The Wisdom in Socks

If you've seen me up close you know I'm brown. I'm so brown that in foggy San Francisco my skin absorbs even the tiniest bit of light and turns it into melanin. I could take a ten minute walk down the street in a short-sleeved shirt one cold but sunny day in January and have a farmer's tan. To wit - I tan easily.

I know this melanin magic for some might be appealing, but for me it has its downsides. Namely, tan lines. As I am also an avid runner I suffer specifically from sock tan lines. Any exposed leg above the sock but below running shorts or running pants is almost instantly turned to a toasty brown leaving my legs looking like a Neapolitan ice cream sandwich.

I cursed my sock tan lines for years and was always embarrassed by them when trying to sport a summer dress with wedges, say. Unfortunately, it took advice from a brother-in-law before I happened on the solution: socks that hit below the ankle.

So I ran right over to Sports Basement and bought five pairs of small, no show socks. I was elated.

Until I washed them and tried to run in them. They were too short and kept slipping down to my heel. Every run involved many stops to yank my socks back up. Still, I persisted. I figured that I'd eventually yank the socks into compliance. I would just make them work. After all, I had spent almost $100 on running socks.

But soon I began to dread the sock pulling ritual of my runs. I knew what the solution was - try another pair in a different size - but I couldn't get myself to go back to the store. I ran in ill-suited socks for over two months. I obviously couldn't return laundered socks, so my cost was sunk and that burned me. We humans tend to feel more pain from loss than we do joy from gain. Finally, two weeks ago, I had had enough and I went back to the store and bought new socks.

You may think me cheap, but the socks were really the manifestation of a bad habit I have - trying to make things work. I'm a survivor so I'm always trying to make lemonade out of lemons, but the reality is that's not always the best approach to life. Overdone it becomes more a way to repress one's true wants and needs which translates to a lack of respect for self, a lack of self-worth.

Alicia, I told myself, get yourself some new pairs of socks! And sure enough, when I took my new socks out for a whirl and they fit perfectly and stayed in place, I felt a relief I haven't experienced in a while. It was a revelation that I need to pay more attention to: when something isn't working, change it. It may cause you time and money and maybe even a little pain, but it's always worth it in the end to get exactly what you want - what fits.

As for my tan lines? Well, I hate to admit this, but I still have them! They are just lower on my feet. I guess there is just no getting around who I am. But at least now I know I can be me and be comfortable.