Today’s Zero to Hero Challenge is all about making a writing prompt our own. And the writing prompt is the following:
Do you have a reputation? What is it, and where did it come from? Is it accurate? What do you think about it?
I think, in every stage of my life I have had a different reputation. Once I started school and into my young teenage years, I was the know-it-all. Looking back, I think I must have been hard to get along with and I am amazed, that I had any friends at all. There is nothing wrong with knowing that you’re smart, but I drove the whole thing to the extreme. There was one particular day (in Geography class) that summed up quite nicely the way I behaved in school. The topic was rivers and lakes of our district in Germany, we had our maps out and everybody who knew the name of a river or lake was meant to go up to the blackboard and write it down. I’m not sure anymore if I actually went up and contributed (although I would nearly bet money that I did) but I was definitely scrutinizing what everybody else wrote. One of my classmates wrote down “Ahse” and I went up, and loudly explained to the teacher and the class, that that was incorrect spelling, that it should in fact be “Aasee”. Turns out, rather embarrassingly, not only was my classmate right (Ahse is a river) but my contribution didn’t even qualify, because is was too small to actually qualify as a lake under our conditions. It was humuliating for my 10(or so) year old self, but it still took me another few years until I actually learned my lesson (and boy did I!!).
Through my teenage years, my reputation was the weird one. I had lost most friends that I had growing up (anybody wanna guess why? 😉 ) but made new friends. The group I hung out with would probably have looked a bit goth, but I myself never dressed in that style. It was a time when I didn’t fit in with my class and dreaded going to school every day. The reputation that I had spread fast, even to people I didn’t know. When I walked through our school (which had around 1000 students), I frequently had people walk up to me and ask me if some weird thing they heard about me was true, or I could hear them talking about it under their breath. I heard a rumor at one stage that one of my classmates made a website about me, using a nickname that I hated, which was how everybody referred to me, at some stage even the teachers joined in. I never found the website, to this day I am not sure if it ever even existed. After years of this, my spirit was crushed, and only going away for 6 months gave me a chance to build myself up again. I gained confidence, changed school and managed to make new and true friends.
When moving to Ireland, for quite a few years, my reputation could probably be summed up as the German with a sense of humour. I managed a few times to meet somebody new, who had already heard stories of me. It frequently still surprises people that I am German and actually able to laugh at jokes. Looks like Germans have quite a bad reputation when it comes to that over here. I encounter the same surprise from people, when I pronounce the word squirrel without stumbling over it. Apparently it is something, that no German in the world has ever pronounced correctly… I liked this reputation, and probably tried too hard at times to live up to it. Trying to crack too many jokes and making sure that nobody would ever see a different side of me.
My focus on my reputation ended, when I met Stephen and had Liana. I mean, even today I don’t want to be known as something horrible and I make sure to be polite and efficient at work, but I don’t try to jump through any extra hoops anymore, just to make sure I have a good reputation. A good reputation is such a hard thing to keep up, it only takes one slip up, and something you worked on for years could be ruined very fast. I have made my peace with the fact, that there are always people that will not like me and that no good will come from trying too hard to change somebody’s opinion about me.
After years of trying to be popular I now live by the following (if you know who this quote is from, please let me know):
Those who matter don’t mind, and those who mind don’t matter.
I can honestly say, that my life has never been easier and happier, now that I have stopped caring what people think of me. I would recommend this to anybody reading this.