The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

COLUMN: Next steps, shoes as symbols of growth

Dan+Hahn+is+a+graduate+student+studying+English+and+can+be+reached+at+217-581-2812.
Dan Hahn
Dan Hahn is a graduate student studying English and can be reached at 217-581-2812.

Every end of the school year, I get a bit nostalgic as I reflect on the academic year that has come and gone.

This year, I’m thinking about an old pair of Xero Prio shoes I own that should probably go in a landfill, but I hold on to them because they are comfortable beyond any other shoe I own. There is something about an old pair of shoes that I think we can all relate to.

In recent years, there has been a growing trend towards a more minimalist approach to footwear. Barefoot shoes allow for increased freedom of movement.

The “open toe box,” as it is called, provides ample space for the toes to spread naturally, relieving pressure and reducing the likelihood of cramping, which happens frequently for people like me with large feet.

Shoes, regardless the style, also hold a special place in pop culture. In “The Wizard of Oz,” Dorothy’s ruby slippers are symbolic of her desire to find her way home and represent a journey of empowerment.

By clicking her heels together, she realizes that she had the power to return home all along, emphasizing a theme of newly realized inner strength. Although commonly thought to belong to young children, this is certainly a relevant tale for the end of the academic year.

One of my kids’ favorites is “Cinderella,” which features a magical pair of glass slippers that not only represent transformation but also symbolize dreams and aspirations. Oddly, glass footwear seems to embody the idea that the right pair of shoes can change one’s life and identity.

Similar to the transformational experience of college, these stories demonstrate how footwear can be used as powerful symbols to convey themes of independence, empowerment and self-discovery. The right pair of shoes can represent a journey, transformation or a means to express one’s true self.

Like in those fairy tales, I believe there is an unstudied phenomenon that imbues certain shoes with attributes of comfort and longevity beyond their design, so they become extraordinary and retain unique qualities that are very much like magic.

Dorothy and Cinderella had shoes like these, and you likely do too.

Our nostalgia for the themes from children’s stories are like putting on an old pair of comfy shoes. It is like traveling back to a simpler place in life, walking with the same tempo that resonated perfectly with the habits and surroundings that made them so comfortable to begin with.

It’s a reminder that the value we find in our shoes extends beyond their functionality. We’re not just trying to protect our feet or look good. We’re trying catch a vibe and groove with it.

Just like in college: we are not just trying to get a degree and become well suited for employment. We are aspiring to be a better version of ourselves and feel good about the new person we are becoming with each step forward.

 

Dan Hahn can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected].

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Dan Hahn
Dan Hahn, Columnist
Dan Hahn is a graduate student studying English and can be reached at 581-2812.

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