Discuss an accomplishment or event, formal or informal, that marked your transition from childhood to adulthood within your culture, community, or family.
If the shoe fits, wear it. For as long as I can remember, I have aspired to fit into one special pair of my mother's shoes -- the timelessly elegant (and oh so grown up) pumps she always tosses off in the kitchen the minute she comes home from a long day of work. A favorite family photograph captures me at four years old, clad in my Winnie-the-Pooh nightgown, hair disheveled, smiling ear to ear, while standing proudly in the kitchen of our little house with my feet swimming in those pumps.
When my feet are wrapped in their soft leather, I can't help but take a few steps around. It sounds silly, but this simple act of "dress-up," started when I was a little girl, gives me both comfort for the present and hope for the future. In elementary school, when I imagined myself as a soon-to-be prima ballerina, I would slip off my Mary Janes, don my mother's pumps, and then twirl, picturing myself in pointe shoes dancing on a huge stage. After eleven years of hard work, upon finally earning my own pair of those precious silk pointe shoes, my mother's shoes weren't quite so roomy. But they were roomy enough that, after surviving my first very long day of high school, I threw off my Converse sneakers and sank my feet into those pumps. I exhaled dramatically as if a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders. Then I took a few steps and realized that my toes were unsettlingly close to the end of the shoes. Whoa -- I wasn't ready to be an adult yet. Those shoes needed to have enough space for me to finish growing up. What if I outgrew them before then?
As I have gotten closer to the time when I have to have my own "dress for success" shoes, I've pondered what shoes would suit me. I don't see myself in my own pair of timelessly elegant pumps, largely because they don't really express who I am or aspire to be. I am less timeless, more currently stylish; less quietly elegant, more loudly artistic; less corporate chic, more entrepreneurial flair. So earlier this summer, when I had the privilege of backpacking with my Westminster classmates for a month through Europe, I ventured out to the Florence leather market, hunting for a pair of shoes that suited me. I scoured the entire plaza for leather sandals, finally finding the perfect pair, a deceptively simple design made fashion-forward with their tie straps and distinguished as the work of art they were by the Firenzie emblem stamped on the soles of each shoe. I mercilessly bargained with the vender until I finally purchased the shoes for ten euros, half of the original asking price.
Once back home, I was selected for an amazing internship at a local art gallery. The night before my first day, I went through the classic dilemma of what to wear. I picked out a simple white dress, but wasn't sure what shoes would complete the look. What would say "on the way to a successful career in the art business?" My mother came into my room offering her new black designer sandals. They seemed like the obvious choice, but would they fit? I gingerly slipped them on my feet. Not quite. My feet were still a little smaller than my mother's. So the next morning I walked into my internship wearing my Firenzie sandals, which, of course, fit me perfectly. Every step I took that day felt like a step on my own journey to adult success. And when I got home, my mother's pumps were waiting - offering their relief and comfort from the challenge of the day and inspiration for a future in which the shoes I wear fit me.