For years, I've talked about this concept called an "Orange Nose." In the beginning, I often told the story about my height (I'm exceptionally tall) and how it, quite literally, made me stand out. I called it my Orange Nose, because it was obvious and often elicited comments - welcome or not.
Over the years, I realized that just about everyone has an Orange Nose, something that makes them feel different, in a sometimes uncomfortable way.
We also have Orange Nose moments; day-to-day experiences that make us feel vulnerable, insecure, embarrassed. They make us cringe in the moment and may awaken feelings of shame and not belonging.
In the fall of 2020, I watched The Social Dilemma, and a scene in the movie motivated me to share this concept. The scene portrays a tween girl who posts a picture of herself to social media. She's feeling good about the post until someone makes a comment about her ears, at which point, she becomes ashamed of her ears and tries to hide them. They become her Orange Nose.
I wanted to create a space where people like this girl could go and realize the idea of "perfect" is a myth created by the media. To realize that it is our differences, not our perfections, that make us special. To read stories of others who may be facing similar insecurities. And maybe, a place where she can share her story, too.
The Orange Nose was born.
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We sometimes fake knowledge in order to belong, or we feel insecure verbalizing our lack of knowledge. Inside, however, it can tear away at our personal integrity.
Making a mistake can trigger feelings of shame and regret. Instead of owning it and learning from it, we can have a tendency to hide our mistakes.
Whether it is a name, an important milestone, an assignment or something else, forgetfulness can feel embarrassing - an Orange Nose moment
We've all been there. Made a joke that doesn't land. Clapped in a silent room. Been the person who drank too much and made inappropriate remarks. It's called being human, and it happens.
Whether intentional or not, being excluded can hurt and trigger feelings of shame, vulnerability and insecurity. It can threaten our deep-seated need to belong.
Diarrhea. Loss of bladder control. Periods. Vomiting. Normal bodily functions can turn into Orange Nose moments when they happen in public. And yet it happens to all of us. Let's take the shame out of it!
A wandering eye, a missing arm, a deformed leg, being too tall or too short, breasts that are too big or too small, too much brawn, not enough brawn, a brain that works too well or not well enough, skin that looks different.
Learning disorders, depression, schizophrenia, bi-polar disorders; being overly friendly or not friendly enough, agoraphobia, OCD, eating disorders, social or other anxieties.
Diabetes, a congenital heart condition, a rare disease, asthma, speech impediment, vision impairment, hearing impairment.
Physical, emotional or sexual abuse, surviving a natural disaster or an accident, the sudden death of a loved one, experiencing war, terrorism, captivity or incarceration
suffering the effects of poverty, lack of education, no access to medical treatment, or, on the other end of the spectrum, being so privileged that you have no idea of who you are or live in a gilded cage.
Having a foreign accent, being outside social norms of sexuality or dress or status or education or ability or .... the list goes on.
Sharing your Orange Noses opens the door to love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy.
Keeping your story hidden may feel like you are "staying in control," but in reality, it keeps you from being fully and freely yourself.
The Orange Nose is a motivational blog and online community where everyone who has an Orange Nose tale can go to share stories of radical acceptance. It was created by Melissa Reeve, as a result of her experiences.