This I Believe

Sarah-Jane - Grand Island, New York
Entered on September 10, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: respect

If there is something my mother has fully convinced me of, it’s this: Filipino parents have a lot of beliefs to teach their children. The Filipino culture is slightly exotic, so I often strive to blend it with American lifestyle. I greatly respect my roots, but I don’t partake in all of its practices. I can’t imagine feeding octopus to my children and I probably won’t ever fluently speak Tagalog. However, there is one Filipino tradition that I believe is universal and important to any culture. I believe in taking my shoes off at the door.

This may sound like a simple belief, and it is. If I am entering a person’s home, I remove my shoes. It shows that I am comfortable and respectful. In my opinion, keeping your shoes on portrays negativity. Maybe you’re in a hurry, maybe you’re not enjoying yourself, or maybe you feel unwelcome. It is an undemanding request—it doesn’t offend religions or morals. Also, it eliminates a term that I disagree with: “guest.” If I let someone into my home, I consider them family. Removing shoes is the first step to earning that close-knit feeling. Effortless habits like this, as absurd as it sounds, can lead to better relationships. I believe in building friendships by removing my shoes at the door.

This act is not only my way of accommodating you. It can also be your way of respecting others. Allow me to take you on a mental journey. I want you to imagine, in vivid detail, the following situation. You are attending a dinner party. In the days leading up to it, the host does their preparative work. The dishes are washed and the carpet is cleaned. On the day of the party, they perform the finishing touches. The shelves are dusted and the food is prepared (not to mention, it smells delicious). Finally, the company starts to arrive. You, as a guest, decide not to remove your shoes. By doing so, you unintentionally bring an unwanted pest: Mud. As quickly as that, there is dirt on the otherwise spotless carpet. Even after you apologize, you feel guilty. Wouldn’t it have been easier to take off your shoes? Call me crazy, but I believe in avoiding awkward situations by removing my shoes at the door.

As with any personal belief, this may not affect everyone. It may not move you to tears, or conjure up any sort of heated debate. That is not what my upbringing has taught me. I have been taught to appreciate life down to the smallest detail. I learned to show utmost respect to the owner of whoever’s house I entered. My way of doing so is by removing my shoes. It is an unspoken “thank you.” For those of us who prefer non-verbal communication, it’s a little courtesy that makes a big difference. I believe wholeheartedly in removing my shoes at the door. It is purposeful. It is painless. It is polite.