Day 23 of the Slicing Challenge
Several months ago I was in a writing class and a woman wrote a beautiful, moving piece about her granddaughter. Within this piece she wrote an off-the-cuff disparaging allusion to “those pastel people,” comparing them to others more bold and vivid. Clearly this was not a reference to their clothing color preference, but more an indictment of their personalities. I admired her craft, and this clever line, the concept and the casually contemptuous tone lingered with me.
I turned this idea over frequently, and initially, I bought into her view. I mean, who doesn’t admire someone who is bold, vibrant and eye-catching? Someone who makes an impact. Pastel colors are b-o-r-i-n-g. But then, it hit me… right between my pale blue eyes. I am, for the most part, a pastel. Part of this might be my temperament and certainly part was my upbringing.
In my family there were many spoken and unspoken rules about how to behave, but there were always rules. I was raised to be helpful and never to make waves. Not to make a bold statement. Never to clash or draw attention to myself. As a result, my siblings and I had lovely manners but didn’t necessarily know how to speak up for what we wanted or needed. Good lord, we might inconvenience someone if we expressed a simple preference, so too often we didn’t. Stay in the background. Smooth things over. Don’t rock the boat. Follow the rules. In essence, be pastel.
The more I thought about this color-based personality analysis and my pastel category, the more I found myself demurring*—not with the overall concept, but with the dismissive tone. Pastels aren’t merely “washed out” or “nearly neutral” or just plain boring. While they don’t have that “zing” factor, they have hidden depths. Pastels provide balance, promote relaxation, and can be more subtle and nuanced than bold colors. They soften the edges, soothe and calm. These are pretty important functions.
So,while part of me will always long to be bright, vibrant and bold, and to take the world by storm, it’s really not my nature. And that’s ok. I’ve come to terms with being pastel.
* Merriam-Webster defines demur as “to disagree politely with another person’s statement or suggestion” —definitely a pastel way to dissent!