While you were attending school as a child, you may have been threatened with things being put on your Permanent Record any time you did something that an authority figure didn’t like. It didn’t even have to be that you did anything wrong; just something that they didn’t like.
If you’re like most kids, that threat probably hit pretty hard. And it was designed to. In fact, I’d classify it as a type of abuse – instead of a teacher or other authority figure taking responsibility for working with you to help you understand why the behavior was unacceptable, they make a nebulous appeal to authority and essentially threaten to ruin the rest of your life.
That assumes that what you did even actually was unacceptable. Being accused of unacceptable behavior where it doesn’t exist is something that marginalized people especially have to deal with.
And they’re doing this to someone who has limited life experience to know any better and even less ability to defend themselves without the intervention of another authority figure (if they’re lucky enough to have an authority figure willing or able to fight for them).
Even worse, they were conditioning you to accept the vague threat of all of the actions that somebody didn’t like being held against you for the rest of your life. They were setting you up for a cycle of abuse that could be used by the people who sign your paycheck as an adult, and a lot of them knew that they were doing it.
That’s not education. It’s indoctrination. Notice that you never get told something good is going to go on your permanent record. Funny how that works, isn’t it?
You have my permission, and even my encouragement, to disregard every single time someone has told you that something would go on your permanent record. Pull the memories out, look at them for the attempts at abuse that they were, and try to work on moving past them. Seriously.
There is no permanent record. You might have had a file that followed you around in school (and even it likely didn’t contain all the things that your teachers were claiming it did), but even then, that shit ended when you walked across the stage at the end of your senior year.
At that moment, all of the power that they held over you evaporated and all of their threats suddenly ceased to have any influence on reality. Poof. Gone in one moment. What didn’t end, unfortunately, were the scars. Those will take time and work to get over.
Here’s a really neat extension to that fact – the same applies in large part when you leave a job. Your former bosses aren’t going to go around telling every place that you applied to that you’re a worthless asshole unless there is something severely wrong with them (and then you probably have legal recourse).
That isn’t to say that you should go around being a jerk to everyone with no care for the consequences of your own actions. It isn’t even saying that you can’t gain a reputation in your local or professional community if you go around being an absolute asshole to people on a regular basis.
If you consistently do decent things, people will probably tend to have a positive view of you and will probably tell other people that they should work with you. If you consistently do things to hurt people, people will probably talk quietly and you’ll end up worse off for it. However, nobody is writing this stuff down in a mystical, magical file folder that follows you around like an angry honey badger trying to turn your life into an exercise in never-ending misery.
There will be people that will like you. There will be people that will hate you (and some of them will do it no matter what you do). What there won’t be is some accounting of your supposed sins engraved on a stone tablet that people can take off of a shelf and look at whenever they feel like it.
Don’t worry about nebulous authority figures and what they think. Live your life the best way that you can, try to do the right thing (both for yourself and those you care about), and tell the Permanent Record to take a long walk off of a short pier.
You’ll be better off for it.