When I was packing my bags for my recent business trip (see London Calling), I realized I needed to buy sensible work shoes. As an instructor, you spend a lot of time on your feet walking around the training room to help people navigate their computer screens and simulation instructions. Because of the casual dress code at the office, my closet didn’t account for formal yet comfortable footwear so I went to Burlington Coat Factory and bought a pair of wedge pumps. To avoid forgetting them I packed them first.
My go to shoes for travel are my leather almost knee high boots. The constant clack clack of the heels on the hard walkways makes me feel empowered, the noise announcing to the world to step out of my way. Watch out! They are not comfortable and give me blisters if I am walking long distances but they make me feel regal, fierce, like a force to be reckoned with. Worth the discomfort for certain.
Since I hadn’t been to London in 12 years, and I was sneaking out of Farnborough to catch a quick ride in the Eye, I decided to wear the boots into the city. The sound of my steps on the bricks and hard pavement felt right. I was a confident young woman exploring the city on my own. I felt safe, strong and stylish. If you looked around everyone was donning winter gear and boots. Without realizing it, I was blending in! Admittedly my feet were sore by the end of the day so the sensible shoes awaited me in the morning.
Some time during the middle of the night my brain made a judgement call. Why not wear the books to work? They were in style; the lovely British women wore them with business attire. I wouldn’t be commiting fashion suicide. When in Rome, do as the Romans, right? What’s the worst thing that could happen? (A broken or sprained ankle, I guess.)
The next morning I put the boots on and went out into the world to teach my first class ever! Not only did they help me find my way through the many computer system issues and log in errors, they allowed me to have a familiar and comforting item in such an alien situation. They made me taller and prouder, giving me a couple of extra boosts in confidence every time I heard the clack clack on the floor. The clatter reminded me that eveything would work out fine. I got this.
Even though by the end of the week I will be in dire need of a calf massage, the benefits outweigh the inconvenience. It’s day three already and I am flying through the material like a pro. Moving from desk to desk is no trouble at all. The discomfort and pain help me concentrate, becoming engrossed in the moment and reveling on the fact that I am coachinf flawlessly. I was born and raised to shine under pressure. A diamond in the rough no more.
You can bet your bottom dollar I will eventually use the wedges but I doubt they will ever make me as happy and excited as my boots. An engineer is as good as her tools, and I am grateful that I had the courage to step outside the proverbial box to prove I was the right choice for this task. Until then, I had doubted that I had what it takes to complete this new chapter of my career and journey. My advice? Feel free to fake it until you make it. It’s the right thing to do. Stay true to yourself, as did I in my gray leather boots. Clack, clack, clack. Attract attention to yourself, being boring and playing it too safe should never an option…