Updated: Sep 6, 2019
Have you ever had a favorite pair of shoes? You wore them around everywhere, even after they were completely worn to bits. And I’m talkin’ holes in the sides, you can feel the rocks through the worn-down soles. Yet you still wore them.
I had a pair of shoes like that: a pair of light brown pointy-toed flats. They were my favorites. They went with every outfit! And I wore them everywhere: to work, on strolls downtown, on trail-walks, and even on one particularly squishy-mud hike in Hawaii. I knew they were getting old. I knew they needed to be replaced months ago. But I couldn’t find a pair of new shoes that I liked better. Honestly, I’m not entirely sure I wanted to find a new pair. Until last month.
I was walking on a pebbley-section of trail in Lafayette, CO when I noticed a pebble made its way into my shoe. I kicked it out. A few steps later, another pebble got trapped in my shoe. I kicked that one out. Again and again, my shoe caught a pebble, and I kicked out the pebble. About 20 minutes into this trail-walk, I started to get annoyed — not annoyed at the pebbles, though, and not at my favorite pair of shoes; I was annoyed at myself. Nope, annoyed is the wrong word. I was mad. I was mad at myself for keeping a pair of shoes that so obviously needed to be retired — that didn’t support me anymore. I berated myself for ignoring the truth and choosing to believe some fantasy that these shoes would be ok or that a new pair of shoes would just fall in my lap. I knew it was time to let these shoes go.
The next time a pebble popped into my shoe I stopped, still angry, and I took a breath.
In that breath, I realized my anger wasn’t really about the pebbles. It wasn’t really about the shoes. It was about something entirely different: it was about my job. The parallels between my job and my shoes were astounding. I knew the job wasn’t supportive anymore. I knew I needed to leave. I knew I had outgrown the role and I’d let the position wear me down. But I had loved the job once. I wanted it to get better, I wanted it to be my favorite again, so I clung onto a fantasy that it would be fine. But it just wasn’t. I knew it wasn’t. Emotionally, I couldn’t handle continuing to be angry at myself for staying there — holding onto fantasy.
So I left my job.
I bought a new pair of shoes.
And I’m learning to walk a path that’s supportive for me.
Do you have a worn-out pair of shoes? Is the pair of shoes actually shoes? Or is it your job, a friendship/relationship, a caffeine habit, or an old way of thinking? What are you holding onto that’s no longer supporting you? You don’t have to send an answer to me, but I challenge you to be honest with yourself. And find some time this week to take a supportive step forward.