I bought some new sandals to walk around my new school. Our campus stretches about 3.4 miles across, and my closest class is a ten-minute walk from my dorm.
People have been telling me to get this kind of sandal for months now, and I finally caved because I knew that my current ones wouldn’t cut it for the treks I face every day. They arrived in my mailbox, and no more than five minutes later they had made themselves at home on my feet. I was determined that these would be my favorite sandals.
They were indeed my favorite sandals—for about an hour and a half.
Breaking in shoes has never been my strong suit. My feet tire quickly, and the smallest skin irritation makes me sit down faster than I do during musical chairs. After some online searches, I found out that these new sandals would take a few days to get used to, and that I needed to give my feet some breaks in between wearing them.
But I was determined. I pushed on, letting my feet struggle through chafed skin and foot cramps while I walked. I didn’t want to prolong the process by taking breaks. During the first week, my floormates (and my sandals) and I did everything together. We explored the campus, visited the beach, and tried as many of the dining halls on campus as we could within those few days before class started. We spent late nights together in the floor lounge and woke up early to find adventures the next day. Inevitably, we walked no less than seven miles a day.
The constant togetherness was something I wasn’t used to; being more of an introvert, I like having time to myself to regenerate my energy, but staying in a triple on a very social floor usually means that there’s at least one person around me at all times. Looking back, there might have been ways to find more time to myself, whether that was going for a run or plugging in headphones and reading a book in one of the quiet lounges, but I chose to try and focus on finding my energy through being around people.
I’ve been at college for a month now (yay for quarter system!). My sandals are much more broken in, and I’m much more well adjusted to living in such close quarters with so many people. I dealt with both in similar ways, pushing through the little patches of irritation and discomfort in the face of something new. For me, the best way to acclimate was to put myself in the middle of the newness and not take a break.
I’ve heard so much advice about the best ways to learn about living away from home from family, friends, and more; I kept hearing about how every person’s experience is unique, but I only realized that to be true when I came here. For me, it became about finding a balance, which was something I could only do by forcing myself out of my comfort zone. I have friends who are the opposite and prefer to take things in smaller doses, and I know it works well for them. My (no longer) new sandals are now some of my favorite footwear, and my dorm is starting to feel like home. Change and discomfort can be intimidating, but I believe there are always multiple, equally effective ways to get used to new situations… or shoes.