57. Toes

57. Toes

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Find Your Inner Strength

Toes

I cling to my imperfection, as the very essence of my being.

~Anatole France

I’m going to tell you a story about my toes. Yep, really. My toes. You know how some people have a second toe that is longer than their big toe? Well, I was cursed with the longest second toe known to man. In fact, all of my toes are pretty long. As my boyfriend’s son recently told me, “You could play piano with those things.”

So, yeah. I’m kinda known for my horrendous toes. And you know what I used to do? I used to hide them. I dreaded summer. All the girls would pull out their cutesy little flip-flops and sandals, but not this girl. Nope. I was sporting tennis shoes no matter how warm it was. There was no way I was going to show the world my hideous toes.

But one day, that changed. And I don’t mean that in a generic sense of the term “one day.” I mean, I remember the exact day.

It was a particularly hot summer day and I was sporting my tennis shoes, as usual. I was standing in line at a gas station to pay and looking down at the ground while I waited. I noticed the feet in front of me. They were some chick’s cutesy little toes in a pair of cutesy little flip-flops. Why, oh why, couldn’t I have feet like that? Why couldn’t I have the cutesy little toes and wear the cutesy little shoes? Why did this chick get the cute toes and not me? What a lucky, lucky girl she was.

And then I looked up.

Along with the cutesy feet, you know what else this girl had?

A bald head.

She was a cancer patient.

Suddenly, a million memories came flooding back to me. A few years prior to this, I too had been a bald cancer patient. And, at the time, I was absolutely mortified by the fact that I was a seventeen-year-old girl with no hair. I didn’t have the maturity yet to realize that being bald was a small price to pay for the medicine that was saving my life. No, I was too self-conscious and insecure for that. I was just worried about how I looked. I wouldn’t let anyone take any pictures of me without my wig on, so I have no documentation whatsoever of that time in my life. Once I was finally able to return to school to finish my senior year, I remember a lot of the kids telling me to just take my hot, itchy wig off and wear scarves or something to make myself more comfortable. But nope. Silly me. I wasn’t ready to uncover something that I felt was a flaw, even though I knew that I would be loved and embraced regardless.

I have often looked back at that time and wished that I would have just taken that thing off. It was silly to hide behind it. It was hot; it was uncomfortable; and I would have felt so much better if I had just stopped worrying about how I looked and let my bald head shine for all the world to see. It was nothing to be ashamed of. I couldn’t help it. I was beautiful — not in spite of my bald head, but because of it.

And now, here I was, hiding something else. My stupid toes.

I silently applauded pretty-toe-girl for her confidence and strength. When I got home, I took off those uncomfortable, stupid tennis shoes and started wearing flip-flops and sandals.

So, why am I telling you this?

Do you have something you’re hiding? Well, stop that. Maybe it’s something physical like ugly toes, or maybe it’s something a little deeper. Some part of you that you think people wouldn’t accept if they “saw” it. Either way — stop it right now. There is no logical reason to hide something that makes you who you are. Whatever it is, own it. One day you’ll look back and wish you had.

Be comfortable. Be confident. Be you.

Show your toes.

Got it?

~Melissa Halsey Caudill

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