As a teenager I strived to fit in, not to stand out and to be part of the crowd. To be unique in some way would cause embarrassment and could make people either think you are odd, or even bully you for being different. I think this is the case for most people. Now as an adult, I see people striving to be distinctive in some way, to tread their own path, to do something amazing and to not be run of the mill. And why not?
I recently read about a young lad who quit his job in a café in New Zealand to travel the world in order to be the first person to capture all the Pokémon characters. His father was reported in saying that he always knew his son would be famous. I am not a gamer, but I can see that this young man is searching for his unique thing. I can’t help but think that once he has achieved this that he will then start to look for his next unique thing.
A friend of mine trained for a year and ran the London Marathon. She had lost her stepfather to heart disease and wanted to raise some money for charity. An amazing thing to do. I followed her blog and read about her love of running, the pain she had to deal with and how she overcame it. Once the marathon was over I saw a post about her doing it again. I think it is very human to set goals and once achieved, we find ourselves missing the process and we start to look at what next to fill the void with. Who are we without goals?
I talked about this with my partner. He said you get to a certain age and start to think about your legacy, what you will leave behind when you leave this world. We can’t all be Nobel Prize winners or presidents. So what legacy can we leave behind? I have asked a few people what they think and they mentioned their children. What if you do not have children? Does a legacy also have to be a big tangible thing? Can it not be unmeasurable?
I once read this quote -
“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.”
― Maya Angelou
This has stuck with me. I think for a long time I did not want to stick out too much and therefore perhaps held back. When you think like this it can make you come across as guarded. I am now trying to stop thinking about me and think about how I am making the other person feel. If you make someone feel safe or good about themselves, hopefully they will do that for another person and so on. This is a legacy that I would like to leave behind.
I would like to say that this is enough and that I do not feel like I need to leave something material behind, but truthfully I would like to put this into my stories too. They are stories for children, but I hope that the reader will remember how they felt long after reading the book. This has become my overall writing aim. It would be a wondrous and extraordinary if it were true. Even if it were just one person. Only time will tell.
A.J. York is a middle grade and Children's writer. From the UK, currently living in Gothenburg, Sweden. Author of Delilah Dusticle, Eliza Bluebell and A Fairy Extraordinary Christmas Story.