Today in my Weekly DiVa newsletter, I talked about shoes. (I actually used shoes to illustrate how we interact with others, though I will gladly just talk about shoes to anyone who will listen.) But after I sent the newsletter, my mind returned to the memory I discussed and a new takeaway hit me.
Here's what I said in the newsletter:
The other day, I was sitting around thinking about shoes (as I do from time to time more often than you probably expect). Specifically, I was thinking about shoes from my past: gorgeous stiletto-heeled boots that I actually wore for a day while traipsing around Milan from showroom to showroom. I still remember hanging on to my coworker's arm while navigating cobblestone. The only thing on my mind before going on that trip was that I worked in fashion and I had to look the part. I hadn't considered the practical aspect of spending the day on foot.
Fun fact: That remains as the only time I've swallowed four tablets of Advil without water. (I do not recommend this!)
Those boots were some of the most beautiful shoes I'd ever seen and I knew they looked good, but there was a real disconnect between how me prioritizing my appearance (which was slammin'!) affected the people around me (who had to walk slowly and wait while I cautiously considered every step I took.)
I went on to talk about how shoes can change your life, how happy feet make a happy person, and how being well-shod for our aspirations in life is as important as having the right mental outlook. I may have been more eloquent, but if you're not a newsletter subscriber, you'll never know.
But the part that hit me after the fact was that trip to Milan. I'm sure my coworkers enjoyed a laugh at my expense: "Look at Diane on her first trip to Italy. She didn't know about the cobblestone. So cute." But the flip side is how they took care of me as I navigated a truly unfamiliar situation, from not leaving me behind when I didn't keep up, to offering me an arm on which to cling while I took each careful step, to giving me a seat at a showroom appointment after climbing six flights of stairs to get to an apartment in an amazing-yet-elevator-free showroom of a designer. (Fun fact: that designer went on to be the inspiration for Nick Taylor, the shoe designer in the Samantha Kidd mystery series. Samantha Kidd has worn a few impractical shoes herself. #writewhatyouknow)
The point is, I had support. I had a team of people around me who had already gone where I was now going for the first time. I had experts who very literally held my hand so I wouldn't trip and fall. And because of them, I remember that trip fondly, like I belonged.
We all have these moments and probably don't see them at the time. It's easy to feel left out or excluded, but that "poor me" mentality keeps us from participating. It's a wall that we build, not others; preemptive emotional protection from judgment that makes it okay for us to sit on the sidelines. We feel it when we leave a store because sales associates ignore us, when we don't ask questions for fear of looking stupid, or when we order familiar food in a restaurant so we don't accidentally mispronounce the entrée. But who's missing out here? The people we think are judging us or ourselves?
Reality check: that sales associate's livelihood depends on customers like you. Teachers and mentors are there to answer our questions. There was a time the waiter didn't know how to pronounce the entrée either. Just like there was a time my coworkers wore the wrong shoes to Italy and had to navigate the cobblestone too.
It's easy to assume we do everything ourselves, but if we pay attention, we'll see that more often than not, we're surrounded by people who keep us from falling (or help pick us back up when we do.)
And if you do fall? That's part of the human experience. Don't take it out on your shoes.
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New book alert! APPREHEND ME NO FLOWERS: Madison Night Mad for Mod Mystery #7, is out 10/20/20. Madison Night wears Keds. Footwear is not one of her problems but murder is. https://amzn.to/3jQAIC7