I had taken a silly Facebook quiz - “The Left or Right Brain Test.” Intentionally, I have no doubt, the left brain was labeled blue “Analytic” and the right brain was pink “Instinct.” My results came back as expected. “Right brain inclined.” Pink.
Why my sudden celebration of this rosy hue? I have never been a pink person. The officially mandated color of girlhood instinctively draws my rebuke. I want a rainbow. I want choice. But on this day, I was hoping for pink.
(For purposes of this discussion, I will refer to left brain inclined people as blue and right brain inclined people as pink.)
Let me start by saying that I love blue people. I married a blue man. My dad is blue. My best friend and editor is blue as can be. I would actually argue that every pink writer should be required to have blue readers. Azure inclined friends and acquaintances have saved me time and time again. They can make me feel safe and grounded. Practical. Rational.
Furthermore, we live in a pro-blue culture. Economic stability, academic achievement and career success can be excavated from a blue foundation. Pink, on the other hand, represents leisure -- what we do in our spare time. It is for fun and not to be taken seriously. Instincts cannot be trusted. Pink is an elective, not part of the essential core.
I asked several of my colleagues to take this same quiz. My sociologist friend was quick to tell me the entire questionnaire is flawed, but I was still interested in the conversations it sparked. Even among instructors in higher education, I heard a favoring for blue. I heard things like: “I am more logical, as people should be” or “Our problem right now is that people are too emotional.” These statements tend to imply that the opposite of blue is illogical and irrational, which is further proving the misconception of pink. It becomes an either/or fallacy. Analytical and instinctual can coincide. I would argue that we do not need to polarize these sides but rather see how they enhance each other to make a greater whole.
As a product of this culture, I spent most of my life performing as a member of the blue woman group. I made the grades, earned the promotions, met the deadlines, followed sound and logical plans of action, and gained recognition for said achievements on a personal and professional level. I was really good at being blue. But we all know that you can gain the whole world and lose your own soul.
Today, my neon pink roots have broken that blue surface and are finally gaining the recognition and time they deserve. My creative, imaginative endeavors do not earn my keep or produce a paycheck. And that’s okay. George Saunders once said, “Angels don’t get paid.”
Instinct is an empath’s superpower. I can feel and read the energy from the moment I step in a room. I can work off feeling. As someone who has been broken open through loss and grief, I have emerged as a healer. People who are hurting seek me out, and I go to work ministering to their needs and trying to heal their pain. Creatively speaking, I am using the same voice that once produced term papers and assembled research for academic accolades to share my personal journey and experiences with others. Our purpose can be found in our wounds.
I have discovered that in a world that celebrates blue, I can still proudly display my pinkalicious tendencies. There were years I spent rebelling against my mom’s “pinkness.” Feminist tunnel vision falsely informed me that her instinctual ways were an embodiment of female inferiority and submission. But now, I recognize the beauty and power in the way she manifested her pink powers to help others. It was only inferior to blue if I chose to accept the status quo and see it that way.
When I look at my children growing up in a blue filtered world, I want to make ample space for pink. I want them to enjoy and benefit from both sides of the spectrum. We sent them to a nature based school with a mission statement to “teach the whole child.” A traditional core curriculum was enhanced with classes such as yoga, nature, art, music, pottery, just to name a few. They learned to trust their instincts when navigating the natural world and developing as members in a community of learners. It was blue and pink working together in harmony.
I hope we teach our children that different does not mean wrong. I want them to reach their full potential without sacrificing or disregarding a part of who they are. May they learn to show and use all their colors.