My Fear of Mistakes, and a Grammar Book

When we are afraid of mistakes, we gloss them over, ignore them, or stop trying to accomplish what we have set out to do.

Do you fear mistakes? Most of us have that tendency. Maybe not for every activity we take part in, but the things we struggle with most can quickly become things we fear trying.

When I was a child, I hid my grammar book behind the couch and celebrated no one being able to find it. I told Mom I didn’t know where it was and shrugged as I got further and further behind. But why did I do this?

Fear of mistakes stifles learning.

I found grammar very difficult. My own eyes were at war with me and though I could understand the basics of language and the structure of English, my mistakes were constant. I didn’t understand why I struggled do much. I felt stupid. So I gave up.

Oh, how I wish eight-year-old me could have dug deep and powered through. Because of my fear, I am far behind my peers in the writing world. It took me over 25 years to overcome the fear of letting others correct my mistakes, so I could learn to be the writer I have always wanted to be. How much farther along would I be if I had not hidden that grammar book?

“Sorry Mom! I should have listened to you.”

I can’t go back and change what I did. So now I look ahead and do my best to put fear behind me, facing every spelling error and out-of-place punctuation mark with determination. I appreciate kind correction, and editors who can see the little things I can’t.

I also have learned acceptance. I have trained my brain to see many of the mistakes I would have missed ten years ago, but my eyes are still not normal. They probably won’t ever be, and that’s okay. Because I have people on my side now, people I am no longer afraid of.

©2022 Mary Grace van der Kroef


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