A few nights ago I had to work an overnight shift at the clothing store I work at.
There were about five of us there, spread out all across the store and our main focus of the night was to bring new clothing out onto the floor. The store was silent and we all had our own headphones in, each of us trying to bring some comfort to ourselves when it was that early and that dark out. So, I’m folding a stack of pants when I realize that I am a couple sizes short. I’m going to have to walk all the way across the store and into the back room to get more sizes. I start walking and a bit of discomfort sets in because my shoes squeak as I start to walk.
They squeak and there’s that small squish of air that makes a sound with every step I take. I feel uncomfortable and hold my head down, hurrying with my squeaking feet to head to the back room where it’s loud and I can walk alone.
I’ve dealt with anxiety my whole life, so as one part of me is embarrassed for the squeaking shoes, the other part is already trying to talk myself down.
“No one was listening to the sound of your feet, they were listening to music” I tell myself. “You were just walking, it’s not like there’s anything funny or weird about that” & “the squeaks were only loud enough for you to hear because you were paying attention to yourself”.
I start to search for the sizes I need and I begin to wonder what it is that embarrasses me so much about if my shoe makes a tiny squeak when I walk. Is there anything truly embarrassing about that?
I’ve been like this my whole life. In school I used to be embarrassed if I ever had to cough or sneeze during class. In the middle of tests I would have to work up the courage to push my chair out, walk with squeaky shoes, to deliver my test to the teacher. There are so many situations like this that have made me anxious or embarrassed and I never realized why until that night.
I have such little value for myself that sometimes I feel like it’s a crime that I even exist.
If I cough in a public place then I am bothering someone. My shoes squeaking must have been an inconvenience to my coworkers.
I don’t own my presence and that is my problem.
Realizing this is going to help me though. I want to walk with confidence and assurance. I want to feel like I can breathe without worrying about how it might make someone else feel. I want to learn to stop saying sorry and start stomping my way around instead of taking small mouselike steps.
My shoes are going to squeak and I want to learn to be alright with that.