I always feel like I’m leaving massive intervals between posts, but come to think of it…I’m posting a lot more regularly than I have for a while, so that surely says something (it says something, but don’t ask me what!). I think that it’s finally time that I mention another of my undergrad anecdotes, and I will do my absolute best to keep it short…mainly because I’m observing my experiment in the lab right now and I tend to lose interest in most things after a certain period of time has elapsed. So here goes…
I don’t know how hectic other universities can get around student election time, but boy is it crazy at Warwick! There are people campaigning and posters absolutely everywhere the eye can see and possibly beyond (I’m short, so my eye level is clearly a lot lower than most!). So as a keen undergrad, I always wanted to get involved and encourage my fellow Gibbet Hill buddies to do the same, but of course…us ‘Bio’ lot have a reputation of being a little anti-social; not entirely our fault, since we’re either a) cooped up in a lab, b) writing 1000’s of words of lab reports or c) just too far from the activities! The last one definitely applied at Gibbet Hill!
So I was trying to talk one of my friends into voting for this guy ‘Leo’ (Last name shall not be disclosed!), and of course I was very enthusiastic…because that’s just what I’m like. So she assumed that I knew Leo personally, and I very stupidly said yes…hoping that it’d convince her to actually vote that year (we were second year students). I knew that I’d regret agreeing to knowing him, because it was like she’d known that I didn’t actually know him, when she said ‘Okay, why don’t you get him to come over to Gibbet Hill and talk to us tomorrow…you know, since you know him’. Crap. Crap. Crap. And clearly throughout this entire conversation I was in some sort of loopy-doopy land…I said ‘of course I can do that’. Crap again.
After our lecture had finished, I walked off towards main campus thinking ‘what the hell is wrong with you! Why on earth did you say you know Leo, and why the hell did you say that you’d get him to come and give a talk!’…and almost as if God himself was giving me a chance, I saw Leo walking around and handing out ribbons. I thought ‘okay, this is your chance…you need to fix this mess you’re in. Go talk to him’; I sort of just stood still for a second or two, unable to move or speak…terrified at approaching a stranger, who I’d only read about. My fear was far too superior and before I could even admit to myself that it was stupid of me to think that I could just talk to him, he had left. I felt like I’d just lost an opportunity, I knew that it was time to admit fault. I’d have to tell my friend that I didn’t actually know Leo and so he wouldn’t be coming to Gibbet Hill.
It was a Thursday, and on Thursdays I was on campus usually until 10pm…because I’d signed up for these workshops which ran at 8pm. Now since it was election week, there were elections everywhere and for all the societies too. I was a member of ISoc, but could barely ever make any of the social events since timing was an issue and I either had labs or needed to get home before it got too dark (buses are scary at night!). So because I knew I’d be on campus late, I’d promised my ISoc friends that I’d come to the election meeting at 7.30pm, but could only stay for half an hour. My labs had finished at 5pm so that gave me a good couple of hours to kill in the library and get some reading/writing done. Before I knew it, it was just gone 7.30pm. Crap again. I was late for the one meeting that I’d promised to show up for. I knew where the meeting was being held, so I ran towards the building…still shoving my lab book in my bag and quickly grabbed hold of the lecture theatre door and went straight in. The meeting had started. It wasn’t until the door closed that I realised that there was some segregation in the seating arrangement…female students had decided to sit on the right of the room, the left was all male and the middle was mixed. I’d walked into the left entrance, everyone turned to look at me; I quickly and quietly grabbed a voting slip and sat down on one seat in, in the only empty row (luckily close to the entrance/exit) on the male side. I sat listening to the several students nominated for president, and heard the door behind me close. Wow, someone even later than I was. That someone came and sat next to me. I was too freaked out to look at who it was, no Muslim guy would willingly sit next to a female stranger. So I mustered the courage and looked at who was right next to me. And as if by fate, it was Leo. I almost stopped breathing for a few seconds and quickly thought ‘okay, clearly this is a big sign. You need to talk to him…but what do I say and how?’ I then heard this other little voice in my head (not schizo!), which told me to count to ten. It’d never worked before…but clearly I was wrong. I counted to ten, took a deep breathe and turned to face Leo. ‘Hi Leo’ I said to the very sweet guy who turned to smile at me, I told him how I was wowed by his manifesto, and how if he’d come to Gibbet Hill he could really make a big difference with his numbers. He sounded impressed and asked me more, I continued by saying that ‘Bio’ students often feel excluded and maybe he could address that issue and really include them by sharing his manifesto with them in person. He asked when it would be best to do that and I said tomorrow…but the 9am lecture won’t be so good so come to the 10am one.
I’d done it, I’d got Leo to agree to come and talk to us. I told my friend when I met her at the workshop, that I’d just spoke to Leo and he’ll be talking to us tomorrow; she looked surprised and as though I was lying (can’t blame her, since the whole thing started off as one!). I felt like the universe was trying to correct my lie…but then I started to doubt if he’d show up, what if he forgot? I was definitely feeling under pressure, and for what? A stupid lie. A stupid, stupid lie…because even though I didn’t explicitly say any of the things my friend said, I’d not denied them and I should have.
The next morning, sitting in that 9am lecture was brutal…and I usually loved that lecture (because of a certain someone, who embodies all the qualities I hope to one day also possess). It was 9.55 and we were taking a break…and I’d almost forgotten about Leo and him coming. When suddenly the door (the one near the podium…) opens and out comes Leo. He sees me and smiles and comes jogging up the steps towards me. He says ‘Hi *******’ He remembered my name. And asked what I thought he needed to mention. My friend’s face was a Kodak moment…her jaw was hanging off her face! Priceless. When Leo was talking to me, all eyes were on us…including the lecturer. Leo made his speech and eventually won the election by just shy of 300 votes (approximately the number of Gibbet Hill students in that lecture theatre…hmm I wonder if that was a coincidence).
Though it started off with a lie, that experience made a massive difference to my confidence. Made me who I am today, the partially fearless go-getter. And even now, when I have to do something which may make me uncomfortable or something which puts me out there…counting to ten still works 🙂
PS. You need to see this video…and others too
My colleagues told me about them this morning! Title is in reference to that. These videos can’t be genuine, can they?