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Don’t Let Your Bruised Ego Keep You Down When You Fall

Man Climbing Up

“If you get up one more time than you fall, you will make it through.” ~Chinese Proverb

My niece is three years old. I get to video chat with her daily. During our interactions, she loves to show me, with tremendous happiness and pride, her new toys, her new dresses, and the various sounds her scooter is capable of making.

One day, a few months ago, as she was enthusiastically getting her scooter near the screen, she tripped and fell, albeit with no serious consequences. What I learned from this event has been gratifying.

After she fell, she sat there on the floor for about a second or two without knowing what to do.

She then looked up, squirmed a little, and was about to start crying (just because my sister had seen her fall), when my sister told her reassuringly, “Nothing happened, get up!”

And there the little child was, up on her happy feet again, flaunting her scooter with a big smile on her face.

I realized then that many times, we too, as adults, trip and fall. We are left dazed and shaken. We sometimes force ourselves into a haze of self-pity, dejection, and depression. It can seem worse when other people see us fall. The pain is so much greater when it comes with a bruised ego!

We start thinking we are the only ones struggling so much. We fail to understand what’s happening in our life and what to do about it. In short, we feel like losers.

One such similar incident happened with me.

I landed a job at a startup firm soon after my graduation, and it meant a lot to me. Obviously! It was my first job and I was so excited about it—about moving out on my own and getting to live the life I had been waiting for.

Then, within weeks, I realized I was at the wrong place. I initially tried to ward off my apprehensions as mere jitters. But then the frustration, stress, and pressure reduced me to a bag of sick emotions. My self-confidence took a tremendous beating, and I started crying myself to sleep every single night.

It was then that I realized something important about myself as a person: There is nothing in this world that can make me sit glued in front of a computer screen for hours, from morning to night. That just isn’t me.

I realized I wasn't excited about the work I was doing. My value system wanted me to do something that felt more meaningful to me (like teaching, or working in an NGO, or even taking up public interest lawyering).

As I saw it then and as I see it now, we get to live just once, and I can’t spend all my time in making a living, forgetting to make a life!

I realized I wanted to follow my passions, my deepest yearnings, and the deepest desires of my soul.

In those two months, I hadn’t written a word for myself (writing is something close to my heart), I hadn’t pursued music (which I desperately wanted to do), and moreover, I hadn’t made time for reading (another passion of mine). This pushed me even deeper into the abyss.

Because of these incongruences between my personal value system and my life and work, I lost self-respect, lost trust in my professional abilities, lost faith in my own skills, and above all, lost faith in myself.

I was shattered. I knew that I had to quit that job as soon as possible. Friends and family advised me to stay for a year so that it would augur well on my CV. But my sanity was at stake. I had fallen, and terribly at that, and I had to pick myself up by hook or crook. Of course, there was a catch.

I didn’t quit the job right away because I felt even more miserable thinking about what my relatives, friends, and lecturers would think about me if I left within two months of starting.

I imagined people gossiping about me in hushed voices, and I worried about what my juniors—many of whom idolized me—would think about me.

I was worn out, until I decided to follow my heart and not my head. I had tripped and fallen, and it was time that I picked my spirits up and moved on.

It was time I told myself, “Nothing happened, get up!” And, thank goodness, at last I did.

Months after this incident, I feel stronger, more self-aware, and more humble.

I have come to strongly believe that with any difficulty—be it a break-up, rejection, or mid-life crisis—we can choose how we think about it and what we do in response.

We can choose to stop for a while, analyze the situation, and to accept it completely, without trying to reject or blame ourselves or our circumstances. And by doing this, we can be a lot more peaceful within ourselves.

It is during such challenging times that we need to awaken that voice inside us that reassuringly prompts us to accept and get up, so we don’t find ourselves sobbing even longer, just because we fell down and everyone saw.

I’ve thus realized that a happy life is not a problem-free, perfect life. Instead, a happy life is that which we aren’t afraid to face, knowing that every time it knocks us down, we can and will get back up.

Man climbing image via Shutterstock

About Pranusha Kulkarni

Pranusha Kulkarni is a recent law graduate from Dharwad, Karnataka, India. She blogs at www.pranushakulkarni.blogspot.in and can be contacted at kulkarni.pranusha@gmail.com.

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  • Patricia

    I start­ed work­ing f­rom comf­ort o­f m­y h­ome, by completing s­ome sim­ple jobs wh­ich on­ly require a PC an­d inte­rnet conne­ction a­nd it’s b­een a lifes­aver for m­e… 6 mont­hs hav­e pas­sed sin­ce i sta­rted th­is an­d i m­ade so fa­r tot­al of 36,00­0 doll­ars… Basic­ly i g­et paid close to $80/hour a­nd wo­rk for 3-4 hrs m­ost of t­he day­s.And great th­ing abo­ut this is th­at you can det­ermine your ow­n wor­king h­ours and you g­et paid week­ly

  • Great article. I was in a similar situation many years ago. I left my job and started working for myself. I never looked back. Yes, there have been ups and downs, but I am happy that I get a chance to do what I love.

  • Sometimes, we’d have to experience such “falling off the scooter”, to test and increase our inner strength, more importantly to discover what we really do and don’t want. This could come pretty quickly. You’ve had your whole life expecting things, only to find out in the snap of a finger that they’re nothing but otherwise.

    During these times you’ll also realize the true meaning of “not minding what others would think about you”. 🙂

    Always a timely post!

  • Susan Mary Malone

    Love this, Pranusha! It truly IS how we think of events, rather than the events themselves, which determine how we deal with setbacks. I was once of the ‘personalizing every misstep, believing they would last’ mindset. How freeing to do it differently!
    Thank you for this!

  • This is such a great message. Thanks for sharing your story!
    xx Lane

  • Hey Pranusha,

    Resilience is the perfect word for this post. I have to say that although life has knocked me down many of times I’ve been quite resilient. Yes it can be exhausting but whenever this happens I turn my focus to the present moment and I tend to find peace as well as it clears my mind.

    Thanks for the share! Have a good one!

  • Kaawaa Dap

    Your article hit me to the core, prompting me to say something to you. Thank you so much! This has been my experience exactly. Keyword… RESILIENCE RESILIENCE RESILENCE! Glad I encountered you! Sending you a digital hug!!

  • María Cardona

    I feel like I’m going through this exact same thing right now. Three years working in a an industry I’ve slowly started to hate. I feel like a failure and a fraud. But I think I’m starting to see in what direction I need to go to be happy. But it’s a big step. And I’m so scared.

  • The message I got from this is twofold: Get up and get on with it when you fall; and follow your heart. It’s not about anybody else, but it’s about your joy and happiness…so do what makes you happy.

  • Charity

    @tinnybuddha

    >/

  • Pranusha Kulkarni

    Hi Maria! There’s a saying that we should do at least one thing everyday that makes us afraid, and by doing this, we would be transforming our lives considerably. And as I have been in your shoes, I can totally empathize with what you are going through right now. But I guess we eventually HAVE to listen to our inner most call, the sooner we do this, the better it is for our own good! I wish you all the best for everything that lies ahead of you, and all I would like to say is, we all have to be brave enough to be fearful of life, only then can we experience the sheer joy of discovering the light at the end of the tunnel! 🙂

  • Pranusha Kulkarni

    I am glad you could connect with it! And thank you for the hug 🙂

  • Pranusha Kulkarni

    I am glad that all of you have connected with the post so well! I am grateful to Lori for having patiently guided me in publishing this post! Thank you people, for all the support. This surely encourages me to write more 🙂

  • coolbhims

    Your article just said to me “get up, nothing has happened” like my mom said to me. Thanks sis