All my life, I have admired the colors around me: the first daffodils raising their heads at the end of winter, the riot of spring blossoms, the myriad of greens during the summer, the beauty of autumn leaves against leaden skies. I had a friend who had bright orange patent leather boots, and I could not understand why she would wear them because “normal” shoe colors were far more sensible.
I always sought colors that would allow me to fit in among the spectrum of other people, not to mention hide my excess curves. I was ashamed of, well, me. I figured that if anyone wanted to see my inner beauty, they would be on their own to notice it. I’m not saying that I was deliberately frumpy, but standing out frightened me. I loved color, but never so how it applied to me except in practical ways.
I’ve never been a shoe person, as I’ve mentioned before. Now I have close to a dozen different pairs of boots in a wide range of colors. The plain black and brown ones are lovely, but I find them utilitarian and a little drab. As I surveyed my collection, I saw the beautiful primary-colored shoes that I would never have considered wearing before: cherry red, cobalt blue, and mustard yellow. My mom and husband asked if I had enough shoes yet, and I could not honestly answer that question. Part of my wants to find purple, green, animal print, and maybe even orange boots.
You see, those shoes are an exterior representation of a major interior transformation.
I was not born to fit in. I’ve suspected that for a very long time, although my uniqueness has fought tooth-and-nail to emerge. Being accepted was always more important than being me. The times I’ve been myself, I have accomplished some pretty amazing things that tend to intimidate most people, so I don’t shout them from the rooftops. In this past week, I’ve even astounded my own mother with the depth and breadth of my life experiences.
This morning, I read a passage from Eleanor Roosevelt that particularly struck me:
“It’s your life — but only if you make it so. The standards by which you live must be your own standards, your own values, your own convictions in regard to what is right and wrong, what is true and false, what is important and what is trivial. When you adopt the standards and the values of someone else or a community or a pressure group, you surrender your own integrity. You become, to the extent of your surrender, less of a human being.”
My standards for myself are high, but that is my choice. I become more of who I am by challenging myself to reach new heights and depths, by experiencing new things, and by opening myself to give and receive love in increasing quantities. I have learned that I have unique gifts that are wasted if they lie dormant. I am brilliant, passionate, and now vividly colorful.
These silly primary colored boots have brought out the colors in my personality that needed to emerge. They beckon me to a deeper experience of life and love. When I wear them, it becomes impossible for me to hide. It’s sort like I’ve been playing hide-and-seek all of my life, and was always the one hiding. Now I’m “it,” and my quest is to find the hidden beauty among the people in my life, especially those who cross my path for very brief times.
- Eleanor Roosevelt on Happiness, Conformity, and Integrity (brainpickings.org)