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The Hidden Blessing in the "I Really Wish I Didn't Have to Do This" Stuff

March 1, 2016

 

Most of us have something in our lives that we really just can’t find a way to love, but these experiences can be blessings in disguise.

 

It might be filing our taxes, or going grocery shopping, or waiting in line for hours at the Department of Motor Vehicles to renew our driver’s license.

 

My most dreaded life experience was taking the Scholastic Aptitude Test—the SAT.

 

Those of us who have taken the test will remember all too well the weeks, months, of memorizing vocabulary words and math formulas that we’re likely not even using today, the grueling practice tests, and the tips and tricks that help us choose the best answer on an exam that is no indication of our intelligence, yet is such a major factor in the college admissions process.

 

I hated that test. But I’m still grateful for that test.

 

It was in my many months of SAT prep that I discovered my passion for editing.

 

Even as I despised the critical reading passages and the math problems that went out of their way to trick me, I took solace in the writing sections. I found contentment in replacing “which” with “that,” “between” with “among,” and “less” with “fewer.” Geeky? Yes, I won’t deny it.

 

Many years later, I still revel in reviewing my friends’ work, inserting Oxford commas, and eliminating redundancy. As a language lover and grammar nerd, I find editing rather calming. For me, editing provides an often necessary recess from stressing out over my own work. During a time when I was experiencing frustration with my day job, getting together with one of my best friends every Sunday evening and helping her edit her college essays was usually the highlight of my week.

 

As mundane and tedious as it may seem to many, I always look forward to opportunities to edit other people’s writing. And it’s a good thing there are people out there like me. Take a second to think about your favorite book. What is it that you love about this book? The character development? The language and style? The lessons learned? Now imagine all the work that went into creating what this masterpiece is today.

 

The story that you love is the result of grammatical revisions, word changes, and the shifting and removal of paragraphs, perhaps even entire chapters, to name just a few aspects of the process.

 

It is through the magic of editing that literature reaches a format where it is a joy to devour, an object of adoration for audiences near and far. Had you, as a reader, encountered the same piece of literature earlier in its evolution, prior to editing, I doubt you would have loved your favorite books nearly as much.

 

As an editor, there is a certain satisfaction that comes from turning something good into something great. Reviewing other people’s writing is also an opportunity for me to learn more about them.

 

Someone’s writing can be a means of sharing their experiences, a commentary on society, a way to convince others of their point of view, or simply a product of wishful thinking.

 

In any case, through writing, people share a part of themselves with the world. Through editing friends’ writing, I have been able to understand how they think, how they best express themselves, what matters to them, and why. This insight deepens my understanding of them and changes the way we interact. It is an incredibly gratifying process.

 

My experience with the SAT is a reminder that if we look hard enough, we can find the silver lining in even the most painful of activities.

 

I am thankful to the SAT for helping me cultivate essential skills that allow me to clearly communicate my message with others. Using these skills to help other people do the same always gives me a thrill.

 

So next time you’re stuck doing something you’d really rather not be doing, try seeing a little further than your immediate discomfort. There might be a hidden blessing there.

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