Would you rather feel empty of sadness or full of emotion?

Excitement is a pale, yet warm, orange—not too bright because I don’t trust bright colors (lime green, I’m looking at you).

Rich exhilaration—I feel this when I’m anticipating something exciting—has always been an indescribable shade of orange. It’s not the shade of the dimpled citruses sitting on my counter beside the bananas, nor is it the shade of the clouds that the setting sun painted. 

I feel this shade of orange when I’m sitting in my living room, in front of my wall-sized window, the sunlight casting lacy shadows across the royal blue rug, waiting to be picked up. Waiting to go somewhere. Waiting to do something with someone I love. I feel orange when I shuffle songs by an artist I’m seeing in concert soon, I feel orange when I watch frozen strawberries form a smoothie, I feel orange when I’m itching to experience a moment or feeling I’ve been longing for. 

That’s the shade, the indescribable orange shade, of excitement. An emotion that colors a lot of my days.

Love—my 16-year-old perception of a great, extraordinary emotion—is varying shades of purple. 

Hand-drawn hearts on my hand, post-it note love letters, catching kisses, hugs to generate warmth at really cold practices, dancing on my deck—the little, full moments of platonic love are royal purple. A rich royal purple. 

Taking the long way home, asking questions you know the answer to just to hear the answer you’ve been wanting to hear, soft and slow songs that are devoted to rainy days, sharing chapstick, oddly specific poetry, 11:11—these are lavender. A lovely, lovely shade of light, airy purple.

I feel a mellifluous gold when I’m content, or delighted, or really, really, really happy. 

The kind of gold that was on the belt of my first dance recital costume. Or the color of the lights and the confetti and the gleaming, glimmering cheeks and eyes at the Julia Michaels concert. The sparks of fireworks and birthday candles, or the fleeting flash of a shooting star. Or maybe it was a satellite. Or maybe it was just a plane. 

I feel gold, golden, when I’m walking back into the house still smiling, when I see mini pumpkins, when I surprise myself by writing a really good letter or number, when I finally solve a math problem I had been working on for way too long, when two characters finally have their moment that the entire book has been leading up to.

Pure delight, pure contentment, pure happiness is gold. 

The colors I associate with emotions, the colors I feel and see and envision, aren’t reserved for the “positive” ones—the excitement, the love, the delight. 

Because my days wouldn’t be completely colorful if it weren’t for the emotions like defeat, envy, loneliness, or sorrow. I feel excitement and defeat in the same day—the same hour, sometimes. I feel love and envy, happiness and sorrow—every contrasting emotion under the sun in the same day. 

When I asked “Would you rather feel empty of sadness or full of emotions,” the overwhelming response was the latter. Everyone, I think, has their own color palette of life, much like mine. I don’t think it matters what the colors are or what the feelings and emotions are as long as there is color. 

Color means you’re feeling. We’d rather feel than not feel at all. I would rather feel than not feel at all. I want every color in the world—every feeling and emotion that expands my palette each day. 

As long as there is color, I will continue to feel. And as long as I feel, there will continue to be color.

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