The Cost of Leadership

It’s 2AM at the community desk. Instead of focusing on the homework and projects that have upcoming deadlines, I’m switching in between different tasks on my to-do list for my organization. This is an everyday thing. This is an everyday battle within myself: decide to let go for 24 hours or focus on the organization’s needs.

Before stepping into this position, I made a promise to myself: never lose sight of yourself. Don’t become the organization. But overtime, that promise just became words once scribbled on a piece of paper under the loads of other things to look at. I’m a worrier, a low-key perfectionist, a problem- solver. Even with other people on the team, I still worry that I might have forgotten something to tell them or that I am going to forget a deadline. I start to feel guilty for not giving my all in the organization that was influential to my personal and professional growth.

On the rare occasion that I was scrolling through social media, I saw a post reposted by my high school band director, it said: “Leadership is often a lonely feeling….if they’ve never walked your path or carried your burdens, they will not understand your mentality. Never explain yourself, just do what you feel is right!” Never once have blamed others for the things that have fallen in my inbox in the wee hours in the morning, but what happens when you’re trying to balance it all and feels like you’re barely keeping afloat? What happens when you try to step away but you see the negative effects of your stepping back? What happens when you have barely had a two minute conversation you worked so seamlessly with? The island of leadership is something that some may never understand or may never want to. I often have to make decisions for other people in a split second. One tries to make sure that people still have a life outside the organization and I am not giving them a million things to do. I rather put myself in the no-sleep category than put them there. But, sometimes I think it is easier to just say ‘forget it all’. I’ve been close to walking away from everything that become apart of my identity. However, I often have to stop and think why I even chose to be in this position. Sometimes the lines are blurred, I feel like no one is listening or all the cards are stacked against me. But those are the moments where I realize that this is what people mean by “trust the process”.

Everything is not going to go the way you think about it. But I also realize that everything is a two- way street. I tell my team I trust them, but my own fear of failing them and not accomplishing our goals puts me into a frenzy. I try to bear the burden of the issues coming from higher up. I rather be seen as the “bad cop” than have them bogged down with the minute issues that come across my laptop. But lately, I’ve realized that it just puts me into isolation. Honestly, leadership has taught me that you have to give a little to get a little, but that constant support is needed. There are processes that may become implemented so that when people are not readily available, there are resources in place to cut down on confusion and chaos/

I’ve learned that it is okay to be selfish. You are human and you have moments where you need to check out for your own sanity. It is okay to want to not want to do a task because you know that someone else can do it. Sometimes there are battles we may be fighting so that you do not have to deal with them. We want to flourish, but we do not want to bog others down with things that may dim that light. However, there are times when we need to hear the positive more than negative and we need the strong work ethic more than the complaints.

Even as a worrier, problem- solver and low- key perfectionist, people showing up and helping out makes me breathe a whole more. And when people do that, the appreciation, respect and love intensifies. Everything is a process. The journey is not always easy. But things that are worth it are not easy.

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