Friday, February 3, 2017

I Believe in Yellow

I believe in the color yellow. Growing up, I lived in a constant power struggle with anxiety. I would start my day overjoyed at the prospect of going to school and spending time with my classmates. But when I was there, I felt awkward and out of place. I was petrified when the teacher called on me, unable to vocalize a single word, much less an answer to a question. I thought that every time another kid laughed, it was directed towards me. Sometimes I became so nervous, that I would run out of the classroom without any warning and hide in a bathroom stall. The aspects of everyday life seemed impossible for me to take part in.
In my mind, I was this bubbly, curious, and funny person that yearned to interact with the world, yet on the outside I was just the sad little girl with the blue personality. My emotions became a tidal wave, knocking me down and trying to wash me away. For a while, I let them. I thought that as long as I kept everything bottled up inside me, someday all the pain would just magically disappear. As the years progressed, I opened up more and made a few friends, foolishly believing that my anxiousness was gone. In reality, after spending five years in school with the same people, I finally felt a little more comfortable. By the time I started middle school, I had closed back up, reading and hiding instead of getting to know new people.
It wasn’t until seventh grade that I realized that something about the way I was living needed to change. I had already figured out I had anxiety, but I hadn’t done much about it. It was the middle of December, and I had just run out of class, only to be reduced to tears on the cracked tile floor of the girls’ restroom. In my state of obvious distress, I thought of my mother. I remembered her singing ‘You Are My Sunshine’ while she scrubbed away at grimy dishes in the kitchen. How whenever we indulged in a bag of M&M’s, even though I considered them all alike, she would boastfully claim that the yellow ones were certainly the best. And if you asked her what her favorite color was, she would always say yellow because it was the happiest. Thinking of her, of the woman I adore and struggle to be more like, I made a decision. I chose yellow.

Yellow to me isn’t just a color. It is making friends and pushing myself out of my comfort  zone. It is smiling and laughing and being open about my flaws. Most of all, yellow is the security in knowing that even if I feel inconsolably miserable, I still have a family that loves me, friends who care about me, and a whole world for me to explore. I understand now that my anxiety will never disappear like the white rabbit in the magician’s hat. I also know that I will have days where I am reduced to a weeping mess because I am convinced that I made one conversation slightly awkward. I’m never going to be perfect, but for every panic attack or horrible day, there is a  tiny bit of yellow...waiting to be discovered.
-Grace Brumbaugh

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