“Why fit in when you were born to stand out?” ― Dr. Seuss
I started school very young, so it should be no surprise that I was not as mature as my peers. I was a bit extra hyper and asked way too many questions for the teacher’s taste. When they tried to hold me back in Kindergarten, my parents had me tested and the psychologist who worked with me said, “She’s not a smaller apple, she’s an orange.”
That expression became my motto for many years. It helped me to understand why I didn’t fit the traditional school mold even though I would later be identified as gifted (in hindsight I was probably what they would call “twice exceptional” with unidentified attention issues).
I embraced my orange-ness in an apple world.
I might have been considered a hipster before it was remotely considered “hip.” This was especially true in the way that I dressed. My senior year of high school, when the grunge movement started, I remember bemoaning the fact that the same people who used to mock my style were now complimenting me. When I went to prom in a patchwork dress I designed myself, I expected weird looks but instead got praise instead.
Over the years, though, I saw my deliberate unconventionality as a sign of immaturity and began to tone myself down to fit with the other apples.
I didn’t see it as losing myself, just as part of growing up. In my attempts to become a “mature adult,” orange started to fade out of my life. In my attempts to reign myself in, I was attracted to a relationship that reinforced toning myself down further.
When I was divorced about seven years ago, orange slowly started to creep back into my wardrobe. I remember one time my best college friend I only saw on occasion these days said to me, “you’ve got your orange back!”
As I found myself back in the dating world, I continued to find myself attracted to people who saw the same flaws in me that I saw in myself. I lacked a filter, was too scattered and lacking the qualities of a “responsible adult.”
It would make sense then that I would be drawn to “more responsible” and often, therefore, more critical partners.
Not that I didn’t have relationships with men that weren’t critical, but for me, those always seemed to fall short, or lack some spark. I started to worry that it was me, not them, that was the problem.
Then I met Guy. I knew pretty early on that something was different this time. Not that it was all easy - he had a challenging past I couldn’t help but worry would come out in some surprising way. As I’ve seen it, it has come out in a beautiful spirit that lives life with great acceptance and humor. He appreciates everything he has and loves me because of my quirks rather than despite them.
When we decided to get married, I knew that orange was the only choice for my dress, and my sister was up for the design and crochet challenge.
As long as I tried to be an apple, I would never find another orange (or maybe he’s more of a fig).
Accepting myself fully opened me up to find someone who could fully accept me in return!
Dress designed by my sister, Laurinda Reddig of ReCrochetions.