January 31, 2014

Big Red Ambition: #16 Wear Flip-Flops to Class in January

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With January coming to a close, I realized I needed a topic to write about for “Big Red Ambition.” Fortunately, scrolling through the list, I noticed #16 had the word “January” in it. Unfortunately, #16 also required me to expose my bare feet in the Ithaca tundra. I knew that if I was going to complete “#16: Wear flip-flops to class in January,” I was going to have to strategize.

First, I checked the weather. Since the latter half of this month has been unusually freezing, and has even seen subzero temperatures, picking a day became a challenge. Every day this week, I thought about putting on my flip flops, saw that the temperature was below zero and wisely left them at home. However, yesterday, January 30th—the last possible day I could complete the challenge before this post was due—was going to be a whopping 27 degrees. It’s sad that I considered anything above zero to be an improvement. Tropical, even.

Then it occurred to me that my feet were disgusting. Okay, not disgusting, but the toenail polish was chipped and I became paranoid that people were going to judge me for not having a fresh pedicure. In retrospect, I think people probably just judged me for wearing flip flops in January.

When Thursday rolled around, I started to get a little too confident about the walk to class. I strolled out of my apartment building with a smile on my face. Sure, the sun was shining and the temperature was in double digits, but I didn’t realize just how cold my feet were going to be. By the time I got class, my feet were bright red and completely numb. I got a lot of strange looks on my way there, albeit, I did some pretty ridiculous things.

Obviously, when wearing flip flops to class in the winter, the appropriate thing to do is post a picture on Instagram. I thought the picture would be even better if I was standing in the snow (complete with X-Pro II filter, of course), so I moseyed on over to a bright, untouched patch of snow. Thinking that the snow would be packed down—#idiot—I jumped right onto it. Guess what happened? My feet sank right through. I did get a good photo out of it, though. Worth it? Maybe. Painful? Definitely.

There were some funny reactions to my feet as well. On my way into the building, an elderly woman exclaimed (and I mean, really, really enthusiastically shouted),“FLIP FLOPS?!?! My word! That’s just crazy!” and kept walking. Thank you? My fellow TA asked me if I was doing “some kind of crazy dare.” Later, my professor looked at my feet and, with a look of genuine concern, said she “just wanted to make sure that I was okay.”

But by the time I arrived in class, I was so proud of myself. That sounds crazy, but if you know me, you know that I absolutely hate the cold weather. Why Cornell, right? No idea. Anyway, the fact that I willingly exposed my bare feet in the Ithaca tundra, although it was pretty tropical, made me feel really great once I checked it off the list. And even though I changed into my fuzzy socks once I got to class, I was able to conquer a small fear and feel good about myself.

Wearing flip flops to class certainly made me appreciate the shoes I normally wear in the snow. It’s the small things that I tend to forget that I’m extremely lucky to have. It also reminded me that it’s okay to be proud of small victories in everyday life. It made my day so much better to have “completed” a little task. I highly encourage it—well, not the flip flops, that was extraordinarily painful—I just mean being proud of yourself for achieving small victories.

As for wearing flip flops to class in the winter again? Definitely not. Or not until next January, at least.