March 9, 2013

My Public Display of Imperfection

Second grade. Spell "sassafras!"
Always take the work seriously. Never take yourself seriously.
~Paul Newman

I've always been a good speller.

Back in elementary school, I was usually first to finish the spelling tests and the multiplication quizzes. And I'd ace 'em. 

Speed and precision, baby. That was me. 

While out and about, I’d even ask my parents, "Ask me how to spell something. Anything!" in a thirst to hone my skills. (I'm not making this stuff up.)

Whether by default or actual job description, I've been a writer and editor for years. I try to present "areas for improvement" in a loving way. With my college students, I make notes in orange, not red. With my friends, I usually don't bother mentioning a typo unless it's clearly important. With myself, I read and reread and reread until I’m as certain as possible that the text is error-free before publishing. 

But there’s always a possibility that something will sneak by me. 

Let's call it: a public display of imperfection.

The Most Meaningful Typo of My Life

I’ve recently embarked on a new digi-adventure that required me to type up a profile. I needed a one-stop shop to share all of my social media links – Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.

I realized my Facebook URL wasn’t “nikkielledgebrown,” so I hopped on over to change it real quick. No biggie. I clicked on Account Settings – Username, typed in my name, and clicked “Submit” (or whatever the button said).

All was well. Until it wasn’t.

You see, as I clicked “Submit,” I read some tiny print at the bottom that said something about only being able to change the username once. I thought that was strange, but it didn’t keep me from clicking.

Then the meaning of that sunk in a bit, and I looked a little more closely:

www.facebook.com/nikkelledgebrown...wait...I MISSPELLED MY OWN NAME!?!?!

Yes, yes, I did. 

And there was no way to change it. I felt like I was on Candid Camera. These Facebook guys are practical jokesters. I can figure out anything with a quick Google search. Surely there’s a way to get around this rule!

Trust me, friend. I have searched high and low, via Facebook support and via Google. They have these username changes on lockdown. Apparently people abused the privilege, so they moved from a free-for-all model to a request-approval model, and finally to a one-time only model. No ifs, ands, or whiney but(t)s.

It's like a misspelled tattoo.

Sliver Silver Linings

I have to admit, it still kinda bugs me. (And if there’s a way to fix it that you know of, I am all ears.)

At the same time, whether it’s fixed or not, I firmly believe there’s a silver lining to every cloud. The silver lining for me is that it makes a great story. As I move forward with plans for my new website, I'm armed with a tale to tell, and a lesson to share: It's okay (and liberating to openly admit) that you're not perfect!

Other valuable lessons worth revisiting here include:
  1. Read the fine print. It will usually remind you how important it is to…
  2. Always always ALWAYS double-check before publishing something. We all make mistakes every now and then. More specifically...
  3. Don’t change your Facebook username until you’ve had at least three people look over your shoulder and confirm it’s exactly right. Mmhmm.
Last, but not least:

    4.   Don’t take yourself too seriously, woman!

For real. Think about this.

Anybody and everybody who knows me can appreciate the irony of this situation. And if you don't know me yet, I hope you can see it too. As a distinguished star speller, grammar guru, queen of commas and capitalization, I have now permanently misspelled my own name for the world to see.

And I’m okay with it.

Don't be fooled...
I really don’t try to be too cool for school (literally – I love school and have always worn my nerd badge proudly). I don’t even want to pretend to be perfect. I am far from it. And pretend perfect is boring. This fiasco is a quality reminder of that.

The truth is, few people will ever notice my Facebook URL. (Except for those of you who read this blog, of course.) Still, most people won't type in my URL to find my profile. They'll click it from a link somewhere, and they won’t think twice. 

I will look at it though, in its second-“i”-missing glory, and use it as an opportunity reflect on my imperfect humanity. An ever-present reminder of why I’m in desperate need of grace.

And spell check.



What do you think? Do you try too hard to be perfect in certain areas of your life? How do you keep from taking yourself too seriously? Care to share the tale of your greatest public display of imperfection? :)

P.S.  My business is about helping bright entrepreneurs attract their dream clients, one brilliant message at a time. If you like my writing and want help with your own, sign up for free tips at www.nikkielledgebrown.com!

4 comments:

  1. I think as I've aged (and with that has come marriage, career, parenthood...) my focus has shifted off of myself. In my young years (late teens, early to mid-20's) and even early into our marriage I took myself, my job, the small insignificances too seriously. What others thought of me (Was my college GPA good enough? Was I a good enough teacher? A good enough wife?)... not sure who I thought was setting these invisible standards- but I measured myself against them every day.

    Parenthood is what spun my world around. The moment I first laid eyes on our little guy (and his sister 2.5 years later) it was 100% crystal clear that I was now living for the 'others' in my life. My husband and my children. As a mom I've learned that I can go down one of 2 paths: Looking inward and being content with the wife, mother and person I am, or looking outward and constantly comparing myself to (and judging) others. Being perfect, trying to be perfect, whatever- it doesn't matter. The only thing that matters is my husband and those two little sweethearts who call me mama. Parenthood has been the most liberating experience of my life because at the end of the day- THEY are all that matter to me and they take me as I am :)

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    1. Beautiful, friend! And so true. Reminds me of the days when Jerm and I were dating and I'd go without makeup or doing my hair every now and then (so I'd know he'd still love me if we were stuck on an island and I had no access to such things).

      Turns out we ARE stuck on an island, and he loves me still! ;)

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  2. Wow, Karissa....your comment speaks to me & rocks my socks. Thank you.
    Anyway....back to my public imperfection:
    Not sure if my friends just didn't notice this or were just too nice to mention it, buuuutttt....when I announced the pregnancy with Julia using an u/s photo with words that said something about her being baby #2...I accidentally typed in that she's arriving May 2012. Yeah....not possible for her to come in May 2012 since I didn't get pregnant until August 2012. Anyway...I couldn't change it once it was FB posted so I just left it like that and wondered if anyone would ever say anything to me about it. :-)

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    1. Ha! Thanks for sharing, Liz. I bet most people didn't even notice because 2012 was still fresh on the brain!

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