By Kaitlyn Cook, Pendleton RARE Participant
It was 5:45 am, dark, icy, and I was trying to carry a plate of homemade Christmas cookies across the street into the belly of the Pendleton government/court/library/ building. The committee meeting starts at 7:00 am but I had to print the meeting agendas and set up the room. I arrived at work too early so everything was done in twenty minutes, which gave me plenty of time to imagine how many ways this meeting could be a complete failure.
Considering my task, failure seemed like it could very well be an option. I did not personally know the people that I invited to be on this committee, it was icy, and early in the morning to talk about how to plan a convention to teach people about home ownership and renting in Pendleton. I was hoping that they cared enough about this conference to be involved.
I waited. I was accompanied by the custodial staff who was talking about his recent trip to Disney World and my many feelings of self-doubt to keep me company.
At 6:55 one person trickled in the room, got a steaming cup of Folgers coffee and a cookie. We made some small talk. Then, ever so slowly, people started to trickle in. Some knew each other, others did not, but there was chatter among folks. With some persuading, I gave my Christmas cookies to them. I waited a couple of minutes after 7:00 for everyone to settle in their seats and the meeting started. Then even more people came in. It was a higher attendance rate than I expected and had to drag a couple more chairs to the table.
Now that the table was full, my worries about attendance floated away and I could focus on trying to lead this committee meeting. I was frantically writing notes and all seemed well.
However, the self-doubt did not subside as much as I’d thought. I was unsure if the people I invited would be intrigued enough to want to participate in the discussion. My mind flashed back to my high school days where the teacher would ask a question and the class would stare blank-faced back at them. I did not want a discussion like that. Despite my worries, the discussion flowed well. So well, that I had to wrap up the meeting so we did not go over time. It was a successful meeting.
Self-doubt is something I struggle with. It can be mentally taxing to do it constantly and it can take me longer to produce work. However, this instance gave me the confidence in my ability to bring people together for a common cause. It is great that the community has the ability to get together to solve a problem. I am deeming this meeting to be the starting point for me to start shedding away, bit-by-bit, my self-doubts and become more confident in my professional abilities.
About the Author, Katilyn Cook: Kaitlyn majored in Planning, Public Policy and Management and minored in Spanish at the University of Oregon. Originally from a rural town on the Oregon Coast, Kaitlyn aspires to use her skills to make positive change in communities like the one she grew up in. She looks forward to applying the city planning theories and principles she learned at UO to benefit the community of Pendleton.
Does community development work interest you? Are you looking for a life changing experience in rural Oregon? Learn more about serving with the RARE AmeriCorps Program via our website: https://rare.uoregon.edu/application-process/member-application-process