Like my other colleagues here at Mysteristas, I consider “almost” a tough concept. Mostly, because it’s usually such a negative little animal.
I’ve had an especially difficult time with “almost” for most of my life, specifically because of what I’ve chosen to do.
When I was a child, “almost” was a huge problem because I was a competitive gymnast.
Almost doesn’t cut it when you’re trying to complete a skill, not wobble, and basically be the epitome of perfection for a few difficult minutes.
Managing to almost avoid taking a step on that landing isn’t much of a consolation when crying into your 2nd place ribbon.
Then, as an adult, because I’m a glutton for punishment, I started my professional newspaper career as a copy editor.
For those who don’t know, it’s a copy editor’s job to find errors, inconsistencies and holes in things other people write.
Basically, your job is to be perfect.
And if you miss something or, heaven forbid, add an error? Daggers to you.
There are no pats on the back for almost catching that missed comma or wrong number.
And, for an extra level of difficulty, copy editors have very little time to achieve this perfection, yet it is a crime to almost make deadline. You’ve got to make it, people. No almost about it.
Finally, running filled the athletic void left when I quit gymnastics, and, as an adult, I run marathons and ultramarathons. There is no almost in foot races.
There is a finish line.
There are other competitors who will finish before or after you.
And, in some of the ultramarathons I’ve done, there are cut-off times. Either you make it a checkpoint or the finish in time or you don’t.
No room for almost anywhere.
I like to think of myself as a pretty positive person, but it’s just impossible for me to believe there’s anything good with almost. Turns out that it’s hard to re-train one’s brain from the negative connotations to almost.
Once they’ve crept their way in, those connotations are pretty darn sticky. You might even say they’re almost impossible to remove.