People put so much importance on their reputation. To many, it is what makes or breaks them. It’s what gives them their identity.
Because we are beings that co-exist with others, their opinion of who we are is highly important. We feel good when others think positively of us, and we’d rather cease to exist when others have a negative opinion of us.
Initially, people form their reputations on an exterior basis. “First impressions”, if you will, start out this way. If you put on the right clothes, wear the right hairstyle, project a sterling image that makes them the stuff of envy and instantly, you have the best reputation; the kind of reputation that people would want to be associated with. It would take something really drastic, something really grave in order for this kind of reputation to grow tarnished through time.
Others establish their reputation by means of possessing a certain quality most others would like to have. You could be the class nerd who everyone looks up to for homework advice or the one who’s paper everyone looks at to cheat off, the gossip queen who knows the juiciest scoop on everyone, or the smooth-talker who can talk his or her way out of anything. With these attributes, unknowingly, a seeming shield or force field builds up around you. An atmosphere of respect, sometimes bordering on fear, is immediately attached to you.
This is why you have to be firm in your belief of yourself. The slightest hint of self-doubt gives your potential foes the license to disarm you.
When your good reputation is slandered, the easiest thing to do would be to brush it off with good humor. Appearing to be defensive will make you seem insecure and desperate rather than confident in your reputation. Making too much of an effort to defend your name will make people start wondering whether those rumors could actually be true. When laughing off the insults or gossip thrown your way is not enough, the next course of action would be to stick to someone whose image is the opposite of that which is currently associated with you. This erases or nullifies the bad reputation attached to your name and gives you license to either stick to the newfound reputation you have or to create an entirely new one altogether.
Reputation is a strange thing. Non-conformists, in the loose sense of the term, would rather stick to the “I don’t care what others think” plan. By doing so, they neglect their reputation, leaving it open to others for judging. Their opposites, however, take extremely good care in handling their reputation, making sure to live up to people’s expectations and trying very hard not to let anything dirty their good name.
So, where do you stand? What’s your reputation?
-Cecilia Ynez Araneta, HI 18-N