I have always hated the idea of wearing shoes when I drive. Ever since I first learned how to navigate the quiet back streets close to my family home with my parents by my side, I have felt uncomfortable with the idea that my foot is separated from the accelerator by a rubber sole. I often try to rationalise my behaviour by telling myself that because I grew up near the ocean and spent much of my youth commuting around town with my feet covered in sand, I have become accustomed to travelling barefoot. But the truth is that I don’t know exactly what compels me to kick off my shoes when I get behind the wheel.
Regardless of why I prefer to drive the way that I do; I always try to arrive at my destination a few minutes early so that I have time to pull on my socks and lace up my shoes.
Weird right? And totally pointless. I haven’t blogged in almost a month and now here I am writing about feet. I know that it seems like a weird topic, but there is a point to this story…
Had it not have been for this strange habit, I never would have recently found myself inadvertently eavesdropping on a conversation between a young girl and her grandmother. The girl must have been six years old, and presumably in her first few years of education. She was dressed in her school uniform and held her grandmother’s hand tightly as they walked down the footpath near where I was pulling on my shoes in the front seat of my car.
“I don’t really have many friends at school,” I heard the little girl say. “I think that it’s because I’m not a very fast runner.”
The girl’s comment made me stop what I was doing and glance up at the duo just in time to watch her grandmother pause and turn towards her. She explained that the little girl had lots of friends, and that even though she may not be the fastest runner in her class, she excelled at plenty of other things. Hearing that she was special in her own unique way brought a huge smile to the little girl’s lips. With the conversation seemingly settled, they continued their journey down the footpath to wherever they were heading hand-in-hand.
Although a part of me felt guilty for having overheard such an intimate moment shared between a grandmother and her granddaughter, the conversation struck a chord with me. Over the past few years I have come to understand that I am a deeply empathetic person, so to hear a small child voice their insecurities and self-doubt caused a chasm to open within my chest. In the three weeks since the conversation took place, I have replayed it over and over inside of my head, and it’s only just now that I have begun to understand why I was so affected by what I heard.
Initially I told myself that I was moved by the conversation because it caused me to consider my own future. I imagined a time when it was my child who doubted themselves, or felt as though they didn’t quite fit in with their peers. I told myself that I didn’t ever want them to feel like the little girl did; I wanted them to always know that they were loved. And I made a promise to myself that neither my children, nor the woman that I grow old with, would ever feel as though they weren’t good enough, or question my love for them.
But then I realised that I was being foolish. Moments of self-doubt are inevitable; eventually my loved ones are going to have moments where they struggle, or where they must acknowledge that they’re not be the fastest runner in their class. It took some time to figure it out, but eventually I understood that the reason the conversation had such a profound impact on me is because at some point in our lives we have all felt, or a destined to feel, what that little girl walking down the footpath felt when she told her grandmother that she felt alone.
I don’t really have many friends… I think that it’s because I’m not a very fast runner.
Every single person in this world has had times where they have told themselves that they don’t quite fit in, that they’re not good enough, or have convinced themselves that they are alone. Sometimes it can feel as though we as a species are hardwired to see the positives in everyone else, whilst only ever finding failures within ourselves. We have all been guilty of judging ourselves too harshly for what we perceive to be our flaws, instead of celebrating the idiosyncrasies and strengths that make us who we are. And we have all manufactured faults within our heads that don’t exist, or told ourselves that we must be broken, rather than simply accepting that sometimes it’s alright to not be OK.
The classmates of the little girl in my story don’t dislike her because she’s not the fastest runner at their school. They love her for all the reasons that her grandmother listed, and probably many more. But because she is so fixated on what she perceives to be her one fault, instead of acknowledging her many strengths, she can’t see the positives in who she is that so many others do.
I guess what I’m trying to say here is that life is about perspectives.
Although we may live underneath the same sky, we don’t share the same realities, the same hopes and dreams, or even the same horizons. We are the sum of our past experiences. Because we have all lived through separate journeys, and seen the world through different eyes, no two people will ever experience the world in the same way. It’s just not possible. What that means is that it is highly likely that what you perceive to be a flaw in who you are, could be the very thing that causes someone else to fall hopelessly in love with you.
So next time you stare at your reflection the mirror and see something wrong with your physical appearance, just remember that someone else is looking at you and wondering how it’s possible for another human being to be so beautiful. When you’re convinced that you don’t fit in, remind yourself that others are in awe of the magnetism in your actions and the way that your words make those around you feel safe. And when you feel like you don’t have many friends because you’re not the fastest runner in your class, remember that the people who matter most will celebrate who you are regardless of whether you ever win a damn race or not.
But perhaps most importantly, remember to talk to someone close to you if you’re ever having one of those days where your insecurities are causing you to feel vulnerable or afraid.
When those moments arrive, take a page out of the book of the little girl ambling down the footpath with her grandmother, and find the courage to acknowledge that you’re experiencing self doubt. I guarantee that when you do, the people who love you will take the time to remind you that despite your one perceived flaw, you have countless strengths and positive attributes that make you the person that you are. We are all perfectly imperfect. And we are beautiful in our own idiosyncratic ways.
55 thoughts on “Eudaimonia”
I love this…beautiful thoughts Chris.
You were meant to hear that loving exchange. Must always be mindful not to let our own self doubt drown out the positivity of an outsider who has a fresh perspective. A Grandma’s wisdom can never be duplicated. Love this!!
Because we’d been socialized to act or behave more “adultly”, that is why we often ignored our inclinations, and just go with our instincts on the things we encounter in life, and, there is a reason why the little girl and her grandmother’s conversation touched you so deeply, you just hadn’t dug down deep enough to find out what it is yet, so, keep digging…
I love this. Like always, you write things in just a way, at just the right time for me to comprehend what you’re saying. Thank you for sharing. I always look forward to your posts. As a side note… I’m a barefooter too… but I grew up (and live here today) in Alaska. I don’t care if it’s 70 or -10. I hate shoes. So yeah, I’ve driven barefoot plenty of times myself ☺️. What I appreciated about this (and it resonates with me I think because I’m a long-thinker myself) is that the conversation which lasted but moments stuck with you for weeks and you mulled it over and came to an eloquent conclusion. Thank you for that. For sharing about feet and personal inner beauty and (in)correct thinking habits.
…. and it allows others to be more indulgent about their own self doubts…
Powerful post. One we can all look in that mirror and relate to.
Wonderful! I love this story. It is so pure to the heart and wise to the mind. Thank you!
My life is kind of like the little girl and her grandmother except mine is a guardian. I cant count the number of times i tell her i cant seem to fit in, i dont have friends, how do i make friends what should i do and patiently she teaches me how to do it. i wish i could just nod and not ask questions like that little girl after being told i am great in other ways but there is still this feeling of not fitting in. i guess i have to go a long way to just nod when am told am better in other ways. Thanks for sharing this though, it was really reflective on me.
Absolutely beautiful, Chris. Just what I needed. 😊
I have to tell you. It is illegal in Texas to drive without shoes. I know, weird law.
Very sweet story too. Everyone has insecurities and I’m so glad this woman helped this child instead of brushing off her thoughts.
Get out of town! Is that right?? Lived in Texas all my life and drive often without shoes….and now there’s another reason I can get a ticket??
Yep! It’s a law from the 1880’s but technically you could!
Lol…so I guess that goes back to horse and buggy days….AND, still on the books via as amendment to Texas Constitution, is that you cannot carry a concealed pair of wire cutters. That goes back to the range wars when barb wire was interfering with cattle drives. I could be a felon just for these two laws!!
Oh wow. Every contractor in Houston would get a ticket if that was still looked at!
You wite really well!
I too drive barefoot “I have to connect to things” This piece caught me with that and then knocked me over when I delved deeper. It was like you were writing about my Monday…. Luckily I reached out and had a friend whatsapp back sharing Disaster training by Nikita Gill with me “check it out” it was exactly what I needed “just like the nana”. Having someone there for my storm and the response made me realise that I have so many things to be grateful for and it inspired me to write again following a break. You may have taken some time out but this was super so Thank You!
Beautiful, real and so true. Thank you!
Great read, Chris! Have you ever taken Meyers-Briggs personality test? I suspect you are INFJ….
One’s self-image should not begin with whether one is fleet of foot or of high intellect; it should begin with the realization that each and every one of us is indeed one of a kind, unique in all the universe and in all time.
Ironically, one’s self-image is in part a product of one’s perception of how one is viewed by others. As Bobby Burns once wrote, “wad the gifte the Giftie gie us, to see ourselves as others see us”. A wonderful sentiment – problem is, those others don’t always see us exactly the same.
It’s also, sadly, the case that we tend to use a kind of mental shorthand to group people and judge them by the group. At its worst, that tendency leads to bigotry, racism and ethnic cleansing.
The test of one’s self-image is whether it reflects reality. To some extent, that includes an awareness of how others see us; but more importantly, whether one’s self-perception reflects the truth about one’s self … whether one is basically decent and good or whether one is something less.
That’s so beautiful, so powerful.
I love this 🙂
Chris, This is one of my favorite posts from your site! It’s a quiet, simple essay with a lot of power. It made me feel warm!
Thank you for sharing this story and creating such a story that all people can relate to. As I’m sitting up in bed recouping from wisdom teeth extracting reading your story, I was able to not feel pain. Your story was beautiful. Thank you.
Oh so true and so wise!
A beautifully written post, you have made me stop and think, thank you xx
Beautiful, Chris. Really moving words.
“Yay!” I thought when I saw a new post from you. It’s been a while.
“What? huh?” I thought to myself after reading the first line.”I have always hated the idea of wearing shoes when I drive.”
Let me say this right now – yes, this is weird, and you might want to rethink this for safety concerns. What if someday you have to get out of your car in a split second. Will you want to risk stepping on a piece of glass when you do so?
Your overheard intimate story was so sweet and cute. Not being liked by others because of not being able to run fast is just so adorable… I am glad that the grandmother knew how to answer that call for help and that the little girl even expressed her concerns. I see too many kids walking 10ft behind their mothers while the mother chats on the phone not paying attention to the child.
And a great message behind this post!
What a wonderful story. I’m so glad for that little girl that she has the grandma that she does who reacted in the best way possible. I did not get a similar reaction as an un-accepted child and it takes years to grow out of it. You also totally echo one of the things I say ‘We all live under the same sky, but we don’t all have the same horizon.” And I would like to take part of what you said and extrapolate off in a slightly different way: “When you’re convinced that you don’t fit in, remind yourself that this may be because you’re destined to stand out.”
Oh, and I also like to drive barefoot when the temperature allows. My first car, a 1978 Toyota Corolla, had an organ-pedal gas pedal that was so comfortable for that!
A fantastic post. It really resonated with me.
You write really well, And amazing thoughts you’ve got 🙂 Your blog is an inspiration for all the amateurs here 🙂
I always enjoy your blogs. Thanks for the deep thinking on this tender subject. We hear so much about the insecurities of our youngsters and the seemingly increasing rate of suicides. (Yet, I wonder if there are really more today than in yesteryear, or if awareness was less because, in yesteryear, communication was not so instant. Your observations and pensive thinking are, in my judgement, right-on. When insecurity presses down, it is important for our young ones to become aware of those who care and to trust their words. It may be a parent or grandparent. It may be a teacher. It may be the librarian who smiles at you and takes an interest in what you are reading or the clerk at your favorite store. Those are the ones you should listen to when pressed by others who might discourage you.
This post resonates with me on so many different levels. I am reminded of the influence David Bowie had on me 4 decades ago when my self-doubt turned to self-destruction. Suddenly, this man that I idolized made it clear that we should celebrate who we are, no matter how we thought others perceived us. He also proved, by his own struggle, that we are never completely lost as long as we have the will to pull ourselves up and get past whatever obstacle appears to be preventing us from fully living our lives. My gratitude for his guidance and wisdom is eternal.
You have managed to reiterate this lesson beautifully with the perfect anecdote. Thank you for the reminder that we all need to hear.
That was such a beautiful piece and I’m so touched! Keep writing. Looking forward to more amazing posts.
Brought a tear to my eye,such a beautiful analogy and delicately written thank you.
I love this, thank you. We always are more hard on ourselves than others.
What s wonderful first experience of your writing. Personally, I am always kicking off shoes🤗
Reblogged this on The Asylum and commented:
so real to me right now
To listen to others, if only by happenstance, is a way to connect in a world where direct conversation is becoming more obsolete. If we are nurtured or changed by what we hear, we have not invaded another’s privacy as much as taken out a moment to remember and connect, share an experience, and returned to the source. As always thanks Chris for keeping us sharp!
I needed this! Thank you for sharing! 🙂
thanks for sharing
The pathos and irony inherent in this marvelous prose makes it so unique. Anand Bose from Kerala
My late friend Chuy put it this way:
“Recognize that to someone you are beautiful, and the embodiment of near-perfection, as close as we may get on this Earth.”
One must be patient with all those that can’t yet see your light.
I’m rereading this because it had such an impact on me first time and I just like the eloquent accessible way you introduced the topic and opened it up. You are a fine writer, you have an affable style — I bet you never been told that before — and I look forward to reading more of your work 🙂
Lovely post. On the wall of the bathroom at the barn I ride at there are a lot of “positivity” quotes. One I like is :”You are your own kind of beautiful”. I love the fact that you care about your children and your other half and want them to feel confident and not without friends and not fast enough runners. Life can be a struggle and having someone, even if it is just one person, to give love and support gives you a firm place to stand.
Such a wonderful post. I loved it! Thank you for delivering this encouraging message to us all. We certainly all need to hear this at some point in our lives – maybe at many times in our lives, maybe even daily. And thank you for stopping by A Couple of Stars and a Happy Face and for the like on Happiness Is…!
lthough we may live underneath the same sky, we don’t share the same realities, the same hopes and dreams, or even the same horizons. We are the sum of our past experiences. Because we have all lived through separate journeys, and seen the world through different eyes, no two people will ever experience the world in the same way. It’s just not possible. that was my favourite line. beautiful post
I loved this. I can relate to that little girl and what you said about humans being wired to only find the flaws within oneself. I know I don’t see anything but my flaws. The only way I know I have any good qualities is thanks to the people around me who compliment me or like my work. This was a great post. Keep up the good work. 🙂
Who are you and are you in my head? Great piece, perspective means the world to me and the outlook I am growing.
Beautifully jolted down
___123___Eudaimonia | The Renegade Press___123___
I find myself scrolling down your blog, I just can’t seem to push the “exit” button. I admire your writing so much! 💚 This post is super cute, by the way!