Keep Your Candle Burning Bright
I recently had an experience that left me shaken and full of self doubt. I serve on the library board of my small town library. We are a nonprofit library with no financial support from the city, which means we rely solely on donations. I decided to use some of my connections with a local venue and host a Mom & Me Tea as a fundraiser.
In my naivety I decided to include another small town library in my efforts. This library, however is a city library which means they receive funds from the city. I didn't realize that this meant they would be opposed to fundraising.
When I approached this other library with my idea I was given an ear full. I was called names. I was accused of having ulterior motives. I was essentially humiliated by a complete stranger.
This came as a complete shock to me. It never occurred to me that I had overstepped a boundary.
I quickly apologized and made the correct adjustments to the program. Yet even with the situation corrected and my library still on board for the fundraiser, I felt defeated. I began questioning my motives.
Why was I doing this? No one asked me to, in fact I seemed to be having trouble getting people excited about the event. Was I doing something wrong?
I spoke to my planning partner and we discussed cancelling, but that didn't feel right either. I was at a loss and unsure how to proceed. Then I saw a video on Facebook.
As a writer this video spoke directly to me. I have seen friends and colleagues land the agent I had my eye on, or the publisher that had rejected me. I had to smile and offer congratulations that I didn't truly feel. But over time I did feel it. I became proud of my friends' accomplishments. I began bragging about them to anyone who would listen. I shared their books on Facebook, gave 5 star reviews on Amazon, suggested them for school visits, and booked them for author visits at my library. Their joy became my joy.
So what does this have to do with me getting yelled at by a neighboring librarian? At the end of the video Chelsea says "I never blow out someone's candle to make mine brighter." I love that!
Now I'm not presuming the librarian who yelled at me was jealous, we're strangers remember, but she did blow out my candle. It is up to me to not let her. I am responsible for me. Not only will I not blow out another's candle, but I will not let anyone blow out mine. I almost did, and it felt unnatural.
I know my intention was good. I know why I am doing this fundraiser; to bring attention to the library, not to myself. I want the library to succeed. I want it to be the hub of the town with activities, book clubs, and up to date resources. That can only happen if the community gets involved. That is my why.
As Chelsea says in the video, there is room for everyone. Let your candle shine in whatever capacity you choose and don't let setbacks blow your candle out.