I Believe in Wearing Mismatched Socks

Audio archive requires Adobe Flash player. Flash is not supported on iPad or iPhone.

I believe in wearing mismatched socks. But it took me a while to get to this belief. When I was in 3rd grade, I had a nagging need to be perfect. It began with my grades, but as I got older I started getting desperate to have a perfect life as well. Needless to say, my socks had to match. By high school my need to be perfect became even more intense.

“Alright pull out a piece of paper and make a T-chart,” said Ms. Clouthier, my honors English teacher.

I grabbed a sheet of paper and pulled out my loud, metal ruler.

“Mr. Martino, what do you think you are doing?” asked Ms. Clouthier.
“Using a straight edge,” I replied.
“Just free hand it please,” she retorted.
“I can’t. My line won’t be straight,” I said.
“You need to seriously calml down and evaluate yourself,” she said.

Despite the embarrassment, I kept my ruler out. Every English class my ruler sparked similar banter. By the end of sophomore year I no longer needed it. This was a start, I suppose. As a perfectionist in high school where the workload was manageable, I didn’t need to change much.

But, my freshman year of college challenged me more than high school ever had. I found engineering pushed my perfectionism to the limit. The benchmark GPA for an engineer is a 3.0, far less than my 4.33 in high school. A 3.0 was unacceptable, as far as I was concerned. But the workload felt so insurmountable that it got to the point where I wouldn’t even try. I couldn’t persuade myself to even touch my homework. I would log onto Facebook instead of studying.

Eventually I reached my breaking point. I received a poor exam grade and considered dropping out of Penn State. I managed to make my way through freshman year just above the 3.0 line. When I went home that summer, I enrolled in therapy.

I learned from my therapist that a lot of perfectionists who were successful in high school go to college and become seemingly lazy and unmotivated. She explained the lack of effort resulted from a fear of failure. I’d fallen into that trap.

After a few weeks of therapy, the start of my sophomore year was near. I wasn’t sure I was ready to go back. My therapist suggested I find something to remind me it was okay not to be perfect. So I did something very uncharacteristic: I unrolled all my socks and paired them haphazardly.

I’m only a few months into the experiment, but my trick of wearing mismatched socks seems to be working. I find myself spending far less time distracted by Facebook, and more time present in my life. I am glad I stuck it out through freshman year. I came through more aware of myself. Now, whenever I unhealthily seek perfection, all I do is roll up my pant legs and look down at my mismatched socks.

I believe in wearing mismatched socks.


What do you think? Be the first to comment!

Post Comment


We welcome your comments. WPSU reserves the right to edit, not post, or delete comments. Comments may not appear immediately upon submission.

WPSU on Facebook