They say that to know a man you should walk a mile in his shoes. A month ago I bought myself a new pair of shoes and beginning to walk in those new shoes has been traumatic. See, there is a simple, silly, little thing nobody tells you about changing: your old self is not gonna like it.
I think I have already told something along these lines in previous posts about resistance to change. This is something slightly different. As much as talking about someone’s new and old self is silly – since each of us is constantly and unnoticeably changing – our mind builds a sense of continuity through repetition and relies on it to maintain a coherent self. This sense of continuity gets stressed when we change our habits, our clothes, our friends in a radical way, and apparently, as stupid as it sounds, my sense of self was relying heavily on my old shoes.
I’ve been walking in my old shoes for more than seven years. My old, black, ankle boots were not my only pair of shoes, obviously, but they were my mindless choice anytime I needed something that looked feminine, that was black and had medium heels. They were the Linus’ blanket of my feet and I was happy to jump everywhere with them, so happy in fact, that their sole was consumed, their heels showed the bones and the leather… let’s not talk about its poor conditions. So, after spending days looking at every possible shoe store downtown, I entered one and, after another good half hour of trying every possible black ankle boot I chose a pair.
I was wearing the new pair when the sale adviser proposed me: “let me remove the tag if you’d like to walk in those immediately.”
I said “yes” knowing that that was it. It was the end of my long lasting relationship with my old boots. I let the woman put my old shoes in the cardboard box and cover them with a sheet of thin, white paper. I gulped, paid and walked out the store.
As soon as I was out the store, I started walking oddly. My feet hurt. My ankles hurt. My knees bent unnaturally. I wanted to walk back inside, cry at the sale adviser and ask her to refund me. But I didn’t. Instead, I moved away from the store and then away from the shop gallery, telling myself that with every clumsy step I was taking I was scratching the soles of my new boots, making them non-refundable.
A big, black trash bin appeared ahead on the pavement. I moved towards it. I took the cardboard box out of the store bag and placed it against the trash bin opening. I thanked my old shoes silently, caressed the smooth surface of the box and pushed. The box fell inside the empty trash bin with a dull thud and I walked away almost in tears.
Luckily, after that I had to go back immediately to my store, change into my super comfortable ballerina shoes, and work for about four hours so I could distance myself quickly from that moment. Luckily, my new shoes are pretty great and I got easily used to them. Still… I am surprised at my own reaction. I just wanted a new pair of shoes I did not expect any drama. Regardless, in an unconscious way, I had chosen those shoes as an anchor for the image I had of myself and leaving them made me felt lost.
After that episode, I remembered a thing I was trying to forget and saw a thing I was trying not to see.
I had prepared tow bags of old clothes to donate to a charity more than three months before and they were still there on top of a drawer. I had a list of clothes which I rarely wear and which I’d like to sell inside my diary and photos of those clothes ready to be posted on the Facebook page Guildford buy and sell and I did not move a finger.
After another month, the bags, the list and the photos are still there. Sometimes I say to myself: “let’s get rid of everything! Let’s just look at the rubbish calendar and put everything out with the bins on the right day!”
But then I think that some of those things could be of use to a charity. Then I remember that other things are in really good conditions and could be sold. Then, I even think that I could wear some of those clothes and – you already know it – I do nothing.
I never was like this. When the decision was made, I threw away things. But in the last four months, I got clingy. Why is that? Am I reaching the core of my so-called old self? Am I becoming sentimental? Are those other subconscious anchors? Only recycling day will tell. In the meanwhile, sorry for the delay and thank you for your precious time!