Mirka Cedidlova (+Video)
Standing on the stage during my graduation ceremony, I realized that I had narrow shoes. I questioned myself about what to do. I decided to apply for a working holiday visa and came to Canada. Here in the Bow Valley, I broadened my mind, and the future will unfold.
Sometimes, we do not choose our shoes. We select them out of necessity, and in turn, they teach us something.
I chose my pair of black fancy high heeled shoes because I did not have any other choice. I hurried from the hairdresser to the Tomas Bata University in Zlin’s hall for my convocation ceremony, wearing my reliable shoes. Suddenly, they failed me. The heel broke. I believe Tomas Bata would surely fire the worker who made them. Luckily, the night before, I prepared a spare pair of shoes.
When I slipped into my substitute shoes, I felt a sense of relief, but not for long. My excruciating pain began when we were asked to stand and promise to honour our alma mater. While walking across the stage, I counted seconds; my legs felt numb like wooden blocks, and I realized that ultimately, the spare shoes were not the right fit for me. My shoes were too narrow, as was the world I was living in. As I stood, I reflected on my life. I felt like I was standing still in one place, not moving forward, with little hope for change.
My painful ill-fitting shoes were formal, with two curved lines stitched into the leather. The three lines on the heels represented the values shaping my future. I was questioning what direction I should go? I knew I had to “figure my plan out.” “So, what are you going to do about that, Mirka, optimist?” If I changed nothing, nothing would change.
My friends gave me advice. I questioned and critically analyzed their thoughts. I realized that they were like my shoes, lovely on the outside, but destined for totally different feet, events, time, age and way. It was not a good fit.
After convocation, my friend who grew up in the same village near Zlin moved to Canmore and told me about a Working Holiday Visa and invited me to Canada. One year is not a long time, and I began researching the country of the maple leaf. I worried that I would have to start again, to step out of my comfort zone. Is it what I was ready to do?
In the interim, I had work in Prague. I applied for my working holiday visa and continued checking Immigration Canada’s website, waiting for the date of acceptance for online applications. I almost lost hope after checking it every day, but after four months, it came. I resigned from my job, moved my belongings home, and the following week I was flying to Canada. I thought, “Life goes on, and there is no rehearsal for it.”
My first stop was to visit my cousins in British Columbia, not having seen them for 21 years. I felt a tremendous wave of nostalgia. The world felt wider to me then as I stepped into the unknown, and it felt like a great fit.
I began my new life here in the Bow Valley with confidence. I confess, not everything was or is easy. As wrinkles are an inevitable part of everyone’s life, nobody can avoid our unplanned final graduation without family or friends in the audience. We will recall the fit of our shoes, knowing we are individually responsible for our own comfort. I do not want to say that I could not do much because my old shoes failed me, and the spare shoes were too narrow.
My shoes are now comfortable, and I am thankful for the opportunity to express myself through the Shoe Project.
MIRKA CEDIDLOVA came to Canada from the Czech Republic in 2015 and decided to stay in Canmore. She received her graduate degrees from Tomas Bata University, and where she also worked as an International Relations Officer. She has played in a brass music band and sang with the Bow Valley Choir. She is in the process of completing her training as a victim advocate with Bow Valley Victim Services. She is currently studying accounting and payroll at Athabasca University and the Canadian Payroll Association.