Growing up, it seemed like everybody in my hometown knew me. Everywhere I went, people seemed to know who I was. I didn’t know most of them, but they knew me. My mom taught preschool for 20 years and was the kind of person who made friends easily. Because of all of the families she met through years of teaching, and because of the friends she made, people knew who I was. I don’t know of anyone who ever met my mom and didn’t like her.
As I got a little bit older, people knew me because of my brothers. My brothers played sports in high school, and I was at nearly all of their games, so their friends/teammates and the families knew me. Whether they knew my name or not, most people just called me “Little Mapes”.
When I was in high school, I think most people knew who I was, but I was never exactly one of the “cool kids”. I don’t know of anyone who genuinely disliked me, but I was never invited to parties or things like that. I had a small group of friends, but didn’t have much of a social life, and I was fine with that. I didn’t mind blending in and just being one of the many students in my school.
In my early adult life, I became friends with my favorite band and eventually ended up traveling with them for several years. Whether I was in my hometown or in a town that we visited regularly, people who followed the band knew who I was. I knew my place with the band and was happy with it. I loved being able to live my dream life, and to be surrounded by music and crowds several nights a week, but I was not the person that people were coming to the shows to see. I tried to contribute, in some small way, to the overall experience of the shows whenever I interacted with fans. Hopefully I was successful in doing that.
When I left my hometown and moved across the country to start a new chapter in my life, it was the first time ever that I had the opportunity to create an image for myself. Nobody here knew me. Nobody had any expectations for me. Nobody associated me with anyone or anything else. My life became about me and who I really am. When that reality sank in, I had to ask myself, “Who am I?” I was a little disappointed when I realized that I really didn’t know the answer to that question. Then, I realized that, for the first time in my life, I could be anybody I wanted to be. I could do things my way. Nobody here was watching every move I made. Nobody here was judging every decision.
Over the past (nearly) two and a half years, I have started to figure out who I am and what I want my life to be. I am learning how I want people to remember me. Although I am still just getting started in establishing my new life, people here are starting to remember me when they see me. Some people have told me that they remember my smile, kindness, and politeness. Overall, they tell me that they just remember my positive attitude and my “positive vibes”.
I am who I am. I do what I do, because it’s who I am. I’m not trying to impress anybody, ever. I don’t go out of my way to draw attention to myself. When somebody comes up to me and tells me they remember seeing me and that I have made them smile, that is the best compliment I could ever receive. Just knowing that, by just being myself, I am able to bring happiness to others, tells me that my life is heading in the right direction. I’m human, I make mistakes. I make a lot of mistakes. But, I just hope the good I am able to do in my life far exceeds the mistakes I make.
When you are able to finally do whatever it is that you want to do with your life, the possibilities are endless. It’s a pretty incredible feeling to know that you are starting over, and what matters most is what happens from this point forward. I am proud of the fact that the things I get to do in my life now are the results of living life my way. Nobody does everything completely by themselves. We all rely on others to help us out along the way. But the people who end up playing a role in your life are people that you have met while living life your own way and doing what it is that you want to do with your life. The people who are most important in your life are the people you choose to have in your life. The opportunities that I have had professionally are mostly the result of being in the right place at the right time and meeting the right people. The only thing I can take credit for myself is that I was able to make some kind of a positive impression on those people, which led to those opportunities.
One of the greatest lessons I have learned over these past couple of years is that, if you make yourself visible, then people will notice you. If you go to the same places and do the same things often, others who are also there often will notice you. They will pay attention to you. They will remember you. People I don’t know have come up to me and introduced themselves and told me that my positivity inspires them. My true joy and love of life is something they have noticed from a distance. Like I said, I don’t go out of my way to draw attention to myself, but I now know that people notice me and remember me.
As you go through life, ask yourself, “How do I want people to remember me?” Are you living your life in a way that would make people remember you in that way? If not, it’s never too late to make the changes necessary to be remembered the way you want to be remembered. Just be genuine and honest, and people will notice. You can be anybody you want to be. Start being that person today, if you haven’t already started.
Personally, I want people to remember me as somebody who makes them smile. Somebody who is positive and optimistic in every way. Somebody who makes a difference in the lives of others. Somebody who is happy and makes the people around me happy. Somebody who enjoys all of the best things that life has to offer. Somebody who appreciates every opportunity I have. Somebody who is truly grateful and never takes anything for granted. Somebody whose presence makes any situation better than if I weren’t there. Somebody who makes others feel better about themselves and help build them up. This may seem like a lot, but it’s really not. It all comes down to one thing: love. Love yourself, love one another, and love life. It’s that simple. Everything else will take care of itself.
How do you want people to remember you?