Emily Mistretta

There’s no blueprint for growing up

December 2, 2022

When I was 10, I started telling everyone my favorite color was blue. 

All of a sudden the t-shirts and socks my mom bought me were blue instead of pink. My birthday cakes were now frosted blue, not purple. 

I hated it. 

The truth is, my favorite color was never blue. Since I was a little kid, I have loved pink and purple with my whole heart. Pink is fiery and fun while purple is vibrant and pretty. 

And the combination of pink and purple? The most beautiful sight ever.

Maybe it was the internalized misogyny or maybe I thought 10-year-olds should like a more “mature” color. Pink and purple were far too childish for a sophisticated 10-year-old like me. 

I lived in my blue bubble for years, but my love for pink and purple never truly faded. 

After years of lying about my favorite color, I stopped pretending to love blue. I once again embraced the pink and purple hues I had always known and loved. 

At the beginning of high school, I bought a new bright pink backpack, which I still use to this day. It has come to my attention that it’s frequently used to identify me around campus. 

When UVM still had a mask mandate, one of my professors wore pink KN95 masks to class every day. I told my mom how much I loved them and soon after, she bought me a bunch for Christmas. 

The following semester, you couldn’t catch me without a pink KN95 on my face. And yes, I thought I was the most stylish person on campus for it.

I own four pairs of pink pants and two pairs of purple pants, which is definitely excessive but I look so cute. My notes from class are almost always written in purple pen and my first year of college I even dyed a strip of my hair pink.

So, just in case you were wondering, I have certainly made up for the year everything turned blue. Life is so much more fun parading around in pink, surrounded by purple objects.

This weekend I turned 21.

Little me thought 21 would be marked with a stable job, a hot boyfriend and all things “adult.” I certainly didn’t expect “grown-up Grace” to wear as much pink and purple as she did when she was six.

What I have learned in 21 years of life is there’s no blueprint for growing up. 

I can wear pink pants and get straight A’s.

My bedroom walls can be purple while I contemplate complex world issues.

I can write this kickass column on a laptop with a purple case wearing a purple sweatshirt with my pink water bottle beside me.  

I can be as successful and happy as a 21-year-old can be and still cry, throw a temper tantrum and crave a hug from my mom.

I’m just a girl who likes dancing on elevated surfaces, eating boxed mac and cheese and wearing pink and purple—all things I enjoyed at the great age of six. 

I don’t need to carry a briefcase and wear a suit to be an adult. 

Growing up isn’t what I thought it would be. It’s hard and it’s scary, but to be honest, it’s a lot more fun than I expected, thanks, in part, to my ability to honor my inner child. 

My twenty-first birthday party theme was pink and purple. It sounds silly, but for me, it was an affirmation that there isn’t a mold I need to fit to grow up. 

All of my friends were decked out head-to-toe in my two favorite colors. My apartment was a sea of pink and purple.

And my 10-year-old heart was happy. 

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