I know, I know. Jumping from philosophical cogitations about the meaning of life and then deciding to focus on the neatness of one’s penmanship is a bit of a leap.
Messy handwriting. Pssh. Who cares?
But it’s often the small corners that need to be pulled back to reveal the greater view of life. Of something like that. It’s late and my metaphorical sprite is half-asleep.
All throughout my school life, I suffered from the Messy Handwriting Syndrome.
I don’t mean messy handwriting like a couple of swirly scrawls. Let’s see if I can formulate an apt comparison. My handwriting looked like an alien puked its black-livered guts onto a page and the body juices ran together in rivulets until it looked like a map crisscrossed with dark river systems. Like a great mass of Daddy Longlegs were squashed like silverfish onto the page. Okay. Not so pleasant but you get the picture.
And my teachers hated it.
I knew it was detrimental for my academic performance. I knew it meant I probably had an unprecedented level of poor motor control skills. And, let’s admit it, I knew that I didn’t make that much of an effort to alter or change my handwriting out of that pure, rebellious spite rooted inside most people in their teenage years.
But, and I swear over my great grandmother’s dead body (I never understood such expressions. I mean, if I break my promise, what’s the worst that can happen? Will my ancestors rise from their graves and shamble about like zombies to murder me?) that I couldn’t help it.
I mean, sure, I could force myself to write neatly. But in doing so, I felt as if some part of me was being suffocated and the pen felt stiff and wrong in my hand. And it was a conscious effort.
This meant that if I had an idea and wanted to plaster it onto the paper quick-split, all hopes of writing neatly went out the window.
My teachers hated my handwriting. I would lose marks simply because a word here or there was illegible to them, even though I could read it just fine. I was jealous of the ramrod straight calligraphy of my friends.
But, as I’ve grown older, I’ve embraced my scrawled, often illegible penmanship as an extension of me and who I am. This might be reading too deeply into things, but I feel like my handwriting reflects the nonconformist and unorthodox person I am. Or think I am. You may beg to differ.
Isn’t that what conformity is all about? Making sure you write between the lines. Making sure your letters are formed nicely. Making sure there are no wayward loops. Making sure everyone is crisp and neat and polite.
I’m not trying to say people who have neat handwriting are conformists. If you do have neat handwriting, you are blessed – many a time have I been judged harshly for my writing. They seemed to reflect a disordered nature to other people, screaming pejoratives such as undependable, untidy, scatterbrained. I’m saying the way teachers yelled at me throughout school for expressing who I was through my penmanship is a metaphor for how society forces people to conform.
I should be happy with my untidy scrawls because they are a reflection of me and my personality. I know I should spruce it up a little when I definitely need it to be legible but, hey, I shouldn’t force it all the time and hate myself for not having immaculate handwriting. It’s not the enormous flaw the education system seemed to tell me it was.
Besides, I find my ideas flow better when I indulge in my natural handwriting tendencies. And, as a ‘writer’, that’s all that matters.
PS (yes, I realise this isn’t a letter): Is one’s handwriting related to personality? Just found out that, apparently, there are these people who analyse handwriting for a living. How cool of a job is that? Dear any graphologists who are reading this: feel free to analyse my scribbles. I’m always fascinated about alternative methods of inferring a person’s character.