You should bring something into the world that wasn’t in the world before. It doesn’t matter what that is. It doesn’t matter if it’s a table or a film or gardening – everyone should create. You should do something, then sit back and say, “I did that.”
As I get older, I think a lot more about what my legacy will be. Will I have left the world a better place in some quantifiable way? What impact will I have had on those around me? On some level, these concerns become even more profound in the context of parenting. Is my daughter my legacy? What part of me will live on through her?
While comedian Ricky Gervais may not be everyone’s cup of tea — his sense of humor can be awfully cringe-worthy by design — he has made a lot. He made The Office, which got spun off into a hugely successful American TV series with Steve Carell. He’s worked on numerous television shows and movies, earning himself three Golden Globes, two Emmy Awards, seven BAFTA Awards, and five British Comedy Awards.
He’s a decorated fellow. He can look back with pride.
The best advice I’ve ever received is “Don’t worry. No one else knows what they’re doing either.”
Many of us look up to successful celebrities like Ricky Gervais as sources of inspiration. We think that they’ve got it all figured out, just as many of us thought our parents knew what they were doing. We have Facebook friends who we think have their act together. It turns out that adulting is really hard and all those responsibilities really do sneak up on you. Everyone is simply faking it until they’re making it.
I can’t recall exactly who said it first. It may have been Ricky Gervais or it might have been someone else. The moment you realize that no one else knows what they’re doing either can be terrifying or liberating. It’s a scary thought that people with real responsibilities might be winging it. This also means that you might not ever “figure it out,” try as you might.
At the same time, you can come to realize you are not alone in your struggles and confusion. We’re all trying to figure it out as we go. But at least we can go together.