Please…No Shoes in the House
My Dearest Sole-mates,
Could I really pass up the opportunity to welcome you with an oh-so-fitting shoe pun? Definitely knot. I had to put my best foot forward and keep you on your toes. But…now that I’ve run the puns out of my system, I guess we can get on with the actual point of this post…
Have you ever visited someone who you didn’t really know that well and they insisted that you take off your shoes before coming into their house? I’m willing to bet that we’ve all been there and, no matter how oddly uncomfortable it made you feel, you obliged because 1) it ain’t your house, 2) the floor looks shiny and you don’t want to be “that person” who messes it up, and/or 3) they could be afraid of shoes and a *like I said* you don’t know them that well.
When we walk into our own houses, though, we usually don’t even think twice about kicking our shoes off, making ourselves at home, and probably messing up the floors regardless. Why is this?
The way I see it, shoes are a lost more than just shoes (and I’m not talking about #fashion because let’s be real, what I know about fashion you could fit on the surface of an aglet–you know, the plastic thingies on the ends of shoelaces that shouldn’t even have a name but do anyways? yeah, those).
I see shoes as a sense of safety and security. Without them, we feel kind of exposed (especially with a lack of toenail polish, amirite ladies?), less protected, and definitely more prone to stepping on something that might have us muttering a stream of not so nice “thank you for welcoming me into your home” words.
So…when said stranger requests that you take them off before entering, I’d say it’s natural to feel a little weird about it. I mean, who wants to feel exposed and unprotected around someone they don’t know that well? (Rhetorical question, of course, but feel free to shout “not me!” at your device if you feel so inclined).
In our own homes, however, of course we should feel more comfortable without that sense of protection–the surroundings are familiar, no judgement lurks around the corner, and hey, the shower is right upstairs if you find that your lil’ toes don’t smell too nice.
But…here’s the catch.
I’m not actually talking about real houses and real shoes (well…okay, for some of it I was–because walking barefoot in a stranger’s house does feel weird).
What I’m really talking about is your metaphorical house and shoes. In other words, how you grow, nurture, and protect your sense of self.
I think this metaphor poses a really important question that we should all ask ourselves daily: am I comfortable enough to with my life and thoughts to walk barefoot within the internal space I create for myself? Or do I always end up muddying the floor because I feel the need to keep my shoes on for protection?
Finding the comfortability needed to walk into our literal houses barefoot may seem like no biggie, but I so often notice that’s not the case when it comes to taking off our metaphorical shoes to walk willingly and bravely into everything that is housed by our own internal walls.
In that home, there’s a lot of stuff. In fact, it can sometimes feel like the home of a hoarder with lots of dirt, dust, clutter from experiences past, and maybe even some sharp objects. When you think about it like this, it makes sense that a lot of us prefer to keep our shoes on at times.
However, I’m here to tell you that the longer and more frequently you keep them on, the dirtier and more cluttered your space will become. You’ll start to forget what the floors feel like beneath your bare feet as the small, unique intricacies become covered with layers of dirt and grime. Eventually, the dust may even start to cover the windows and prevent you from looking out to see the beauty of other houses–and consequently, them from looking in to see you.
So I guess now the question becomes–how do you start learning to leave your shoes at the door of your internal house so that you can 1) get to know the space more comfortably and 2) keep it tidy? It’s really rather simple…
Make time for at least one activity daily that makes you feel at home in your own body. (Notice how I said make time–because this will likely be an activity that you say “I don’t have time for”…read more on my thoughts about that here or listen to them here).
When you dedicate even a small amount of time to an activity that feels natural and welcoming, all of those barriers, formalities, insecurities, and fears (those dang shoes!) automatically come off upon entering.
This activity will be unique to every house (because no two houses are ever exactly identical, right?). However, it should be an activity that doesn’t track in a lot of unnecessary noise or clutter of comparison. For example:
- A few moments of deep breathing right before going to bed each night.
- A brief walk in solitude before and/or after work or school.
- A particular type of exercise that you really enjoy (yoga, biking, weight lifting, running, etc.)
- Spending a few quiet moments with a meaningful book or magazine.
- Writing 2-3 things in a gratitude journal (paper or electronic) daily.
- Spending 10 minutes doing something that nurtures your creativity.
- Looking in the mirror and finding one thing about yourself that you LOVE & makes you uniquely you (this is not narcissistic, it’s necessary).
There are MANY options–but you get the idea. Eventually, these small acts will continue to grow and build until you say, “WHAT? I used to wear shoes in my own house? How rude of me!” It won’t happen overnight, but it will eventually with a little practice and good intention(s).
The best part? When you become unconditionally comfortable and confident walking barefoot through your own house, it becomes so much easier to bravely accept the invitation of a kind soul who welcomes you into their internal house and requests that you remove your shoes.
A moment that once was scary and uncomfortable now feels natural–and you can trust that, if they’re a good one, there won’t be anything too sharp or dangerous to step on because they take care of their house too. After all, isn’t walking barefoot better with good company?
P.S. I can’t make it through a whole post talking about being barefoot without showing you my bare feet ft. my favorite toenail polish EVER! (because if there’s one thing that makes going barefoot better…it’s doing so while wearing the brightest color pink you can find…)