The conversation went like this:
“The green ones are my special socks, and the pink ones are my lucky socks.”
“Why are they your lucky socks?”
“Because I was wearing them when I lost my first tooth.”
These words, spoken by an ever-adorable seven-year-old, carry meaning easily lost on adult ears. We no longer pay attention to what socks we were wearing when we received that big promotion, thereby christening them as “lucky”. We may have a favorite sweater, or a pair of tattered, familiar gloves we resurrect from winter reserves year after year. But somewhere between seven and 27, we stop ascribing such significance to our belongings.
Perhaps it’s because with time, we come to realize that no pair of socks, gloves, hat, or scarf can bring good fortune. Yet we cling to routine, to playing it safe, to settling, like a pair of pink socks.
We wake up at the same time each morning and follow the same commute, like a line drawn neatly on a map. We are loyal to brands, to names, to numbers. We voice our opinions, but only those most likely to be accepted. We share what is comfortable and easy, because being vulnerable takes courage. We set our sights on the aspirational, only to settle for the achievable.
But what happens when our routines are interrupted and our brands fail us? Where do we go when we cannot hide behind our words? How do we cope when we realize the sacrifices we made in settling? What do we do when our lucky socks are worn with holes?
My own tried-and-true routines have been disrupted more times than I can count, for better or for worse. I hold on to them still, but am beginning to loosen my grip. When we stray from our schedules, our commutes, our regimens, we make room for life’s interruptions. Suddenly, an impromptu cup of coffee becomes the norm, friendly exchanges occur more frequently, and we tune in to our surroundings with greater deliberation. When life throws a real curve, we hope we are better prepared to face it.
We fashion disguises out of the words we say or do not say. I have hidden behind understatements and euphemisms. I have closely guarded my opinions and experiences. But I now am beginning to marvel in the meaningful ways my voice can be heard, and how this resonates in relationships. When we share of ourselves – our feelings, our dreams, our untold truths, our sources of shame and our moments of triumph – we create space for conversation and connection.
We settle. For a skipped breakfast when we are rushing out the door; for poor service when we are too afraid to speak up; for smaller space when we are tired of looking; for putting our passions on hold when we have bills to pay. We fail to see opportunities for growth and fulfillment because we can always simply settle. When we choose to commit to our calling, our aspirations, our well-being, ourselves, we are choosing to settle less. We are decidedly saying yes to that which moves us forward, and defines us in ways we want to be seen.
So let’s try on a new pair of lucky socks. Let’s take the road that intrigues us, even when we cannot see beyond its bend. Let’s be our authentic selves, even when it means risking disapproval or rejection. Let’s say yes when it is easier to say no. Let’s wear these socks thin, until they are simply a reminder of all we cherish.