Owning It: Pink & Short-Shorts
In my own experience, one of the simplest and most important factors in building a life full of joy is choosing to own what makes you smile. This sounds like common sense but it isn’t always the easiest thing to do in a world where we so often base our worth on what other people think about us.
Like many little girls, my favorite color when I was younger was pink. I LOVED pink! I loved it, not because little girls are supposed to love pink, but because hearts and flowers are pink. It was a bright, smiley color and I felt like something good was going to happen when I wore it. Then one day a friend told me pink wasn't cool. I don’t remember exactly what grade I was in (maybe 3rd) but I can vividly picture exactly where we were on the playground. We were standing in the long-jump sand pit that was sandwiched between the fence and the huge metal slide (the kind they don’t allow on playgrounds anymore because they got too hot and were too steep). A kid asked me what my favorite color was and I proudly answered, “PINK!” Her response was simple and nonchalant. “Pink isn’t cool.” And then we went back to playing like nothing had happened. If I’m honest, I don’t think she meant to be mean, but those words sunk deep into my little heart and I decided right then and there that I would never have anything pink again—and I didn’t for over a decade.
I tell that story simply to illustrate how powerful the desire to be liked by the people around us can be and to set up the awesome, joy-filled power of owning who we really are.
For the whole decade-plus that I disowned pink, something deep inside me missed it. Or, maybe more accurately, I missed the small piece of myself that liked pink. I did learn that I also really like yellow and spring green (which were the colors for Adam and my wedding). I adopted purple as my new favorite color and I do genuinely like purple, but I still missed pink. Then one day, I was at the office store getting ready to buy a new planner for the New Year. There was a blue one with clouds and a pink one with big, bright, happy flowers. The blue one was pretty but I loved the pink one! It made me smile. So I picked it up and instantly was back in 3rd grade standing in the sand pit between the fence and the slide with my friend telling me, “pink isn’t cool.”
I write this like it was a traumatic moment. It really wasn’t in the grand scheme of things, but it was a moment where I allowed something that brought me joy to be taken from me. The beautiful thing about life, I’m learning, is there are opportunities for redemption all the time (every day really, if we pay attention). My little 3rd grade, pink-loving self inside my 25-year-old body got her moment that day at the office store. I took that pink planner and, with a giant grin on my face, skipped my way up to the register, bought it and owned it! As small a victory as that is, it really felt like I got a piece of myself back. Any time I looked at that little pink planner I couldn’t help but get a huge smile on my face, my heart felt so big and proud it could burst because I owned my own joy!
For my birthday this year, my husband gave me an AWESOME pink Patagonia jacket. I’m not a huge fan of cold weather, but this year I’m looking forward to cold weather because I know that every time I put on that bright pink, happy jacket and head outside something good is about to happen! For me, reclaiming and owning pink isn’t as much about the color itself, it’s about how it makes me feel— grinning from ear-to-ear and ready for something great to happen.
Short-shorts are a similar story for me—although a much shorter timeline. I was told by a colleague several months ago that short-shorts are inappropriate and I shouldn’t wear them—ever. Let me preface this by saying we are not talking about daisy-dukes where my buns fall out the bottom (if you wear those, more power to you). My colleague was talking about athletic running shorts. I heeded her advice and started wearing longer shorts for a couple weeks. But here’s the thing for me about short running shorts… I feel fast in them! I feel free in them! I get excited to go run just by putting them on. Again, it may sound silly but my short, neon-green shorts make me feel like I could win the Olympics when I put them on.
There is a trail by my house that is about a 3-mile loop and it’s perfect for a quick, after work run. I like timing myself on it because beating my best time feels amazing! So far, every time I’ve run that loop in my neon green short-shorts I’ve beaten my best time by a couple seconds. I realize that is 100% mental, but if you talk to professional athletes they will tell you that a huge part of their ability is mental. As a recreational athlete, the same rule applies. Short-shorts make me feel like I can FLY! I get that there are places where neon-green-short-shorts aren’t the best choice. But for running, or going to the gym or workouts in my living room, my short-shorts make me smile! And I will own that!
For me, pink and short-shorts, are guaranteed smile makers. Also on the smile list are fall aspen trees, hot chai-lattes, warm, snuggly blankets and soup. It’s so easy to allow our smile makers to be taken or minimized by the opinions of other people or by what is popular in fashion or media at the moment. I’m learning that a truly joy-filled life becomes more and more my reality as I take steps to own all of who I am—the big pieces of myself and the small pieces, the pretty pieces as well as the not so shiny pieces.
Are there things that make you smile that you’ve allowed to be diminished or taken from you?
Consider this your official invitation to take those back—to own them! You were created to be you and no one else! So be you and own what makes you smile!
Challenge for the week: Intentionally reclaim or own something that makes you smile. Leave a comment with what you are going to reclaim and own! I’d LOVE to hear about something that makes you uniquely you!
Until next time, own your own joy and reclaim your smile!