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Leaving a Legacy Behind

Leaving a Legacy BehindI recently saw “The Fault In Our Stars,” based on the novel by John Green. This heartbreaking film portrays two teenagers, Hazel Lancaster and Augustus Waters, who fall in love as they both battle cancer.

Though I’m not interested in reviewing the film (quite frankly, it was a bit too emotionally disturbing for my taste), I do wish to highlight one crucial aspect that “The Fault In Our Stars” emphasized — the concept of legacy.

Augustus spoke of leaving a legacy behind, in the hopes that his life could count for something. He longed to have a profound impact, to be remembered by many. And I could absolutely understand that mentality (perhaps it even served as a coping mechanism for his incredibly grave circumstance). I think a lot of us contemplate our purpose, our everlasting imprint. We may wonder how we affect life around us, how we affect others.

And though there are renowned figures who do achieve greatness, we could still leave a poignant mark, even if it’s on a much smaller scale. As the movie progressed, Augustus began to adopt this perspective, especially as his connection to Hazel deepened.

Hannah Gordon, who was diagnosed with cancer at a young age, wrote a piece for Thought Catalog that speaks of the little moments; moments of connection and togetherness that can be cherished and sorely missed.

“In these moments, I was overwhelmed with the burning intensity I had to live,” she wrote. “Because the thought of them sitting at a dinner table and not laughing, because I was gone, was excruciating. The thought of my mother not having the energy to go grocery shopping incapacitated me. When I truly looked at it (death) in the face, I suddenly had so much more to cling onto than I had originally thought. I had so much more to keep living for.”

An article in Psychology Today discusses how memoir writing reflects the significance of our life stories.

Roberta Temmes, clinical psychologist and author, has written a guide to help foster this kind of writing in “How to Write a Memoir in 30 Days: Step-by-Step Instructions for Creating and Publishing Your Personal Story.”

She asks readers to envision the type of story they wish to convey. Will it focus on a specific relationship, documenting how it changed course over time, or will it center around a particular issue? A call-to-action memoir can explore a certain social condition.

With a personal memoir, the value and sum of your life experiences manifest on the pages before you.

A legacy doesn’t have to incorporate celebrity status, while making a “huge splash” in society. A legacy could be found within love, within being there for one another. A legacy could simply be established when you’re your best possible self, which radiates outward, leaving a special light behind.

Leaving a Legacy Behind

Lauren Suval

Lauren Suval studied print journalism and psychology at Hofstra University, and she is a writer based in New York. Her work has been featured on Thought Catalog, Catapult Community, and other online publications. Lauren's e-book “Coping With Life’s Clutter” and her collection of personal essays, “The Art Of Nostalgia,” can both be found on Amazon. Lauren's latest E-Book, "Never Far Behind," a collection of poetry, is available on Smashwords, Apple Books, Barnes and Noble, and Kobo. She loves to be followed on social media, including her Facebook Writing Page,

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APA Reference
Suval, L. (2018). Leaving a Legacy Behind. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 2, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Jul 2018 (Originally: 19 Jul 2014)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Jul 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.