My dear,

You reputation is like a feather-weight kid that starts permanently living on your back a couple months after you’re born.

At first it weighs nothing, and you don’t even notice it while you’re doing all that crawling and running and falling and giggling in your earlier stages. But slowly over time, it starts putting on a few pounds. If you show signs of being stupid or smart early it puts on a few pounds. If you show signs of being an angel or public-school terror it puts on a few pounds. And it keeps on slowly putting pounds over the years; so slowly that you don’t notice it until you’re so old that your back starts bending for no apparent reason and you wonder why.

I’ll tell you why you’re back’s bending, because your reputation’s now fully-grown and obese.

But don’t let it crush and break your back. Lose it! It’s hard, but trust me you’ll start stepping around again like a new born child.

Until you’ve lost your reputation, you never realize what a burden it was.

Look at Atlas, he’s got the greatest reputation in the world on his back; the world and the notion that he can hold it up forever. What a crappy reputation, don’t let that be you. You can do something more fun with your time.

Falsely yours,
Margaret Munnerlyn Mitchell