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February 12, 2015 / Angela Sylvia

Response: You Will Be Forgotten

Last week, Hank Green posted a vlogbrothers video titled “You Will Be Forgotten…And That’s OK.” This was in response to a popular Tumblr post where the original poster revealed a fear of living an average life and never doing something to be remembered by, and he was concerned about the fact that so many people seemed to share this anxiety.

Watch the video, definitely, it’s less than 4 minutes long, but here’s a gist of what he said: oblivion is inevitable, and it’s impossible to be actually remembered for forever. Besides that, the idea of being permanently successful is a myth; as he points out from his stance as a “successful” person, you can have many successes, but being successful and satisfied one hundred percent of the time just isn’t a thing.
Hank Green None of it exists

This struck me, because, I think, that’s something that bothers me, too. I want to be remembered, I want to be known. But…why?

It’s a hard thing to grasp, but I believe this feeling comes from not quite understanding my own motivations. I want to be a writer. Being a writer makes you sort of famous, so that seems like a “why”. But is it?

If I can be a famous enough writer, I’ll make enough money off of writing to be able to make that my vocation. I’ll get the satisfaction of knowing that I’ve done something well when other people like what I’ve done. When other people know that I’ve done this thing, and like it enough to pay me money for it, I will feel “successful” and “remembered.” With that as the seeming goal, having not reached that point yet is, well, kind of depressing.

Hank Green’s video helped remind me to not get caught up in this. Becoming known for my writing is a byproduct of what I want, writing for a living. It’s not what I’m actually aiming for. If I don’t ever become “famous”, or whatever, that’s not a problem, because that’s not what I’m trying to do.

Hank ends the video emphasizing that what’s important is the good things you have done, and the good things you will do, “…things that you’re gonna make and have already helped make.” Who cares if I won’t be remembered. I’m WRITING now, and I’m going to keep writing, and creating, and just doing things that hopeful add an ounce of happiness to the world (even it’s just my own world). That’s the thing that matters.

Here’s Hank’s video, embedded below. But check out the whole vlogbrothers channel; they’re really smart, sensitive dudes.

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4 Comments

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  1. HP (@HyphenateMe) / Feb 12 2015 9:51 am

    “Who cares, none of this matters, we’re all going to die” has become my motto. It’s not really encouraging, but it puts things in perspective. Or not. Who cares.

    • Angela Sylvia / Feb 12 2015 9:54 am

      As both of those guys have said, one day the sun will explode and there will be only oblivion, so nothing anyone has ever done will matter. It can be either massively depressing or super freeing, depending on the mood you’re in when you think about it.

  2. sabrinafedel / Feb 12 2015 10:22 am

    Angela,
    Thanks for this post-I’m going to share this with my students because I think the idea of defining your success is really important for them to think about as part of their preparation to go out into the real world.

    • Angela Sylvia / Feb 12 2015 10:39 am

      Hi Sabrina! It’s hard to remember it’s ok to live life unknown… I hope that’s helpful for them.

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