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Sole Purpose

In my gym newsletter last month I read, “Change your shoes every six months.” Really? Six months? Sure I use them almost every day, and I noticed the ones I am wearing have some holes forming in the back. The shoes are almost a year old, but, I was thinking they would hold out a little longer. That is what my job transition two years in the making has been all about anyway, holding out a little longer for, of course, the right fit.

Jobs used to be where life made sense for me, where my efforts were always rewarded, and unlike my love life, I was always heavily sought after. Now I hear things like this. “It will come when you least expect it. That job will come your way when you’re open to it, maybe not even looking.” My job search has become my love life! That’s bad, but what that means more anything is that my next job should be looked at like that next pair of shoes and no longer as the love of my life. That’s what got me into trouble in the first place, believing I would find the perfect fit, not to mention color scheme. Realizations like that give whole new meanings to symbols like glass slippers.

Cinderella transformed herself so as to “be” more acceptable to the audience at hand. When she left her cottage for the castle, what was it like to always exist as a painted picture of herself? It couldn’t have been easy. She must have been tired of trying to glide along as the enchanted image when in reality she was walking in the uncomfortable shoes made of glass. Step after step, they had to be always on the edge of breaking. She must have tread carefully, afraid of breaking ranks, of breaking rules, of breaking.

I receive job feeds on a regular basis. Completing those applications is like shopping online, only you get sent back instead of the shoes if the proverbial shoe doesn’t fit. It is a daily habit now and a recent interview preparation is actually how I forgot to even write this blog last week. This is the list so far:

Classroom teaching fit too tight.

Nonprofits didn’t have enough support.

Coaching in a library context stepped on toes.

Library outreach was too narrow. I really thought I could wear it comfortably but I kept getting the same blister.

Coaching teachers pinched. The shoes were lovely but somehow never got broken in.

I heard one morning while sipping coffee through the din of the morning news that marriages fail because of false expectations. These portrayals abound described in movies, books and television. This “happy ending” is really only the beginning, and no one really knows of what or how much work, struggle and intentional choice becomes a part of success, and not success of the zenith kind, but longevity. We, the reader, don’t see the days after. Drunken on the dream what happens next is as much an afterthought as bubbles or foam. Happily ever after, after all, needs no further attention.

Cinderella had a glorious and decadent wedding to a prince she barely knew. Their subjects paid for this event in taxes no doubt, but the price the newly crowned princess will pay in shoe inserts across a lifetime may be significantly more. Does she consider nine months after? A year? Cinderella’s feet must have changed, especially after pregnancy. Was she suddenly not the one because the glass slippers didn’t fit her anymore?

For a time, I carried my shoes in my backpack to prevent blisters. Each time I thought my feet toughened enough to wear my “professional” shoes while walking, I regretted it. It was too hard to tread carefully enough. “Change your shoes every six months.” It is probably more like every six minutes. Yes actually, that sounds just about right. My ideal job will allow me to do just that. And my ideal shoe? Well, as child I sat and let the shoe salesman pinch the gap beyond my big toe. Adults should do the same, buy shoes with room to grow, because even if we don’t grow, we change.

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