I am color blind.
It happened when I was fifteen.
It’s not what you think. I can see what color shirt you’re wearing. I can see the color of your eyes. And no, I didn’t bump my head at the bottom of the pool. To elucidate, when I say “color blind,” I’m not referring to my eyes perceiving colors differently from what most humans see. Instead, I refer to my brain perceiving human beings.
Blinded from not just color but essentially any other outside appearance, I allow others to paint their picture in me. Short-circuiting a tendency to judge permits me to genuinely comprehend other people. Certainly, it’s difficult to turn off virulent stereotypes and assumptions; however, the ability to push those fictitious thoughts aside creates an esoteric human who can empathize and sincerely engage with someone.
My color blindness came into effect during my painting class sophomore year. Tucked away in the back of the classroom sat a girl who wore the same, ominous, black clothing every day—sweater, combat boots, cargo pants, everything. Even her hair was dyed jet black. Previously, I heard rumors from a myriad of students who viewed her as an outcast, an anomaly, and even a “goth girl.” But instead of conforming to their views, I harnessed the courage to sit with her one day.
With a blank canvas in my hand and in my head, I sparked up a conversation while painting physical and mental outlines. After a few weeks of classes and discussions, her truth was revealed like frost crystallizing on glass, creating something sad yet beautiful. I felt warmth from her genuine feelings and recollections. From her mother passing away just before she moved to a new high school, I uncovered her deepest scars—physical, mental, and emotional. I solved the mystery, not from the traces of fingerprints or a single black footstep, but with my own color blindness.
But there was light behind her dark. I found out that she was just like anybody else—intelligent, caring, obsessed with Twenty One Pilots, funny, and most importantly, human. During one particular class, I painted a deep blue strawberry with yellow and white seeds on top. Like her, there were unexpected hues. It’s no coincidence that her name is “Stori,” for there are endless chapters in her truth.
Without my color blindness, I would have never discovered one of my best friends. My mental canvas about her is constantly being filled with more intricate details and rich colors, similar to my actual canvas during our painting class together.
My cerebral portrait enables me to interact with people’s authentic selves, not just a mere fictitious image in my mind. The tantalizing opinions, stereotypes, and judgments of others do not automatically infiltrate my canvas like splatter paint, though I still hold them to account on my palate.
True color originates from the other person, not from me. True color portrays the Truth, not fabricated images and words that society holds. True color equates to empathy, the ability to step into another’s shoes and to truly perceive how one feels.
This is my story.
Now, what colors are splattered on your canvas about me?