As I stumbled out of bed at 7 a.m., I made it to the shower and somehow sleepwalked my way to the lobby of my dorm. I began my day’s journey. I had three classes to go to, then club tennis and a meeting after that. The only thing on my mind was coffee, rather than the path I walked on or the music coming from my iPod. With caffeine on my mind, I walked by a kid who looked as frazzled as I did and as he glanced up, he tripped. He lost his bearings on a brick on the walkway as a girl next to me started to giggle uncontrollably. As he came up from the near fall, I paid attention to his reaction. He wasn’t hurt or uncomfortable, but rather embarrassed and self-conscious. Later on, as I walked back from my three classes, I was mentally and physically exhausted. I, too, tripped. Rather than losing my bearings, I simply laughed to myself at the irony.
In a society so obsessed with the social norm, each and every one of us is scared to branch out or be different in fear of being shunned. The few that do have the courage to stand out are either laughed at or ignored. We are obsessed with perfection, so we go to the gym and listen to the hits on the radio, because that’s “normal.” But in this context, a trip is no big deal, right? On the contrary, tripping in a social atmosphere is looked upon as a sincere moment of weakness. While falling, someone loses the control they are so accustomed to, and in a half-second, they try to figure out how to deal with it.
The feeling of control is apparent in our culture. We have our own credit cards and acquisitions, and we have the right to vote and protest. Basically, our destiny lies in our own hands and our own free will. That feeling is especially evident during our college years, as we are finally out of our parents’ control, and we live by ourselves and for ourselves. When we are in control, we can make our own decisions, or make the decisions we think we should make in order to abide by society’s standards. However, when we lose the control we are so used to, we simply cannot handle the consequences.
In my mind, a person’s reaction to tripping is a very keen insight into their character. When I saw the aforementioned kid trip, I was aware that he had something to be embarrassed about, likely because he was socially uncomfortable, or rather because he had an image he tried desperately to uphold. However, when a person is able to brush it off like no big deal, they have realized that there is no sense in treating such a miniscule event as anything more than that.
So, next time you have the displeasure of stubbing your toe and losing your balance, realize that this life is just too short to be caught up on every physical or mental trip.
Dan Buyanovsky is a freshman from Miami majoring in entrepreneurship. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.