What Color is Tuesday: A Look Inside the Brain of a Synesthete

 

Half of you probably clicked on this article because you’re wondering, “what color is Tuesday?” The other half of you are probably wondering “what the heck is a synesthete?” Honestly I didn’t even know until I was 16 and I am one. My revelation came about one day in high school:

Me: *turns to my friend* Hey… so like, what color is Tuesday for you?

My friend: …..um?

Yeah… things kind of devolved from there. Long story short, I think she thought I was crazy.

Synesthetes are just people who experience synesthesia (real helpful definition I know). Synesthesia is when stimulation of one sense causes a secondary sensory or cognitive ~experience~.

For example, some people experience color when they hear sound – but it’s not as straightforward as that. There are two types of synesthesia: projective and associative. A person with projective audio-color synesthesia would actually see a color when they heard certain sounds. A person with the associative equivalent will strongly associate a color with a sound.

 

Courtesy of Curiosity.com

 

 

There are dozens of ways synesthesia can manifest. But some people can have tactile experiences from sounds, associate concepts with personalities, or even taste words.

The most common forms are sound-color associative and grapheme (fancy word for letters, numbers, and the like) color associative. I experience grapheme-color associative synesthesia (projective synesthesia sounds absolutely wild though).

The best way for me to describe it is that my mind has a color filling system. Everything has some kind of color association from letters, to words, to concepts. Because I’m sure you’re all curious, here’s my alphabet/numbers:

As you might’ve noticed there are some duplicates. While my synesthesia makes a lot of things easy to remember, I have some issues distinguishing between things like 3s, 4s, and 8s (greens); Ys and 7s (yellows). This can sometimes be awkward when I get names like Michael and Matt (both are blue) or Joseph and Jacob (both are green) confused. One of my bosses at work is named Joseph actually (99% sure) and I once introduced myself to the wrong professor because he said his name was Michael (my professor was named Matt). #Synestheteproblems #notrelatable

For most words the color is determined by the first letter. But for things that I grew up seeing and learning about, reality influences color. For example, the word flamingo would be green if we were going by the f, but of course growing up I learned that flamingos were pink, so the word is pink.

So yeah, if you ever introduce yourself to me your name will be filled in my head under what color it is. Everything I think about has strong color associations and I can’t separate concept from color. When I think about politics (which is my major), things are purple. When I think about math I think in deep blue. When I’m sitting in my Indian politics class, you’d better believe everything is tinged in yellow.

I get asked a lot about the colors of people’s names and the days of the week, so I thought I’d include my own name and the weekdays how I see them.

 

So for that half of you who were wondering what color Tuesdays are, they’re orange.