Falling with Grace

When I was thinking about writing this, I wanted to make sure I made it clear that I was talking about literal falling. That was until I realized that the advice you need to survive an actual fall is not greatly different from that which will serve you well in an emotional, professional, or metaphoric one.

I had the not-entirely-unforeseeable experience of falling right off of my five inch wedges and onto the grass in the middle of the memorial park of a Presidential library. I knew better than to walk on uneven surfaces in precarious footwear, given my weak ankles, having just completed a forty-five minute tour in said shoes, and my overall natural tendency to fall. However, I was in the middle of talking to a colleague, and most importantly, part of me was ready for it.

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 The scene of the crime

The first thing you need to do to fall well is to expect to fall. If you fall on purpose, people will rightly assume something is wrong with you. But if you know falling is a possibility, then think about the best way to fall given what you’re wearing, what surface you’re falling on, and ways to limit the carnage. Before I set foot on the grass I knew I was wearing dark jeans, carrying a beverage, and had a bag weighing approximately forty pounds over my shoulder. When my shoe found the one divot in the otherwise perfect lawn I fell gently to my knees, balanced my drink, and stood back up in one fluid motion without pausing; my companion would never have noticed if the security guard hadn’t started laughing.

Remembering the benefit of a calm demeanor, and the motto of the women in my family, “Panic Later”, got me back on my feet in the pavilion, but more importantly back on an even keel emotionally when an opportunity did not go the way I wanted it to. I knew that the outcome may be unfavorable, despite the elaborate fantasy scenarios I had already constructed in accordance with a positive result. When things didn’t go my way there was already a plan in place. Physical or mental, you can’t fight the fall; it makes it so much worse- be upset and hit the ground- then stand right back up. In the latter case I also threw in cake, for therapeutic purposes.

Falling with grace does not mean that you should never fall at all. Making mistakes, whether the world media is present or just a bored security guard, is part of being human and relatable; perfection is sterile. Handling those hiccups with the right combination of composure, preparation, and humor is what determines the standard of grace.

A Tide Pen is also not a bad idea.

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