Colour / by Liz Brown

This was a lighting test shot. I almost didn't share it. It's messy. My life is messy right now. I've been rearranging my room and it's not done. But it's my real life: flowers and denim and to-do lists and art. Life and creation and the mess in-between. Here I am.

This was a lighting test shot. I almost didn't share it. It's messy. My life is messy right now. I've been rearranging my room and it's not done. But it's my real life: flowers and denim and to-do lists and art. Life and creation and the mess in-between. Here I am.

This morning I was sitting in bed drinking coffee. My mornings often start slowly and I don't ever want to stop appreciating that luxury. My life may be relatively simple and small, but I'm thankful for luxuries of time and good coffee and morning light. Across from me was a gray wall, next to a green plant, and near brown and gold and black and white and red shoes. My bed is a cotton mess of gray and burnt yellow and light gray and it feels cozy, like rest and like dawn. 

However, as I sat there, silent in the scene, I was bit with a tinge of regret. I wish it was all white. I wish I was one of those people who liked clean white tidy things. That would be prettier--better. I like colour. But I wish I didn't.

Immediately another thought followed: something is wrong. Something is wrong if I feel like enjoying colour is wrong. Or lesser. I've surrounded myself with influences (more social media than in-person) who have subtly led me to believe this. That I'm somehow lesser because even when I simplify my life, it still looks like faded black t-shirts and bright lipstick. Even if I have less, it will always be colourful. That's just me. That's how I feel most at home.

Sometimes we apologize for things like quiet and colour and awkwardness. There's nothing wrong with them. You don't need to apologize for them.

So this morning I've been unfollowing folks (strangers mostly--don't worry) because my own mind has turned against me. You control who and what influence you. Turn off your phone or unfollow accounts that make you feel less then. If an account makes you feel like you're broken because you're not dating or married? Unfollow it. If an account makes you feel like you're less-than because of how you look? Unfollow it. Just because a lot of people like one thing, doesn't make it more beautiful. Just because few people like one thing, doesn't make it any less beautiful. The same goes for people. Don't let people's opinions of you sway how you see and value yourself (note to self).

Now, as a side note, this is not to say to only surround yourself with folks who look like you and express themselves like you. There's a fine line between inspiration and comparison and I tread it daily. But I don't want my inspiration to come from a screen. Yes, social media gives me access to millions of artists and cultures that I can't just walk outside and see. That's valuable. But there's also real people and real cultures all around me that I can actually love because I can actually go outside and talk to them. People who aren't vocationally artists are interesting and can inspire you. Demolition workers can inspire creativity in you. So can teachers. So can farmers. So can business owners. I don't want all my friends to be exactly like me. And I don't want to wish I was in a white room in the mountains when I can walk into a tiny grocery across the street and encounter something different, but equally beautiful.

I was immensely more creative with my life and with my art and with my wardrobe when I lived in Chicago and was simply surrounded by people who were different from me. Daily. Consistently. I didn't even have an Instagram. I want to exist more like that. Colourful and creative and creating and less conscious of what is cool and what isn't. More vividly aware of the beauty all around me. I want to change how and who I follow.

Follow people you want to be like.

In life and on social media. 

I want to follow the Bob Goffs. The Ruthie Lindseys. I want to be less about aesthetic and more about people. I love beauty in my room or wardrobe, but I never want to forget that the greatest beauty is inside people. Not my phone. If I forget that, I've lost everything.

So here's me. Emptying my phone and rearranging my colourful room and introducing myself again.

I'm Liz. I own 10 denim jackets--all different--and sometimes I drink mochas and I really enjoy listening to Taylor Swift. I look like a punk kid, but I'm rather an intersection of floral and grit. I'm hideously uncoordinated and have a big scar on my elbow. I'll always be short and I'll probably never be super twiggy and I'm learning to be okay with that. I'm an awful dancer but sometimes I do it anyways. Usually in my car. I like my hair best when it's short and messy (tell that to my 14-year-old self, please) and I really really love that we live in a world full of colour.

Be you and savor it with gratefulness. The world will miss out--you will miss out--if you try to be anyone else.