Monday, September 6, 2010
Your Career and You..."What Will YOUR Legacy Be?"
We had a special orientation last week for first-year Communication majors and COM majors who have transferred to Curry College from elsewhere. Members of the Curry College PR Student Association executive board were conveniently on hand in case someone had an interest in Public Relations as a concentration.
Nearly 70 young men and women had a chance to meet Communication Department faculty members and learn about the many opportunities that are available to them while at Curry and in the future.
The program wrapped up with this question: "What will be your legacy when your time is up here at Curry College?"
I suspect that most of the young men and women in the audience were stunned to have been asked this. After all, they haven't even really figured out where the bathrooms are in the academic buildings yet!
That's a pretty heavy thing to think about when you're just getting a foothold on what it is you want to be doing for the rest of your life. But it's a fair question to ask: "When all is said and done, what will you have accomplished for which you will be remembered?"
I rarely bring personal personal stuff into these conversations, but I think I can offer an example from my own life that can help you get a sense of what "legacy" is all about.
My stepfather, Judge William Malcolm Towson (ret.), is, to me, the personification of a "good" man. "Bill," as I have presumptuously called him from Day One, is a genuinely kind, caring, giving human being. And he does it without fanfare, expecting nothing in return and always willing to do more.
He has stuck by me and endured my shenanigans through the good times and the not-so-good. And he has firmly established himself in my mind as a role model...someone who I would very much like to resemble when I grow up.
That, to me, is what a legacy is all about...setting an example and living your life in such a way that others say "That is a good person. I want to be like him(her)."
So let's bring this back to you and your own legacy.
First off, don't obsess about this. A legacy isn't a commodity to be bought and sold. It's a natural occurrence that will come over time as you "find yourself" and learn what it is that makes you feel good to do.
But you have to be comfortable with who you are and what you represent. And that's what life is all about. It is, to use one of the old banalities, a "voyage of discovery" during which you will encounter challenges, opportunities, disappointments, and moments of absolute, unbounded joy.
Use all these experiences to shape your persona and begin making your mark. And in the end, when all is said and done, when you've seen all there is to see and done all there is to do, you will have left a "legacy."
People...friends as well as those who you've never met...will say "Yeah, I knew XYZ. He(she) really made a difference because of [fill in the blank]."
Your legacy will define who you are, what you did and believed in, and how you traveled through this world. It will be the real you.
"'If I should die,' I said to myself, 'I have left no immortal work behind me - nothing to make my friends proud of my memory - but I have lov'd the principle of beauty in all things, and if I had had time, I would have made myself remember'd.'" John Keats, "To Fanny Brawne" [c. February 1820]