5 Surprising Insightful Life Lessons We Learned From Monica Lewinsky

It’s true: Monica Lewinsky is back (though given that she’s been a household name since the late nineties, it doesn’t feel like she ever left). Her decision as a 22 year-old resulted in a constant shadow of controversy, sex, and shame, but now she’s sharing her story with the world—and finally getting some positive attention for it. Lewinsky broke a decade-long silence with an essay published in Vanity Fair last year, and her recent TED Talk titled “Price of Shame” is wonderful and inspiring. We are all for Lewinsky’s crusade to reclaim her identity, and every woman can benefit from hearing what she has to say.


Your reputation does not your identity make.

Lewinsky was known to the world as a “little tart” by the time she was 22, and it takes a lot of strength and perseverance to see yourself as anything other than what an entire nation is telling you you are. “It may surprise you to learn that I’m actually a person,” writes Lewinsky in her piece in Vanity Fair. If there’s one thing Lewinsky wants to inspire, it’s not letting others define you.

You can survive humiliation.

“I know it’s hard,” says Lewinsky during her 18 minute TED Talk. “It may not be painless, quick, or easy, but you can insist on a different ending to your story.” The kind of public slut-shaming Lewinsky faced at a young age is one of the reasons she is coming forward now, to show that “there was someone else who was, at one point in time, the most humiliated person in the world. And that she survived it.”

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Don’t be afraid to share your story.

Monica Lewinsky never asked for her celebrity status, and has said before that more than anything she wants anonymity for herself and for her family. But by giving this TED Talk, Lewinsky finally becomes the writer of her own narrative, and is a hopeful example for others who have trouble seeing past their own shame and embarrassment

Keep reinventing yourself.

This doesn’t mean changing your identity; taking control of your life and “claiming the past” can be essential to healing. Lewinsky went through many different phases in her life, as we all do, in order to find “the” woman she was, as opposed to “That Woman.” She turned to education, traveling, and meditation, but there are many possible ways to reinvent yourself.

Move forward.

This seems like a simple, straightforward idea, but it can be the hardest thing to do. It takes a lot of strength to go in any direction when the weight of humiliation can be so heavy, but it’s not impossible, and Monica Lewinsky knows that first hand.


Photos via Vanity Fair, hellobeautiful, nydailynews, YouTube

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