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Fall and laugh

Marisa Iati | Friday, February 8, 2013

I fall a lot.
Anyone who studied abroad with me could verify that it’s one of my defining characteristics.
First I wiped out in the cafeteria of my international school in Toledo, Spain. Luckily, I managed to keep all my food on the plate. Talk about the luck of the Irish (or Spanish?).
Then I faceplanted outside a cathedral in Granada. A mildly amused man selling trinkets on the sidewalk asked if I was okay.
When I returned to Notre Dame, I made it through approximately one week of the semester before tripping up the stairs in Ryan Hall.
If there’s anything my tendency to fall has taught me, it’s that I should permanently be clothed in bubble wrap.
But if there’s a second thing it has taught me, it’s not to take myself too seriously.
When I took my tumble outside the cathedral, I was incredibly frustrated. I grumbled to my friend about why I couldn’t just stay on my feet like a normal person.
Then something surprising happened – she laughed.
After an initial moment of shock, I laughed, too. Within moments, we were both laughing so hard we could barely breathe, latching onto each other’s arms as we strolled away from the building.
Instead of sympathizing and stoking my largely undeserved self-pity, my friend demonstrated to me that my fall wasn’t actually such a big deal. Where was complaining about my bad luck and lack of coordination going to get me? It would just leave me on the ground – angry, disillusioned and going nowhere.
Getting up and laughing though would enable me to keep moving forward, focusing on the road ahead and not the path (or ground) behind me. And if I didn’t think about them too much, I would barely notice the battle scars.
I’m going to fall sometimes. Maybe a tray-on-tray collision will leave me more acquainted with the floor of North Dining Hall than I’d like to be (very probable). Or maybe I’ll bomb a test, struggle in a relationship or just get a little under the South Bend weather.
I’m not going to say that when we fall, we just need a good friend to pick us up.
I’m going to say that when we fall, we need a good friend to laugh at us, remind us the world isn’t ending and make us get up, dust the dirt off our knees and keep walking.
As a wise friend once said, there’s no use crying over spilled dining hall trays.