You're Not In Anyone's Shadow

But you sure throw your own - regardless of where you stand

Imagine being the child of your favorite actor. Or musician. Or athlete. Haven’t we all dreamed about it? What would it be like if my family was famous?

I think it would be fun - for about the first 15 years of your life. Then, you’d realize that, no matter what you do, you’ll always be “Martin Sheen’s son” or “Madonna’s daughter,” and that history was actually rigged against remembering your name.

I can only imagine how depressing that must feel to some. Others might embrace it and lead quiet lives. And then, there’s Jaden. Talking about his son turning 21, Will Smith says:

“He's one of the only individuals I've ever met that absolutely, thoroughly, and completely, authentically does not give a damn what somebody thinks about him.”

Jaden Smith grew up in a very public family. All of the Smiths have their own entrepreneurial or entertainment ventures, led by his powerhouse dad, who’s one of the world’s biggest actors, a music icon, and, let’s face it, a global brand himself.

Naturally, Jaden was drawn in early on, acting alongside his dad in The Pursuit of Happyness and After Earth, as well as The Karate Kid. I’m not sure when, but I guess that, some time after one of those movies flopped, Jaden realized:

I will never get out of my dad’s shadow if all I do is try to be like him.

And so he stopped trying, instead just using his immense freedom and privilege to create his own things he cares about.

Like Just Water, a company creating paper-made water bottles that don’t end up in the ocean, like the ones he spotted while learning to surf. Or taking three years to make a music album in his own style. Or becoming the lead for Louis Vuitton’s new women’s line and celebrating it by cutting off his dreadlocks and carrying them around.

Of course, Jaden’s haters just see a rich kid acting out and hold all of that against him. But I know Will is a smart and honest man. So I believe him when he says:

“I’m lookin in his eyes and I’m like: You’re not pretending, you really don’t care what I think!”

You’re not in anyone’s shadow, but you sure cast your own.

The sun shines equally on all of us. So, whether we like it or not, a trace will fall behind us. What that trace looks like and what the world will think of it is up to us. Not our families or friends and not our idols or enemies.

In the end, it’s our actions that count. So we might as well stay true to who we are.

Maybe, we’ll even inspire those who inspire us. Like Jaden, as his father admits:

“I’m learning as much from my kids about being authentic as I’ve ever learned from anybody.”


About No Sense Friday: Most people live for Friday. Relaxing on the weekend is fine, but we can’t just waste it away every time. That’s why Friday is the most important day to call out things that make no sense. Because in a way, the concept of ‘Friday’ itself makes no sense.

A good life is lived every day, not just once a week.

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