What is an aspect of yourself that has made you who you are today?
There was something about the feeling of that squishy muck squirting through my toes after a heavy rainfall that simply made me feel alive. Or to feel the gritty road pushing against every inch of my sole and the rough gravel digging into my leathery skin was akin to perfect bliss.As a child, I hated wearing shoes. I found them to be uncomfortable and bothersome. When I was six years old I joined a softball league where I was forced to wear cheap confining cleats. And while for games I reluctantly wore them, for practices I didn’t. In bare feet, I was in my own element; sliding into the bases with nothing but skin for protection; staining the soles of my feet with dirt that sometimes cut my skin enough for it to bleed. But the dirt and blood didn’t bother me; rather they built up my endurance which revived me with a breath of renewed confidence.Besides playing softball, I have enjoyed painting, specifically with my feet. I dip my toes into the colorful mass of paint spread across a canvas that spans the entire breadth of my room. I glide my feet over the rutted texture of the canvas, smiling and giggling as paint tickles the soles of my personal paintbrush. My feet are alive with a reverent spirit as I move to the rhythms they compose. Creativity begins to pour from the inner pores of my soul, twisting and turning as it flows onto the canvas.Much like painting, I have found dance to be an imperative form of emotional release. I know that the aesthetic movements are controlled by the pulses of my feet as they erupt with freedom. The ability to concretely touch my skin to the floor in such a way makes me feel like I am in total control of my surroundings. By dancing barefoot I am able to make the raw connection between my feet and their natural purpose. Without the weight of shoes, I am free and alive. I am human.This is not to say that I never wear shoes or that wearing shoes is a bad thing. I just don’t obsess over them as if thirty-five pairs are crucial for my survival. I find that confining my feet to little — and almost always somehow ill-fitting — prisons made of the skin of dead animals or questionable synthetic materials, isn’t worth the trouble. While many people may see shoes as a necessity, a symbol of security that protects, I see shoes as a cage, a limitation on one’s character. Shoes hide the personality of one’s feet behind a pair of “juicy stiletto” heels, to be squished into the tinniest crevices of uncomfortable plastic. Fear of exposure keeps the feet hidden, for people are afraid to stand bare in a world where thousands of shoes overpower them, afraid of having the delicacy of their comfortable world shattered and afraid of accepting the flaws that inevitable exist within each and every one of us.I, on the other hand, am different. As I embark on the next part of my lifelong journey, college, I will remind myself to kick off my shoes from time to time because I’ve come to realize that as time passes, different types of shoes will come and go in and out of style. Shoes, like many of the other materialistic and corrupted fads that culture continually advocates, will not last forever. While some people may be afraid to take risks, I believe that “putting yourself out there” is important if you want to experience everything that college can offer, whether its challenging yourself with a difficult class or singing karaoke in front of three hundred people. It’s facing fears without fearing yourself that leads to opportunity. My shoes may be comfortable, but if I have learned anything from them at all, it’s that no matter where I am or what I do, I will always carry with me my bare feet.