I love driving through East Tennessee this time of year. In large overgrown fields full of deadwood, the Hawthorn trees unabashedly sprout their blooms. The wild weather of East Tennessee can be 70 one day and snow the next—as evidenced at the time of this writing. Unsure whether there will be another frost, unsure whether spring has sprung, the Hawthorn’s bloom is the first signal of the hope of spring to come, but the bloom has also come to serve as a reminder for me to be true to myself.
The Hawthorn cannot be the Redbud or the Magnolia, it is inherently, genetically, and uniquely the Hawthorn. In the naked wood, the Hawthorn adorns its splendor, which is a beautiful reminder of one of my favorite quotes, “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”—Oscar Wilde.
It’s easier to not be first. It’s easier not to be different. It’s easier not to zig when everyone else zags, but honestly, we must.
That still, small voice that drives us to act and be ourselves is groaning of humanity calling us to be unique, to be who we were created to be, yet seemingly louder fear whispers “no” in so many ways:
- The tremble in our voice when we stand up for justice.
- That lump in our throat when we reach out to the weak and poor.
- The stream of reasons not to when our gut says “you must.”
I spent the first decades of my life trying to be like others. I’ve told myself that if I act too early, then I’ll be alone, exposed, and vulnerable. I not only hushed the still, small voice, I rationalized my actions, but at some point in my twenties, I refused to have another George Costanza Comeback moment and to speak my mind in the moment. Time and practice gave me the boldness to hear that voice and act swiftly.
When you put yourself out there, people follow. Being you actually helps others to be themselves and follow their still, small, nagging voice. The courage of being yourself will certainly invite scorn, but it also sets into motion change that ripples through the universe attracting other followers.
Be the Hawthorn and lead the symphony of spring.