Yesterday as I was going through a box of old papers, I found the journal entry I put in here titled "typical day of senior year." While everything I wrote about in that entry might sound tough and painful, I am so incredibly thankful for everything I've ever gone through. Today I've been been thinking about how thankful I am for everything I went through during those crazy yearbook years!!
I remember coming in as the very shy and quiet, but yet very determined, little sophomore I was. I was the only person who had never been on staff before, but I was in the intro class the year before. The people in the intro class are allowed to go to the spring conventions and take part in the "Journalist in Action" competitions. Since I had won the photography competition against the people already on staff, I was given the roles of photographer and assistant photo-editor right away.
Stepping out into the big gymnasium with the words, "Don't be afraid to get in people's faces" ringing in my ears, I was freaked out. But I did it. The whole entire school was there, but I secretly pretended no one could see me! As everyone chanted class cheers as loud as they could, I put all my energy into getting close, turning my head sideways, squatting down, standing on my tiptoes, etc. in order to get the perfect photograph. The whole room was my command. I could walk anywhere--up and down the bleachers and even in the middle of the floor. I learned to love eating competitions best. I was the only person who got such a great view, as I lay on the ground with my camera up to the principal's pie-covered face. I don't think anyone else in the whole school enjoyed pep rallies as much as I did! And after making a fool of myself in front of the whole school like that, I could do anything...right?!
Friday night at the big Homecoming game, I was sore from holding a big camera and lens almost non-stop that entire week, but I was so excited and in my element!! I will never forget forcing myself to go up to Broc Bellmore, the huge star football player and Homecoming king, and asking him if I could photograph his face. Him and I stood alone in the middle of the football field. I forced myself to get right up close to his face as I could hear girls cheering at me from the bleachers, "Go Abby!!" Looking at the cover of the 2007 yearbook will always remind me of that exciting and comfort zone challenging night.
The most challenging experiences on yearbook staff probably all took place during senior year when I was the Editor-and-Chief. Every day was a challenge as the girls fought my ideas and fought me. We all agree that for a few months it was basically "Abby against the yearbook staff." I came in so excited for change and filled with new ideas, but all the girls shot every one of them down. They sat there doodling on their papers, very excited to loudly express their unwillingness to consider any of my ideas and very excited to talk about all their experiences with drugs and alcohol. I could've easily dictated that we use my ideas because I was the one in charge, but instead I was determined to make it a book by the entire staff.
As the girls continued to criticize me day after day and make every mean and rude comment that I don't even want to remember, I went along with their ideas and designs. I learned to shower the girls with positive feedback and compliments. At the same time, I was always honest and had to tell them quite often when they needed to step it up and start meeting their deadlines. A lot of that year is a crazy blur of stress and meltdowns. I constantly felt like I had the entire weight of the yearbook on my shoulders, and it never came off my shoulders until the middle of July 2009 when we finally sent in the last pages. I know somewhere in the middle of the crazy year, I gained my staffs' respect, which was really surprising. I still forget and am scared when I run into them, but they are all so nice to me. It surprises me every time!! When I was looking through that box of papers last night, I also found an award I made for one of the girls. Ha, I made everyone awards for the end of the year with very kind and sincere messages on the back. I can't even believe I did that... but I obviously learned countless valuable leadership skills through out that year, with out even realizing it at the time!
You might be sitting here thinking, "Wait, why so much stress over a stupid yearbook?!" Well, you are right. I now laugh at how much stress we all had about one stupid book, BUT at West Fargo publications are taken SERIOUSLY. I haven't thrown away a single school newspaper from all four years of high school because I like them so much! The newspaper and yearbook staffs are dedicated. It is their life. We were there until midnight many days through out the school year. Every thought that went through my mind, no matter where I was, was always about the yearbook and how it could be bettered. I was constantly missing class or late for class, and my teachers weren't happy. But if there was an awesome photo assignment, I wanted to take it. I did anything and everything for that silly book. I now don't even want to look at the thing because I have so many bad memories and emotions associated with it. Ha. But those emotions are now being replaced by thankfulness!
We incorporated many elements into our 2009 yearbook theme of "Not So Ordinary." We had a few quotes and random facts on every page, a long with a few "candids" (unposed photographs of people). Every day I had to go around the school and knock on classroom doors to interrupt a teacher and ask for a certain student (who I had often never talked to before!) Then I had to photograph them and ask them questions. I also had to constantly interview people, from random people in the cafeteria to the superintendent. I was everywhere!!!! Expect in my comfort zone...
Today I have realized how much this has helped me. I find it exciting to walk into new places or events alone. I am able to introduce myself to anyone and ask them questions about themselves. I enjoy asking my friends deep questions constantly like, "What has God been doing in your life lately?" I'm also not afraid to tell people the truth or to say what needs to be said. If I am afraid of a situation or of saying something, I pray first and mainly get all my strength from God, but I also think about all my yearbook experiences. If I could do it then, I can do it now!!