Today I watched a speech Taylor Swift gave in her Reputation Tour and it really made me think deeply. Her Punch line was, “You shouldn’t care so much if you feel misunderstood by a lot of people who don’t know you, as long as you feel understood by the people who do know you.”
Growing up I was taught that my reputation should be one of the single most important things that I held with caution. It can take a life time to build a reputation but just one moment to ruin it. I never took that to heart. “No Shame” was my motto (and still is). Maybe I should have cared a little more but you know, win some, lose some.
I went to an incredibly strict college where we had a curfew. Yes, I said curfew. They explained that because it was a bible school they wanted to make sure their students weren’t out late doing things ministry majors shouldn’t be doing and giving the school a bad name. I can, in a way (a very small way), see where they were coming from, but on the flip side, it naturally cultivate the students’ to assume anyone who was out past curfew was up to no good. Sounds ridiculous right? Because it totally is! For all you know that person could just be coming home from a trip, or any other reason besides the fact that they were doing something bad. Gossip festered in that school like rotting mold. The school was so worried about their reputation that once at a basketball game when I was all pumped up, the president of the school saw me and gave me a fine for dancing. A FINE FOR DANCING (yes it was just like Footloose). It blew my mind. Of course I refused it and politely told the Dean of Students that no way in Saint Mother Mary’s name was I going to pay that. Sure he didn’t take it so well but I didn’t have to pay so *wipes sweat off forehead*. Believe it or not, that incident blew through the school like wild fire and I was forever marked as the “wild child” #Represent.
The school worried about what I wore, my social media accounts, who I hung out with, and more. I had all of these legalistic rules that I had to follow. Of course here I was like “screw it, I’m wearing my holey jeans to chapel whatever”. That’s probably why they kept such a close eye on me #ProudRebel. I struggled because I felt like everyone thought I was a bad kid. There I was Branded like I was wearing a big “A” on my chest.
My point to show you is sometimes our rules that we put on ourselves that are meant to protect us can end up making us frustrated. This is especially hard, I feel like, for women in the work place, “be approachable, nice, never give someone any reason to think you are crazy, be careful of what you wear, how you speak, and who you are around.” It becomes absolutely ridiculous! We get so concerned about everything that suddenly nothing feels right. Shame follows us around waiting for us to fail and then it latches on.
Here is a fact: Anything you do can become a failure if you are seeing it through a critical eye. With people you can’t win. Not everyone is going to like you, and that is completely out of your control. Someone will think you are rude, questionable, or frustrating. You will rub people the wrong way and be misunderstood. Heck, I used to shout along with the cheerleaders’ in the crowd at basketball games and they thought I was making fun of them. It’s called spirit and I have it yes I do, I’ve got spirit how bout you?!
There is freedom in knowing that you are going to be misread or that you’ll mess up. You don’t have to wonder if someone, at some point in your life is going to dislike you, because they will.
What do you do then when there is someone out there trying to ruin your name for literally no good reason? (This could be an ex-coworker or anyone that is trying to throw shade your way). I think Taylor Swift said it best, “You shouldn’t care so much if you feel misunderstood by a lot of people who don’t know you, as long as you feel understood by the people who do know you.” Thanks T Swizzle for always keeping it real.