Beware the Noose of a Bad Reputation. Revere Having a Good One | #MyFridayStory №308

Frans Nel
3 min readOct 20, 2023

Repeated behaviour can earn you a reputation — good or bad. People labelling you as a troublemaker, a class clown, or grumpy often reinforces that behaviour. Shedding such a reputation may necessitate a complete overhaul of your character and personality. You’ll need to significantly change how people perceive you and what it’s like to be in your company. The stigma you’ve so diligently built is stickier than you might think to shake off.

What’s true is that the label you wore represented the false you. The real ‘you,’ the authentic you, has always been there, waiting to be revealed. It’s often concealed by your alter-ego, the persona you’ve constructed as your façade to the world. A façade that hides a scared victim, trapped into believing you aren’t enough as you are. The real victory comes when you decide to shed the bad reputation and replace it with a healthy one. Revealing the authentic you — with all your imperfections — takes courage.

You need to be brave to face the world as you are — comfortable in your own skin.

For the first three years of high school, I was the class clown. I failed subjects every term and every year; I barely managed to scrape by with the lowest passing grades. My parents weren’t the type to hover over our shoulders to ensure we were doing our schoolwork. In any class I could, I tried to distract myself from the hard work of learning. The subjects I struggled with the most — math, science, Latin, and English — received the least of my attention. Being the class clown allowed me to escape responsibility for my grades.

The ‘funnier’ I was in school, and the more my behaviour was rewarded by my classmates, the further I buried my authentic self, avoiding taking ownership. By my third year, in Grade 10, I was failing three of the four compulsory subjects required to advance to Grade 11 (Standard 9 in ‘Old’ South Africa). I had already failed two of the four terms and barely scraped through the third.

My final term grades needed to be spectacular for me to have any chance of graduating.

In desperation, I turned to my older Brother and asked for his help. He was eleven years my senior and, by that time, had been studying at university for over 7 years. My Brother had a reputation for being clever and had mastered the art of effective study. It’s indeed an art when you can use it to your advantage. He was always fascinated by how memory and retention worked and whether they could be harnessed to absorb information more effectively and recall it.

First, my brother handed me a book and told me to read it cover to cover and absorb its content. “A Guide to Conscious Living” laid the foundation for his study technique, or formula, if you will. My brother provided his textbooks on the subjects in which I was struggling. Then he embarked on giving me a crash course in applying his method for effective learning. I had to start from the beginning again. He took me back to redo my grades 8, 9, and 10 in those subjects! To be more effective and minimise distractions, he insisted that I move in with him and his wife into their three-bedroom flat.

I graduated with just enough marks to pass every subject. I even began to excel in the subjects I already enjoyed. Learning how to study effectively made learning fun. I relished the process of acquiring new knowledge. A new world opened up to me when I abandoned the class clown act and began taking responsibility for my reputation. Part of the miracle of shedding my bad reputation was the timing of my family’s move to a new suburb. This meant I had to change schools and start anew. I could leave behind the bad reputation I had created and that everyone expected, and I could build a new one — this time hopefully, a good one.

Have an awesome weekend and please remember to be generous! 😄

As always, thanks for reading 🙏

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