Day 16 Zero to Hero – Make a Writing Prompt your own based on today’s Daily Prompt, ‘Reputation’.
What is ‘reputation’ and who wants one anyway? Not me, that’s for sure! It would take all of the fun out of my day if everyone I met had a preconceived opinion of who I was and what my likely patterns of behaviour were going to be. I like to be as surprised as the next person by what comes out of my mouth!
When I first read today’s challenge, I fleetingly considered asking 10 of my favourite people to write 5 words that they best thought described me, in attempt to understand what my reputation might be. There’s no point in my doing the exercise of myself, because I’m my own worst critic and the least objective person to my own behaviour. But then I realised that if I did ask husband/bestie/sister etc of their opinions, that they may feel compelled to be polite which would totally defeat the purpose of the exercise.
Because aside from being objective, a persons interpretation of your behaviour and therefore the reputation of you that would thenceforth be formed (still following..?!), depends entirely on their perception of what you say or do. Consider two neighbours, for example. If one arrived home and avoided eye contact with the other as they hurried from the car to the front door of their house, what would you think of them? Are they rude or shy? Anti-social? Maybe they’re late and not got time to say hello, or perhaps they’ve forgotten something. Maybe it would depend on the relationship between those two neighbours, had they argued that morning over whose wheelie bin was left out on the path perhaps? Did one neighbour have a crush on the other and are too nervous to initiate contact, or perhaps they had been on a disastrous first date the week before and were now too embarrassed to say hi? Was there a difference of opinion between them, an overdue unpaid residents invoice, a missed turn on the cleaning rota, or perhaps even that one neighbour had heard about the reputation of the other and was deliberately avoiding them? It may seem a trivial example, but it shows how many variants could affect one simple act of behaviour, and how a reputation could be formed on something that wasn’t all it seemed. One single act of behaviour is enough for a judgement of a person to be formed, and a subsequent reputation to develop. Reputations are just another form of labelling, which unless you’re a tin of beans or unidentified food bag lurking at the depths of my chest freezer when I’m rummaging for something for dinner (are this spag bol or cooked blackberries?), aint of much importance to me.
A positive reputation is widely considered to be a ‘good thing’, especially in an official capacity such as the workplace or educational environment etc, and is considered something to be treasured and protected. But a ‘good reputation’ is very fragile and easily broken; years of flawless office behaviour whilst striving to find World Peace in your lunch hour could be shattered by a simple case of unintentional stapler theft. Whereas a negative reputation is long lasting and very difficult to change, often regardless of how much redeemingly positive behaviour might follow. Once a wrong ‘un, always a wrong ‘un, right? Why is this? What is in the human psyche that wants to consider the worst in people, and then celebrate wrongdoing? Meh…let’s not go there today. Moving on…..
In truth, I think my reputation these days is probably far more glowing than it would have been 20-ish years ago (thank goodness I’ve moved house since then…!) There’s nothing scandalous lurking in my past, but who wants their adult lives, employment opportunities or daily parenting decisions to be judged by someone who formed their opinion of you when you were a tantrum-throwing, nose-picking, bed-wetting toddler? Sure, you might have done those things, but is that who you are now? And it works the other way too, please don’t assume that because I have done this or used to do that, that I’ll do it every time. “Oh yes, she’ll volunteer to do that”. Sorry love, maybe not today. Or “she’ll sort that out”, “she’ll have a spare one you can borrow”, “she can get that done by lunchtime and won’t even invoice you for it”, “she will be going there, but she doesn’t wear those…”..it drives me crazy!
Just because I did something once, that doesn’t define who I am. It’s just what I did, once.
So let’s not even consider what people may think of us when we get rip roaringly drunk in an Irish Bar, sing ‘like a virgin’ very loudly and tunelessly on karaoke at 4am and then fall down a step on the way back from the loo, spilling beer across the floor and breaking their ankle in the process. Another entirely hypothetical act of behaviour and nothing to do with me, m’laud. Would bystanders stop to consider why she was in the bar in the first place, what was she celebrating, who she was drinking with, that it was the first time she’d been out in a year and she had breast pads in her bra and baby sick on her shoes or indeed whether she was in fact pushed down that teeny tiny step…. What would people’s perceptions of that behaviour be, and would they be correct in their assumptions? Would a resulting reputation be established and that pattern of behaviour be considered who she is, rather than just something she has done. Erm, or not done, of course, still working on the assumption that wasn’t me, I wasn’t there, nope….