— Life —

Waiting for the Other Shoe to Drop

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Several months ago, on the advice of some friends, I saw a well-known local medium. Either she was authentic, or she asks everyone if their grandmother has a limp, makes terrible pastry dough and is a unique force of nature. While I got a lot of gee wow moments for my two hundred bucks, what made the experience worth the price was her assertion that my years in the crucible are behind me… unless I choose to put myself back in. When I asked her to clarify, she said that if I spend my life waiting for the other shoe to drop, I will suffer.

The expression “waiting for the other shoe to drop stems from an old comedy routine where a boarding house resident wakes when the tenant above him kicks off one of his shoes and lets it drop to the floor. The downstairs neighbour is unable to go back to sleep, certain he will wake up again when his housemate drops the other shoe. After waiting a while, he shouts through the ceiling, begging his roommate to drop the other shoe so he can go back to sleep. Ironically, the shoe dropper had already realized he was too noisy and had silently removed the other shoe. The other shoe would never have dropped.

Like the downstairs tenant, I am always waiting for the next disruption. I wait for good people to reveal themselves to be monsters, for me to destroy my career with a misplaced comma or for my loved ones to somehow disappear. More than likely, these things won’t happen, but I make myself miserable with the fear they will.

I’ve come to believe that if I worry about things enough, I can either prevent them from happening, or minimize the impact if they do. My worry has prevented disaster a handful of times over the past 40 years and, as anyone who’s every trained a dog will know, intermittent reinforcement is a powerful thing. I believe that as long as I remain ever-vigilant, I can control my fate.

Of course, what I don’t think about are the thousands of hours I’ve wasted, worrying about things that did not happen. I think only about the few Louboutins that dropped, not the Payless warehouse-sized load of shoes that never did.

At some point I want the other shoe to drop, simply to put me out of the misery of waiting for it to happen. I stop allowing myself to be happy, for fear that happiness might be taken away. This is how one ends up back in the crucible, I suspect.

I’m learning that I simply need to be okay with the uncertainty and to know that if the other shoe drops, it drops. I’ll deal with it if and when it happens. In the meantime, it’s perfectly fine for me to relax, enjoy my life and limit my thoughts on footwear to the age-old question of stiletto vs wedge.



  • Elaine August 24, 2016 at 3:31 pm

    Jen – thanks for sharing the meaning behind “waiting for the other shoe to drop”! I can so relate to your post as I too am a worrier. I work at it trying to live in the moment and to enjoy each day as it comes – but it’s work! It doesn’t come naturally.

    • Jen Lawrence August 24, 2016 at 3:57 pm

      It’s a hard one, isn’t it. xo

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