DRIMAL: I can’t spell

Shopping period has its ups and downs. Some people get anxiety from going to seven classes in one day, others think it’s Camp Yale: Part II and don’t go to class at all.

I personally hate shopping period.

It’s not because I’m the only girl at Yale who has never left a shopping period class early — even when I know I will never take the class. My grandmother taught me better manners than that.

No, it’s those stupid note cards that professors hand out for you to write why you want to be in their class. That’s when I really lose it. That’s when I decide to change “intrigued” to “interested,” because the red squiggle underline that shows up on my computer won’t show up on my note card. Without those red squiggles, I lose all confidence. The last thing I want to do in an English seminar is admit that I can’t spell.

I wish I could explain to the professor that I did fine in the days of “Hooked on Phonics,” that it’s not my fault that I get marked down at Yale for spelling mistakes on Spanish tests, but not English tests. But I don’t. Instead, I use the most basic form of English I know and risk my chances of getting in. It’s hard to know which looks better: having a poor vocabulary but spelling everything right, or having a vocabulary but spelling everything wrong.

A blonde in one of my classes prefaced her note card by saying that she’s dyslexic. I’m not sure what the test is for dyslexia, but I immediately wanted to pull out my laptop to see if I could find an online test and diagnose myself.  Maybe it would turn my bad spelling into a disability I can’t help.

But maybe our generation does that too much. We look to the Internet to find reasons for our flaws.

If we can’t concentrate, we have ADD. If we are hyper and can’t concentrate, we have ADHD. If we had a speech impediment when we were younger, it was just because our ears weren’t fully developed, not just because we had a lazy tongue. If we talk too loudly (like me), it’s because we still have hearing problems, not because we just secretly crave attention.

Our parents, coaches and teachers always discouraged us from giving an excuse. “My dog ate my homework” never actually worked, and a trainer will run you until you need to grab the closest garbage can if you waste their time with a five-minute excuse of why you were late.

But still, we have this intuitive inclination to hide our flaws with an excuse. Were we taught this, or is it instinctive, is it survival of the fittest?

Or, maybe the same people that told us they never want an excuse, just an apology, are the ones who we watched hide their own flaws with an excuse.

Sometimes maybe we forget that people can’t be put in a box. Being a bad speller doesn’t make you stupid — Albert Einstein couldn’t spell, and I think he discovered something big. That kid with ADHD will be able to concentrate when they find something they love — Justin Timberlake has ADHD, and he’s doing just fine.

Maybe we should take advice from our coaches, teachers and parents, even if they themselves don’t follow it. Maybe we need to stop trying to hide our flaws and just let them be. Instead of camouflaging our imperfections with disabilities, we should highlight our strengths. We should write what we want on that note card; it’s the content that counts.

Maybe I’m a bad speller. Maybe I write my thank-you letters on Microsoft Word before I transcribe them onto my monogrammed stationary. Maybe I’m a little hyper, and I talk a little louder than most. But I’ll tell you one thing — I started with 22 red squiggles on this column, now I’m at none, but you would’ve known what I meant either way.

Chloe Drimal is a senior in Calhoun College. Contact her at chloe.drimal@yale.edu .

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