I believe that everyone sees the world a little differently. My blue may be your teal, my happiness your pain, my lucky day your worst day ever. I’ve learned that learning about different ways that people perceive things can not only teach you about their world, but inspire you to delve deeper into the way your own world looks to you.
I have synesthesia, which, in extremely broad terms, means that my senses are somewhat linked. Listening to music causes my mind to “see” colors, shapes and textures that just, to me, seem to “go” with it. Play a song, and I could paint you a picture of it. Letters and numbers, too, have their own colors and almost seem to take on personalities and traits of their own. It’s been that way as long as I can remember, and for a long time, I just thought that everyone saw things that way.
I remember telling my parents about a math problem when I was in kindergarten. I said, “Six plus four just reminds me of sneakers.” They kind of laughed and looked at me funny. I tried to explain it to them, but they just didn’t understand how six plus four (but mostly the number six) could have anything in common with a pair of sneakers. Even though I was only five or so, that was the first time I realized that maybe everyone didn’t see things my way.
I decided to keep my mouth shut from that point on. When I would try to explain why I liked a song, I couldn’t say “Because it looks cool;” I had to remember that other people didn’t see it my way. This actually helped me learn to communicate better because I had to look at things from others’ point of view.
One day, out of boredom, I decided to research synesthesia, just to see other people’s views on it. I came across a website that had narratives from different people describing their experiences. One man experienced specific tastes when he heard or read words, while another person could physically map out where numbers were in space. It somewhat satisfied me to know that other people saw the world a little differently than most.
But then I saw the picture. It had all the letters of the alphabet, colored, but they were colored all wrong! Y isn’t green, it’s yellow! L isn’t brown, either! I wondered how anyone could possibly see it that way, but soon, a new thought came to me. Maybe if some people don’t experience this at all, then the people that do experience it all do so differently.
I can apply my colorful adventures to my real life, too. Someone with political or religious beliefs opposite mine may just have a green A. Maybe the person that thinks television is the devil just sees their music a little differently. I can’t change them, so I guess I’ll just have to accept everyone’s colors the way they are.
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