Devising My Personal Legacy

Alisa Burris
5 min readSep 22, 2022


Photo by Ithalu Dominguez on

The older that I become, the more reflective I am about where I fit into the world and the potential imprint I could feasibly leave behind. While I realize this intricate process involves confronting my own mortality, I also believe it’s more complicated than an acceptance of the inevitable. Indeed, such an effort seeks to define a meaningful contribution of some sort, realizing a purpose in the here and now, not just when my consciousness evolves into a form I cannot possibly anticipate.

Every facet of this ongoing contemplation leads to a singular conclusion and an ultimate goal: to devise my personal legacy.

I often think about the vocal, attention-seeking figures who monopolize the news on a constant basis, imagining the likely effect they’ll impress upon our future landscape. Because of their widespread fame and influence, spanning diverse societal areas, they’ll certainly create a much bolder, more extensive stamp on the universe than I ever will. And that’s perfectly fine with me. I prefer to exist on the outer folds, quietly observing, making sense of what I see in an attempt to discover the truth hidden among all of the frenzied chaos. From politicians, including those with ethical aspirations and the ones who always envision cruelty to cement their power, to celebrities, featuring authentic artists as well as the incessant grandstanders, to every kind of individual achieving the spotlight in between, so many contradictory, conflicting proclamations fill the airwaves without end. Each of them, though, whether admirable, atrocious, or accidental, is a fascinating study of formulating that fundamental impact.

I consider this broad range as a complicated array of puzzle pieces, traces of past and present lives at every depth that are now ingrained onto the surface of society for myriad reasons. The more obvious threads, such as corrupt inciters who use threats of violence to manipulate and spread toxicity, as well as those thrust into unwanted publicity, sometimes due to criminal acts imposed on their shortened lives, become situated on the spectrum across time as a complex fusion of cultural history.

For myself, I fall on the far less notorious side. I’m proudly among those who wish to accomplish certain objectives within their lifetimes, leaving positive effects that don’t revolve around seizing worldwide prominence and million-dollar fortunes. But I am committed to the work that I can offer, somehow improving the world in the process, even if it’s just by a modest amount.

With my debut novel Detached coming out soon, which I’m so grateful to have achieved, I want to continue exploring the lives of marginalized women. Because we live in a world that’s increasingly subjected to and suppressed by the entitled, misogynistic distortions of white, male, Christian, heterosexual millionaire politicians, it’s more crucial than ever to represent stories focused on the multifaceted dimensions of womanhood. I feel that every aspect of women’s lived experience, right down to the most nuanced detail, never excluding a single ethnic identity, should be featured and openly treasured. If such a targeted movement were to evolve, something I’d love to witness, I’d immediately concentrate on contributing my fictionalized representations of women who struggle to assert their agency in a hostile, often abusive society.

This collection of novels, including past works, my present publication, and the stories that I plan to weave together in the future, is part of my personal legacy.

To earn my doctorate, I intensively studied the biographies and fictional works of twentieth-century Jewish-American women writers, further shaping my passion for female authors of ethnic descent. I hope to continue this scholarship, expanding it to inspire awareness and to encourage the appreciation of female authors who aren’t fully embraced in American literature as their subject matter exists outside mainstream borders. Even more specifically, I wish to advocate for a dedicated genre of Jewish women authors in order to recognize the shared exploration of cultural estrangement that these exemplary writers examine so exquisitely. In this way, Jewish women’s stories can be better understood as well as appreciated while the respective authors might also attain well-deserved acknowledgment for their literary achievements. With such a development, these women writers would be distinguished from the mass of fiction that’s released each year, not engulfed and overlooked in favor of more conventional themes.

This scholarship, an expansion of my dissertation’s focus on contemporary Jewish-American women writers, is another key aspect of my personal legacy.

As a teacher, I always hope to make a positive impact on my students, both past and present, helping them to discover the capacity of their own written words and all the magic that literature supplies to our lives. It is the best feeling to see the delighted realization on my students’ faces when they understand how they can effectively express themselves, representing their needs and perspectives with powerful persuasiveness through descriptive writing. In this immensely wonderful moment, I can see them grasp the fact that they have an important voice, that they’re able to influence others with their writing, thereby shedding any helplessness to assert and announce themselves to the world.

The transmission of this most essential knowledge, empowering my students to comprehend that their written voices truly matter, that their thoughtful interpretations of literary works are valid, is yet another crucial dimension of my personal legacy.

Finally, I’d like to believe that the last significant portion of my imprint involves regarding those around me with empathy as well as humanity while always being open and eager to learn from others at the same time. Although I’ve been fortunate not to have faced certain hardships on my journey so far, I know the difficulties that life so often presents. This reality has become even clearer to me as I watch our country’s continued movement toward vicious extremist policies designed to strip people of their rights in order to secure uninterrupted political control for fascist leaders. Although I am very glad and quite relieved to see ethical legislators now rising up and fighting back with justifiable anger to hold the authoritarian wannabes to account, I also recognize the uncertainty ahead as we near the November midterm elections. My sense is that morality will eventually prevail, but we may endure a period of great cruelty before reaching this principled era. So in the interim and well beyond, I hope to make my corner of the universe a more accepting space, where compassion and sensitivty persist without fail in the face of possible struggles to come.

This effort to understand, to remain relentlessly concerned and, whenever necessary, to articulate my support for universal fairness, for the even application of the rule of law to maintain a democratic society, all play pivotal roles in my personal legacy.

Through reflecting on the footprint that I wish to leave behind, numerous elements materialize as significant possibilities. But I believe the points described above encapsulate the areas that stand out the most as profoundly important to me. Yet I’ll also build in plenty of room for other developments to emerge over time as life is definitely a work-in-progress. And, in the end, the central goal is to ensure that I’m always actively involved and continually aware of how I can best devise my personal legacy.

For more information about me as well as my work, please visit my website You can also connect with me on various social media platforms. Thank you for reading!