Why did I say Yes?

Write about a person, event, or experience that helped you define one of your values or in some way changed how you approach the world.

“Why did I say yes?” I question past decisions as I frantically pace the empty corridors of the Hershey Lodge. That Saturday night, the Great American Hall vibrated with the sound of popular music and hundreds of happy teenagers. I should have been having fun at the dance with the rest of my friends. But I couldn’t. The rocks in my stomach would sink the party boat.

Flashbacks of the months of work leading up to this moment rushed me as I ruminated. Why did they choose me?“Why did I say yes?”As I heard the music stop and the thunderous clapping of a crowd, I knew time was against me. I sped to my delegation’s nightly round table, where we discuss the events of the day. How, in the Security Council, one delegate from Ukraine had forfeited Crimea to Russia or how, in General Assembly, the DPRK had managed to enhance the illegal arms trade through a series of passed resolutions. But tonight was different. I could not dislodge my discomfort. I stood outside the room, honestly because no one had arrived and I did not want to broadcast my anxiety. One by one, students from my school parted from the crowd of dance-goers and filed into the room. A boulder fell into my stomach as I realized that for the next year, their experience at this conference was in my hands.

Leadership and I had an odd relationship. I would eagerly rise to the responsibility for activities close to my heart. But, as the daunting challenge would rear its Medusan head, it would petrify me with fear. Flashbacking to the previous month, when I was asked to lead my school’s Model United Nations Club, I paused. I knew that I loved the club and if anything, I had my passion to offer it, so I boldly accepted this opportunity. But with its commencement so distant I enjoyed the high without consideration of the low.

Now that moment was here. Everyone sat in this single room with a podium in the front. As my predecessor built momentum to the climax, my peers edged with suspense. He let the words slip loosely from his lips…“…and our next president is Adekunle Balogun.”I went numb. Immediately the room erupted in a roar. Tables were flipped. Chairs were toppled. The rocks floated up from the depths of my gut as my delegation shook me, shoved me and congratulated me in a way that only an all boy’s private school could. As I staggered to the podium, now grinning ear to ear, the emotion flowed effortlessly through my face. I don’t even remember what I said. And it doesn’t matter, because bona fide passion is what drives leaders to serve those around them.That’s not to say those rocks disappeared. When the work got difficult and my goals seemed distant, they would resettle in my stomach, but this time I had an answer for them.

Why did I say yes? Because I give my heart to what I love.

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