All of my life I have been clumsy. If there was something to trip over, I’d find it. If there was something to hit my head on, I’d smack right into it. Walls? I walk into them. I’ve got this whole clumsy thing down pat.
The words elegant, graceful or surefooted have never, ever, been used to describe me.
What I’ve always found interesting is people’s perspective on my lack of stability. Most people seem to exude an overwhelming sense of pity. Some go with horror. Others think it’s hilarious.
Let’s have an example. I fall over. People sometimes run to my assistance. They try to help me up. I manage to get half way and fall back down in the process. They help again. I may unintentionally head-butt one of them in my haste to get up. I’m finally on my feet again and then it’s just all kinds of awkward. And the entire time I’m pretty sure this is the running commentary in their heads.
“Oh dear. That poor woman (it is a woman right?) just fell over. Let me go help.”
“Wow. She’s really on an odd angle. Which body part do I grab on to? Arm or leg?”
“She’s getting up. She’s almost up. Shit I can see straight down her shirt. God damn it, I Iet go of her. F*#k. She’s back down again.”
“Now she’s kind of struggling like a turtle on her back – do I roll her over before I try to grab a limb again?”
“Ok. I think we’ve got it. Slowly. Slowly. Slowly. SWEET BABY JESUS HER HEAD JUST SMASHED INTO MY NOSE! Is it broken? Oh God I think it’s broken. Must. Not. Cry.”
“OK she’s up. Do I tell her that her top buttons on her shirt have come open? Maybe not. Just ask her if she’s OK. Get out of here as soon as possible.”
“Stop staring at her. Just walk away. Stop asking if she’s ok. Just walk away. The longer you hang around the more chance you have of catching her clumsiness (is it contagious?). Just walk away. No don’t offer to walk her back to work. Just walk away. Stop trying to help her brush herself off. JUST WALK AWAY!”
“Finally I’m walking away. That poor woman. I’d hate to go through my life with that level of clumsiness.”
OK so maybe it doesn’t quite play out like that but you get my drift. People are so quick to help out but then their eyes betray their pity to me. What I’d like to say to them is this.
Thanks for your help but you can stop with the pity party now.
Because of all my years of being the one who is always falling over, I’ve reached an acceptance of it. It’s going to happen. Usually when there’s maximum witnesses (like in front of a whole school, with the Canberra Raiders footy team and two media outlets present. Yes. Yes I did….and I’m fairly sure there’s still news reel footage of it). It’s never usually too bad and most of us involved in my incidents walk away unscathed. Physically at least.
The only time I feel remotely weird or self conscious about my deficiencies is when I’m in the process of getting to know new people. Like just last week.
I’ve recently started a new job. In the “let’s get to know Lou” process – which is so uncomfortable and icky and a whole different article – I managed to show my less than slick side in spectacular style. Right in front of one of the head honcho’s. Excellent. I stumbled, managed not to fall, snort laughed a bit with my colleagues as I used my go-to-disclaimer of “Oh. Did I forget to mention that I’m clumsy?” all whilst waving my arms about with a pen in my hand – the lid of which flies right off and straight into the head of one of the sweetest, nicest girls in my area. Now that finale was really excellent.
After several moments of stunned silence, my boss turns to me and says “Well. You certainly didn’t mention that in your interview.” As I turn yet another shade of beetroot red and high tail it over to my desk he follows with some reference to shooting me out of a cannon. Sensational. Nothing says “please extend my probation period” like having a clumsy, accident prone, lunatic circus clown label stapled right onto your forehead.
But you know what? I’ve lived through worse. I will end up experiencing worse than that one day I’m sure. I’ll just keep on brushing myself off and getting on with my day. When you live your life being stability challenged it’s all you can do.
Here’s one thing for all my fellow fall-over-everything friends out there to remember. If you ever stumble, I’ll run right to your side and help you up. And I promise there won’t be pity in my eyes. Just acceptance and recognition of another clumsy kindred spirit.