Looking through orange lenses

The reasons why I decided to wear bright colors and how that changed my personality.

Rachel Jiang

More stories from Rachel Jiang

May 23, 2021

My entire collection of orange and yellow T-shirts, jackets and flannels.

I spent my summer waiting for junior year to start because I was so ready to take on the challenges of the infamous year. However, I found myself focusing on something more than grades and extracurriculars — the drastic lack of color at MVHS. 

As I grew up, I began to notice something peculiar about myself. Although I had a lot of passions and opportunities, my life was most definitely not colorful. At school, I took a look around and saw how black and white my life really was. And I don’t mean that figuratively. I mean that literally. 

They say television used to be black and white, and one day, colors appeared on our screens. While this was a great step towards technological advancement, I never thought I would see a day where my world would be black and white — until recently. 

On my first day of school, I came to a realization that the majority of the students at school wore only black, grey or white-colored clothes. And the colors they wore matched the general mood: depressing, stressful and bland. It reminded me of “The Giver,” where all colors were censored from society. 

Now you may ask: Rachel, why do you like colors so much? Well, colors make my perspective of the world more beautiful. They bring symbolism and emotion through shades and brightness. I can’t really explain it — they just make me feel satisfied.

Looking at everyone in their drab colors made me feel like I was in some 1900s black and white film. Having no color in my life almost felt like losing one of my five senses. Because of this, I decided to wear extremely colorful clothing to mitigate this melancholic atmosphere at school. 

Through Live Science, I found out that orange is one of the least popular colors in the world and for some reason, that made me feel pity for the underappreciated color. So, I decided to make it my favorite color. I’m not really sure what I was hoping to accomplish, but one thing I knew for sure was that MVHS needed to see colors again.

Visual for Orange Column
Rachel Jiang
When I stepped into high school, I realized that almost everyone wore either black, gray or white.

From that day forward, my closet evolved dramatically; what once was filled with neatly piled dull blue and purple shirts became a vivid orange mess. I buy the brightest orange shirts and wear them to school, hoping to spread the happiness felt through the color. Slowly, orange was no longer just a color I happened to choose for myself, it became my true favorite color. 

In addition to a collection of eye-catching orange shirts, I also have clothes ranging from red to yellow to expand my interest in bright colors. Every time I go somewhere, I began to naturally appreciate these colors and find new meanings for every shade.

In cross country, I am known for wearing bright colors to runs. My friends told me that seeing me running in front of them, with a bright shirt on, is a beacon of hope and motivation for them to finish runs. 

In my freshmen year, I received a small, orange crayon highlighter from my friend, who never would have known that I loved highlighting things so much. Instead of highlighting important words and phrases in readings from class, I would basically color the entire text just for the fun of it. Then, I would gaze at my masterpiece and not know anything about what I was reading.

Perhaps I just chose the color orange out of luck or maybe I just wanted attention. But what I feel about wearing orange right now is completely different from what I felt before. I used to feel obligated to represent this color, but now, I feel that this color is one of the only colors that truly matches my personality. In fact, I found myself buying snacks, stationery and tools that contain this color and then I applaud myself afterward for staying true to myself and not to others. 

I went from being extremely shy and sheepish to being confident and tranquil. My younger self was a tiresome perfectionist who claimed she had OCD because she wanted everyone to see her as an innocent and flawless genius. She was very composed and reserved, obediently following school rules and teachers. Basically, she was your average teacher’s pet who tattled on everybody. 

Now, I’m an orange mess; no longer a tiresome perfectionist, but a tiresome imperfectionist who does the most stupid things like putting on glasses because I might look attractive, and placing straws in my mouth because they looked like braces. 

I know the current me seems worse, but she is someone the past me was never able to be: