Walk a mile in my shoes

What defines us? Believe it or not, it may be your shoes.


Sarabeth Wester

You can tell a lot about a person by the shoes that they wear.

Lauren Schindler, Staff Writer

They say not to judge a person until “you walk a mile in their shoes” and see the world from their perspective. Otherwise, you may be quick to make assumptions without even realizing what they have gone through or experienced.

I’ve spent some time the past couple of weeks reflecting on important moments in my life, and in doing so, I realized that many of the milestones of my life are connected, interestingly, to the shoes I was wearing during those periods.

When I was little, I used to think I was Cinderella. I wore blue, plastic high heels that clicked loudly every time I took a step. I even wore them when we went to Disney World, not caring that I had to walk miles through the parks in the clunky heels. At the time, these were my favorite shoes and now, they remind me of what it feels like to be a kid. They remind me that I didn’t care about what people thought.

Eventually, I outgrew the shoes just as I outgrew this phase of my life. I went from not having a single care in the world to caring about what everyone thought. Thinking back on this period, I’m reminded that I should worry less about what people might think of me. Instead, I should do what I want to do because it makes me happy.

The next important phase was ballet. My parents put me in a class when I was three years old, and from that moment on, I loved to dance. For the next ten years, I would spend every day after school and all day on Saturday at the studio. I eventually earned the opportunity to dance wearing pointe shoes. My ballet shoes were my new glass slippers. It felt right wearing them (besides the physical pain that they caused), and I had no idea what I would do without dance in my life.

Well the day came when I lost those glass slippers, too. As most dancers and athletes do at some point, I got injured. At first, I tried to hide it. I told everyone I was fine, hoping they would believe me and let me keep dancing. Months went by, though, and it got worse and worse.

In a sense, the pointe shoes represent the pain I was going through both physically and emotionally. Once my parents intervened and took me to doctors and surgeons, I was heartbroken. I got x-rays and MRIs taken to only find out I had severely torn a tendon in my hip and the surrounding muscles were beginning to tighten up around it, restricting the movement in my leg.

After a successful surgery, and over a year of physical therapy, I had a big decision to make: would I ever go back to dance?

I couldn’t decide what to do, but I knew that this decision would be life-changing. After weeks of wavering back and forth, I knew that my ballet shoes just didn’t seem to “fit” the way that they used to.

Eventually, I found my next pair and they fit perfectly, just like the others. For the past seven years, I have been a cheerleader. One of my favorite feelings is standing on the maroon track, cheering under the bright lights on Friday nights. My once white, shiny cheer shoes are now well-worn dirty grey sneakers.

My cheer shoes represent the newest stage of my life– trying new things. For most of my life, I was so focused on ballet that I never really gave myself the opportunity to broaden my horizons. When I broke free of that, I learned that trying new things is extremely important, and it has led me to find new passions that I enjoy.

Fast forward to now, when I’ve recently become interested in politics and government.  I now hope to attend law school someday, something for which I’ve participated in programs where I got a taste of what it would be like to become a lawyer or elected official.

For this, I wear my new glass slippers, black heels. The shoes felt just right as I walked down the hallway of the Florida State Capitol Building in Tallahassee when I was chosen for a summer program for students. For me, the black heels represent my future. I hope to have a career in government so that I can shape the future of this great country.

Although shoes are just what we put on our feet to protect ourselves from stepping in something dangerous, I have realized that shoes reflect a lot about a person. From plastic, play shoes to athletic footwear to heals you wear in a future job interview, they represent the stages in your life and help define who you are becoming.

I wonder what shoes I will be wearing next?