You know how it is: You work really hard on something and it comes out looking really good. Then you see something that absolutely boggles the mind. There’s something in your work that shouldn’t be there. What, you ask yourself, is that thing? No… It couldn’t be could it? Yup. That is exactly what it is, A MISTAKE!
Some mistakes can just be corrected. A spelling mistake for instance. On a computer a little red line comes up and effectively shouts ‘Oy mate… You got this word wrong, yeah?’ This even happens sometimes when you get a word right… This week my computer has been trying to tell me that ‘Alright’ and ‘Anymore’ aren’t proper words. Actually it’s just my E-Book editor but still, it’s wrong. I guess you could say that it is a mistake on the part of the editor but ‘anymore’ is a proper word, alright? Even on paper a spelling mistake can be corrected. That’s why pencils have erasers. Just rub it out and rewrite. Simple… Unless you’re using a pen. But then there’s tipp-ex for that. Or is that even still a thing? Do kids today even know what tipp-ex is? As a last resort, if tipp-ex is a forgotten thing of years gone by, you could just cross the mistake out. Mind you, with both that and tipp-ex other people will be able to see that you’ve made a mistake. Unless it is a supposed to be super-neat piece of work nobody is likely to care though.
These spelling mistakes are why going through and checking your work is important. We all make them, even me, and to present a good, correctly spelled piece of writing is more likely to incur a positive reaction from the reader than one filled with mistakes. A word spelled incorrectly isn’t the end of the world and there’s no law that says you have to correct a spelling mistake, but it looks better when things are right and that’s why we do it. It also makes us look more intelligent, which isn’t a bad thing for some people.
Other mistakes can’t be corrected. Last week I sent an email to a lady. The correct thing to do would have been to put ‘To whom it may concern’ or ‘Dear Mrs/Miss Insert Name Here.’ My brain was elsewhere though and only after I sent it did I realize what I had done- I had sent an email with ‘Dear Sir/Madam’ TO A WOMAN. Face palm. That lady, at best, probably came away from reading that first line thinking that I don’t know proper letter etiquette. It probably won’t get a positive response. It was the same with one I sent a few months ago where I copied the main body of the e-mail from another and changed a few bits to avoid re-writing the whole thing. I needed a different address line so I deleted the the ‘Dear Mr Insert Name Here’ and intended to replace it with ‘Dear Sir/Madam.’ I didn’t, for some reason, and sent the email without an address line. That didn’t get a positive response, big surprise. A mistake like that can be corrected in some circumstances, like if you have an ‘unsend’ feature on your email account (which I don’t) but other times it can’t and you have to look a bit foolish for the sake of your error.
Most of the time our mistakes our minor but we can make big ones that affect the rest of our lives. I made one at University whereby I picked the wrong essay question. In hindsight I’d have been better off doing one of the others as the poor mark I got on that essay took me down by a whole degree level- I ended up 0.7% off a 2:1. A few more marks would have seen me get it. The other mistake was in leaving- I thought I’d only be here for six weeks, at the most, and I thought nothing of just using the place as a halfway house. As we all know those six weeks have long since expired. Had I known I’d still be here all these years later I wouldn’t have even considered using this place as a halfway house. This type of mistake is, alas, one of those types which we can’t correct but there is no use griping about them. In the end, perhaps, these mistakes turn out for the best for these are the ones that ultimately shape us. Had I not made that mistake at university where might I now be? Almost Doctor Churchill perhaps? I wouldn’t be sat here writing about mistakes for sure. It is no use dreaming of what might have been. These major mistakes happen and there is nothing we can do to change them. We have to move on from them, we have live and do our best to forget about them- Move on and attempt to sweep away their consequences as best we can.
A mistake is just an accident by another name. We don’t mean them, we don’t intend them. They just happen and we have to correct them, if we can, or move on. Some have consequences and other’s don’t. It does us no good to dwell on them for these things are going to happen. Likewise, it does no good to chastise others for their own mistakes because we all make them and by their very definition they aren’t purposeful. What is important is that we correct the ones we can correct and move on from the ones we can’t.