Why My Handwriting is Horrid

I was always raised to believe that women should have “nice” handwriting. Men are always going to be sloppy handwriting, and women will always have better handwriting. All through elementary, middle, and high school, I compared my scrawl to the loopy, fun handwriting of my peers. I always fell on the “manly” side of the handwriting spectrum.

I’m just now (at 23-years old) coming to terms with the fact that I’ve got unattractive, sometimes illegible handwriting. And try as I might, that won’t change. My grandma always told me that I had to keep practicing my writing and then it would get better. I wrote quite a bit as a kid, but it never got better. I mean, of course it is a step up from my early writing years in kindergarten and first grade. I have improved from those scary days. But in middle school, I plateaued.

People in the seminary community are gathering to learn script and other fancy writing techniques. I have a feather pen and a calligraphy pen, and I love them! But no fancy script flows from their tips. I write with them and it’s still my sloppy, unfortunate print. Sometimes it’s even worse from a feather pen because it’s much more challenging to write with an ink bottle than a Bic pen…

As I said, I am coming to terms with this fact: I have bad handwriting. No one will ever choose for me to write thank-you cards or address wedding invitations, and frankly, I’m completely okay with that.

I love writing. Writing in a journal about the meaningless details of my day, writing in my prayer journal my most intimate thoughts and concerns to God, writing a note to Miguel, writing to-do lists and packing lists, writing Scripture or quotes from books over and over in the attempt to memorize, etc. Just writing something down relaxes me and centers me. So what if it doesn’t look nice?

I’m attempting to convince myself that my handwriting is poor because I have too much to say in too little time. My brain is constantly overflowing with things I need to say (or write) so even writing a little shopping list is writing in a hurry because I need, somehow, to get everything out. I can’t take the time to slow down and loop my letters. I just have to get it out of my brain and onto a piece of paper so that it can be shared or saved forever.

To-do lists aren’t insightful. They aren’t thought-provoking. But in that process of putting ink to a piece of paper, my brain becomes excited and elated and pours out potential words to write out and thus, my handwriting is ruined.

I may not be thrilled to pass a note to someone who has lovely handwriting. But I’m slowly coming around to the idea that I’ve got so much to say that I can’t take the time to make sure it looks nice.

My logic is flawed, of course. People who have lovely writing surely have as much to say as I do. They are probably in a hurry when writing shopping lists. And that’s fine. Bottom line, I’m sure it comes down to genetics, personality, and the environment in which writing was first learned.

But it makes me feel better to say that it’s okay to have sloppy handwriting because of all I have inside to share, so that’s what I’ll say.


Image taken from BBC Culture. “What your handwriting says about you.” Adrienne Bernhard

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