Just a Thought

Category:  Community
Wednesday, September 16th, 2015 at 8:15 AM
Just a Thought by Katie Chriest
Douglas Boldt

“You have some pretty big shoes to fill.”

I heard that one a few times when people found out I was taking over the role of Managing Editor at the Reader

So what does this idiom imply? 1) The person who used to do your job did it really well. (Absolutely true, in this case.) 2) You’re probably not capable of doing it as well. (Possibly true.) 3) Congratulations, but please try to be just like that other person. (Impossible.)

Outwardly, I might manage a response like, “Actually, I have my own shoes.” But on the inside? The DJ cues up the “You’re Gonna Blow It” blues, cranks it to full volume, and hits “repeat.” 

This is debilitating stuff. Because obviously, we can’t be anything other than what we are. Still, many of us spend our lives trying. And the more energy we drain this way, the less we’re devoting to actually cultivating what we have to offer.

We tend to do this to our fair city, too. We talk a lot about how much better Erie would be if we just did this like Buffalo, or that like Pittsburgh. In other words, how great Erie would be if only Erie wasn’t Erie. 

Truly, we all have growing to do, and some urgent issues to resolve. And comparison can be healthy, both personally and in communities. If — and that’s a big if — it’s used as a tool to inspire positive emulation and change, instead of paralyzing self-loathing and resentment. 

Still, whether self or city, dwelling too much on what we lack hijacks our ability to progress. We’ll always fail at trying to be something we’re not. The real danger is that we might also fail at being what we are.

While we’re tackling many of the major issues Erie faces, let’s also hold space for what makes this particular community — with all of its wonders and WTFs — worth calling home.

Forget filling shoes. Let’s go barefoot.

Erie Reader: Vol. 7, No. 11
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