Falling in Public Can Be Humiliating but It Can Teach Us About Recovering From Embarrassing Situations

Rejoice Denhere

Falling can be deeply embarrassing but it doesn’t define you as a person

“We were watching you,” the nice lady remarked. “I told my husband — she’s going to fall, she’s going to fall — and you did.”

That’s not really how you start a conversation with someone who is sprawled on a public pavement with no strength to get up.

As I lay there listening to her a thought crossed my mind. Did she will me to fall? No, she definitely had nothing to do it. This was all my own doing. My own lack of judgement and thinking, assuming I was something I wasn’t.

Maybe if I was built like Dwayne Johnson — The Rock, or Arnold Schwarzenegger this wouldn’t have happened.

It was a beautiful spring morning. The sun was out in all its glory. Wanting to exercise and get some fresh air I decided to go for a walk. I would be passing the supermarket on the way, so picking up some groceries seemed like a good, time-saving idea.

I grabbed a backpack plus two reusable shopping bags. At the supermarket I picked up a few items. Packed and ready, I hung the backpack over my shoulders, secured the front straps, then carried the two smaller bags in each hand.

It was only when I started walking that I realised just how heavy the contents were. My first lesson that day was — milk, potatoes and rice are heavy — very heavy.

I made it out of the supermarket onto the public pavement. I would be okay if I walked slowly and stopped to rest every few metres, I reasoned.

A main road runs alongside the pavement. It was busy. The whole world and his wife was out that day, it seemed. Some people were walking, others were in their cars just enjoying the warm weather.

I stopped to catch my breath, then took a step forward. A set of traffic light had just gone red. As I watched the cars slow down and stop I remember wishing I’d skipped the shopping trip altogether, or used the car instead.

I quickly abandoned my thoughts as I felt as if I was being pulled from behind. It was the weight of my backpack. I must have leaned back a little too far while correcting my posture.

I fell spectacularly!

Kissing the ground unintentionally, the heavy backpack and its contents pinned me to the ground. I watched in horror as the groceries in the two shopping bags spilled out, scattering all over the pavement. I could hear gasps of shock all around me. Cars doors swung open as motorists abandoned their cars and, joining the pedestrians on the pavement, rushed to my side.

That’s when the nice lady spoke.

“We were watching you. I told my husband — she’s going to fall, she’s going to fall — and you did.”

I’ve never felt more embarrassed in my life. I am a very independent person. That day I swallowed my pride and admitted I needed help. The nice lady, she was genuinely nice, together with her husband, offered to drive me home. I was truly grateful particularly as it was completely out of their way. When they dropped me off they refused payment and wished me well.

Later that day, whilst recovering from my ordeal, I reflected on what had happened. I didn’t want to repeat the same mistake literally or metaphorically.

Lessons Learnt

  • Recognise that falling is a part of life, so don’t be embarrassed by it even if you lose your dignity. You’re not the first to fall, and you won’t be the last either. However, give careful thought to the consequences of the decisions you make daily. It will help you avoid situations that could trip you up or cause you to fall.
  • Get up quickly. Recognise that if you do fall this is a temporary situation.Don’t remain in that space or turn it into your permanent dwelling.
  • Ditch your pride. Stop worrying about who is watching you, or what people are saying. Focus on picking yourself up again. Accept help if it is offered and you need it. There are some genuinely good people in the world who only want the best for you.
  • Falling doesn’t define you as a person. Yes, it can be deeply embarrasing — you’ll get over it. Trust me. Remember who you are on the inside — an intelligent, resourceful person who makes good decisions.

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Lifestyle writer | Published Author | Business owner I write about leadership, personal development, life lessons and wellness. My goal is to inform as well as inspire readers.

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