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Leaving a Lasting Legacy: The Desire to Make a Difference In Our World

Recently, the Bloom Instagram posted a question poll asking for advice on how to leave a lasting legacy. The answer I put in the question box would have been vastly different if it had been presented to me last year. I may not have even answered.

I thought that to leave a legacy, I had to do something grand that would reach thousands, maybe even millions of people. The fear that I had not left a legacy before my previous PCS drew me to the desire to take my creativity and talents and use them to bring me fame and fortune, rather than enjoying them like I once had. I used these things as a crutch, to cope with the fear that my life may be insignificant. I wanted my work to actually reach people, just like the people I looked up to. I became obsessed with celebrity culture, wanting to resemble those people I looked up to, in hopes that being like them would bring me the recognition I longed for.

For months, I wrestled with this desire to bring a long-lasting change to the world, one that people would remember even after I was gone. I know many of my fellow military brats feel the same way. We want to leave a big impact, since we are not given the chance to build up a legacy for ourselves, unlike our civilian peers. Being in Carlisle, a hub for military kids, made this feeling much worse. I was surrounded by people just like me, and yet, they were off doing big things in the school and community. They were just like me but they were doing so many important things, maybe even more than our civilian classmates. Looking at my situation, I technically never made a big impact on Carlisle High School, outside of my work in the small band program in the school.

And yet, I still left a legacy. Not in the way I intended but, in the way I was meant to.

After a lot of tough breakthroughs, I thought over why I looked up to the people I did. I didn’t look up to these creators, these artists, these musicians, these actors, solely because of the things they were making and doing. Those things they had done were only a small fraction of who they were. I looked up to them because they were inspiring, hard working, creative, funny, intelligent and most of all, they were kind.

One of the people I have looked up to since I was very young is the late actor and comedian, Robin Williams. I grew up with many of his films and I fell in love with his work from a very young age. I continue to fall in love with his work as I watch more of his films.

However, while Williams was an accomplished performer, people don’t remember him just for his movies and his stand up acts. They remember how he used his life, despite severe mental illnesses plaguing his life, to make others laugh. He was kind, he was good-hearted and valued the art of film and performance. The films he was a part of were just parts to his whole being.

He made people smile.

He made me smile.

There is a quote of his from the show “Mork and Mindy” that has had such a profound impact on how I live my life:

“I don’t know how much value I have in this universe, but I do know that I have made a few people happier than they would have been without me and as long as I know that, I’m as rich as I ever need to be.”

For a long time, I believed that having a legacy meant doing something grand and performing some great gesture that everyone in your community would remember. While you can leave an impact that way, I learned that not all legacies look the same. I’ve had people tell me with and without words, how much my presence, my kindness and my mere existence had impacted them. I’ve been reminded of all the ways I’ve made people laugh, the ways I’ve listened to people’s struggles, the way I’ve helped them along the way, the ways I’ve supported and loved them. I’ve been a mentor, a companion, an inspiration. People have even just told me that I am a really cool friend.

I’ve even made an impact on people I’ll probably never meet, through my words here on Bloom. Many people have enjoyed and have been touched by my stories. Many people have related to my struggles. Sometimes I take for granted how lucky I am to be able to share my story on such a special platform.

I have a legacy here on the Bloom website.

I’ve had a legacy in the small communities of the places I’ve been blessed with being a part of, being remembered by my friends, my acquaintances, my teachers and my neighbors. I did all that just by showing kindness to others and showing people what I was capable of accomplishing.

If I can leave an impact on my community, if little old me can make a difference, so can you.

Knowing that, I’m as rich as I’ll ever need to be.


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