It was either the entire school or a very large group of students that gathered in the assembly hall. We were all there to choose the members for the school magazine's new committee. I wanted to be a part of it as I knew - or thought - that I could help as I had an interest in working for a magazine. No doubt this was only a school magazine but I loved writing and hoped that my name would be part of the magazine's masthead.
Yes, I was shy, but my classmates and some of my other schoolmates were aware of my interest in writing. I suppose it helped that I created my own magazines when I was fourteen and shared each new issue with a few friends. I had also worked on a class magazine - a project which a group of us undertook - when I was thirteen so maybe they thought that I could do it this time as well.
Someone I knew nominated me, I forget who it was, probably one of my classmates. I forget what my title was but it was to be a part of the editorial committee. It was between me and another schoolfriend that I liked and had known since primary school. The way I saw it, she was pretty and smarter. I actually thought that she would get it but I kept hoping that I would. Another friend who was up for another position told me that if she could, she would vote for me. It felt good to know that. Those of us who had been nominated had to leave the assembly whilst the rest of the school voted.
I got the position that I wanted. It was close. I think that I had won by one vote. And I was thrilled. Really thrilled. It had actually happened to me.
But what a let-down I was to the other committee members later on. I'm not sure what was going on in my life nor in my head at the time. I wasn't very forthcoming with new ideas nor seemed very eager to help. They must have seen me as not being very cooperative or perhaps even having an attitude.
I didn't mean to. I was shy. I wanted to participate in the "outside" world but I was coiled up inside.
Years later, it sounds, even to me, like an excuse, something that I should have, and could have, overcome. Just dig in and work with the other girls to produce a school magazine. What was so difficult about that?
But it wasn't an excuse. I was terribly shy and unsure of myself . It wasn't a class project but a school project, working alongside schoolmates from other classes as well, not just familiar faces. It wasn't as if I had to be the intrepid reporter, going out there to get my stories. All I had to do was do the job I had been voted in to do. I appreciated the opportunity that had been given to me but I couldn't, for some reason, do what I was assigned to do.
There was a meeting one afternoon with three or four other members that I remember especially. Things hadn't gone well so, of course, I remembered it all these years. During the meeting, I hardly spoke up and when the editor - who seemed understanding and patient with me - asked me for my input, I didn't say very much. I also told them that I had to leave early to be tutored. It was a genuine excuse and I think I was even glad for it, really. One of them, a bright student who was once my classmate - so she and I still sort of knew each other - sighed and didn't bother to hide her irritation. She looked fed-up. I was aware of her reaction but there wasn't anything that I could have done. I think I'd also felt a little intimidated and wasn't sure what to contribute. The editor, too, was aware of her friend's reaction. I didn't know what to do. I had to leave early and I didn't know what else to say. And I also wanted to get out of that room. There was a negativity in the air and I had put it there.
It was a golden opportunity for someone like me. But I didn't see it through. It concerned writing and putting together a magazine. Two activities that I enjoyed. It would also have been an invaluable experience. What happened? Why couldn't I just do it?
It's easy to look back and wish that things had been different. It's easy to say that I should have attended all the meetings, voiced my opinions and offered suggestions. Others did it all the time. Why couldn't I?
I don't recall what happened later, whether I left the committee altogether or maybe they decided to let me go. Or did I remain as a mostly silent member? There is a vague memory of suggesting an article or two which were taken from other magazines. After the initial eagerness and excitement, I must have been a disappointment to them.
And even though that experience took place years ago when I was fifteen, I still encounter similar feelings in different situations. It's a scary thought but it's true. It's something that I haven't completely outgrown or gotten over.
If I could go back in time, being who I was, would I have done things differently? I would like to think, yes. But no, I wouldn't, because I would still be me, that shy, uncertain, young girl who was afraid to open her mouth and make herself heard, who was afraid of competition, who was afraid to even sometimes try.
Whatever happened to that school magazine? I don't remember. If I had a copy of it, surely I would have kept it. And I remembered those unfortunate moments more than the production of the magazine itself.
It was a difficult time, to be sure. I had a difficult time. I'm sorry it happened but it all happened. It is not something that I am proud of, just something I can acknowledge years later that yes, it happened. It's not so much that I wanted to shine. Or maybe I did. And I didn't make use of that wonderful opportunity, which it was, to me. Things did happen to me every so often. Opportunities did sometimes come my way. But there were also times when I would ruin it for myself, disappointing, and possibly infuriating, a few people along the way.
What a shame. If nothing else, at least I could be proud of my own monthly magazines. It was a hobby that I took great pride in, however amateurish it was. I accomplished something on my own. Maybe those were the key words: on my own. And they reveal something about me, then and now.
But I could have accomplished even more, or at least, a little bit more. And even in the present day, every "little bit more" helps to move me forward.