“I am not my reputation”

Project Description:

Reputation, by the very meaning of the word, is an idea that other people come up with to define you. And sure, I’ve always been taught to not care what other people say, especially if what they were saying was hurtful. It’s a fact of life that people are going to, at one point or another, say something negative about you and it’s your job to not let it define who you are. However, when the person that is saying all those awful things about you IS you, it’s a lot harder to not listen to what’s being said.

I’ve never had good self esteem. I’d have good self-esteem days sure, when I put on a cool new shade of lipstick or watched an inspirational video. But, at the core, I was never truly happy with the way I looked and I never felt good enough. There was an infinite list of things I physically didn’t like. I wasn’t athletic. I wasn’t, in my opinion, good enough at anything. Each of those days of not feeling confident added up, and layed the ground work for a very rocky first two years of college.

I went into my freshman year of college wanting to be accepted, as does any normal college kid. However, because of my lack of self-esteem, I quickly earned a reputation as being “easy”. I thought that when a guy would ask me to come over, that this was the kind of attention I wanted and should be getting. It wasn’t hard to see that none of the guys I was with were respecting me, but at the time, I thought this was what I deserved.

I had quite a lot of “one night stands” and without even realizing it, I became that label. No one had to try with me, and if they didn’t have to, why would they? They didn’t have to take me on dates, or treat me with any respect because I never stood up for or respected myself. I let them decide how they would treat me, and I just went along with it. I even had someone tell me it was my womanly duty to give him a blow job, and when I didn’t, he kicked me out. He was the one that decided when I left, even though I should have walked out a long time before that. Believe it or not, this was not the last time I saw him.

This lack of self-respect continued until the end of my sophomore year. I finally took a look at myself and realized that I was the only person who could change this. I couldn’t change the way the guys would behave, but I could take myself out of the equation: not answer the phone calls and stop letting them make me feel like I was nothing because I was more than that. I was more than my reputation and I was certainly not anyone’s one night stand anymore. The most important thing I learned is that my past did not define me and that I was a beautiful, smart, and talented person deserving of anyone’s respect, starting with my own.