What’s one of your most humiliating moments? I vividly remember mine. Years ago, I began receiving messages on Facebook from random guys asking me to hang out. It seemed odd but I ignored them. Then, a lady sent me a message saying I was on a popular website. The article was about a girl at an HBCU claiming she was a virgin, exposed in a threesome. The picture was extremely graphic with the girl’s face blurred out. Within the comments, people were going back and forth about who it was. Then, one anonymous person proclaimed that it wasn’t any of the mentioned names and it was, in fact, Aneesha Perkins from Hampton University. As I read that sentence my heart dropped and I left work immediately. Someone obviously had a vendetta against me and it was more evident when I discovered a Facebook friend shared the article on their page encouraging others to read it mentioning that it was about me. For the next few days, messages from friends invaded my inbox. I thought my reputation was tarnished and believed that no man would ever take me seriously nor would I ever be a role model for younger girls. In addition, this could damage my professional career and negatively affect my family. There was nothing I could do to erase it nor the impression it left on everyone. Everything I aspired to do, was now impossible.
To set the record straight, the girl in the picture wasn’t me. While that particular story wasn’t my truth, there are other mistakes I’ve made and wholeheartedly understand how others can’t help but to hold you hostage to them. Your past may shape you but it doesn’t define you. Out of this entire situation, what really bothers me is the actual girl in the picture. She got caught up in a bad situation and someone saw it fitting to expose and embarrass her in front of the world. That article was intended to be her scarlet letter, a symbol of shame and guilt. The same scarlet letter Nathaniel Hawthorne referenced in his novel of a mother who conceived a child from an affair and was required to wear a scarlet letter A for adulteress on her dress for public humiliation.
There are some of you wearing scarlet letters from your previous experiences and it’s time to work on removing them. Yes, there are consequences for every decision you make but you are in control of the person you desire to be today. To make strides in removing your scarlet letter, first, be honest and accept what happened. Second, forgive yourself and the person involved. Holding onto unforgiveness in your heart is unhealthy and an obstacle when trying to move forward. Lastly, you can’t change or hide what happened, however, God makes all things new. Plus, you never know, your story could be the one to save someone’s life and break them away from their current lifestyle. You are a lamp among the dark.
This is dedicated to those who made decisions they regret and did things they’re not proud of. Those labeled. Those in pictures and videos circulating social media. Whether it’s you or not, whoever you are, this is for you. What happened isn’t the end and you can serve as living proof of how God can turn things around and remove us from our past. This experience made me humble, more compassionate and stronger than I’ve ever had to be. It molded me into the woman I am today, a woman whose character has been challenged but still choose to stand tall. While the intentions of the person who published that picture and comment were malicious, they didn’t get the last say on who I am and who I will be. The same goes for you, forget about what everyone is saying of your past and stand firm on your future.
I removed the scarlet letter, now it’s your turn. Let it go.