Being Beige and True Kodak moments
I had lunch this weekend with one of my dearest friends and she was excited to show me some paint colors she was looking at for some redecorating in her house. She commented to me that she was tired of always having to be beige.
That phrase stuck in my head for days. Where do we learn to be beige? Who teaches us that it is not okay to splash colors all around us?
I once read a book called Conversations with a Fat Girl by Liza Palmer. I don’t remember a lot about the plot, though I do remember enjoying it. What I remember most is that the main character framed a picture of herself at a younger age when she felt completely at ease with herself. She looked at it whenever she was feeling out of sorts and needed to find that inner strength she was hiding.
At the time, I remember thinking, what a great idea! So I pulled the boxes out from under the bed and went through hundreds of pictures looking for the most recent one that showed me at a time when I felt completely at ease.
I flipped past recent ones of me and my husband at family gatherings, ones of me and my friends at parties in college, ones of me and my friends on class trips and high school dances, me in grade school. I started to feel a little itchy and shaky as I dove back through my history captured in 3×5 Kodak moments.
There were so many where we all looked like we were having such a great time. But if I really looked deeply into my eyes in the photo, something was a little off. I remembered how despite all the smiles and laughter, I didn’t feel like I belonged there. I was more concerned that people seeing the picture thought I was enjoying myself than I was with trying to figure out why I wasn’t enjoying myself.
Looking back at this now I realize that I was seeing the first signs of the depression and anxiety that would plague me from my early twenties through to the present day. I didn’t know this then. I couldn’t have named what I was feeling. I was just trying to hang on and look like I had it all together.
When do we learn this? At what age do we start to worry about what our friends think more than expressing what we think? At what point in our growing up do we start to believe that we have to have all the answers, we have to be perfect, and we have to always have it all together?
I had to go back to some really old pictures to find one where I really knew that I was completely content with who I was and what I was doing, that I saw nothing wrong with myself and was willing to express myself. I wasn’t concerned that someone would think I was silly or stupid. It was eye-opening, and a little disturbing to know I had to look that far back.
How far back do you need to look? More importantly, what do we have to do to unlearn this need to have it all together? How do we teach ourselves not to care so much what others think of us and what we do?
I say, laugh hysterically at a restaurant without worrying about the other diners! Sing off-key! Do a little two-step in the rain if it makes you feel good! Above all, express yourself in anyway that you need to – even if it means painting your living room that sherbet orange you have always loved!
A few weeks ago, I wrote about making your own art. Your life is your art. Make it your own!