Beautiful Outsiders Fill The World With Color: Embrace Your Other-ness Through The Holidays

by Michelle M. Johnson


Going for my morning walk one grey south Texas day,
 I turned the corner on this stunningly lovely example of how incredibly
 boring and downright awful
this world would be if everyone were exactly the same, if there were no
beautiful outsiders.


'Tis the season, y'all. 

Like, officially. 

Feeling that holiday rush?

I know I am. I am typing this blog post on Thanksgiving Eve in hopes of having a full day of relaxation and deliciousness with my partner tomorrow because all the hours leading up to this moment have been equally full.

But, honestly, I feel that rush, that demand to plug and chug, every holiday season. 

'Tis the season, alright...the season of crowds: shopping crowds, family crowds, church crowds, traveling crowds, event crowd, party crowds.

So many expectations, so many obligations.

I don't know about you, but the last few months of the year always make me feel a little...estranged from the rest of the world. This is the time of year that I usually feel the most other, the most different than everybody else. 

I'm not a Scrooge, per say:
  • I love the taste of gingerbread - the cookie, not the flavor (I am not a member of the pumpkin-spice-all-the-time club; I much prefer the flavor and smell of garlic and vanilla, and no, not together).
  • Giving gifts can be fun, especially if I find something totally unique and perfect for someone.
  • Holidays tunes don't make me want to vomit, so long as they aren't played in October (and here's where I have to share a shout out for my favorite contemporary holiday albums: y'all MUST give Joel Paterson's Hi-Fi Christmas Guitar, Sia's Every Day Is Christmas, and Erasure's Snow Globe a listen - a holiday tune rut is no place to be!).
  • And, I believe there is something magical about combining a chilly evening, some delicious beverages, a collection of twinkly lights, my favorite people, my troublemaker cats, and a bunch of couches; I could spend 7 nights a week like that, and probably never getting bored.
Still, 'tis also the season when I feel the most like an outsider.

Since I can remember, I've walked around feeling a little bit different than whatever crowd I happen to be in.

And, for so many years I struggled against that feeling, trying desperately to fit in with the crowd, with society, with friends, with family, at least once in a while.

But, in the end, all that going-with-the-flow-of-others never brought me the result I was craving: acceptance, the permission to be who I was, no matter what.

Trying to fit in did, however, bring me loads of unhappiness, a fair share of stress, and copious amounts of that most festive of feelings, resentment. 

It has only been in recent years that I have also felt angry.

What's wrong with needing a different sort of pace during the close of the year? What's wrong with needing to do or choose something non-traditional now and again (or maybe always)? 

So long as no one is losing a eye or breaking an arm, there's abso-f**king-lutely nothing wrong with being different, with being an outsider.

  • Outsiders provide some spice!
  • Outsiders are there to show you the excellent qualities of everything else within the norm (seriously - how could there be any idea of how a human life was supposed to go IF there were no outsiders working and doing their own thing?)!
  • Outsiders are a beautiful, essential part of society, of humanity.

And, it was while I was thinking on this idea earlier this year that I came about drawing the illustration below in my journal. 


It is rare that I use pencil while sketching in my journal,
but I had just gotten my first box of Palomino Blackwing Pearls,
an artisan pencil, and I was super excited to figure them out!

I really loved how this sketch turned out (and so did my cats; the original has a sizable collection of bite marks), so I brought ink to it recently. 


And, just in time for the holidays, too! 

I am quite happy to be able to offer this illustration as this November's Free Coloring of the Month page for the Have Color Will Travel coloring community (it's super easy to join, so if you're interested, look over yonder at the green section of my blog's sidebar and sign up).


Pencil sketches do not translate well to coloring pages,
so I added quite a bit of ink to the original sketch and spent
a good deal of time digitally cleaning off graphite smears and
erasure marks. I think it was well worth my time:)

My hope is that if folks begin to feel a little on the outs during the holiday crush (and have some quiet creative time), this page might provide them with a reminder of just how awesome and beautiful being different is, of how essential and necessary outsiders really are.

Beautiful outsiders most definitely fill the world with color!


I'd be lying if I told you I just *happened* to begin
 coloring this new Have Color Will Travel
 Free Coloring of the Month page. I totally rushed to have a
 smidgen colored *just* to be able to snap a photo
 for this blog post:( My hope is that I will be able to relax
 and color for reals tomorrow while our birds are cooking!

Cheers to you all!

Happy Thanksgiving...and, happy coloring:)

(I, too, need encouragement through the holiday season, and I got some excellent bolstering from this episode of the Do Lectures, an outfit that specializes in the inspiration of creative folks. The phrase "be a beautiful outsider" is uttered by the speaker in the last few minutes of his speech, and it resonated within me deeply.)

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