Tuesday, April 21, 2015

My Life is Full of Typos

It won't come as a surprise to anyone who reads this blog regularly that typos are my tragic flaw. I try my hardest to proofread and re-read my writing, but no matter how hard I try there are always typos. Most of the time I just don't see them at all, even if I read my writing out loud I still miss things. Later when they are pointed out to me it often astounds me how I could have missed something so obvious. 

I am acutely aware of my weakness, and lately I have been paralyzed by it. It has been excruciating for me to write anything, even just an email or a Facebook update, because I am afraid I will make a mistake. I'm to the point where I have been so worried about it that I don't want to write anything. I don't care so much about the mistakes, but it is hard knowing that other people do. 

I appreciate it when people point out my typos and my mistakes so I can become better, but the truth is that it is always hard. Kind of like when your friend tells you that you've had your dress tucked into your underwear all day. You're grateful to fix it, but also mortified it was there in the first place. It would be nice if I could just avoid those type of situations... but I never seem to be able to. 

Just to illustrate, several weeks ago when I wrote my post about women and the priesthood I proofread it several times and was confident it was good. I posted it and then immediately realized that I had misspelled "priesthood"  in the title of the post. I quickly fixed it, but since I had already posted it, the title was still spelled wrong in the link. This meant that whenever it was shared via social media the title was displayed showing the misspelled word, even though I'd already corrected it. I am not tech savvy enough to know how to change the url link and so I figured that people would jut have to bear with it. Later it made me smile because it seemed fitting that the ONE post I have ever written that has gone "viral" was a post where I'd misspelled a word in the title. 

I think it was God's way of keeping me humble. 

I have been thinking a lot about this flaw of mine lately and how it seems to be a good analogy for my life. In fact my husband says that typos are an innate part of my personality. According to him, one the things that he loves about me is that I don't notice typos-- not in my work and not in other people's work. "You see things," he told me, "especially people, for who they are as a whole and don't care so much about the mistakes. What you care about is if the heart of something, in writing and in people, is genuine, true, and good; if it is you don't care about the typos." 

I'd like to think that this was true, and that what I perceive as one of my greatest character flaws could also be one of my greatest strengths. It is much better than thinking I am just an airhead who can't spell.

Yet as I've thought about my husband's words,  I've realized that we all have our "typos", our mistakes, our tragic flaws, our weaknesses. It is so easy to feel paralyzed by them and to let fear and shame run your life. What I am beginning to understand is that mistakes are not always as bad as we, and others, sometimes make them out to be. Remember when God told Ether, 
"I give unto men weakness that they may be humble... for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them." (Ether 12:27)

I know that those words are true, and that often it is our tragic flaws, the weaknesses we continually struggle with, that are (and can be) our greatest strengths. Because it is our weaknesses and our mistakes that give us perspective, experience and understanding. It is our weaknesses that fill us with compassion for others, keep our hearts soft and humble, and help us see the world through a different lenses.

 I know that each of us struggle with our own weaknesses and our lives are full of typos. Yet, no matter what our challenges  are I think it is so important to remember to always be kind with ourselves, and with others. Our weaknesses are an important part of us but they don't define who we are or what we can become.

So here's the deal I want to make with you: I promise not to judge your typos,  if you won't judge mine. 

Though, please, if I have my dress tucked into my underwear, I still hope you'll find a nice way to tell me. 


  1. Oh man, Heather, I hear you loud and clear on this one, though typos is not a flaw of mine. But just to make you feel better, I will include one in this comment. :) But you expressed so well the paralyzing emotions of not wanting to keep trying because of making the same mistakes over and over agian. Thanks for being courageous and writing despite your anxiety and insecurity over it.

    Did you spot my typo?

    1. Thanks Shauna! And I had to read it three times before I found your mistake. I don't know why it is so hard for me to notice them, it is like my brain fills in all the missing pieces!

    2. Oh sorry! I didn't mean to stress you out. I was only trying to be funny. Guess it didn't work very well.
      I think your trait of seeing the whole person and focusing on the good is so admirable. I wish I were like that. I'm more of a focus-on-the-typo type girl.

    3. You didn't stress me out, it was funny! And I think that there are good things about both types of personalities, we need people to notice and fix typos! That is important too, it makes the world better.

  2. The Amish intentionally leave one mistake in each quilt, as a reminder that no one besides God is perfect. Consider your typos your Amish offering of humility to God. :) Thanks for continuing to write- your insights are amazing.

  3. I love this post. And I am also grateful that you keep blogging despite your fears and anxiety.

  4. tYpos? waht typos? I didnt notise ane tyPos! I neeever mkae any mitsakes and i poofreed eveyrthnig! ;)

  5. Once I was giving a talk in sacrament meeting. We had arrived late, but I was pregnant and HAD to go to the bathroom before I went to sit up at the front. So I walked in during the opening hymn and sat down. The woman next to me said something, which I assumed was "Good morning," so I smiled and kept singing the hymn. Then someone passed me a note saying "your skirt is tucked in to your tights." Still looking down at the hymnbook, my face deeply flushed and I tried to regain my composure. It was very...humbling. My friend later told me she had done a similar thing on the first date with her husband. Her good natured teasing about my misfortune helped me lighten up about it.

    I hate typos too, and I've probably noticed them in your blog, but it also the place I come to really get inspired and feel connected to women in the scriptures and women now. I love your insights and invitation to search the scriptures myself. I even bought a a dozen copies of your books for Christmas presents, and I love mine. Thank you for not giving up!!

  6. Oh, Heather, I am an editor, and one thing I've decided is that there are ALWAYS typos. The only books that don't have typos are the ones put out by major, massive publishing houses that have teams upon teams for every conceivable aspect of publishing, and countless eyes that pore over every letter and speck of punctuation repeatedly, before publishing. Smaller publishing houses, and certainly self-published books, will always be slightly (or significantly) inferior in terms of typos.

    BUT, that does not necessarily reflect on the content. My dream job would be to support those self-publishing mavericks who have something essential to offer the world, yet can't get picked up by a publisher. I think having great ideas takes up so much of a person's brilliance that they shouldn't have to worry excessively about what today's precise spelling and grammatical conventions are. They change over time anyway. We didn't even have dictionaries until relatively recently in the history of the written word.

    Your husband is spot-on with the whole vs part vision, and the ability to see things and people for what they are. That is a gift you should cherish. Do you know how many kinds of editor there are? (At least 4 levels on most continuums). Some people think that all editors are good at proof-reading. Not so! I myself and much more comfortable and in my element with developmental editing - the overall format, flow, and organization of ideas. I rely heavily on spell-check and grammar-check when proofreading. and know better than to promise that I can offer flawless proofreading results.

    I married a "creative speller," and 1 of our 3 kids has inherited that quality. The other two seem to have my natural knack. Whatever. As I was raising and homeschooling my creative speller, I realized my job was 1. make sure she wasn't ashamed of this, 2. help her decide in what situations spelling really mattered after all, and finally, 3. know what resources are available to her to get her spelling right when it counts.

    And I love the custom of allowing/including a "mistake" in handwork. I've held onto that notion for most of the years I've been sewing, knitting, crocheting and making handmade books. It's a sign that personal, human attention, and usually love, went into its creation.

    Please know that you are awesome, and an irreplaceable voice, and your typos make you real and lovable.

    1. Oh thank you for this kind message! I so appreciate your perspective, also I was reading a book a few weeks ago by one of those BIG national publishing houses and it almost made me giddy to discover TWO typos in the text. It made me realize that even the very best aren't perfect. So you are right, it is good to just let things go sometimes! Thanks.

    2. Creative speller- what a wonderful perspective!!