The First Yes

She said yes. Well, technically, I had asked-slashed-offered to help lead the next time this event was put on and she said, “I think you could be very good at that.” To my 15 year old self, it was a yes of magnitude.

When I think back to me at this time I want to change my wardrobe, take myself for a decent haircut (long is fine, but some shape was needed), and pull my shoulders back and up. All of that would come, but only once I stopped being convinced, completely, that most of what I thought wasn’t worth being heard, much less followed.

This yes, while not the only one that helped feed my confidence, stands out. It was one of the first to come from someone I knew wasn’t humoring the little girl they’d watch grow up. It was a first yes.

Now, 15 years and many yes’s and no’s later, my phone will ring and the person on the other end will ask for help. I will hear in their voice a familiar uncertainty.

Some of the time it is easy to say “yes.” Some of the time, reluctantly, I find that “no” is the only right answer.

Occasionally, I want to say “yes” but cannot, simply can’t, manage all that yes means. So I offer what I can. I tell whoever has called that, “I can’t do everything, but I can do X.” Every time I do this I hang up wondering if I have just said no, without using the word. And sometimes I never hear from them again.

But some of the time, I hear from them again. I hear stories about how other people also found ways to say yes—in little or big ways.

Those are the times when I remind myself that doing everything isn’t my job, sometimes my job lets me be the first yes.

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