How to be Forgotten

Would you ever actively seek to not be remembered? Probably not, right? That job interview, the cute girl you met in class, or the friend you just made, if you’re honest with yourself, you want them to remember you.

There are exceptions of course. If you do something shameful or embarrassing you wouldn’t want that to be remembered. But barring negative experiences, we generally like to be remembered for what we do. We get satisfaction, joy, happiness out of it. So why on earth would we ever not want that? In short, for something more.

I want to be forgotten when I die. Why? Because it means I stood for something more important than myself, thus people do not much care who I was but what drove me, what idea filled me with passion, what belief changed the world.

For less grandiosity, an example. If Jane Doe fights for an end to human trafficking her entire life, what is more important: her or her mission? What can last longer than a lifetime? In this way ideas have power individuals cannot. If Jane really cares about her cause, then wouldn’t she want the idea to live on in others past her death? If people remember her first then the idea, it is diluted. It is owned by her and not seen as something anyone can make their own. However, if the idea is remembered first and Jane is merely a person who shepherded it for awhile, then people are more inclined to believe in it. This is simply human nature.

Therefore if Jane truly cares about the mission to end human trafficking she will put her mission before herself and indeed above herself. She will learn to be forgotten. Only then can her idea, her belief live on. This is a humbling realization, one that many fail to live up to. But it is the best way of ensuring change we believe in comes to fruition.

We don’t inspire others to follow us, we inspire others to follow our ideas.

When we realize we are not the most important thing in our own lives, that thought frees us. It frees us to live for a cause greater than ourselves. It frees us to dream big and inspire others to do the same. It frees us to be forgotten.