Saturday, August 12, 2017

Regarding Reputations

In my conversations and circumstances of late, "reputations" have been a recurring theme. Reputations are beliefs or opinions that are held about something or someone. In recounting an interaction with another person the other day, I found myself stating, "She has a reputation for..." That led me to contemplate what that individual is known for - both the good and the bad.

Reputations are an interesting concept. They can be true or false, positive or negative. As I think about the reputations of those around me, I also consider my own reputations. Others might believe things about me that are true or false, but there's also the fact that what I think people think about me may be true or false. For example, I may think that my neighbors think I'm lazy. My neighbors might not think that at all, but if that's what I think they think, that will shape my self-concept.

In social psychology, this is called the "looking glass self," and the basic theory is that one of the factors that shapes our behavior is the way we *think* others view us - NOT the way people actually view us.

Are you with me?

Here are some of the components of my "looking glass self," in essence, the things I think I might be known for:

  • Being on time (I often worry that my headstone will read, "Here lies Britt who died right on time!")
  • Being an early bird and morning person
  • Having high expectations
  • Being a little on the critical side (or maybe a lot on the critical side)
  • Buying stuff at the thrift store (If I had a nickel for every time I received a compliment and responded with, "Thanks! I bought it from the D.I.!)
  • Meddling and getting involved in things that aren't my business (sometimes I just can't stay quiet)
  • Saying stuff I shouldn't (again, sometimes I just can't stay quiet)
  • Reading
  • Eating out a lot
  • Being a control freak
  • Being "stuck up" (this is one that people have actually voiced to me after they have gotten to know me. "I used to think you were so stuck up!")
  • Being creative (this is another one people have often voiced, but this one makes me uneasy)
Some of those are reputations I am okay with and others are reputations I don't want to have. Here are a few more reputations I don't want to have (and subsequently, hope I do not have):
  • Being unreliable or flakey
  • Being mean
  • Being judgmental
  • Being boring
  • Being a bad teacher/speaker
  • Thinking I'm better than everyone
  • Being unintelligent
Obviously, I would like my reputation to be the opposite of all of those, and here are a few more reputations I would love to have:
  • Being a good writer
  • Being a good cook (not like a gourmet chef or anything, but I would love to a have reputation for providing adequate potluck dishes and dinners for those I feed. Like, when someone in my church has a baby and they hear I am bringing them dinner, I want them to be happy about it)
  • Being thoughtful
  • Being dependable and trustworthy
  • Having a strong testimony
  • Putting people at ease
  • Being a good host
  • Being fun to be around
  • Being resourceful
Anyway, I've been reflecting on my own reputations this week, and I've realized that I don't really know what other people think of me. I can only assume. So when I say I have a reputation for something, I'm really only guessing. My guesses at what my reputations are could be as inaccurate as my actual reputations could be. This whole idea fascinates me. In short, I don't really know what people think of me. I don't know if I want to know, but maybe it's no better to assume.

1 comment:

Jo said...

In my mind, you have a reputation for having a great sense of humor.