The yellow-door mentality

Sometimes, the smallest things leave a lasting impact on our lives.

For me, it was a yellow door.

Years ago, I occasionally nannied for a little girl in my neighborhood.

Right from the start, I knew that her parents were definitely my kind of people: equal parts witty and smart, without ever taking themselves too seriously.

Whenever they would come home and relieve me, I was always grateful to spend a little time talking to them, and learning more about their life experiences.

Eventually, they introduced me to another family (we’ll call them The Millers), who were in search of someone to care for their dog while they went on vacation. This dog-watching then turned into a semi-regular thing, all the while I was still occasionally caring for that same little girl from my neighborhood with the cool parents (we’ll call them The Browns).

Every time I would drop by The Miller’s house, two things greeted me: their energetic pup, and their front door, which was painted an obnoxiously-bright shade of yellow.

Apart from the front door, their house was otherwise quite commonplace: grey siding, white trim, and the quintessential white picket fence. It was just your average home, and quite frankly, the front door didn’t make much sense.

It’s not like The Millers were this wildly eccentric family, nor did they come off as overtly artsy. I really just couldn’t understand the color choice, and there were no clear signs pointing to a reasoning.

It drove me crazy. But how could I broach that topic with The Millers without being rude?

Since I didn’t know the family that well, I eventually decided there was no polite way to bring it up. So I tried to ignore it. I tried to pretend that their front door wasn’t this glaring shade of yellow. I tried to squash my fascination and curiosity.

One night, after babysitting for The Browns, Mrs. Brown inquisitively asked, “Have you ever wondered why The Millers have a yellow front door?”

Her question was completely unprovoked, and caught me by surprise. I didn’t have time to fashion a polite response.

“OH MY GOD, YES!” I squealed in response, so excited to finally have someone to talk to about the topic.

She proceeded to explain how when the family was picking out the colors for their house, they easily settled on grey and white. But when it came time to choose a color for the front door, they just couldn’t agree.

Jokingly, the husband asked, “how about bright yellow?”

To which the wife responded, “why the fuck not?”

And so their front door came to be coated in a lemon hue. Just like that.

I couldn’t wait to share that story with my then-boyfriend (now husband), who had affectionately dubbed The Millers as “the yellow door family.”

We laughed and laughed for hours, thinking about how simple, yet completely unexpected that explanation was.

I just couldn’t shake the fact that out of a million reasons why they shouldn’t have chosen yellow, they did. And it was as simple as saying, “why the fuck not?” 

But then I got to thinking about what exactly was wrong with yellow? Why couldn’t their front door be bright and sunny? And I realized, there was nothing wrong with that choice, yet society has conditioned us to believe that bright yellow isn’t for front doors.

Why? Just because it’s an unconventional color?

I started thinking about all the things Mrs. Miller could have rattled off in response to her husband’s suggestion of yellow.

The neighbors might say it’s unattractive.

The realtor might say it devalues the home.

Their friends might say they are strange.

The kids who pass by on their walk to school might make up stories about how the family that lives there is crazy.

Society as a whole might view them negatively.

And yet, they still chose to say “why the fuck not?” and paint the door a shade of yellow typically reserved for the McDonald’s logo.

For my then-boyfriend and I, it became a metaphor for life, and we called it the yellow-door mentality.

The yellow-door mentality meant ignoring the societal pull and the pressures others placed upon us, and instead, forging our own path – the path that we thought was right for us.

The result was a more positive, fulfilling life that brought us more joy and satisfaction than ever before. All because of the why-the-fuck-not yellow door.

Whenever we felt pulled in one direction by our peers – knowing deep down that we wanted to do something they might consider unconventional, strange, or even just something they might not agree with – we’d look at each other and say, “why-the-fuck-not yellow door?” It always made us smile, and helped us remember that maybe the masses wouldn’t understand our choices, but at the end of the day, they were our choices.

It’s been nearly a decade since then. And yet, something as trivial as the color of someone’s front door has continued to inspire me.

Sometimes, you have to throw all logic aside, and just go with the flow. Sometimes, you just have to say “why the fuck not?” in the face of 1,000 reasons why society says you “shouldn’t.”




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