When I first entered the work force, I tried to wear heels every day. It seemed more professional and it helped to even my height out with the rest of the world. So despite the aching arches and more-than-occasional blisters, I persevered. But why? What’s so wrong with being short and wearing shoes that don’t torture your feet?
I eventually determined that it was a self-esteem thing, at least in my office. At the time, I worked at a busy newspaper building. The office was only three stories high and had an elevator, but the thing was so old and rickety (and occasionally trapped people), that many of us resorted to taking the stairs for frequent trips downstairs to production, upstairs to the archives, back downstairs to sales ... you see where I’m going with this. Anyway, the women at the top of the food chain who were great at their jobs were the ones who seemed to care very little about footwear. They were the ones who wore flats, comfy wedges, and on occasion even tennis shoes, despite the fact that they were prohibited in the dress code.
After observing the nervous assistants in the stilettos working alongside the confident managers and editors in their flats, I determined that I should make a change. I was still relatively new to the place, but it seemed to me that the girls who were killing themselves to look the part of a professional were the ones who ended up appearing exactly the opposite. (I even saw one of them trip and fall in front of a large group one day, which is a complete nightmare for anyone in a professional setting.) Was I imagining this connection?
Thus, my experiment began. I wore flats, shoes with low wedges, and even a few pairs of shoes that were hardly dressier than flip-flops. The endless running around the building was no longer a chore—I even enjoyed the exercise when I no longer had to stress out worrying about whether or not I’d fall down or be too sore at the end of the day to even stand up in the shower. I was definitely happier than I’d been while trying to “look the part.” And you know what? No one noticed my shoes, but they did notice my newfound positive attitude at the office. And in the long run, I think that’s far more important than forcing yourself to be comfortable in uncomfortable shoes.