Have you ever gotten marked with a Sharpie? Remember how hard it was to wash off? It would sometimes take days, leaving you red and maybe even raw! You would scrub and scrub, and yet that ink stain would stubbornly stay like a squatter, refusing to be eradicated from your person.
Did you know that a bad reputation is just like this?
This life and all the possibilities in it will either have a wide-open door or a padlocked gate, based on what kind of reputation you have relative to which door you're wanting to access. Granted, it all really depends on who you want to be and what door you want to enter. If you're the type of person who wants to be seen as a moral, upstanding citizen, a family person, a hard-working individual who values his or her integrity, then those doorways that complement these attributes will open for you. And if you're a person who desires to be bad-to-the-bone, a rebel, a person who doesn't care what society thinks of him or her, someone who sneers at morality and upright ideology, and someone who inevitably thinks that they can do and say whatever they like no matter how offensive it is … well, those doors will open for you. And if these are the routes you wish to take, then you're successfully creating the reputation that will be the key to how you want to live.
But what if you want to change?
Most people, when they live the rebellious, irresponsible, or even illegal lifestyle, never really consider the future beyond their narrow-viewed goals. They never consider what might happen if later on in life they have a change of heart and want or even need to live in a way that will help them flourish in society. What if you have a child and need to take care of it, which means you need to get a job that pays more than minimum wage? What if something occurs in your life personally that creates a need to seek help from a potentially-jaded family member? What if you discover your niche in life and want to become successful in name and station, but you can't have illegal activity assisting you? What if you fall in love with a person whose reputation is the exact opposite of yours?
Reputations are the keys that unlock the doors we desire to enter. A reputation is important for many reasons, but there are three spots where they primarily matter the most: your financial goals, your personal goals, and your relationship goals.
Reputations affect you financially
You spent years being bad-to-the-bone and doing what you wanted. Then you served hard time. In prison, you saw the error of your ways and recanted your reckless lifestyle. Now you're out of prison and trying to secure a job. But suddenly, no one wants to hire you because you've got a stained reputation, one that says you scorn authority, will not adhere to a system, and inevitably can't be trusted. Your goals to better yourself will now be delayed and relegated to either fast food, warehouse or construction work. And you might never be able to break out of these financial pens. Though out of prison, your reputation has put your financial goals right back into a cage.
Reputations affect you personally
Like a Sharpie hardly coming off, you find that your reputation won't leave you, even though you've rejected your previous lifestyle. Your reputation has preceded you in society, spreading like wildfire from mouth to ear until your potential neighbors, consumer venues, and even the taunting school children have classified you permanently. And though you shun it, though you desire change, you have now been branded. You may even move to a different place and start all over, but your reputation will find you out and come forth like grubby ink stains, dooming you to never be able to be anyone else than who you used to be in spite of your attempts.
Reputations affect your relationships
In ways that are easy to overlook and yet are so impacting, your reputation will cause your present or potential relationships to be affected, and almost always adversely if you sport a tarnished mantle. You may fall in love with a person who won't have anything to do with you because of your past deeds. You may want to raise your children to respect the law and authority, yet they won't acknowledge your authority because of your doing such a knock-out job of rebelling against it previously. You may come to a place where your family members want nothing more to do with you because their own reputations have been burnt too many times by who you are in the eyes of the common man. It's a hard road to recovery if you shoot yourself in the foot with friends and family because of your "hardcore rep."
No matter who you want to be in life presently, you should always consider who you want to be in the future. You want to evaluate the "what-ifs" that may come about. Prudence is the type of wisdom that foresees future things that could come to pass based on your choices. So whether you are the die-hard who wants to have a reputation as such, or whether you are the model citizen, it's prudent to evaluate your aspirations and where they could take you in life. Be careful what you wish for; you may end up with a Sharpie mark that turns out to be a tattoo!