I was 12 years old when I got mono in a small town. I missed 3 weeks of school in the eighth grade. I just got sick. It lasted a long time. When I finally got back to school, rumors swirled.
Small-town North Dakota rumors started with one simple person, “well, she’s got mono. Obviously, she’s a slut.”
When I went back to school (still sick),
I was faced with frightened kids. Some wouldn’t come near me. Some because I was sick and some because they’d heard I was a slut.
I didn’t confront those rumors. I had enough adults telling me it would be ok.
One day, someone actually had the courage to confront me in the hallway of small town North Dakota high school.
“Is it true that you’ve had 13 abortions?” I was then 14. I said I’d never even had sex. He said, “huh. All I ever heard was that you were a slut. I guess that was a lie, huh?”
Rumors about me in small-town North Dakota ran rampant. I did not confront them or give them any legitimacy. I just was myself and hoped that people would actually think for themselves rather than listen to small town gossip. I did well for myself and for others. I quickly learned that I faced a double-edged sword.
I could tell everyone I was not a slut. I could tell everyone I was a good person. I tried that. They turned my words against me and said (in small-town North Dakota) that if the rumors were wrong, I wouldn’t bother fighting them.
So, I was silent and did my homework, my band, my plays, and was told, if the rumors weren’t true, I’d defend myself. Rumors would not define me. I knew I could do what I wanted, people would think what they wanted, but I had the power to define myself.
I’ve tried to do that. But damn if those rumors didn’t make me a pariah.
Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.
Hey! I’m right here! Ask me anything.
And there it is: do you speak against the rumors tell the truth (albeit boring and nobody cares) or do you let those rumors be without saying a word?
What edge of the sword do you fall on?
I guess I fell on the edge of, “hey! I’m right here. Ask me anything.”
Before you laugh at this ridiculous rumor, please look at yourself. Have you believed things about someone you didn’t even know because the rumors were far more interesting in your small-town than the truth? Do you think it’s ok to judge a person on rumors because a few people repeated them?
My opinion has been, “if you don’t care to know the truth, you aren’t worth knowing.”
Of course, I’m not running for president either.