I had one of those moments today. You know the kind I'm referring to. The kind of moment you absolutely dread. The kind of moment you would refer back to when asked "What was your most embarrassing moment?".
I was walking back from lunch downtown during the noon-time rush. As I approached my building I noticed several landscapers working hard to make the switch from summer to fall foliage. As I'm walking past, I step on a large chunk of mulch and roll my ankle, falling to the ground, purse contents spilling out and cell phone sliding across the concrete. I know I made an embarrassing sound, although I can't quite recall if it was bird-like, donkey-ish or gorilla mode. The hard-working Mexican gentlemen working right next to me came to my rescue in a heartbeat. One spoke great English while the other was clearly fluent in Spanish. They quickly asked if I was okay and if I needed help, which I clearly did.
It's funny how a thousand thoughts go through your head in such a tiny moment of time. Immediately after falling I thought "Oh no, my bad ankle. Not again! What about Zumba? What about my weight loss journey? I've already had two surgery and recovery setbacks on this journey. Do I really have to nurse this ankle again? I don't WANT to start over! I don't WANT to gain more weight and not be able to exercise! I don't WANT to get up off this ground and look people I may know in the eye! I just want to go home!!!" I quickly snapped back to reality and asked the English-speaking gentleman if he could help me up as I reached out my hand toward him. He grabbed my hand and helped me to my feet, then proceeded to gather my cell phone and other belongings while I contained myself. When they saw the wood chunk that caused me to fall, they promptly moved it, and other scraps, out of the walkway to avoid another accident.
I looked down and noticed I'd ripped a nice hole in the knee of one of two pairs of pants I wear frequently to work (because they aren't too tight and I need to wear them while I get closer to my smaller sizes). I scraped both knees really bad and drew blood. I cut my hand in a couple of places and my ankle was throbbing. It was awful.
What really upset me when I finally looked around was that no one going to or from my building rushed over to help. I saw some of them gawking at my situation as they headed toward their destination. I saw a couple look and then turn away quickly as to avoid getting involved. And I saw a few give me a sympathy look like "Oh, bless your heart. You poor thing." as they finished their smoke break.
I grabbed my belongings, thanked my rescuers, and started the walk of shame to my desk. When I got there and told my co-worker what happened, she immediately offered to help and took me to the first aid kit, hooking me up with cleansing pads, anti-bacterial lotion, and bandages. She helped make it all better!
When the red glow left my face and I finally got over the embarrassment, I began thinking about how awful it felt to see all those people walk past me and not feel a tug on their heart to drop everything to help someone in need. Maybe they thought the landscapers had it covered. Maybe they assumed others who were closer in proximity would help. Maybe they were late to a meeting or lunch. Regardless, it felt terrible to fall like that and watch people pass you by.
I could have remained a victim, lying there like a bug on my back, kicking my legs until someone came to turn me right side up, without trying to help myself. But I didn't. I reached out my hand to a complete stranger and I asked for help to stand to my feel again. I swallowed my pride and made myself move forward, no matter what anyone thought... no matter what stares or looks I received. And when I got back to the place where I needed to focus and do the work I had to do to get me closer to my dreams, the right people were there to support me, help me heal and keep going.
Yes, I had an accident. No, it wasn't planned. It wasn't expected. It wasn't desired. It wasn't ideal. But it did happen and there's nothing I can do to take it back or change it.
Once it happened, I had choices. I could be a victim and or an overcomer. I could remain on the ground, wallowing in my embarrassment, insecurity, and self-pitty, or I could reach out my hand to someone who wanted to help me, I could surround myself with people who believe in me, encourage me, and lift me up, and I could keep moving towards my dreams. I could harbor feelings of bitterness toward all those people who didn't help me and vow to "show them" by never helping anyone in the future (the old "they won't do it for me so why should I do it for them?" attitude) or I could use this as a lesson to NEVER make anyone feel as though my agenda was more important than helping someone in need.
The next time you fall down, will you choose to be a victim or an overcomer?