Don’t worry – I don’t have some horrible disease. In fact, I only recently found out that I see the world in a different way from others just two years ago. I had a conversation with my younger brother when he first started Calculus.
ME: “Isn’t Calculus hard? I kept staring off into space because everything was just too colorful!”
BROTHER: “Um… what are you talking about?”
ME: “You know … since Calculus is more conceptual, when the teacher asked to think about how the equation looks on the graph, the colorful numbers and letters would get distracting.”
BROTHER: “Evelina… what are you on?”
ME: “I’M NOT ON ANYTHING! Isn’t 5 pink and 8 purple and 2 yellow in your mind?”
BROTHER: “MOM! EVELINA IS SCARING ME!”
I found out that day that most people don’t see the world as some giant Color Run. I didn’t even know of the word “synesthesia” before but I immediately Googled “I see numbers and letters as colors” and there was a ton of writing about it. Synesthesia is a condition in which objects such as letters, shapes, numbers or people’s names are connected with a sensory perception such as smell, color, or flavor.
Originally, I thought everyone saw numbers and letters in color because everyone typically grows up in a color-coordinated elementary school education. I mean, learning the multiplication tables was done entirely in color! I have no idea why I see six as green or seven as red and if that means anything. Synesthesia doesn’t help me in math – I studied public relations to stay away from math. Synesthesia does help me, though, with memorizing. I have all of my close friends’ and family members’ phone numbers memorized. I scored highly in remembering dates for AP United States History. I didn’t write down the time and date of a haircut appointment and remembered it exactly months later.
People’s names also have specific fonts and colors to me. The longer I know someone, the more vivid their name design. When I first meet someone, they have a pretty basic design, but as I get to know them, more colors and fancy fonts start appearing.
I’ve only met one other person with synesthesia and she saw numbers and letters with different colors. I would love to meet someone who associates them with a sound, smell, or flavor. Another one of my friends even assigns a gender to the numbers!
Hopefully, there will be more writing on synesthesia in the future but for now I don’t mind envisioning my world in color!