How do you describe the feeling of a color? 

To me, “Ultraviolet” is that iconic song at the end of Angus, Thongs, and Perfect Snogging, a Nickelodeon classic. Ultraviolet is the color of the swirling night sky from my stargazing days in the fields of dairy farms in Upper Turkeyfoot, PA. It’s the color of the candles in the Advent wreaths that I saw in my Catholic grade school every year. It’s the hue of the hyacinth that I grow in my backyard garden at home. It’s the mood of dad’s old lava lamp from the 1970s. 

Ultraviolet is, in my experience, a color that’s captured feelings and not things. It’s intangible, representing a spiritual power of the beyond that contrasts with the greed of a material lifestyle. It’s about feeling and believing in something, even if you can’t physically touch or see it. 

But that’s hardly characteristic of the world we live in today. It’s no secret that the rampant rise of the technological era helped contribute to a widespread culture of materialism. Sometimes the buildup of socioeconomic turmoil feels as if it’s gaining momentum toward some greater movement, another revolution of culture and spirit—the likes of which we haven’t really seen since the psychedelic power of the 1960s and 1970s. Pantone’s choice of ultraviolet as the color of the year for 2018 reflects the need for a shift away from excess consumption, whether it be a perceived need for designer labels or an addiction to self–representation on social media. 

It’s such a cliché at this point, but this color choice serves as a reminder to be more mindful of both yourself and those around you. The common use of ultraviolet and other shades of purple in religion and music is no coincidence­­—it has long held a certain mysticism as a symbol of spiritual energy and individuality. If Pantone is acknowledging ultraviolet as a color of significance for our generation, perhaps it means that the world at large is beginning to lean toward a renewal of a lifestyle with a mental (as opposed to material) focus. 

While for me, ultraviolet mostly elicits feelings of happy nostalgia, it also reminds me that there are more of these kinds of moments in my life that have yet to come. Whether that means starting a journal, reading more often, studying at cafés on Baltimore Avenue on the weekend, or even picking up a hobby like knitting, let ultraviolet help become a symbol of the next year by focusing more on experiences over materials, and remembering to find little ways to take time for yourself.


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