New Rules

When I was a freshman in college, I lived down the hall from an artist. I had never known an artist before– in the sense that I thought it was super cool to have a friend to chat with daily who had smudgy paint fingers, frazzled hair, and no sense of time. I wanted to know people who were artistic because I wanted to be like them. Try as I might, I couldn’t find something to be passionate about, and I thought it would make me a much more interesting person if I could find some kind of art form to obsess over. My ability to go to sleep at 10 p.m., untethered by the demands of creativity made me utterly boring, in my eyes.

I thought, “Art friends can change this!”

Anyway, I befriended this girl and it was dandy. I learned about oil paint and somthing about blending. One time I helped her clean paint brushes, which was really boring, but I told myself it was cool. I didn’t become any more artsy, or any less, but I got to hear what it was like to paint naked people without giggling, so that was cool.

We eventually lost touch, to no one’s fault or intention. We parted ways somewhere throughout the years at school. But of the many things I remember about her, one ridiculous thought has stuck with me for years.

One morning we were walking to get breakfast at the cafe. She looked at me with a furrowed brow and said,

“You know, teal and orange don’t really go together.”

She said this because I was wearing my favorite halter top: neon orange with red and white stripes, and teal flip flops. I bought the flops in California on one of the last really great vacations with my parents (before I became too old and “cool” to want to go on vacation with my parents). And apparently, my color choices didn’t jive.

She said something about color families that I didn’t follow, but I understood the general idea behind her comment: Don’t wear orange and teal together! They clash.

I trusted this thought and carried it with me for years. Not in an obsessive way, but in a quiet, helpful reminder kind of way.

Until today.

I was getting dressed for work and reached for a fun pair of earrings: gold clusters with little coral stones. And then I realized that they were orange. They would not go with my teal pants.

But then I stopped to think. I’ve done this thing for years. I’ve created lists and lists of rules in my mind. I’ve followed directions, suggestions, advice, tips, and lessons from anyone I can find.  I’ve been a human Rolodex for as many great ideas as I can find.

But I haven’t listened to myself enough.

It’s a new year (I know it’s practically summer, but I’m more of a summer person than a winter person, so my year really kicks into high gear when I’ve got sun and heat on my heels), and I’m making changes.

I’m ready to start clashing. Not for the sake of clashing, but because some things that don’t make rational sense feel really good. 

I want to act from a place of feeling good…and see where it gets me.

I know, I know; I sound so transformative. No one cares about earrings or halter tops from 2000. But, seriously, I want to dissolve the repeating narrative that’s been in my head, which has said something like this for over 30 years: Everyone BUT you is correct.  I know that sounds depressing, but I’ve been such a people pleaser for so long that I’ve taken everything to heart.

I know that sounds depressing, but I’ve been such a people pleaser for so long that I’ve taken everything to heart.

And it hasn’t been everyone and their wonderful words and wisdom that has been the problem. When I put on my orange earrings this morning, I realized that the problem has been me. I have misconstrued the point and lost myself along the way.

But every day is a new start. Every morning is an opportunity to create a different, ridiculous mismatch that can make my heart sing. I think this is going to be fun. I’m looking forward to it.

What are you looking forward to this week?

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