Speaking and writing about being raped is not easy. I've become especially skilled at hiding my flashbacks, smiling through difficult questions from the audience, and adding brevity to the subject so that it is more approachable. It is tough, but it is my passion. I can't wait to see a world without victim blaming or survivors struggling in silence.
While reading some short stories in Spanish, I came across a peculiar idea that is very new to me. The concept is to strive to be forgotten instead of wishing to be exalted and remembered after death like most people do. Stay with me on this one. I'll explain.
Why would one want to be forgotten? We live in a society where people spend their entire lives trying to "make a name for themselves" and the idea of success is that one's legacy will be recognized and cherished after death. In some ways, the goal is to have eternal life through one's influence in the world. To be remembered.
I had never questioned this before. Of course I want to be remembered. If I'm not remembered, then what's the point of having lived? I work tirelessly to educate others about sexual assault and rape culture, but will I make a change? Perhaps we're thinking about it all wrong.
Instead of striving to be the only one to make a certain change, try striving to shake the world in such a grand way that everyone changes with you. Sure, your name may not be on a huge public memorial for all eternity, but the impact on the world and its people will be far bigger than one could ever imagine.
Paulo Coelho, the incredible author who wrote about this idea in a short story, explains it quite clearly:
“I hope we can achieve the same thing in the present: to make goodness such a common thing, that there is no need to exalt those who practice it.”
-Paulo Coehlo, "Que Sejamos Esquecidos"
So, when I'm flattered by someone telling me something along the lines of "you will be remembered," I try to think about if I could do more in order to be forgotten. Eternal fame changes nothing, while eternal change is everything. If I could make justice and awareness about sexual assault an everyday occurrence, then my name will have no need to be remembered. This inspires me. It separates me from my own worries, propelling me to be the change.
Dear reader: may you be forgotten. May you create such an amazing change in this life that the world changes with you. May you never be remembered because your goodness and great ideas become utterly plain in a time where all attend to them without thought.
Shake the world so much that it forgets who shook it in the first place.
And may you be forgotten.