Distressing True Colours

In recent years, a craft/ DIY technique has attracted increased interest. They call it Distressing. Used very effectively on wood with layers of old paint, the top layers are ‘distressed’ or sanded away with an abrasive paper or tool, to reveal random glimpses of the underlying true colours.

In craft rooms, a similar process is followed to enhance the colour and texture of card and paper. Paper is often embossed and then ‘distressed’ on the raised areas to form a beautiful contrast. Why am I telling you? Over the past few weeks, I have had True Colours on my mind.

As I turned the phrase over and over in my mind, I was persuaded that human beings also undergo a similar process. When distressed, we show our true colours. Some of you will know that my number one dislike in the world, is inauthenticity. For me, this one word represents all that is wrong with the world – hiding something under layers, to make it seem something that it is not. It leads to deception, arrogance, prejudice, betrayal, and so much more. Irrespective of the form it takes, it never ends well.

People hide who they really are under layers of clothing, and their thoughts and emotions under layers of pretence, to avoid judgement, conflict and even rejection. But sometimes they simply do it to deceive someone. We have all done it to some degree. I have sometimes kept what I really think and feel to myself to avoid conflict, or hurting someone else’s feelings – not always, but many times. It would have been good if I had sometimes done it to stay out of trouble too!-) Now, I believe there are some things it’s okay to keep private, and we all have those too. But that’s different.

I am actually a huge fan of saying what you mean and meaning what you say. Some people are utterly real, and others are utterly fake. I love it when people are unapologetic about who they are – what you see is what you get and you can choose to like it or lump it. No one wants to buy something that isn’t what it was advertised to be – it’s fraud.  Zebras and horses are not the same, and they don’t pretend to be.

I am making a point (via the scenic route, but I’m getting there)! Irrespective of what others think of your true colours – they exist. Even if you have covered them with layers you think the world might be more accepting of, they exist. Like the true colours in the seams of a faded garment, or the core of a pencil crayon. Like the feathers of specific birds and stripes on and spots on specific animals and plants. True colours are irrefutable. And they are always eventually exposed during a process of distress – either your distress or someone else’s.

I know some people with beautiful true colours that make the world a better place. And others who have darker colours that make the world a sadder place. But you know what? I think some true colours can change. Just like you can change the colour of a wall or a piece of furniture by stripping it right down to the raw core – leaving a blank new canvas to start over. Even textiles and garments can be permanently dyed.

So, I’m thinking distress has value. Maybe it exists to constantly optimise the chances of revealing your beautiful true colours. Even if some of those true colours are not so beautiful, enough distress could strip them away entirely, to create a fresh start.

Whatever distress you are experiencing right now, I just want to encourage you to shine. Don’t hide your true colours, because they will come through at some point and if you have been hiding them under layers of pretence, you may lose people you value. If on the other hand, you just be you and show your colours, (stains, scuffs, patina and all), people will already know who you really are. And I’ll wager, they already love and accept what they see.

We have all had people reveal their true colours during times of distress, and it can be one of the most devastating experiences ever. Conversely, it can also be one of the most beautiful. You decide – because authenticity is immune to the effects of distressing.

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