Legacy, It Beckons


“But the word ‘legacy’ reminds me that my actions, my behavior, my voice will help shape the world in which the next generation of girls will live.” 

By Stephanie Motz Skinner | Twitter: @stephmotz

Conversations at our dining table, like my scrambled eggs, are rarely light and fluffy. It seems so appropriate to me that at the place where we nourish our bodies, we also nourish our hearts and minds. As we feast and do community together, we also learn from each other.

Last month Nik and Adri came over for breakfast, and over potato frittata, fresh homemade cranberry pie, Colombian coffee and ketepa tea, we talked about everything. As we followed the streams of our thoughts, we eventually arrived at a conversation on legacy. At this point I wanted to turn back. “Maybe we could talk a little bit longer about marketing,” I thought.

Legacy is such a loaded word and it terrifies me. Sometimes I wish I could cover it with my shoe and slide it under the carpet, along with the other heavy ideas I prefer not to have weighing me down in life. And yet, thinking about the kind of legacy I would like to leave is not difficult. Living in a way that leads me there is the hard part. Sometimes my potential can be strangled by a knot of insecurity. I often wonder how my ordinary and unremarkable life could leave any lasting memory. Certainly, when I think of history’s great women, I feel my own contributions are trivial. If I submit to the self-doubt that gives voice to my fear, it’s easy to believe that I won’t leave any legacy at all.

But it seems to me that without the notion of legacy, our actions–both good and evil–would actually be insignificant. The reality is that we all leave some kind of legacy–traces of our existence and behavior that speak about the kind of people we are; evidence that will remain long after we are gone. Our actions do matter, and that’s why I need to think about legacy.

My heritage, my opportunities, who I am, the places I inhabit–these are all the legacy of people who have come before me. I benefit from their successes and I face difficult challenges because of their failures. I’m beginning to understand that legacy is deeply connected to who we are and what we do; it’s what we will hand down to the next generation. Often times we want our legacy to be lasting and tangible, so we build things, we create art and we write our ideas in books.

Legacy can also be subtle, almost imperceptible. If we look, we can find it in the attitudes we have towards life’s big issues.

Legacy is why societies are able to change when brave people stand up against injustice. It’s why I can vote. It’s why I’m able to go to school and pursue my dreams. Legacy is why I’m free to practice my faith. I can take all these things for granted, but many people had to sacrifice and suffer so that I could inherit these rights.

Every freedom we enjoy, every injustice we confront, is related to the legacy of those who came before us. We either build on their foundations or tear down what they accomplished. I realize that as a global community, we have a long way to go to achieve equality and justice for girls around the world. But the word “legacy” reminds me that my actions, my behavior, my voice will help shape the world in which the next generation of girls will live. When we turn our keys over to them, what doors will they be able to open?


My dear SheLoves friends, I’d love to hear:

  • What comes to mind when you think of legacy?
  • What legacy do you want to leave behind?

About Stephanie:

I believe in the power of storytelling. I’m a photographer and writer for Fakeleft. Together with my husband, we love sharing stories of courage, of strength in the face of adversity, of triumph and hope. I truly believe that by partnering with others who want to bring change and justice to our world, we can actually make a difference. I’m learning to walk in my nascent faith, but it’s not always easy. It’s an interesting journey.

I am currently living in Montreal, Canada, but my heart is everywhere. I’m a proud Latina from Choluteca, Honduras. I wish I had a Latino accent. My favourite meal is dessert and my favourite sport is tanning. I blog at fakeleft.com and tweet at @stephmotz.

Image credit: … I’ll catch it, by Nonofara