I always manage, despite perpetual efforts, to completely embarrass myself in public- and this time, it left me with tears rolling down my cheeks and my mom racing me to the emergency room.
Just about three weeks ago, I was participating in a school group called Link Crew- where members help out with freshman orientation, meeting the kids and making the transition to high school as pleasant as possible. I was ready to give it my all, especially after recently switching schools and knowing how hard it is to be thrown into a new place not knowing a single soul.
I empathized with them, and thought I could bring a unique perspective they would appreciate. I had good intentions, I promise.
Unfortunately, they’ll never know that.
We were told, just before the freshmen were to crash through the gym doors and greet the pep-rally of upperclassmen welcoming them, to be “enthusiastic, loud, and full of school spirit!”. The only problem was, I severely lack in school enthusiasm, and I have a special kind of deep, passionate loathing for pep rallies.
It’s an understatement to say that I had not a clue what in the world I was doing.
Resorting to breaking my own standards, I started to follow the crowd; other people clapped, so I did too; people were screaming and so I resentfully participated. I drew the line at jumping and dancing, but unfortunately I decided to partake in sprinting up the gym bleachers.
I would do anything to go back and tell myself not to run up those bleachers.
Because enthusiasm went horribly, horribly wrong.
With everybody’s eyes on the crowd of Link Crew members I was a part of, I face planted into the bleachers as I tried to leap- like a gazelle- over a pile of bags. But this gazelle got struck down, and was sprawled on the bleachers in front of her peers, teachers, parents, and the entire freshman class.
I had gotten caught on the pile of bags- slamming into the edge of the seat, my foot getting stuck, twisted, and snapped. My foot swelled like a tennis ball and turned red as a chili pepper (and stung like one too).
Allow me to express that I never cry in public. I’m a strong believer in keeping calm and carrying on, living in a world where emotions are overrated and tears never accepted.
But I couldn’t help it. I had hurt myself, and badly, in the most humiliating way. I was still trying to make a good impression of myself, with a life guarding test the next day and a whole cross-country season ahead of me. I knew I wasn’t going to b able to carry through with either.
So the tears came as I hobbled my walk of shame down the bleachers, away from the unison “GASP!”s of the strangers surrounding me.
In that moment I wanted to run away, back to my old home- to the tiny room I used to share with my two little sisters, my cat and our dysfunctional piles of adventure novels. Run to my parents that loved me, away from the superficial expectations of other 16-year-olds.
But people always prove to burst your expectations. Teachers were quick to action and my peers nothing but supportive and sympathetic- maybe I was being the superficial one, being more concerned with my self-image than taking care of my injury.
My mom showed up at my school within minutes and we rushed to the hospital to take care of my foot (which had now swollen to a baseball, preventing any movement without a whimper of pain), where I got the bad news of a sprained ankle, sprained foot ligament and possible fractured bone. I was defiantly not going to be life guarding, running, biking or rock climbing like I was planning to.
I was so bummed, and three weeks later I’m still hobbling around in a corrective boot.
However, its proved to have its upsides- other than the attention and built-in excuse to be late to class, I’ve taken the time I didn’t have before to read more, write more, play my guitar more. I value being able to do all this, and I might miss it when I get better and can resume my busy schedule.
Or maybe that’s just me being an optimist.