I remember it just like yesterday. I was an SS2 student in a Federal Government College and we were a few terms away from being the guys in charge. It was a Tuesday evening and on Tuesday evenings we had rice and beef stew for dinner. Typically, we went straight to night prep classes from dinner so everyone had to wash or clean their plates and put same in their bags and head to class. For some reason, I didn’t do dinner with any of my friends that day. I wonder where Edirin was, I wonder even now. LOL.
It was a long dining room and quite close to the exit door was a sink for us to wash our hands/plates as we left the dining hall. So it was that on that day, I was walking out briskly since I was alone and there was no one to make small talk with. And as I headed out, I failed to notice that a small puddle of water was forming around that sink that was just by the exit door and that’s how my right foot stepped right in and I slipped and fell down.
Wait a minute. Just pause and imagine a busy dining hall; people coming in and leaving. I fell down in my yellow chequered house wear, all 5ft 10 of me, just at the exit of the dining hall, bag and all. At that moment, my world paused. Here I was, shy and hoping for a quiet exit out of that dining room to hit ‘Sesame Street’ and go right straight to class. Making a public spectacle of myself was the last thing on my mind at that moment. I was too ashamed to get up and I thought to pretend I had fainted (blame it on watching too many movies). I thought that if I fainted, everyone would come to my aid and I would have an easier ride than one who just slipped out of carelessness. Big mistake…yes people rushed to help, but the longer I stayed down, the more people realized who it was and what had happened.
Eventually, I was helped up and I went back to the dormitory to change and headed to class for prep. By the time I got to my class, trust secondary school peeps, I had made it to the black board as graffiti for the day. All sorts of Eloho caricature characters had made it there, of course by anonymous fellows. I was the joke for a while after that but that experience taught me some lessons that stayed with me and have remained for over a decade. Let me share briefly:
- There is nothing wrong with walking alone. I was so conscious of the fact that I had no company and was focused on just getting out, such that I missed the obvious puddle and fell. Oftentimes, we get into trouble because we focus on the wrong thing. I was so self-conscious that I wasn’t watching my immediate environment. I have realized that when we focus on the small unimportant things, we could miss out on the bigger more important things.
- Falling is not a big deal. Stuff happens. Deal with your stuff FAST- I remember that split moment when I realized I was on the ground. I had a choice to quickly accept that I had fallen and get up and out. Had I quickly stood up, everyone else would have quickly forgotten as well. Staying there that long and hoping to gain sympathy was just me exposing my flaws to more people than needed to know. If you can own up to a mistake as soon as you make it and do your best to correct it or make it right, you can prevent it from turning into a huge problem that’s going to be difficult to solve.
We often hide our mistakes from others because we worry they will think less of us once they’ve seen that we’ve messed up. But, frankly when I acknowledge my mistakes, apologize for them, and then earnestly work to make things right, I almost always have the opposite effect – people respect me for it. There might still be consequences, of course, but I find that people appreciate my honesty. Staying in the mess is a reflection of our inability to acknowledge that we really made a mistake and take steps to make it right.
When you own your failures quickly, you take back the power. You take back the power to reframe the immediate happenings and reactions so you fall forward and move on. Leaving yourself to the prolonged mercy of people’s opinions is often a fall out of not owning your ‘fall’. Had I quickly stood up, honestly fewer people would have had a say. That whole graffiti may not have happened. May have been a small joke on me and I had the power to spin it by my reaction. I could easily have laughed it off. People fall after all.
Proverbs 24:16 is simply inspirational at this juncture, “For though a righteous man may fall seven times, he shall surely rise again.”I love the assurance that Solomon gives when he says that though we fall, we shall surely rise again. Whatever you do, please don’t stay down when you fall, rise up and rise FAST!!!
Have a blessed day