Avoiding Awkward Situations Tripping Eliza Hurwitz

I don’t know if it’s because I have genetically weak ankles or the ground I’m walking on has it in for me, but I’m constantly rolling my ankles or tripping. Not a big trip where I fall flat on my face, just a small stumble that makes me feel clumsy and foolish. These trips, which I call baby trips, can be awkward if they aren’t handled gracefully, so I’d like to share some tips so you can be what you’ve always wanted to be: the smoothest walker on the street!

Laugh:

If you are with friends, this is easy. Just turn to them and laugh, as if you were stumbling for their amusement. Even if you are in pain, keep laughing. You can even laugh until you cry, then pretend you’re fake crying and it’s part of the joke. Slapstick humor never gets old.

If you are alone, pulling this off may be harder. Laughing and smiling to yourself makes you look like a crazy person and since you’ve already proven that you’re clumsy, you really don’t want to add mentally unstable to the list. I suggest making eye contact with the strangers around you in the hopes that they noticed your baby trip. Turn to them and smile. You could say something like, “Look at me.” Then laugh coyly, before turning super serious. “No, really, look at me; that was the first time I’ve ever tripped in my whole life.”

Maybe perfection isn’t your thing; you could always play up your adorable brand of no-fault clumsiness by laughing, then saying, “Psshh, stupid rocks.” Or “Psshh, stupid shoes.” Or “Psshh, stupid uneven surfaces.”  The use of the sound “psshh” adds a sense of playfulness and confidence. Yeah, you tripped, but does it really matter? You’re adorable!

Finally, if you want to seem tough and intimidating, laugh so bystanders will look at you, then snarl, “What are you looking at?!” Believe me, no one will mess with you when you say this after baby tripping. The combination of irrational anger and clumsiness is terrifying.

Distract:

What I’ve started to do – and it’s been working for me – is trip and smile to myself, then get out my phone and pretend to text people. I’ve discovered that looking busy after tripping makes the tripping seem unimportant and possibly the result of external forces, like straightening the strings on your tennis racquet after messing up a point. Actually, it’s even better than that, because not only does it shift blame and minimize importance, it makes me look like I’m extremely popular.

Dramatize:

This is a bold move, but why not go all out with that trip? Commit to really falling to the ground. Only do this when you’re really craving attention. You can even go to a different, albeit more painful and long-lasting route by pretending that’s how you walk. You might alternate ankle rolls with every step you take. People will pity you, but they won’t think you’re uncoordinated or ungraceful.

Practice:

Now, most importantly, if you want to be the most elegant and smoothest walker, practice makes perfect! Walk as much as you can. Walk with your head held high. Walk like you’re on America’s Next Top Model and Tyra is cheering you on. Also seek out areas with flat walking surfaces and limited amounts of rocks. And, remember, no matter how many times you baby trip, stand tall and never give up.

Image via va-4-hire.com.

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  1. This speaks sign speaks directly to my heart! I am a tripper, all of the time. I think the laughing remedy is the best. You’ve just got to realize that people make mistakes and that there is nothing you can do but move on. Also, my friend told me to ask you if you know how to make big bucks online? Should I go to http://www.howtomakebigbucksonline.com ?

  2. this is so me, in hs I would trip at least once a day. from then on every time someone would trip my friends would say “oooh pulled a joni” greattttt.

  3. i was laughing so hard reading this!! tripping is the worst, and i really do it all the time.

  4. Ellen DeGeneres has this great joke that she told while doing stand up and she said, you could just trip/stumble and break into a jog like you really meant to start jogging. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NUvMpfAEvnc&NR=1 It’s right in the beginning of the clip. I love Ellen, she’s one of my comedy heroes <3

  5. I think there should be a follow up post titled “Avoiding Awkward Situations: Walking Into Things”. For whatever reason, I always seem to be walking into things rather than tripping. I’ve walked into chairs, tables, door knobs, gates, tent poles, sliding glass doors, and even walls in my own home. When people notice me walking into things, I usually do one of three things… 1) laugh, 2) try to make it seem as if I was just using said object to lean on, or 3) explain to people that I was just deep in thought pondering the complexities of life, the universe, and everything… even though more likely than not, I was actually singing a 90′s cartoon theme song in my head (“Caaaptain Plaaanet! He’s our hero! Gonna take pollution down to ZERO!)

  6. Haha, funny story with me: I was in the main lobby at my college and it had been raining. It was my first week there, and I had just walked out of the book store with my arms full of huge books. I was walking up the marble stars and suddenly WHOOSH! SMACK!! I stepped on a wet spot and fell flat on my face, books flying everywhere! I looked up quickly and noticed that right in front of me was the entire football team (none of which I knew, being new). They were all staring wide-eyed, so I jumped up and took a gigantic dramatic bow (being a ballet dancer) to the right and left and they started smiling and clapping. Haha! They were always very friendly and nice to me every time they saw me afterwards. :-)

  7. Haha I trip every day without fail. Have to reach your Daily Trip Quota!

  8. So glad to know i am not alone in my trippyness. I can fall off of flip-flops!

  9. haha, good ideas! I’ve done this a few times too. If I’m by myself I usually just keep walking and hope no one noticed. Once in a while people will see and say, “Are you okay?” and I’ll just keep walking and say, “Yeah, I’m fine. Thanks!” And if I’m with other people then I’ll usually just laugh it off. I’ll have to try some of your other tips next time!

  10. This is the most hilarious article I’ve read on this website! That isn’t saying much though, since I only just discovered it yesterday. Anyway. I ‘m a long time “baby trip” sufferer and I much appreciated your thoughtful insight Eliza.

  11. OMG – this happened to me at work last Friday! Worst of all, I was almost at my desk, carrying my bowl of cereal to my desk to have breakfast and I tripped and yep, half my cereal & milk went over my desk. I just laughed and no one really made a big deal of it (thankfully) – a couple of people even asked if I was OK. This sort of thing is forever happening to me. I usually laugh it off – I’m used to my feet seemingly finding all the potholes in the pavement – I even managed to have myself on crutches for a week after jogging on a mat at the gym in high school and catching the edge of it and rolling my ankle. I think your tips are very handy – making light of the situation always seems to work for me. :)

  12. I’m saving this article, great tips! I do tend to stumble/baby trip a lot. I’m going to memorize your tips or maybe I’ll just look it up on my phone, when I’ve baby tripped again ;-)

  13. I’m always falling over my own feet. Usually I laugh it off, but if I’m alone I get out my phone like, “Oh no big deal…”

  14. Coming from a long-time tripper,I love this piece!The first item is so me!!I’ll have to try the rest though