about me real talk

the one about synesthesia


This is a post I’ve thought about writing for a while, but honestly didn’t even know where I would start. You know when you think something you do is totally normal and everyone does it, and then all of a sudden, like twenty years into your life, you learn that it’s totally weird and no one even knows what you’re talking about? No? Okay, well that’s been my experience with synesthesia.
I usually hate when people give me definitions for words I can look up myself, but I think it’s worth it to include this one here: Synesthesia is a neurological phenomenon in which stimulation of one sensory or cognitive pathway leads to automatic, involuntary experiences in a second sensory or cognitive pathway.
One of the cool (for me), confusing (for everyone) things about synesthesia is that it affects everyone differently who experiences it. For some, they can taste music. Others can hear smells. For me, I can feel colors. More specifically, I have deep, physical and emotional associations between colors and numbers, days of the week, letters of the alphabet, and more. Because it’s neurological, it’s not really something I can explain the logic behind. It’s like asking me to show my work on a math problem my brain invented.

Growing up, I thought everyone’s brains worked the way I did. It was so incredibly earth-shattering to find out that not everyone felt colors and had the same associations I knew to be completely natural.

Without getting all scientific (because, to be honest, I don’t know much more of the science than I’ve given so far), I thought it would be fun to share a little about my color and feeling associations and how it affects my day to day life.

So, these are my numbers. When I think or say the number two, I am also feeling this shade of blue. Three has always been macaroni and cheese orange, and six Jolly Rancher green. I feel a special connection to two, four, and six — especially six, which is my favorite number. This is a little weird because green isn’t my favorite color, so I feel like it’s important to clarify that it’s not like that. It’s about the feeling I have attached to six, which is pure and happy.

You might notice that the numbers one, five, and zero are missing from this list. The reason is that those numbers are void of color and feeling. When these digits are paired with another to make a multi-digit number, they sort of chameleon themselves and absorb the color and feeling of the other numbers. Usually, this doesn’t work out so well for those numbers. For instance, 25 often shows up as blue and red. This color combo is so stark and feels masculine to me, and I’m totally repulsed by those feelings because I don’t identify with them. Let’s just say I’m not stoked about turning 25 later this year for one particular reason.

I think it’s significant to mention that these numbers are sort of void for me because 2015 is made up of a bunch of numbers that I don’t feel connected to, that I don’t identify with. This has been really hard for me, and I’ve honestly been dreading the new year for weeks because of it. I loved 2014 and being 24 because I love the color associated with it. Not having a color makes me feel really unstable and empty. It’s challenging for me to look forward to something I only see as a void. I’ve been trying to be mindful and present in my every day life to combat this feeling, but it still makes looking forward pretty bleak.

A lot of the time, my synesthesia is really helpful though! People always ask if it helps me with putting together outfits, and I can’t say I actively am aware of myself using it, but I’m sure subconsciously it helps. Since I associate colors with feelings anyway, a lot of feelings have their own color. I don’t think the colors my brain chooses are groundbreaking or anything, but my connection to them is deeper than most people’s, and that affects the way I string words together or choose a color palette in Photoshop.

Basically, it doesn’t affect me in huge ways every day, and I’m not even always aware of it, but now that I’ve gotten a little more in tune with it I’m learning to use my synesthesia to my advantage. I realize I sound like a teen who just discovered she’s a witch with a talking cat. I won’t argue with that!

Am I alone out here? Does anyone else in the blogosphere have synesthesia? Should I just go back to talking to my cat about all the pretty colors no one else can see?

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