On Legacy and Leaving

*This post began as an analysis of the idea of a legacy but organically developed into more of a spoken word/personal response. A lot of what I posted this year was impersonal and analytical. While those are my favourite pieces to write, I felt that my last blog deserved more of myself in it. I hope that it captures what AP has done for me, and what AP is as a class. Thank you to everyone for three years of continuous growth, in all aspects of my life. I hope that you enjoy this blog – welcome to the inner dialogue of my thoughts.

“The only thing you take with you when you’re gone is what you leave behind.” 

John Allston

As I write this, I reflect on my last year of AP and quite likely, my last year in an English class. As I write this, I think of those before me – those who’s intellect and presence still linger and intimidate. Those who left a lasting legacy for the next generations of AP. Those who left me to fill their shoes.

As I write this I wonder what my legacy will be. If I will have a legacy. Then I think about the idea of a legacy – how absurd it is that I should think that I have done enough to bequeath generations of students to follow me with “my gifts.” What have I left to this class, apart from this blog? How vain must I be to assume that I will be remembered for my dismal contributions to an ever developing and evolving environment.

For if this class is an evolution, should not the importance of one individual, now leaving, diminish with each year? Should not this class move on from that which is stagnant – the so-called unchanging legacy of one individual – to grow?

Then I decide that I will not have a legacy. For my journey, my development, is not completed – I am the product of four billion years of evolutionary success. And I still have room to grow.

Physically. Intellectually. Emotionally. Spiritually.

No. I will not have a legacy as I am still developing. Only legends, only myths, only those who’s contributions are proportional to their potential leave legacies.

But I am not ready to leave. Physically yes, but intellectually, emotionally, spiritually? No. Had I not been equipped with the tools to think, to feel – then yes, I believe I should have left a legacy. But in this class, was I not taught to question, to understand, to empathize? Is this not universally translatable? Has AP not just been a catalyst, instigating my growth and development, a conceptual tool that I have honed, have welded? A tool being put to the test, utilized only when I exit the confinements of the classroom.

I get to decide what legacy I leave.

And I am not ready to leave it yet.

“The beginning is the most important part of the work.” 


It seems as if I am being constantly reminded that I am leaving. “Have you applied for scholarships?” “Have you been accepted into your program?” “Do you feel ready?” They all ask. I have a prepared response: “Yes, yes, and yes. I am too comfortable here. It is time to leave.” But nobody asks what I am doing now, or how I got here. They only remember that I am leaving.

The idea of leaving – of possibility, of change – has been impressed upon me so much so that I begin to explode with unrestricted excitement at the thought of it. And nerves. But mostly excitement. So much so that I forget how I got to  this point. I forget the quiet, lanky ninth grader who felt the exact same way about entering high school. The ninth grader who was elevated, sculpted by the place that I prepare to leave.

Growth only manifests itself in such experiences and decisions that either reinforce or serve to illuminate our identities. Specifically, I believe, these experiences make us question our logic, our ethics, our passion. Experiences synonymous with the AP environment.

What I leave behind continues, just not with me. That, however, does not mean that I must continue without the teachings of AP, and the growth that resulted accordingly. I must continue to implement my learnings, the evolution of myself; this is the beginning, the foundation, of my independent life – of the legacy that I am still building.

On legacy and leaving. To have a legacy I must leave. But to have a legacy worth leaving, I must uphold the teachings and growth enabled by what I leave.

“You can’t leave a footprint that lasts if you’re always walking on tiptoe.” 

Marion Blakely


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