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The Pressure Of Leaving A Legacy
Every now and then, I feel this impending doom overbearing, making me think that whatever I do is just not enough. This isn't a new occurrence for me or one that is limited to me. However, it makes me wonder why I end up imposing such harsh expectations on myself at times. And the conclusion I reach is that I give a substantial amount of importance to leaving a legacy for those around me and the ones who'll come after.
As I mentioned above, the pressure to leave a legacy isn't one that I face alone. Rather, I see so many carry this burden every day. Is it worth taking this burden, though? If yes, then is it really a burden, and if not, why do we choose to carry it? So many questions come up with this little line of thought, so I felt it might be a good discussion to initiate with this issue.
Thoughts From Our Community 👨👩👧👦
Before sharing my perspective, I thought to seek the opinions of peers from our local communities too. So I shared a tweet in our little community to ask what folks thought about creating a legacy. The responses were thought-provoking:
Vinayak had a contrasting take, though. He believed that it is necessary to aim toward creating a legacy.
Induja shared a different opinion on what a legacy might mean in reality, about it being more of a form of validation than a goal.
What Does "Legacy" Mean To Me? 📝
Well, the term "legacy" is not a new one. We often encounter this term whenever someone talks about leaving behind something for those who come after them. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines legacy as
something transmitted by or received from an ancestor or predecessor or from the past
I somewhat agree with this definition. When I think about legacy (or rather, my legacy), I think about the impact I leave behind for those I want to enable to do better in their journeys. When I look at all my work around communities and hackathons, I hope it will enable more budding technologists to learn and build on their ideas and create solutions to help others. The legacy I hope to have is the impact left behind through my work, which is why my legacy will always remain important to me.
Past vs Present vs Future: What I Care About The Most 🕒
When I think about the legacy I want to leave, it is difficult not to think about time. I'm essentially trying to fix the problems of my past for other people's present time to better their (and my) future. I started trying to help people take their footsteps in tech because there was a time when I was unsure of my own stepping.
This creates a rather interesting conundrum because the uncertainty of the future can get so overwhelming at times that it adversely affects work in the present, which then harms future impact and becomes the problem defined in the past. A cycle forms here and isn't one that's easy to break.
In my opinion, legacies may be defined by looking at the past, but they're definitely built in the present, not in the future. They are the sum result of all the work you do throughout your journey, rather than that one significant milestone you reach at the end. Building a legacy is a continuous proactive effort and time-taking, and it can only be evaluated when connecting the dots backward. But the present is the only place where that effort can and must be made.
Should My Legacy For Tomorrow Impact The Actions Of Today? 💭
Truthfully, I chase a positive-sum game when it comes to my goals. I have to because when the goal is enablement and empowerment, no alternative works. My goal, while definite in resolve, will remain abstract in method. The reason for this is that while we as people may maintain strength in our ideologies, the world is constantly evolving as well. What's right today may not be right tomorrow. To grow, I will have to learn and unlearn to better my own knowledge and understanding. There will always be occasions where I must waver to evolve.
This is exactly why I cannot turn my vision for my legacy into a burden and let it hinder my actions and work today. Because, truth be told, with a goal of this sort, it will be impossible for me to judge whether the actions I take today will lead to the completion of this goal in the future or not. So I must constantly have faith. I must have faith that my actions will achieve my aim. And for that matter, I must also be open enough to allow my goal to evolve with time. Time also changes your priorities and dependencies, and I must remain willing to accept those as I move forward in my journey.
Walking My Own Road... 🛣️
I know I cannot decide now how my journey ends. I do not know what my work today will lead to in the future. To realize I have this little control has been very scary, but it also has the power to free me because it removes the pressure to conform to my past mindset.
While my legacy remains vital to me, I have absolutely no idea how things will end for me. And that is alright. As long as I do what makes me happy and content, as long I'm happy with my actions of today, I have a feeling that I will be okay :)