I make mistakes.
I make lots of mistakes when I write.
But who really cares?
Apparently a lot of people, I’ve come to learn.
Ever since I ‘ve been writing newsletters, articles, blog posts and miscellaneous marketing materials, I’ve been getting feedback. Friends and strangers alike have gone out of their way to tell me I misused a colon or forgot an apostrophe or misspelled a word. Has this ever happened to you?
My original reaction was mortification. You see, one of my biggest “buts” about my writing and the fear that keeps me from “putting my stuff out there” is the fear I am not a particularly good writer – not my ideas as much as the “rules” of writing. I have a fear that I will make blatant and sophomoric mistakes and look stupid.
Somewhere along the way I must have decided doing my work and most likely not doing it perfectly was a risk I was willing to take.
And then came the emails and the phone calls.
It’s no coincidence that when I sent a mass email marketing piece last week with a few typos in it (despite a real effort on my part to catch them all . . .like I said . . .I’m not perfect) that I also began reading a new book “This is How” by Augusten Burroughs.
This book is about how to overcome almost anything. He has a chapter on How to Be Confident. Nowhere in the book is there a chapter on How to Write Perfectly or How to Please Everyone.
And let’s face it; the real issue is not NOT making mistakes. It’s being okay with ourselves when we make them.
It should be pointed out there is a significant part of me who is fine with making mistakes. I’m pretty much okay if the birthday cake I baked leans to the left, or if I have a stain on my shirt (if I’m not doing something professional) or always have a messy van. That is who I am . . . I am not a precise person.
It seems I forget this when I’m confronted with feedback about my typos (and other flaws of mine). Instead of taking a left onto CONFIDENCE Ave. and say to the one giving the critique, “You’re right. Thanks for pointing out that missed apostrophe. I will fix it. And by the way, what did you LIKE about what I wrote?”
Instead, I take a right onto INCOMPETENCE Boulevard and begin the self-flagellation. Then I scramble to make apologies for my errors and allow this relatively tiny mistake to take all the wind out of my sails and leaves me feeling like crap.
By the way, feeling like crap is the exact opposite of feeling confident.
And confidence is where it’s at, my friend.
Augusten says “Confidence is a reduction of your own interest in whether others are thinking about you and if so, what they’re thinking.” I had to write a big ole’ WOW in the side margin on that page.
Not caring about what others think is confidence. It is not being a grammar expert who has memorized the Harbrace Handbook or a singer who nails all the high notes or a person with impeccable hair and clothes. You may feel confident when you do/have these things but real confidence is feeling okay even when you don’t.
Confidence is not competence. Rather, it’s being fully yourself, flaws and all, and taking it as it comes.
PS: I usually have friends proof this for me but I decided to send it out as is. If you find any mistakes please do not point them out. If you feel you must, please be prepared to point out what you like as well. It’s only fair.