“Hey, can I ask you something?”
“Dude, check out the ask I just got on Tumblr!”
Which makes sense? Well both, apparently!
Tumblr, a unique microblogging platform and social networking website, managed to make the verb, “ask”, into a noun. Originally, it was meant to serve as a name for the messaging inbox on the blog itself, referred to as “the ask feature”, where people, either as users or anonymously, can send questions they had to the bloggers they were interested in learning more about. However, as time went on, it became a source for more than just questions to be sent—compliments, comments, and messages started making their way through the ask feature, not necessarily as questions. Bloggers all over the site began to refer to both the inbox and any message sent through it as just an “ask”.
To translate this in real life, I decided to make little messages for people in envelopes, either to show my appreciation for them or to hopefully make someone’s day a little better. In that way, I acted out my own version of sending “asks” in person.
These are the envelopes in all their glory—I designed them in a way to mimic the icon you see on Tumblr when you have an ask in your inbox. It was a fun little touch, and they got a lot of positive responses!
The first person I gave an ask to was a family member: my mother. There have been a lot of family struggles going on as of late, both in terms of recent passings and of my mom herself going through a lot of painstaking surgeries for her shoulders and knees. I knew that she needed a little reminder that things were going to be okay, and so I wrote as many positive things for her as I can, as well as telling her I was there for her. When she read it, she actually started crying—which in turn made me cry as well, and we both just started to laugh. It was a bonding experience, in its own sweet way, haha! It was definitely a successful run.
Next, I gave a little note to my dogs, Pepper and Sheba, as my non-humans. I wrote about how fluffy they are—and thanking them for licking my face when I’m sad. As you can see in the second picture, Pepper got a little excited and started excessively nudging at my paper. I guess that means she liked it!
This one was a little difficult for me. Last year, my grandmother, who I name my hero, passed away. I wrote all of the things in this letter to her that I didn’t have a chance to before it happened, and decided to read it aloud for her. Strangely enough, it was therapeutic—after saying what was written I was able to suddenly blurt out all of the worries I had been thinking about since that time to her. I felt like she was listening, and it got out a lot of the things I had bottled up.
On a lighter note, I decided to show my appreciation for the hall director in my dorm’s hard work. I wrote how having him and the other RA’s and hall directors in the building made my experience at UConn so much smoother than it could have been! He was a little confused and extremely flattered—and laughed as I flustered a bit trying to explain the project to him.
Okay, let’s be real for a second: the second I saw this girl’s purple hair, I was dead set on making her the stranger I gave this letter to. I wrote a note of encouragement for her, a reminder that if she has a tough day, that things are always going to get better. She didn’t read it in front of me, but I hope that it gave her the strength that I intended it to.
This is my best friend, Liz. He has been going through quite a bit lately, both personally and socially, and I decided to remind him of how proud I was of his accomplishments and development over the years. We have both been there for each other almost instantly after we met, and I decided to tell him how much he has done for me in turn. He almost started to cry (though he won’t admit it, hehe) and gave me a super tight hug. He was very happy to receive it, and I could even say it brought us even closer than we were.
My roommate may live in a different town than me, and we may have only met in freshman year at UConn, but people could mistake us for having known each other since we were in diapers. She’s like the sister I never had—and we always know how to playfully push each others’ buttons in just the right way! As she read about those things in the letter I saw her face contort into a little happy pout… and she proceeded to call me “Mawwy” and said she’d keep it “forever and ever”. She only uses that pet name on me when she’s really happy, so I know that made her entire day!
This one was a little bittersweet. The distance between Nikki, my best friend of 5 years, and I is probably the biggest villain I could think of. She lives all the way in Massachusetts, along with a whole bunch of other people I miss and care about. I almost didn’t want to acknowledge it—but I knew I had to, and I knew that when looking at the big picture, it had done a lot of positive things for me too. It forced Nikki and I to find our way around it to keep our relationship strong regardless of not being with each other physically most days of the year; so I wrote about that and I read it to her on Skype. She agreed with every word.
Professor Deibler, my Illustration teacher, is the most influential professional in my recent life. She has helped me to overcome so many hurdles in the art of brainstorming, of thinking outside the box. I conveyed my appreciation for her informative teaching through the ask I gave to her, and as she read it, she began to smile so wide it made my face hurt. “That’s so nice!” she repeated to me over and over as she walked over to hug me. She said she loves getting student feedback like that, and that it made her feel that all of the hard points of teaching were worth it.
The custodians at my dorm have been a team of positive energy and smiles ever since I came to UConn. The moment I asked for their help, they were extremely willing and said they would do anything for us (the students), which just made me feel so supported. I figured they probably don’t hear those same words very often given back to them, and so I made it my mission to tell them myself how much I appreciate their hard work. They were very flattered—I saw them smile really wide as they read it a ways away.
In conclusion, this project made me feel really good. I got to organize my thoughts and feelings over the people closest to me, and therefore really show them that their commitment to both my relationship with them and their personal feats does not go in vain. I feel like I made a lot of people stop, take a look at themselves, and hopefully give themselves a pat on the back. Everyone deserves to love themselves, and I hope that I made that a little easier to remember.
If you want to hear more about this project, I talk a little more in depth about the experiences I had in this podcast here, with a friend of mine who also went through the same process.
Hope you enjoyed, and have a great day!
Posted by Mary Rose Fiondella