“The value of one’s contribution cannot be defined by one’s age.”
- Kimberley Baker Guillemet
Over the past few months, I’ve had the occasion to attend several funerals and memorial services for family members and friends, most of whom were elders, but some of whom were peers. This has given me reason to ponder the fleeting, transitory and, ultimately, brief nature of our lives on this planet. I believe that when we become aware that someone's natural life has drawn to a close, we should take a moment to ponder what we can learn from the way that person lived and how we can strive to make our own lives more impactful and meaningful.
One thing that always comes to mind when I am thinking about this topic is the importance of remembering that we need to make every day count. For young people, it’s easy to fall into the trap of believing that there are countless years ahead and in response to that belief, choose to spend time in idleness. But in truth, we just do not know how long we have to make a difference. And frankly, even if we were guaranteed a long life (by human standards), it does not mean that we should choose to waste a second of it.
For those of us who come from underrepresented groups or from legacies where people like us historically didn’t have the privilege of access to freely pursue their dreams and goals, we should have a heightened aversion to squandering time. We know full well that there was a time in the not-too-distant past where the opportunities before us today were not available to people from our background. We also know that people suffered and died so that we could achieve what we now have the opportunity to strive for. With that understanding, why would we willfully waste time?
Every day is a gift and every day is an opportunity for not only internal growth, but for renewing our commitment to make the world better. I can only imagine the type of change we would see if a generation wholly and collectively committed to leaving this world better than they found it in every facet of their lives.
You are never too young to leave a legacy of hope and inspiration, nor are you ever too young to change the world. Never let your age be used to set false parameters on your reach and on your impact. Tomorrow is not promised to any of us. Let’s get to it.