In Offscreen #18 Jessica Jackley reflects upon creating something great and what happens next:
I remember catching up with a friend and asking her with tears in my eyes, “What if I never get to do something as great as Kiva?” And her sobering answer was, “Well, let’s assume you won’t. It was great and now it’s done. OK. So now what do you want to do?” Her bluntness gave me the jolt I needed and forced me to dream bigger than work, to think about all the other things I wanted to do in my life.
Yes, that. I can relate to that.
When I talk with my friends these days and I say I’m not doing anything important, Web-wise, they often mention Paris Web, as the thing that is important: come on, look how successful it was and what impact it had on the French front-end community, and so on and so forth.
First, I’m not really sure it had a big impact. Love is blind, and I’d go so far as to say that it’s the same kind of near-sightedness that happens in our professional life, often. Some may think of themselves as representative of the sphere, but the community as a whole is a very large thing, and we impacted, at best, a few hundred people. And by “impacted”, I mean it had the same sort of effect as going to a concert: you feel good when you come out of it, and then you go down to work the next Monday and nothing’s really changed.
Even if it had the slightest influence on anybody, it’s old news in my timeline. Last time I contributed to it was 2013. Since then I’ve had to deal with personal stuff, like moving a few times, reorganising my life, taking care of my kids and my mental and physical health.
This is exactly the point of the above quote: you may not be doing great things for your career or your professional environment (affectionately called “community” in our er– community) or society as a whole, yet you can still have goals that are less public or feel less important but are prominent on a private level. Raising kids, for instance, is what takes a fair share of my time at the moment. And it’s very rewarding, in a hard-to-describe kind of way.
So I’ve decided to go with the flow, still a bit frustrated to reminisce of the time when more people knew who I was (a few hundred, perhaps), and being more and more certain that contributing to public things and “being known” is not mandatory to fill one’s life. What’s important is doing your best with what you have in any area relevant to you.