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Reputation (rant warning)

February 07, 20246 min read


This is probably the most honest thing I’ve ever written. I’ve spent a lifetime ruining my own good reputation. In no conscious way, because who would do something like this, intentionally, right? No.. it’s been completely effortlessly, innocently. It just so happens that ruining my own reputation messes with people’s lives.

Yes. There are a few people close enough to me to really know me, like my kids, former or late partners (of romantic or business variety), besties, and anyone close enough to love me, because it means they’re going to spend at least some of our shared moments hating me. And when they are hating me, it’s either because I am being a loser, or they are. If they are — unless they are my kids — I tell them about it… And then… what usually happens is that I turn around and do (or don’t do) the thing they caught shit from me for doing (or not doing…)

To be fair, I’m not mean-spirited. I am direct and mostly honest and I see stuff (apparently) that lots of people don’t… and, lots of people I know don’t like hearing about what I see. It’s been like this my entire life.

Here’s an example of one of the ways I have contributed to the ruining of my own good name — even if only in my eyes: it’s been a couple of years since I last posted on Medium. Before that, I had been in the practice of writing daily, intentionally, and eventually publishing consistently on Medium — for a short while.

Then, one day I didn’t write. “No problem. I’ll write tomorrow,” I told myself. And tomorrow came, but again, no writing. I didn’t get alarmed at first, but I did have several pieces that were time sensitive — current at the time — and I wanted to get them up. In those days, my aim was to publish once daily. Even if I didn’t put up what I wrote that day, I would put up one of those acronym poems.

Meanwhile, what was happening on the inside was this long, slow slide into this private place I go. When I go there, I disengage with the outside world. It’s usually gradual, which is why it’s not obvious to me when it’s happening. What tips me off that I’m there is the aftermath of my disappearance — the impact that my disappearance has on those I’m connected with. I am not sure why I do it, but thankfully I notice this pattern, now, more so in the past. These days, there is less distraction so I have more time to reflect on patterns like this.

Okay. Back to that pattern of withdrawing from the world which has ruined my reputation, time and again. What’s my reputation worth? And what’s so bad about what I might be reputed for? What’s so bad about being a disappear-er? If you know me, you know where to find me, right?

Another way I’ve tarnished my reputation is that I have been known to ‘shoot off at the lip’, as my dad used to say. I’d get heated, usually righteously so, and then I’d call out people on their bullshit. In those days, I rarely took responsibility for my perceptions or perspectives, much less for my own actual foibles and habits like fantastical thinking, ill- or under-informed business decisions and an overly-inflated sense of self-awesomeness, just to name a few.

It’s okay. I know I am awesome. And. The part of me that has not known that I am awesome? Well that part of me coped with that doubt by using superiority and arrogance to run interference. We can’t have the world knowing that I doubt my value or worth. I would be eaten by the dogs… And so it goes. More reputation ruiners.

Because of these discrepancies in self-worth, all of my most important relationships have been at varying degrees of ‘in the shitter’. In more recent years, I have meditated a lot on nursing the ‘insecure me’ back to wellness. I’ve gotten to the point, moreso now, of knowing how to be right in my relationships. Not right like ‘correct’ — although I have been pretty invested in that— but right, like ‘not lame’. Because apparently I have been. Quite. (This was a direct reflection of my own ‘not right’ relationship I’d learned to have with myself, as it turns out.)

Besides, it depends on who you ask. I have looked like an angel to people who don’t have their shit together. (In my past, my life has been filled with those kinds of characters.) Then again, I have looked pretty lame to people who do have their shit together… 

Now here comes my growing self-esteem to remind me that ‘shit-together’ is a relative term and that there are many ways to have one’s shit together . There are some ways that I do. Like, I’m honest. And I care. Also, I’m learning to not care too much — which is a problem and is at the heart of most of my relationship difficulties, past or current. It turns out that caring too much can result in ruining one’s reputation…

Meanwhile, I don’t care so much about how I am perceived, unless how much I suck becomes someone’s focus. For example, if you ask my daughter about me, who can be kinda neurotic — thanks to me — she will tell you that I am batshit crazy. Which I find very interesting. That’s remarkably similar to how I regard my mom, who actually is batshit crazy.

You see it? The way this goes? There’s no way to get free from the cycle other than to get conscious of it. So here I am, getting conscious of it... Which is another way I have my shit together, by the way.

The truth (with a small ‘t’) is, we are all a little batshit crazy. And there’s good reason for it. There’s nothing cool about being well adjusted to a profoundly dysfunctional world. It’s alright, as long as we know that this is the case. The upshot of this rant? As long as you are focused today on keeping your reputation with yourself in good standing — whatever this means for you — as your highest priority, the chances of gaining, or regaining, the respect of those around you increases.

For the record, my mom is only batshit crazy because she’s my mom. In Reality, she’s fine. And so am I. And so are you. Life is far out and nobody gets a manual. My point is, Grace saves the day and reputations can mend with time where we can allow ourselves — and those around us — the grace we desire to receive from them.

End rant. Enjoy your Grace. It’s way cooler than an untarnished reputation. Grace is a byproduct of the tarnish when you learn to leverage the tarnish, by allowing it to show you where to receive the Love. 

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