Before this years’ Olympics, ten and half years ago, I found myself in London.  I was an English major in college, and, for a few weeks, had the incredible opportunity to study theater in the land that brought us Shakespeare.

It was the farthest and longest that I had ever been away from my family, and though I enjoyed everything about the trip, the thing I loved the most was the FREEDOM.  For the first time in my life, I was able to think about who I was–a part from my family, my friends, and the social pressures of attending a very small college.

One afternoon, between class and seeing a play, my classmates and I did what all girls do in a foreign city–we went shopping.  At my roommate’s request, we found ourselves in a two-story Dr. Marten’s store. Almost immediately, our eyes found the clearance table. A few minutes later, I had found them.  Red, shiny, patent leather shoes. Before I knew it, I had paid the thirty pounds for them, and they were mine.

In that moment, Red became my favorite color.

But what I didn’t know then, was that Red is the color of courage, and that I was going to need courage to become the person I first sensed I was in London.  I was going to need it to break away from the definitions others had given me in life. I was going to need it when I felt called into a profession that has been historically male.  I was going to need it in order to become who I am meant to be.

I still need it.

And If we, as women, are serious about redefining what it means to be women, than we are going to need courage to do it. Collectively, we need the courage to speak out against the messages and things that weaken us. Individually, we need it to look at our lives and ask, where are we living as if harmful or unhealthy messages are true?

That night, after buying my red shoes, I put them on and wore them to a show on the West End of London.  By the end of the night, my feet were killing me.

“Don’t worry,” my friend said. “You have to break them in before they are comfortable.”

She was right–they are the most comfortable shoes I own.

The same is true about courage; it takes time for it to feel comfortable.