Have you ever wanted to wear something new but you were too afraid of what people would think of you? Or have you ever gone out in your pajamas somewhere and gotten judgmental looks from people more dressed up than you are? I know I can’t be the only one who has freaked out about what to wear when attending a certain event. Obviously it would be the absolute end of the world to arrive over- or underdressed for something. Or would it?
For the past four weeks now I have been wearing something quite out of the norm: a walking boot, necessary to my recovery from a running injury in my foot. It’s unfortunately not my first time sporting this unique footwear, and while I hope it will be my last, it has taught me the valuable lesson of not caring what people think of what I choose to wear.
The ultimate question that I have found when it comes to fashion is do I want to be cute or comfortable? If it wasn’t clear to me before, the answer in my mind is now always go for comfort. I am limited in my options of what to wear with my boot. I often wear a sneaker on my other foot to balance myself out and walk with comfort even if it doesn’t fit the rest of what I choose to wear. However, just because I am forced to wear it with every outfit does not mean that I just accept it as a hindrance to me.
I don’t let my boot slow me down on the way to class. It surprises many people, but I have actually been riding my bike more now with my boot to stay off my foot. I don’t let my boot keep me from having fun either—it has joined me to dances, including a black-light dance during which I was surrounded by friends who filled it with glow sticks. I don’t let it get me down anymore.
I am treated differently because I wear my boot. I get more looks of sympathy, more people I barely know asking what happened, more doors held for me, and generally more attention. While none of these things are bad, I don’t see them as necessary. I appreciate that people care about me, but the boot has just become another part of me, another part of what I wear. While I may not be choosing to wear it, I can certainly choose how I wear it, and I will wear it confidently until I am healed.
The best thing I have noticed this time around in my boot is that I am not alone. In fact, I am so far from being alone that I can’t believe I didn’t see it before. I see people all across campus sporting the walking boot, and while I’m sure all our injuries are different, I feel connected to those like me, making it to class on time, not choosing to make their injury an excuse. However, I recognize more each day that everyone has their own sort of boot, crutch, or hindrance that impacts them on a daily basis. Whether it be physical, mental, or emotional: We all have roadblocks that we would not choose to have in our lives were it in our control. But the more I pay attention, the more I like people. I see how strong we are, especially when we come together on a college campus. So when people see me biking through the rain in my boot on my way to class, I hope they see me not only as someone with a crutch, but as someone who is making it work, continuing to make things happen. Most of all, I hope I can inspire people to know that they have what it takes to make it work too, in whatever way they can.