Perfectly flawed
by Jennifer Cohron
Jan 22, 2011 | 1452 views | 0 0 comments | 21 21 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Jennifer Cohron
Jennifer Cohron
slideshow
I don’t like being wrong. It gives me an unpleasant feeling, like I’ve swallowed a bowling ball and it is sweating in the pit of my stomach.

Last week I included some history on one of my favorite old songs in my column. I proofread it several times before it went to print.

Not once did I realize that it said “They Can’t Take That Away From Me” was written for a film starring Fred and Ginger Rogers.

Ginger Rogers had about half a dozen husbands in her life, but Fred Astaire was not one of them.

Unfortunately, leaving out the last name of one of the most beloved dancers of the 20th century is not my most memorable typo.

About two months ago, I referred to People’s Bank in Cordova as Regions Bank in a story abut its Veterans Day display. That was embarrassing for several reasons.

The article was the centerpiece of a front page dedicated to the men and women of our armed forces.

I am from Cordova and graduated with the son of the man who puts his military collection on display at the bank each year.

Finally, and possibly worst of all, Zac and I bank there.

While writing the article, I looked up another story that was done on the display several years ago when People’s was called Regions. I guess the wrong name got stuck in my mind and I typed it without thinking.

To err is human, but I’ve spent years trying to be the one person on the planet who doesn’t mess up.

When I was in elementary school, I hid graded papers from my parents that I thought were unacceptable. I hadn’t failed any of these tests. Some were just low A’s.

My thirst for perfection only got worse as I grew up. By college, I was obsessed with maintaining a 4.0 grade point average.

That dream bubble burst in a mass media film course I took in the fall of my senior year.

The professor didn’t believe in using textbooks or giving tests. He was by far the most unpredictable person I ever met at UAB.

He once wrote “This is crap” across the top of an assignment that I had already changed specifically according to his directions. His second set of corrections made it read like my original draft.

When I asked about the contradiction, all he could say was “Well, do what I’m telling you today.”

Still, I didn’t have a problem with him until he made us watch several disgusting movies in class.

The one he showed the week of Halloween is banned in the United States. I stayed home because I didn’t see how a movie he himself described as violent, pornographic and demeaning to women could make me a better writer.

I heard that only a few students had the stomach to sit through it. He told us on the last day of class that they would be the only ones who would receive A’s.

I was furious, but life went on and the next semester I took a mass media law class that was taught by a truly brilliant and wonderful man who is now deceased.

Dr. Self had a doctorate in communications and a law degree. Journalism students routinely flunked his courses.

He knew that he was a tough professor and scaled some of his tests by as much as 10 points.

I worked my tail off and aced every test on my own. I did so well that he thought I must have been studying a copy of old exams.

Of course, I had something to prove to myself after getting the first and only B of my life the semester before. Although I am very proud of earning an A from Dr. Self, the grade almost doesn’t matter.

What I remember more is how much I loved studying mass media law. I seriously considered going to law school after I graduated.

The worst thing about being a perfectionist is that I allow insignificant things, like grades and typos, to control my life.

I am going to make mistakes — as a writer, as a mother, as a person in pursuit of myself.

This year, I want to learn to love my flaws. I want to be ruled by my passions instead of my imperfections.

I guess the best place to start is by admitting that I have a problem. So here goes.

My name is Jennifer. I am full of faults. And I’m OK with that.