I have a love/hate relationship with shoes. On the one hand, love…so much. My go to these days are fashion sneakers and sandals, flats of any nature are my jam. But the Arizona Birkenstock sandal and I, there’s something special there. That shoe, I swear, it courted me. Wooed me. Five years ago I would have said it was the shoe of the hippie, today, not only are they fashionable, but there is more than an outside chance the hippie in the room is me, thank you very much.
Shoes have never been a slam dunk for me. There is a qualifying process I go through because of my prosthetic foot. Heels are out. Granted, I have an alternative foot that looks like a Barbie foot, but I rarely wear it, comfort prevails these days. And because I have no ankle flexion, nor grip in my toes, shoes practically have to be attached to my foot to stay on. Last year though, I entered new territory when I got a foot with a split toe. Yes, just as you imagine, the big toe is separated from the rest. So what you might ask?
Flip flops. No joke. I can now wear flip flops because I have the split toe. A whole new category of shoes available to me which I took full advantage of. I purchased my first Birkenstock’s last year, the split toe sandals, loved them so much I bought two colors! So, this year, when the Arizona started speaking to me, I thought our time had come. I had surprising success with the others, maybe they would work.
They did not.
Within twenty minutes I walked out of them, the toe grip was critical, I learned. And if I’m honest, I saw it coming. I’ve never had luck with the pure “slide” sandals.
But I really wanted them. I bargained with myself that maybe they’d work. I could tighten the straps, walk carefully, take my time. When I finally resigned myself to return them, I was sad, I had to acknowledge that, in fact, the same conditions that had always been there with my foot remained.
As I thought about my short affair with the Arizona sandal, a broader picture opened before me.
I thought about relationships, at work, personally, where I have invested, committed, desiring them to work out while knowing deep in my heart they would not. Yet, I persisted. It happens with a wide variety of choices in our lives. We go down a path believing it’s where we’re supposed to be only to discover something else. But we’re committed.
And we want it to work, to affirm for ourselves that we’ve made the right choice, chosen the right path. We bargain, we change ourselves to fit, we ignore the pain points telling us it’s time to step away and somewhere in that process, we begin to lose ourselves. Become someone different to make the situation work.
It’s incredibly hard to instead realize we’re on the wrong path, in a relationship, or job, or pursuit that isn’t working, and isn’t going to work. It’s not as easy as returning a pair of shoes (which wasn’t easy – I loved those shoes!). It’s an act of courage to be clear about the situation, who you are and what isn’t working. To come to terms with the fact that what may have been right before isn’t anymore.
And, to be clear, the majority of situations, relationships, aren’t going to magically resolve themselves. When it’s time to make a change, you can try bargaining your way out of it, and short term it might work, but not in the long run. When the shoe isn’t fitting right, you need to take action.
If you’re thinking about your own “pair of shoes” that doesn’t fit, what are you going to do about it? What courageous step do you need to take? It can be hard, honestly, it can suck, but if you want to live an authentic, bold life, you can take the step. Have a conversation, realize a path you’re on isn’t working. Find someone you trust and talk it through. At the end of the day, only you know what fits and what doesn’t. And that makes you the person who can make the shift that can change the direction of your life.