When I was in high school, I went to a conference that focused on practicing interview skills. In one of the practice rounds, each of us was asked the question, ”What do you hope to be remembered for?” Even though it was just a practice round, when I heard this question, I panicked a bit. My mind started racing for an answer that would sound thoughtful and reflective, but the question was When not one that my seventeen-year-old brain had taken the time to think about. Before I realized what I was doing, I started spewing off an answer about how I’m a very organized person, and I hope to be remembered for my ability to keep every little detail straight. I even started to ramble for a while about my accordion folder that had all aspects of my life neatly filed away into, and the hourly planner that allowed me to plan every moment of the day. As soon as I finished the answer, I knew I was about to receive an immense amount of constructive criticism from the interviewer. Fortunately, they were kind enough to just ask,” Do you really want to be remembered for…your folders?” I immediately responded that I of course hope to be remembered for more than that, but I just didn’t know what yet. I didn’t know what my legacy in life was going to be.
I think most of us don’t take the time to think deeply about what we will be remembered for. We get caught up in just surviving life, and don’t take the time to think about what will be said about us after we aren’t surviving anymore. Having a legacy sounds like a big and daunting thing meant only for those who do incredible things, but it’s really something that each of us has the ability to craft. Having a legacy has less to do about what it is we do with our lives, and more with how and why we do everything. Maya Angelou, a famous poet, said, ”I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” At the end of our lives, our legacy is not shaped by the big, grand actions that we were able to do. It’s created by how we go about every day, as well as what our intention and purpose behind everything are.
I think a lot of our society doesn’t pause to think about the fact that we are shaping our legacies each and every day, but we definitely should. Having a legacy does not require us to be or do anything extraordinarily special, but it does require us to be thoughtful and consistent with how we treat others. No matter how old we are, we have the opportunity to start shaping our legacy.
These past few weeks of my internship have allowed me to pause and reflect on what my impact and legacy are with who I work for and what work I am doing. By being intentional with every project and interaction that I have, I am able to craft a legacy that I can be proud of. A legacy is less about creating a big, elaborate impact, and more about being purposeful with every action I take. No matter the position, we have the ability to take pride in our work and create an impact that is bigger than ourselves.
If I could give any advice to an intern, student, or young adult like myself, it would be to not get too caught up in what you are doing and spend more time considering how and why you’re doing it. Our legacy lies in the process and purpose, and we have the ability to create a positive impact in everything we do if we take the time to reflect on it in every seemingly small moment.
National Association of Wheat Growers
Washington, D.C. | Summer 2021