The State of Female Insecurity: About That Time I Wiped Out In the Middle of Boston
I’ve been playing city girl the past few nights as I rome Boston for a marketing conference this week.
So picture me – the quintessential wanna-be city girl – as I leave dinner with colleagues and walk down the Bostonian streets to the train that will take me back to my friends’ house for the evening. I’m nonchalant, unsuspecting, and enjoying the brisk summer evening.
Then, out of nowhere…
Click. Boom. Wipe out.
All of a sudden…I ate it in the street. I’d tripped in my fabulous new little booties over a lip in the sidewalk.
It happened quickly, but as it was happening, I knew I was going down immediately. So I let myself fall before catching myself quickly so I could – like a lady – throw myself back up to standing, continue walking, and pretend like nothing ever happened.
But something did happen.
As I caught myself on the pavement, I remember only realizing two things:
- I caught myself quickly enough so that I didn’t hit my face on the concrete. (Win!)
- There were two 20-something ladies walking about 20 feet behind me who witnessed the entire thing.
Interestingly enough, the second was more relevant at the moment.
As I was brushing myself off (of more emotional wounds than physical ones), one of the girls behind me said:
Oh my god, I love your shoes!
Just before she then said:
And are you OK?!
I really want to focus on the order of the comments above.
I wiped out on the middle of the sidewalk in a major metropolitan area and a woman roughly my age first gave me a compliment…then asked me if I was OK.
Why is this a valuable insecurity lesson?
When something you don’t expect happens, your reaction tends to be a gut – or initial – reaction. (Think about the last time you had a near-accident, witnessed a comment you weren’t expecting, or saw a movie with a surprise twist.) I’m guessing you didn’t react with a 1950’s “Golly gee willikers!”
No. You probably cried, “Holy shit!,” gasped, screamed, or maybe even laughed uncontrollably.
It’s interesting to me that the first reaction that I got falling suddenly on the sidewalk was a compliment.
What does it mean?
I’m guessing, but more than likely, this young lady’s first reaction was to put me at ease by making me feel good about myself. She may have noticed she like my shoes when they were suddenly at the same level as my body, but let’s disregard that small fact for the moment.
I was obviously stunned that I tripped and fell and, after a quick self-check I had nothing wrong other than a small rip in the knee in my pants (boo!) and perhaps a little dignity, moved on. The girl behind me, however, felt she needed to say something to me. Her first instinct was to remove the insecurity I was obviously facing by diverting with a compliment. Secondarily, was to make sure I was OK.
What does this have to do with female insecurity?
The short answer? A lot.
As women, we receive a lot of validation to the (more often than not) physical insecurities we feel through outside sources.
No, that dress makes you look phenomenal.
Of course I can’t tell that you have a huge zit.
Oh please…you did great! I couldn’t tell you were nervous at all!
So…for whatever reason, this stranger felt the need to first give me a compliment – making me forget my embarrassment and insecurity for falling – first, before then making sure I was OK.
Was it the right thing to do? Maybe, maybe not. Personally, I would have preferred someone to ask if I was OK right away.
But that was her first reaction and, well, you can always tell a lot about a person’s first reactions.