Beige is the color of fear.
I first heard this phrase at our Calhoun Area Writers’ meeting almost two years ago. I was new and nervous, stepping out on a quivering branch to follow a life-long dream of being a writer. Paul Moses, a talented writer and head of graphic design for Royal Thai Carpets, made the statement and said he always uses it with new artists that come to work for him. Get away from what’s comfortable. Be bold with your designs.
It struck a chord with me because a large part of my life has been beige, dominated by fear.
Fear is an interesting part of our lives. Elizabeth Gilbert has a fantastic analogy in her book Big Magic on accepting fear as part of our creative lives. Take a minute to watch this short animation.
Here is Ms. Gilbert’s “Letter to Fear”.
So fear is part of our lives, it’s there and it’s up to us to decide what to do with it.
Am I going to live a beige life or one full of color?
Fear can be tricky. It can often disguise itself as:
Wasting time on meaningless tasks
I’m learning that when I start falling into any of the above traps to stop and ask myself, “What are you afraid of?”
“What are you avoiding that scares you?”
Sometimes I’m just tired, but sometimes the answer is that I’m scared to death of failure – of falling on my face, looking like a fool, not making the cut. And it’s not just fear of failing, but the fear of being mediocre – of blending in like a beige sweater. So it’s safer to just not try.
Back before Christmas we decided it was time to trade in my trusty Prius that was already at 100,000 miles for a newer model. My old Prius was tan – beige- although I preferred to call it Wake Forest Gold. The official name was Sandy Beach Metallic.
North Georgia Toyota had two new Priuses on the lot, both white, which I knew I didn’t want. The salesman said he could find me another color. I liked the mild Seafoam Green, but that was scarce.
“I can get you a red one,” he offered.
“Yes,” I said. The time for driving a beige car was over.
So now I’m driving my snazzy red car – and I love it. It may not be a little red Corvette – I’m embracing fear, not throwing out my practicality – but I feel like a different person in it.
Did I need a new car to get past my fears? No, but my red car represents a new page in my life, one of taking chances, one step in the journey away from beige.
But in order to get past our fears we need to know we have a safety net, that if we do fail, and we will, that we won’t hit the ground too hard. We need to know that we will not be broken, that we can get up and try again.
This familiar verse makes sense in a new way:
There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” I John 4:18
I had always thought that the opposite of fear was courage, but actually the opposite of fear is love. When we are surrounded by friends and family who love us and when we know in our deepest hearts that we are loved by God, then our fear loses its power over us. We know that we will be lifted up, comforted, and encouraged even if our worst fears are realized.
We raise our children in loving environments so that they are not afraid to try new things, but we don’t give ourselves the same buffer.
So I’m taking my fear of failure by the hand and letting it know that it will not keep me from pursuing my dreams. I’m going to let it sit in the backseat of my red car, then I’m going to start the engine and see where the road takes us.
What are some fears you are facing?