised myself that I would wear them as often as I could, no matter what people said, because I treasured them, and that is all that should matter.

And I kept that promise. That first day of school, though, I was so self-conscious. I kept thinking that people were looking at me strangely, whispering about me, pointing and laughing. But I kept at it. I wore my rain boots with bright pink strawberries and goofy necklaces. Nothing huge but different enough to make me feel a tad uncomfortable. The other day, though, I wore those cowboy boots again. And this time I wasn’t cowering, hoping people wouldn’t notice me. I was walking with my head held high, daring people to look at me, because I felt comfortable with my image and with myself. It was such a weird feeling, being so self confident. So I learned something that day. I learned that there can be so much more to life if only you let your true self emerge and then fight for it.

So now I believe that even the smallest things can make a difference in how you perceive yourself. By even doing something as innocent as wearing shoes that are a little funky I deliberately put myself in a position to be judged by my peers, something very difficult for many to do. I believe that doing this forced me to examine myself and how I wanted others to see me.

So I believe that self-expression leads to greater self-understanding which then leads to self-confidence.

Understanding myself and the world a little better lets me go through days with a smile on my face, lets me brush away the bad moments and concentrate on the good. And confidence provides that extra push, freeing me to bring up the topic of a trip to France and then giving me the little push to try for that scholarship.

But I’m still learning. Everyday I try push the limits again, do something that makes me a little uncomfortable, even if it’s just wearing sparkly green heels and a red dress. And everyday I learn something new about myself in the process.

There is a pair of old boots sitting in my closet looking at me right now. They were my grandma’s—bright orange vinyl. I haven’t quite worked up the courage to wear those yet but I’ve promised myself that someday I will. Maybe I’ll even slip them on right now…