Don’t Be Beige

Don’t be beige.

I scribbled the words excitedly in my journal like a 15 year old writing about her new crush.  So profound.  Or was it?  I can never tell with these thoughts that occur to me in the shower, or while driving around town, or while I’m half-watching Law & Order: SVU and half-making an imaginary grocery list.  (Does anyone else do that? I’d imagine it’s a normal part of life as a mom/household manager/toddler wrangler.)

Anyway… beige.  The walls in our apartment are beige. I don’t mind it.  It’s not particularly exciting, but it’s fine.  Beige is a neutral – one of the blending colors.  It’s a color that allows all the other decor to be seen. Beige is a good background because it isn’t memorable or noticeable. It does not stand out.

Don’t be beige is my new motto.  So what exactly do I mean when I say, “don’t be beige”?

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I mean show yourself.  Reveal who you are.  Don’t be afraid to live your life at full volume because you think someone else won’t like your song. In order to live a fulfilled life, you need to in full glory and magnificence, without any care for what anyone else thinks.

I think that people are comfortable being beige. Beige isn’t scary. I get that.  They feel beige is safe. It’s polite. It doesn’t offend. I tried to be beige, I tried to please people, tried to blend, tried to step back so others could have the attention.  While blending in and being beige may make others comfortable, ultimately living life this way ends in disappointment and regret.

Two major things I noticed while I was consciously camouflaging myself:

  • There is no benefit to me. – I gained nothing from stepping back, dimming my own light or quieting my passion.  Literally nothing good comes from silencing my voice so that someone else can speak.  I get no life experience, meet no new people, and receive no praise because no one sees me.  And ironically trying to please others didn’t make them like me more ore less.
  • There is no benefit to others. – The people who shine do that because of who they are. Colorful, magnetic, fun, talented. My beige-ness didn’t accentuate them. It only hid me. Worse, being beige causes me to miss out on contributing to the world in a way that only I can.

When I realized I wasn’t being my authentic self, I made a choice to be more colorful. I spoke up when I felt passionate.  I accepted invitations to parties.  I wore the sexy dress without worrying what someone else might think. Creatively, I have so much to give, and expressing that through writing, podcasting, and other venues allows me to contribute something tangible to the world.  My kids see me being silly and it shows them that they can be silly too.  I follow my own rules and beat my own drum and in the same way, peers and friends hear me telling my story and they are emboldened to tell their own.  It’s a beautiful domino effect.

These days, I have renovated my soul. There is no beige. I am memorable. I stand out. I am not a neutral, because I have a voice and I’m not afraid to be seen, and my home – and my whole world – is so much more colorful.

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Sick With Guilt

I guess it goes without saying that this blog is not my “day job”.  I wish it were, and if “likes” were money I’d be getting somewhere, but for now I work full-time somewhere else.  I just started a number of months ago, after staying home with my son for 3 years.  The decision to leave him (that’s how it felt to me) and give up cooking, cleaning, running errands, and napping during the day was a difficult one.  I struggled with it.  I cried.  Oh, there were many tears. 

But this is what grown-ups do, I told myself.  And if I hadn’t told myself, there were plenty of people making similar comments under their breath.  For me, being part of the corporate life was never a dream I had.  I’m not ambitious in that way.  I am a dreamer – a true Pisces – and I always wanted to stay home and paint, or write, or … I don’t know, run a sea turtle ranch.  So the day my husband and I decided that this was what had to happen, I felt like I died a little.

Months later, my perspective has changed only slightly.  I work with nice people.  It’s not a difficult job.  We are paying rent.  See?  Lots of positives.  (Detect a hint of sarcasm there?)  Still, I spend my extra time working on meditation, prayer, hypnosis, anything that will help improve my attitude and our financial state and allow me to come back home.  My heart cries out that this is where I am supposed to be.  It’s certainly where I’m most happy.

In my experience, freely admitting that I am different causes others to lash out.  I’ve been accused of being lazy.  Even selfish.  Family members, coworkers, friends, have made me feel at one point or another that if I’m not willing to die for my job, I’m not committed enough.  And honestly, that’s fine.  I have learned not to take others’ opinions so personally.  As a mom and wife working in the home, I busted my butt, day in and day out.  I participated with charities and clubs and was able to cook meals for my family and spend time with my kids.  Some people think that’s worth giving up.  Some people think it’s normal to sacrifice it.  I don’t.  I just… don’t.

This morning I called out of work.  (Well, texted.)  And even though I’m typing on the computer right now, I give my word that I am actually feeling awful.  I am normally a punctual, responsible person, and I start to feel sick to my stomach when I have to call out of work.  This morning upon rising I was greeted with a massive migraine (with pretty colors!)  So I had to text my boss and let her know.  I felt like I could “hear” the disappointment in her reply.  I feel so judged when I call out from jobs.  I try never to do it.  This morning, I must have forced myself to the car a dozen times, finally bursting into tears.  (My poor husband, perplexed, watched me silently from the window.  I’m sure he thinks he married a crazy person. He may be right.)

The thing that gets me, is that I was fighting my body and my own will, trying to make myself go to work, in order not to let someone else down.  I knew how bad I felt, I knew that I could not drive, but I dreaded so much the judgment of my peers that I was trying to go anyway.  I felt guilty.  WHY should I feel guilty?   It isn’t right that I feel so obligated to go to this building, spend my best hours there, so they can (barely) pay me, so I can get up and do it in the morning?  Why do I care so much if they believe me?  Why do I feel like a criminal?

It’s madness.  Do you guys do this or have you been in a similar situation?  Is it just me?  Or have you already found your perfect place, your passion, your path?  I’m reading lots lately on being present in the moment and changing your reality by changing  your mind.  That’s what I’ll work on today, along with sleep, because it’s the only thing that makes me feel better.