There are three things of which I consider myself a connoisseur — daydreaming, my carefully curated Pinterest boards, and collage art. When I saw these three activities were combined in a DIY Vision Boards event (sponsored by UR Late Night), I had to go.
UR Late Night hosts a variety of activities throughout the year — most recently, Friday night’s glow-in-the-dark roller skating and Saturday night’s fire pits on the Wilson Quad. I hadn’t been to a single one of their events since my first year, during which I often attended their standup comedy and coffeehouse nights at Starbucks. Thus, feeling nostalgic and crafty, I took my friend Sydney to the May Room on Thursday night to make a vision board.
The room had several round tables set up, most of which were completely full. It looked like a peaceful kindergarten classroom, with students sitting in tight circles quietly cutting shapes out of colorful construction paper. Soft music was playing. We stood in line for the supply table, which was comprised of glue sticks, glitter markers, and colorful tape. I was feeling giddy. Then we got to the stack of pre-printed stock photos you could choose from, and I was, well… amused, at least.
Many of the photos they printed were classic vision board affirmations, like “I Am Capable of Whatever I Set My Mind To” and “Believe You Can and You’re Halfway There” (these are two I chose for my own board). Some of them were 2014 Tumblr-esque, like the words “Yes You Can” written in the sand before a crystal blue ocean (another pick for my own board). Then there were some images of women doing complicated yoga positions and pictures of iconic travel locations, like the blue domes of Santorini, Greece and the Eiffel Tower glittering with light. None of these images were particularly surprising in an event designed to excite you about your own potential and the possibilities of your future.
Then there were piles of printed pictures of old people — old people exercising, old people going for walks with their canes, old people drinking tea, old people bundled up in their winter clothes. I stood there, staring down at the pictures, the sweet and encouraging vibes of the event suddenly faltering. When I envision my future, I don’t like to think about my geriaratic bones aching from the cold weather. Honestly, it’s hard to think about anything past the next five years. Still, I selected a stock photo of an old couple smiling and stretching their arms.
I moved onto the next stack, which were pages of wedding photos — wedding cakes, hands delicately poised to show their wedding rings, stock photos of couples kissing in their wedding gowns and tuxedos. Beneath this, there were pictures of pregnant women, families pushing young children in strollers, and smiling young babies. Sydney slid out a picture of a woman holding a baby, out of which someone had carefully cut out the baby’s head.
“Who did that?” I asked.
“That was me,” a girl behind us said.
She took us to her table to show off her collage. She had glued the baby’s head beside a tiny picture of Big Ben, so it looked like it was about to eat it.
Lastly, there was a stack of interior design pictures — stock photos of living rooms, bathrooms, bedrooms, all decorated with bland, nondescript furniture. I took some papers that had names of various rooms printed on them — “nursery,” “bathroom,” “kitchen.”
I tried to capture this odd range of photos in my own vision board (pictured above). While I noticed some students working hard to create a realistically inspiring board to hang up in their dorm rooms, most were laughing at the pictures UR Late Night had printed because stock photos are inherently funny, no matter what they are.
Near the end of the event, Sydney and I went to return our unused photos to the table of craft offerings. We noticed they had saved the best images for last — printed pictures of low-quality memes, like a blurry picture of a tropical island that said “I am indeed looking forward to performing this week” and an emoji with sunglasses saying “I’m so sane it’s insane” (pictured below). That’s the kind of material I came for.
In an event put on by college students for college students, I thought there would be less photos of marriage and old age and more photos of the life we often imagine immediately after college — graduation, a job, an apartment in a new city. Where were the images of young people clubbing, learning to cook in their new kitchens, studying for graduate school, working at their first job? I guess UR Late Night wanted us to envision far, far into the future, beyond our wildest young dreams. Still, you can find me at the next late night craft event, cutting silly little pictures and glueing them together to feel like a child again.