I was born in New Jersey, but moved to Florida as a baby. That’s why the earliest memory that I have is one where I was riding a tricycle in my suburban Boca neighborhood. It was purple and white with streamers hanging from the handle bars; I had just gotten it for my third birthday.
My older sister was sporting a fancy, neon two-wheeler, equipped with front and rear tire pegs for tricks. She was rushing to meet a friend and, of course, wasn’t allowed to cruise the neighborhood without her baby sister. She was pissed that I was slowing her down, so she made me ditch the trike and jump on her bicycle with her. I sat, rather uncomfortably, in front of her, with my feet perched up on the front pegs. We weren’t wearing helmets; as a matter of fact, I don’t think I ever owned a helmet growing up. Ahhh the good ol days! (Or maybe my parents just knew their girls were thick-headed).
Either way, we were cruising along and my sister was clearly still angry with me. Partly because she had to take me with her, but also because I was making her late! So that’s why, when the shoelace on one of my Keds became untied, I didn’t say a word. I watched the lace become entangled in the spokes of the front bicycle wheel and then in a few short rotations, my tiny foot was mangled in the spokes, circling around with every rotation of the tire. I couldn’t take the pain anymore and started SCREAMING for her to stop pedaling. Thankfully she did!
The rest of the experience is a bit of a blur. I remember paramedics being on scene, along with several neighbors who came running out to see what was going on. I also remember WAILING every time the paramedic touched my foot or the bike. They had to cut several spokes off of the wheel in order to free my foot. My ankle was sprained but thankfully not broken. That was the only time I’ve ever rode in an ambulance or been a patient in a hospital (knock on wood). That was in 1990.
So, why am I sharing this story? Well, it’s because it’s one I often tell when I’m walking and I misstep or stumble, or nearly bust my ass in public. I like to immediately provide an explanation for my clumsiness with a story about my foot entangled in a bicycle wheel at the age of three. Surely I sustained lifelong foot damage on that traumatic afternoon, right?
I know I’m not the only one who does this. You know what I’m talking about – attributing some mishap or perceived shortcoming to a traumatic experience from the past. But are these just excuses to cover-up our embarrassment or are they actual viable explanations?
As women, we have to stop making excuses and providing explanations for EVERY SINGLE THING we do (or don’t do). So what if I stumble every now and then when I walk? Does that really have anything to do with that one bicycle mishap 30 years ago? Probably not.
Moral of the story: Own your shit, ladies! We are not perfect and that’s what makes us so amazing! Embrace your flaws and keep on keeping on! I’m sure I’ll still continue to tell my traumatic bicycle story in the future, but certainly not as an excuse for my clumsiness. So ditch the helmets, ladies. You got this!