I didn’t go to the fireworks last night, but they were some of the best fireworks I’ve seen yet.
In my suburb of Columbus, Ohio, we take 4th of July quite seriously. I mean Norman Rockwell kind of seriously. A giant parade, day-long parties in every other front yard, and a good ol’ fashioned fireworks show — the kind where they still fire off just one or two at a time, with plenty of time to oooh and ahhh in between.
We live two blocks from the park where they put on the show. For the past 10+ years we’ve carried our blankets and munchies to the park, picked out a spot, and joined the crowd. But last night, we decided to stay home, partly because our old dog gets completely freaked out by fireworks, and partly because we were all too pooped to drag our butts to the park.
We’ve always suspected we could see the fireworks from our house, and last night we confirmed our suspicions. In fact, if you stand right next to my front door you can see about 90% of the explosions just above the trees across the street.
And while that perfect, small town firework display was underway, I noticed a smaller, yet equally impressive show happening just a few feet away from where I was standing:
A lone lighting bug was flashing his little light.
I’m sure there were others out there, but I looked around and couldn’t see any. And here was this little guy, flashing away as if he was the only light show in town. He was probably flashing before the fireworks began and he was still flashing when the grand finale ended.
He didn’t care that there were bigger, brighter, noisier lights getting more attention. He just kept doing HIS thing, working toward HIS goal. He wasn’t trying to impress the masses, he was just hoping to grab the attention of one other lightning bug that he could connect with and make some magic happen.
He didn’t get caught up in the ooohs and ahhhs of the crowd. He didn’t need to make a gigantic flash to get the attention he needed. He never tried to be anybody but himself, doing his thing, his way, at his pace.
I don’t know about you, but I have often been guilty of seeking the ooohs and ahhhs of the crowd. I’ve also made the mistake of trying to draw as much attention to myself to get what I want as quickly as possible. As a writer and a business owner, it sure is easy to fall into that trap. It’s also easy to fall into that trap as an employee, a student, a parent, and every other role I’ve ever held in my life.
The problem is that in order to get that kind of attention, we often attempt to become a different person. We adopt someone else’s techniques or style or personality in order to generate a flashier appearance or a more attractive display.
When we see what someone else has achieved, we often do what they do in hopes of getting what they have. And then we lose ourselves in the process. We abandon what makes us unique and special and we become a cheap imitation of someone else.
There’s nothing wrong with adopting best practices or learning how to better relate to your audience/boss/friends/etc. Unfortunately, it’s really easy to cross the line into inauthentic mimicry.
I know this already (you do, too), but it’s one of those things that I need a periodic reminder of:
Just do YOUR thing and you’ll shine just fine.
Needless to say, I’m glad I didn’t walk down to the park to watch the fireworks last night. I got a much better show — and a much needed lesson — from my little, authentic, lightning bug buddy.