I feel like I’ve bested the biggest physical burden of my life and would like to reflect on my experience. I was born with flat feet; not a disability by any standard, but a hinderance. A hinderance in physical activities, but most importantly, god forbid, style. When I was a child, the orthopaedist recommended I wear special footwear and always tie my shoe-laces. That was very “uncool” so I never did. And even though I was very keen on sports, I could not run very fast. So I took up swimming instead (and subsequently rose to the top 8 butterfly swimmers in the country). The years went by, fashion shoe after fashion shoe, step after step, doctor after doctor, orthotic after orthotic, I came to a point where I could not even stand on my two feet. I had to always be in sports shoes and rest often, lest my ankles would be in extreme pain. I shied away from walking barefoot, going out for long, or even travelling which meant sightseeing which meant walking. I got to a point where my life and soul were dependent on how much my feet were hurting that day. I was 26.
I thought to myself, this is it. This is where my life changes. This is where being healthy ends and I should probably take up reading more books because that’s the only thing I’ll be able to do in a few years! That was until somebody suggested that this problem of mine might be psychosomatic. “But I was born this way” I said furiously. How could somebody suggest something ridiculous like that. However, this idea struck a chord in me. For the first time I considered that this “birth defect” might be fixable. I entered in a completely different state of mind. I was recommended to see an osteopath (I subsequently met the magnificent Cedric of Fulham osteopaths in London) and I also found a good insole shop (http://www.profeet.co.uk/ I cannot speak highly of them enough). And with tango and capoeira as hobbies of a few years, I started focusing more on posture, flexibility and strengthening those little foot muscles I had left for dead all these years. Thanks to the change of mindset, the guidance of Cedric, the insoles at Profeet and my focus on core strength and stretching, 4 years later, I can not only walk without pain, but also walk and train barefoot. As I look back, being a pro swimmer, picking up rock climbing, tango and now capoeira may have never caught my attention had it not been for my flat feet.
This story might sound trivial to some. and I’m sure everyone has heard a version of the phrase “a blessing in disguise”. The truth is that each and every person has a cross to bear; but this cross takes us places that would otherwise be too mundane to discover. And there is beauty in that.