Words I can’t spell (and the shame behind them)

People will often brag that readers and writers are the premier spellers of this world. Readers and writers see and repeat words in a way that allows familiarity with words, and comfort on how to deconstruct them. We are supposed to be winning spelling bees and acting as human spell check for our less literate friends.

Except for when we suck at spelling.

I can’t be the only reader/writer who can’t spell “definitely” on the first try. I always spell it like “definintely” and sometimes get so frustrated I just put “def.” I think part of it is how you say a word. “Definitely,” I guess, is pronounced def-in-it-ly. But I pronounce it def-in-int-ly, which why I spell it similarly wrong the first time around. Can I blame my poor spelling on my pronunciation, or as a millennial raised on technology, can I blame it on spell check? Or am I just not a diligent reader/writer, keeping me from being the rock-star speller my education designed me to be?

I think my poor spelling skills comes from a childhood trauma. When I was a kid, I hated both my first name and my middle name. “Jourden” came off to me as boyish, whereas “Victoria” was just plain ugly (no offense to all the Victorias out there). While I was forced to use my first name, (other than the brief rebellion in which I went by “Aqua” for a short time) I refused to acknowledge my middle name.

One day in class when I was in the first grade, our teacher required us to write our full name on the paper. I sat, quiet, for some time, not sure what to do:

I didn’t know how to spell my own middle name.

I finally raised my hand and asked the teacher how to spell “Victoria.” I remember her repeating my question out loud, to the class, as if mocking me, while everyone laughed. She, too, laughed manically as I shrank in humiliation. Well, that’s how I remember it but I doubt she was laughing “manically.”

I’d like to think my poor spelling is more likely based on a dependence on spell check and a shoddy memory.

I have no problem when it comes to grammatical spelling. Distinguishing effect versus affect is simple, as is their, there, and they’re. But ask me to spell “Mississippi” and it might take me a second.

Other words I have trouble with include:

Apocalypse. I recently wrote a lengthy personal essay detailing my fears of the apocalypse, so, being forced to repeat the word, I learned how to spell it on the first try.

Acknowledgement. Which I misspelled the first time earlier in this piece.

Awkward. I mostly find this word strange to look at when handwriting it.

Spaghetti. Like what the fuck is this word.

Broccoli. Holy F. I spelled this one right the first time!

And I could list plenty more but I’ll try not to embarrass myself too much.

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