Artistically challenged (adj): lacking artistic ability; a term I made up to describe myself for the past 20 years
One time when I was in the 9th grade, our teacher gave us an assignment to draw self-portrait of ourselves and then write a reflection of what we learned from it. I, the ultimate over-achiever, employed every resource in my power to help me draw the perfect self-portrait because I knew I was a horrible artist and couldn’t afford a low grade on this assignment for my lack of skills. And when I’m talking lack, I meant a severe lack. I couldn’t draw, paint, sketch for shit. I had my best friend at the time draw a portrait of me that I could eventually just copy like a stencil– but when I copied it, ‘I’ looked more like Oprah than myself. At one point, I got so frustrated that I burst into tears, ran upstairs, wrote the most emotional and intense reflection about myself possible (perhaps more than what was expected of this assignment), and ended up still getting an A.
Regardless of what the purpose of that assignment may have been, that moment secured 2 facts in my life; one, that I was a good writer, and two, that I was not crafty.
Flash forward to today. Now I’ve been a member of Pi Beta Phi for 2 years now, and although they say that you don’t have to be that crafty to be in a sorority, they forget to mention how much your skills will be tested when you’re in one. When I first learned about the amount of things you have to craft– from picture frames to clipboards to candles to crates– I was shook! There was no way artistically challenged me was going to make something with her own two hands that’d belong anywhere a step above a trashcan. But interestingly, the opportunity to be crafty led to practice. And that practice resulted in some pretty cool things that I’ve made over the past few years! So here’s a shortlist in no particular order! Turns out I still can’t draw, paint, or sketch that well– but I’m actually creative as hell.
For the Bangladeshi American Charitable Organization (BACHAO)
During my time as an ambassador and mentor for the Bangladeshi American Charitable Organization, I was always in charge of posters for our events. God knows why people trusted me with that responsibility– but it honestly worked out for us all considering they turned out really cute, people would take pictures with them, post them on social media, and end up boosting our name and putting us out there. Whoo!
For the South Asian Federation (SAF)
SAF has been an organization on-campus that I’ve been involved in since my sophomore year and I’ve always admired it’s mission to unite the South Asian student population at UCR both socially and politically. Through nooner events, chai talks, and cultural programs, SAF has created a lot of opportunities for people to learn and engage with south asian culture. And one of the biggest reasons I’ve wanted to be involved, and continue to be so, is to incorporate Bengali history and events into the mix.
The first year I was in SAF, we did a #RememberRanaPlaza nooner tabling event to raise awareness about the devastating fire in the Rana Plaza garment factory in Bangladesh that killed 1,134 people. The nooner talked about the the garment industry, sweatshop labor, and what we, as conscious consumers, can do to prevent more tragedies like this.
This past year, we did an event recognizing Ekushey February, or International Mother Language Day, when university students in then-East Pakistan fought back against their government for their right to speak Bangla– a catalyst for Bangladesh’s eventual independence in 1971. People from all different ethnicities and backgrounds on campus participated and wrote down what languages they were proud to speak!
I’m feeling quite inspired for this upcoming year in SAF, hopefully some of these existing events can come back– and we can start some new creative initiatives as well.
My freshman year, I met a girl named Devin who I was so inspired and in awe by that when it came time for Secret Angels (when we decorate a seniors room and get them gifts to spoil and surprise them), I knew I had to be Devin’s. Me and Ashley worked together and messed with her all week, giving her fake gifts and re-gifted wine BUT when it came down to the room, we went all out.
I was seriously broke after doing this for her, but she loved it! I’m proud of it! And my future secret angel out there, this is the level of extra I’m expecting this year, thank you!
Judy has been my ultimate Pi Phi BFF over my time in chapter, I’m shook that we didn’t win some kind of dynamic duo award even tho we’ll always be in my eyes. Problem with this chick, though, is that she’s too nosey for surprises and we were too close. I told her a million times I couldn’t be her secret angel because I was broke, but she picked up all the accidental little hints that I kept dropping and put together the pieces that it was me. I hate her, but I appreciate her– and her room goes to show it!
For UCR Panhellenic Study Parties
This year, I had the honor and pleasure of being Vice President of Scholarship for the UCR College Panhellenic Association. I try to do a bunch of scholarship promoting and encouraging awards and treats throughout each quarter, but the main event I hold is Study Party where I rent out a giant room on campus, set up some free snacks/bluebooks/scantrons, and keep it open and quiet for a couple hours during week 10 when girls want to study for finals. However, this year, I got a little creative and spiced it up a little bit by giving each study party a theme and a specific DIY food to look forward to.
Winter quarter was DIY Trail Mix.
And spring quarter was fresh popcorn with a toppings bar– as well as a study skills speaker who came in the middle of study party and gave a presentation on stress management.
I’m 100% clueless on what I should do for the last study party of my term in the fall, but I’m sure I’ll figure something out.
For New Members
In the fall, when there’s a new member class of around 50 girls, active members of chapter usually craft some kind of present for new members as a way to get to know them and give them more Pi Phi related objects. Last year was my first year going through this on the active side, and I was once again #shook. This was the first clipboard I made in the most difficult of circumstances because I still hadn’t invested in crafting supplies yet.
The green paint was something I already owned, the gold tiles were also something I got from somewhere else. The shimmer on the letters is because it’s an old brown eyeshadow powder that I used to get the color, and you know how I painted it all? With an old eyeshadow brush! Because I didn’t own paint supplies! That’s some innovation, okay? Dedication at it’s finest!
The next clipboard is after I dropped hella bucks at Target, spent mad hours getting inspiration off Pinterest, and stalked the girl’s Instagram for a solid hour. This clipboard should go down as legendary– as the best craft ever made in the history of crafts.
For My Little
This is where I went full-throttle creativity– because there was no way I was gonna give my little sis trash ass gifts? I’ll admit, I went so all out with this little one that if I don’t ever pick up another child, I’ll be perfectly content.
For my Big
You know when you need to get one of your best friends a gift but you’re so overwhelmed by how awesome they are that you’d lost on how to get them a gift that’s worthy of them? That’s what happened at the end of this quarter with my big, Val. I’ve known her for longer than just my Pi Phi experience, and in the end, when it was time to give her a senior gift, I was really stuck on how to get her something that matched all the effort she’s ever put in for me!
And those are the highlights of everything I’ve created and crafted in the past 2 years! In the end, what I’ve come to realize most out of all of this is how much I enjoy creating things that other people enjoy. I love giving gifts, I love making people happy or making them smile– and the nice thing about it all is the catharsis I get in the process.
Anyway, let me know about your crafting and creative process– even if you’re more of that pen to paper type creativity! And once again, thanks for stopping by!