How we use colour is an expression of who we are. There are certain colours that suit us as people. They reflect something of who we are.
Some of us have had our colours “done”. By this I mean we have been to a specialist who uses a particular system to help identify what shades of what colours are the best ones to wear.
A few years ago now, a popular system used the seasons of the year. Depending on your colouring you were classified as a season i.e. spring, summer autumn or winter. I did not see a specialist but I did buy a book or two on the subject.
Those who like me with fair skin, brown hair and blue eyes were classified as summers. We were advised to wear a certain range of colours that included greyed navy, rose brown and dusky pink. There was even a shade of white that summers were advised to wear winter white. A sort of white that was not so dazzling bright but that was not cream or ecru either Those were the colours that I was most comfortable with and that looked good on me.
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What has colour to do with identity?
We might know what looks good on us but we don’t wear it or use it. It is as if we do not want to show our true self to the world. We want to hide or show the world a different face.
Sometimes that different face has to be shown because we have to wear certain clothes for work. This could be a formal uniform like all shop assistants in this store wear this shade of green so they can be identified. It could be an expected set of norms for that role like everyone in this office wears black or dark grey but there are no written enforceable rules to make them do so.
Other times we wear a certain colour because we want to fit in and follow fashion. Everyone is wearing this shade of blue this year and therefore I have to and follow the herd.
Our choice of colour is often related to who we are and what we want to say to the world. It is one of those things that help people decide if we are one of them or not.
How I found this affected me
I started thinking about this when I was thinking about who I was and what impression I wanted to give to the world. In my case it was not so much what I wore but what my websites looked like.
There are two ways you can go with this. Firstly you can use colours that you think will attract others or reflect what you selling. After all it is not that common to see frozen food marketed using colours that reflect things that are red hot. They tend to be marketed using cool colours that reflect the idea of being cold. Secondly you can use colours that reflect who you are.
In addition to the idea of using colours that reflected my identity, and therefore left me feeling comfortable, I had another obstacle to overcome. In this case it was the rules. Not so much rules like a uniform but rules that were developed to improve the experience of those viewing websites.
When I was first creating websites there was a lot of emphasis on the importance of using web safe colours. If you chose a colour from those 200 or so colours then you could be reasonably certain that your
One of the things that I wanted to do was have websites that had a pale coloured background rather than just white. However when I tried entering the code for that kind of colour into a colour picker that changed colours to web safe colours they would always revert to white. The palest shade of any web safe colour was darker than the colour that I wanted to use. I gave up and just used a white background.
I stayed within the rules for years. Rules that a younger generation of website creators had never even heard of. Then I used a theme that chose the colours for me and I really liked the effect. The background was a very pale pink. It was comfortable. It reflected the true me. So I decided to change the way I used the background colours on all my sites.
This meant developing a house style that I liked and I felt comfortable with. Some areas had to be dark to make a contrast but then I came up with a formula for choosing a matching pale colour using a colour picker. The pale colour was used on some areas of the screen but not on others. In fact with some colour combinations it is barely noticeable that there is a pale colour in addition to white. The backgrounds were no longer that startling white that those of us with summer colourings were advised not to wear.
Finally my web sites were showing the true me. I was not covering them over with a layer of expectations that were put on me. They were really and authentically me.
Its more than just colour
I was tolerating something that I did not like because I had been told it was the right thing. Now while I accept that there have to be some boundaries or else society as a while will collapse into anarchy, there are some boundaries that need to be broken. There are some limitations that are derived from the expectations of others that we need to break out of.
This time it was nowhere near as serious as other situations where I had tolerated things that actually kept me imprisoned and unable to do what I wanted. After all I had survived many years of marriage to someone whose unusual expectations of what to do when had been labelled as a relatively minor mental health condition. It was not as if doing things the way I wanted to do them would generate the sort of response that would leave me scared witless.
I was letting the restrictions other people placed on me dictate how I allowed my websites be seen by the world. They were not showing the real me. It was as if I was showing a different face to the world. The real one could not be seen as it was imprisoned behind the rule that said use only web safe colours.
My websites were hiding behind conventions that no longer applied. The rules had changed because technology could now cope with a different situation. Keeping that rule was in reality being respectful to other people’s needs but no one needed me to do that any more. I could stop doing it. It was no longer necessary.
I had made a choice that no one else could make for me. I had stopped trying to avoid showing the real me and started to let the real me be seen. I had stopped playing the comparison game and trying to be what I was not by trying to show the world a different face. Finally my websites could show the real me. Finally I was liberated from expectations and restrictions and use the colours that I wanted to use.
What does this mean to you?
As I have been writing this I have realised that it is possible to exchange colour for any number of different things in our lives. Things that we tolerate because of the expectations laid upon us by others. Things that stop us showing the world who we really are. Things that sometimes we actually struggle to see are restrictions because they were developed so early in. Things that have changed the direction of our lives.
If this is the case then read this as a parable or story with a moral and make the choice to move out of that restriction. You see, until you make the choice to move out of a situation, you will not start looking for the way out. It gets worse because how can you find the way out until you start looking for it? Therefore unless you choose to change a situation you will not move. You will stay there stuck, unable to move until the end of the world as you know it or the end of your life, whichever comes sooner.