I have spent a surprising portion of my life being a…..fan of the shaded hue of color known as pink. From a large stack of Strawberry Shortcake DVDS, a craving for pink milk from my beloved Charlie and Lola books, or a fanatic for the living video game puffball Kirby, the color has seemed to be an identifier for where my life stands.
While, admittedly, most of my childhood I may not have been able to select and dress myself, I do promise I wasn’t opposed to being clothed in the color. And until an eventful transfer from homeschool to a “real” school in first grade, I had adorn the variety of shades for quite a long time. A big reason why I categorized this as apart of my “hobbies” is, besides purchasing any cheesy product coated in neon pink strawberry print, begins with a blistering childhood. Now, while I did not grow up to be a cosplayer (though I could pull off a damn good Kim Possible), I did spend a large chunk proudly strutting around in a princess costume. I was four, confident, and ignorant to the idea of social standing.
Or…..so I was until I was introduced to the institution known as school. First grade was the first time I had true exposure to a classroom of judgmental kids. “Dresses? Pshh that was soooooo pre-school of me!”. I wasn’t bullied, per-say, but I did feel anxiety for the first time. Anxious to be perceived as “weird”. To be outcasted, to fear isolation because I had a flare for dramatics. So, became the cycle of adaption. I tossed my pastel coated skirts for jeans and bland (mind you bland for me was still bright just no character smacked on the front) shirts became my new friend. Being in a classroom daily of kids my own age, I had learned several new emotions. While jitters of joy was quite common, there’s no denial to the first dip I took into anxiety.
I adorned the color again a mere two years later in the third grade. I made friends who were chic, cute, and adorned girl culture so bright it could be blinding. And of course, I was glad to join in. I tried lip gloss for the first time, rolling fruit flavored glitter across my lips with a loud smack. I pranced around with my Nellie doll, taking her to sew and bake alongside me.
However, this was the last year for quite some time I would be proud to be a women. Entering the world the leads to middle school was frightening. I wanted to be bold and powerful and felt femineity could not be the equivalent to brawns. To be athletic I could not love frills. To be intelligent I could not fall for the arts. It’s shameful to admit, that at hardly 11 years old I began the long, growing journey of insecurity.
And yet, it’s also tragic to describe. How was is fair that for me to be taken legitimate I believed, so young already, that I had to prove my abilities to that of a standard for men. I started to love the color blue because it was the opposite to pink. So much so, for my birthday I insisted on painting the bubblegum pink walls of my bedroom to the shade of aquamarine. I befriended almost boys only, I fought tooth and nail to be their equal. I desired more than anything else in my fourth grade heart to be faster, stronger, smarter, than any man in the room. Ironically, it was almost feminism, And yet, it was the time of my life I was the least prideful of my womanhood.
Blue became more than a color for me the following year. I once again, in the early months of 5th grade discovered a new emotion: Isolation. I didn’t really have friends this year. I was awkward to say the least. My closest friend was a girl who was a bit brash and, truth be told, I admired that. I wanted still, to prove my footing against those around me. My biggest interests lied in dystopian fantasy. Anyone who read Hunger Games, than read Divergent. If you read Divergent, well than you have to read The Lunar Chronicles next. I read exclusively of women who were brave and fighters, yet average still. Simple enough for me to understand and to relate too.
To time skip to middle school, I was a version of myself that was….well middle school says enough. Puberty happened and amongst the world of pads, bras, and acne, I discovered what I had temporarily considered my “true self”. Like the average dramatic 13 year old, I adorned Pop Punk bands as if my life depended on it. The degree went from black jeans everyday, to sporting a My Chemical Romance back-up throughout all of 8th grade. I had grown from a few years prior of being the pink loving blossom, to an angsty emotional teen. I was unhappy. With my appearance especially, something I struggled with for a very long time. To myself. My core made me unhappy. I was embarrassed of who I was yet tried to prove I wasn’t by being abrasive. I was ashamed of who I was.
However, despite the shame and second hand embarrassment I had towards my early teen self, I respect her more than that of my high school persona. If I had gone from shading my middle school personality to be black, I scraped away a layer to transform it to a dull gray when high school began. I had very little interests. Or, at the very least, I had very little I could comfortably share with others. I believed I had to withdrawal myself from my nerdy interests out of fear of judgement. I stopped watching anime, playing video games, reading for leisure. I traded hobbies for homework.
Image. Image. Image. For someone living in black and white, I was obsessed with the idea of myself. I spent an hour each morning doing my makeup. I was incredibly insecure of my shape that I wore hoodies everyday. I spent twenty minutes before each lacrosse practice redoing my ponytail, Each bump had to be smoothed away, each flyaway that was present, was positioned on purpose.
I loved beauty yet I had never known her. I dreamt of being attractive because I had fully believed it would be impossible. I cared for nothing but how I was perceived. Was I charming enough? Smart enough?
Every insecurity I had ever had mushed together. my first grade fear of judgement, a third grader seeking friends, followed by a fourth grader demanding to prove her worth. I was still the fifth grader who felt isolated, and the blob of three years of middle school had dragged me down. I was the most hideous shades of each generation.
It took a pandemic for me to sort out my colors again. Time away from my biggest stressors and worst fears brought me the realization I had lost my personality. Slowly, I earned it back. Unsurprising to anyone who knows me, one of the first being re-reading my favorite childhood series; Percy Jackson. Along with that, discovering my sense of style for the first time since I was five. I washed down insecurities and gave skirts a try, something that hasn’t left my closet since. I began wearing pinks and greens again and for the first time since I was a bubbling child I had felt unafraid of myself.
Now, with a year of college under my belt, and a bit more time to develop I’ve realized color comes and goes. I cannot force myself to be bright if I do not feel it. After learning once again to look in the mirror and love myself. To learn that I am a person worth admiration regardless of success and grades. To understand I had dear and caring friends who appreciated all I was and I did not have to preform for. These are the things that give me my color.
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