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Mistaken identity

Mistaken identity
Treat the red pen on your last paper as a friendly reminder that you are human (Photo by Katrina Pyne)
written by Katrina Pyne
November 16, 2012 12:00 pm

 

Treat the red pen on your last paper as a friendly reminder that you are human

Treat the red pen on your last paper as a friendly reminder that you are human (Photo by Katrina Pyne)

“The prolixity of your verbiage is quaint but inadequate.” The words were scrawled in red pen at the top of the page on my first high school book report. Next to the word ‘verbiage’ my prof had even scribbled a little happy face, outwardly mocking my work.

Looking back I guess my first mistake was using thesaurus.com as a way to make my simple thoughts appear more impressive. Classic overcompensation for the complete lack of confidence I had in my own analysis.

Yet here I am, almost eight years later, and still getting papers returned to me with the words ‘unnecessary’ and ‘too wordy’ written over and over again.

Do we ever really learn from our mistakes?

We acknowledge them, scold ourselves and maybe even take steps to avoid making the same mistakes, yet so often we end up right back where we started.

Just think—how many times have you convinced yourself you wanted bangs only to end up with an itchy forehead and the loss of 40 degrees of peripheral vision. Crap, now begins the six months of growing them out…again. I feel as though I am always growing out one haircut or another.

Here at the Gazette, mistakes are just a part of life. We call them corrections and you’ll find them dotted throughout the paper from time to time. As a reporter, the most frustrating thing in the world is to pour your heart into a piece, hand it in, and then find out a week later you misspelled the source’s last name.

The thing is though, I am always proud of my writers when I get a correction. Not because I love the fact that they missed the mistake in the first place, but because they cared enough about the integrity of what they were doing to set their momentary embarrassment aside and write up a correction for their article.

It’s a weird kind of pride I get.

I get the same kind of pride when I think about my grade 9 English paper. I have kept it all these years; I even brought that paper to school with me.

That day in class, after the red dispersed and my face went back to its normal shade of not-red, I realized how hilarious the whole thing was. My prof had gotten a real kick out of my assignment. He actually told me that when he was in high school, one of his profs had written the exact same thing on his paper, so it was with a sort of ‘passing on the torch’ sentiment that he had copied that sentiment on to me.

And while I am not saying that all mistakes are something to be proud of (that one-too-many drink you had last weekend will vouch for that), there are some that define us and give us character.

People always tell us to learn from our mistakes but there is a lot to learn about our mistakes too. Can you laugh at yourself? Do you know when to apologize, or make things right? Do you repeat the same mistakes?

            It’s much easier to live with yourself when you stop constantly worrying about your mistakes and just accept them for what they are: a little bit of colour on an otherwise blank page.

 

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