“Oh you’re in flats today! Are you sick?”
There’s a running joke in my office that something is wrong if I’m not in heels. My collection of shoes topping 5 inches is almost alarming, as is the comfort with which I can walk around in them. Bragging? Yup. It’s taken me four years not only to be comfortable wearing shoes that have a tendency to squish your toes into numb blobs while simultaneously restricting blood flow to your arch like a straitjacket, but to be comfortable with myself while wearing them. At 5’7″, I’m not a short person necessarily, but strap on a slingback and suddenly I feel like an Amazon, towering over everyone around me as they look up in wonder at this strange creature rumbling the halls.
Heels were a NOPE in college, where I regularly went out in sweatpants, and in my first few months in the city, I couldn’t imagine teetering around the rocky sidewalks in pumps. Even going out, my ex and I were about the same height and I was horribly self-conscious about being taller than him. To his enormous credit, he really didn’t care (and actually in some instances, preferred the heels), but I would become so self-aware that I’d end up in a bad mood, try to “drink the foot pain away” (PLD alert) and then pick a fight with him over something stupid – all because I couldn’t just relax over something as arbitrary as height.
A few months in to city life, I started packing heels with me to wear around the office only, testing the waters of heels without fully committing. A few impulse buys that had been buried in my closet for years started to make their way into the open, and lo and behold, I found myself inadvertently feeling more and more confident. I started wearing heels daily, amassing an impressive collection in what was supposed to be my file cabinet and rotating new shoes daily. As I began moving up professionally, the heels became somewhat like a confidence coach, forcing me to stand up straighter, look people in the eyes and generally assert myself as a tall-ass force to be reckoned with. My feet adjusted to the now constant, dull ache that accompanies essentially standing on tip-toes all day, and I started wearing them outside the office, whether running errands in Bucco booties or dancing on the bar in some killer purple wedges.
One of the first nights I really went out with my girlfriends since entering single life a few months back, I slapped on a pair of my tippy-tall boots, despite knowing I’d be drinking, dancing and likely falling within a few hours of that decision. And yet clomping around the city, even as the bars started to blur, felt great. I felt confident, tall, in-charge and hell yes, I felt sexy. Inevitably we heard Beyonce at one point that night, and I couldn’t help myself for grabbing my girlfriends into screeching along,”BOW DOWN BITCHES,” dancing like everyone was watching. I’ll always hold that moment in those tippy-tall boots, lost in ourselves and the moment of feeling alive.
As I look towards an exciting future, starting a new job and finishing the adjustment to the single life, there’s a lot of uncertainties running on repeat in my mind – will I do well in this new position? Am I really about to start dating? What other changes are in store for me? If nothing else, I know I can hold on to the absolute certainty that wherever this future takes me, I’ll be following that path standing straight in my stilettos, walking confident and very, very tall.