Before You Send That Snap, Let's Talk About Your Reputation.

If you are anything like me, you absolutely live for Chrissy Teigen’s crazy tweets, can’t get enough of Corrine from The Bachelor, and generally love to see an antic or scandal every now and then. It’s human nature to be mesmerized by the drama.

However, in the midst of praising people who are notoriously “carefree,” we fail to realize that these people are doing more than serving entertainment; they are creating a reputation. I’m sure I’m not the first one to tell you that your reputation is everything and can hurt you just as easily as it can help you. But somehow we are quick to forget this with every blunt Snapchat rant, unprofessional email, or biting Instagram comment.

To put that in terms of more celebrities, there are perks of being a Miley Cyrus (“raw” and “unedited”), but even more perks of being a Beyoncé! It’s time for our generation to understand the importance of keeping an iron-grip on our image at all times.

Photo via @fee_photography

I decided to take to Twitter, to see what my peers thought about self image. I found a common fear of people ages 16-22 is appearing too calculated and unnatural (like they are “trying too hard”). There is beauty in being on you’re A-game all the time, though! For example, there’s nothing prude about keeping your social media respectable. It doesn’t mean that you are being “fake” or that you have to hide your individuality altogether. I’m certainly not telling you to nix the “self” in “self-branding” here. Just make sure that what you put out is your best you.

There’s a reason why some of history’s most loved orators are our favorites. They did not stand on a podium and spew bullet points from a crumbled notebook paper. They presented fully developed, well thought out, heavily revised content to us, and it has made all the difference. The way you present yourself to the world should be your greatest at all times— embrace that mindset and you’ll see a positive difference in the way people respect you!

Photo via @amandapenelope__

As our parents have told us for years, you never get a second chance to make a first impression. In this day and age, first impressions often precede the first time someone actually meets you. And although this instinct is less severe in some work industries than others, it is in an employer’s human nature to be judgmental. The world is smaller than it seems, so the way you’re perceived involves two things and two things only: Your image and word of mouth. The good news is, since one of those things controls the latter, you have complete power over both of those factors.

Wouldn’t you rather walk into an interview knowing that you’ve put nothing but good things out into the world? It’s empowering not to have thoughts like “Are they allowed to search my social media? I wonder if they’ll call my last employer. What if they find out about that time I…?”

Outside of social media and jobs, it’s about your attitude, the way you interact with those around you, and the type of energy you bring into a room. And, once again, this is something that is in your control. Smile at strangers. Approach situations with a positive mindset. Ask thoughtful questions. It is incredible how much simple things like saying “please” and “thank you” and infusing some formality into your conversations with professors, mentors, and employers can really set you apart from your peers.

Your image sets you apart from the crowd, gets you opportunities, and determines whether you pass or fail tests no one tells you you’re taking. You should care about it— it’s irresponsible not to. Fellow millennials and Gen Zers, trust me, you’re already-glowing personality plus an impeccable reputation makes an unbeatable combination in any day and age.