I love* my job
"The way we interact with things make them our own. Half-broken powder compact. Collection of beads in a rusty Tweety Bird box. Candy wrapper taped to the journal," reads an entry in my notes app, around 5:20 AM on an inconspicuous Tuesday morning. I was probably half asleep when I wrote it, so the fact that it's comprehensible is a pleasant surprise.
In my waking hours, I thought about the entry more and more. Finally, I reached the satisfactory explanation that how we handle our objects, putting a dent or a scratch here and there, either by accident or through constant use, makes the objects our own. It's like branding inanimate objects, in a way.
If I were to follow that definition of "making things my own," I think it only applies to objects I came across during the course of my life. Anything apart from objects, which is The Real World, did not bear my mark, since I keep everything at arm's length. It's as though I had built a deep moat around myself and filled it with lukewarm water. This includes relationships, achievements, things I wrote, art I created. I found it easier that way, tiptoeing so as to not leave an imprint, thus avoiding "making things my own."
I followed the same principle during my tenure at SHOUT, both as a contributor and then as a sub-editor. When I first joined in 2018, I mainly stuck to writing fluff pieces. They felt comfortable and safe, free from the possibility of putting a scratch in anything. As a sub-editor, I ventured out a little bit more, but with emphasis on "a little". I viewed it primarily as a transactional relationship, which is why I still feel uncomfortable to have a sense of "ownership" over the publication.
It took half a decade but my perspective has definitely shifted. Saying goodbye to the publication felt like saying goodbye to precious conversations, friendships, and learning opportunities. Even though the conversations will still happen, the friendships will persist, and I will continue to learn, the comfort of SHOUT will no longer be there.
This job has somehow managed to swim past the moat and nestled itself into a snug corner of my life. Having given five years to the publication meant that my life did end up orbiting it to some degree. The quality of my writing, artworks, the way I present myself, the way I perceive the world, and especially my friendships have developed with the magazine.
Coming back to the original note entry, I still did not manage to put a mark on SHOUT. But the magazine has somehow managed to put a loving scratch on me, similar to the tiny scratches we get from bothering a cat a bit too much. As cheesy as it sounds, working at SHOUT has been one of the most transformative periods of my life. Sure, I'll still be working on the magazines replacing it, but my tenure at SHOUT will forever stick with me. When I'm old and senile, I will look back at the scratch amidst the literal and metaphorical wrinkles of time, and remember.
Fatima Jahan Ena is a sub-editor at SHOUT.