If you open my closet, you’d be hard-pressed to find anything that isn’t a shade of denim, gray, black or white. Most of my clothing is plain; most of it lacks imagination. There are no bursts of pattern, no explosions of color, no overt expressions of personality. In fact, the sheer monotony of my clothing makes fumbling around on dark mornings when my roommate is soundly asleep quite the daunting task, especially when I have a specific black shirt in mind.
However, in the overflowing white plastic Target drawers under my bed, you’ll find a visual cacophony: a riot of color unlike anything else my room or belongings have to offer.
The reason? My feet tell an entirely different story.
Spicy Korean instant noodles, sullen and moping egg yolks, Chewbacca up-close, cartons of banana-flavored milk, Disney’s Princess Jasmine, a Chinese dragon boat rower decked out in his competition gear.
Each carefully folded bundle tells a story, each pair has their own point of origin and each sock fulfills its own unique purpose. They signal my different moods and symbolize various points of my life.
The Starbucks socks? A gift from a childhood friend’s visit to South Korea honoring my passion for the coffee chain. The Ninja Turtle ones? A purchase made at a random convenience store one late night in Hong Kong. The pizza-print socks were bought on a trip to Taiwan with my high school best friend from a street vendor. They now serve as my tribute to Morse College dining hall pizza.
As peculiar as it may be, socks have become my vehicle of self-expression. My feet tell a tale and share my emotions in a way my other clothing items don’t. If my purple eye bags don’t disclose my exhaustion, my feet, adorned with a pair of soundly sleeping pugs, will surely share that burden.
It’s strange because I am, in general, not a very expressive individual. Despite this, my partially hidden feet are where my buried soul manifests itself. It’s not unusual to find me clad head to toe in some monotonous combination of clothing: Picture a darkly colored, oversized sweater stolen from my dad with a pair of socks pulled over the bottoms of my black leggings.
Every morning I kneel in front of that overflowing white drawer and carefully ponder which socks I’ll bless my toes with for the day. I invest greater effort in my sock selection than the rest of my outfit combined.
On days that feel relentless and unending, I grace the world with my “bring your wine to work day” socks; on mornings when I feel antisocial and under-the-weather, the “I hate everyone, too” ones make their appearance. My cloudy gray “yeah, I have a dark side too” pair somehow brightens the days when I don’t feel capable of leaving my bed. While some weary days call for socks that express precisely that, others encourage me to “dress up” my feet and impose a burst of color and brightness onto an otherwise dreary day.
Snowflakes, a deformed Elmo, pandas, tiny pink sheep leaping over fences and a school of fish swimming through the coral reef — the list spills out just as the drawer does.
Besides warm summer days where flip-flops are in order, you’ll rarely find me without a pair of thoughtfully chosen adornments on my feet. I have thin ankle socks for sunny days, longer socks for the beginning of long-pants season and thick, woolly but consistently patterned and colorful socks for the snowy months.
During midterms and finals, I wear my “nerd” socks because I have come to believe they will increase my intelligence and grace me with good marks. Last winter I went as far as wearing the “Mona Lisa” around my ankles when taking my art history final, with the superstition that their relevance would increase my chances at attaining the A I desired.
Santa Claus, Batman, a grouchy puppy, Van Gogh’s “Starry, Starry Night,” Captain America, a garden of daisies.
Socks are my method of partially unveiling my emotions, my covert way of telling the world how I feel each day and my personal strategy of brightening an unwanted experience or a particularly stressful time.
According to Socrates, the aim of philosophy is to “know thyself.” With my vibrantly clad feet, knowing and expressing myself is precisely what I endeavor to do.
Hana Davis | firstname.lastname@example.org .