When I was a kid, I didn’t care about coloring books.
My mom bought them in bulk because she heard coloring could help improve my garish handwriting, but I hardly even touched them.
For the most part, I’d color half a page, then get bored and draw things in the margins. I couldn’t really get into the whole coloring-within-the-lines deal. I just didn’t see the point in it.
It seemed like many children felt the same way as, for a while, coloring books seemed to disappear into the ether for several years.
However, over the last few months, I’ve been bombarded with them.
When I went to Barnes and Noble about two months ago, they were everywhere. Only this time, they were being targeted towards adults.
They featured Native American art, Scandinavian art, Celtic art, animal art, Indian art, etc. Some of them even came with their own colored pencils. They bore titles like “Art Therapy” “Stress Relief” and “Creative Coloring Inspirations.”
Inwardly, I groaned. As far as I could see, this was yet another attempt on my generation’s part to infantize themselves.
Being an adult is hard so let’s sit around the floor and break out a box of crayons. We’ve been saying things like this for years, but I never thought it would actually become a thing.
I anticipated more backlash regarding this movement. I searched the web for cries of “hippy dippy bullshit.” However, most were surprisingly silent or encouraging on the topic of this trend.
Furthermore, many psychological experts have fully supported the coloring book movement, and have provided sufficient reasons as to why coloring is beneficial to peoples’ mental health. Coloring, they said, helps alleviate stress and has proven to be a healthy activity for those with dementia or alzheimer’s.
The more cynical part of my brain was weakened after reading some of these articles, but still not completely satisfied. It was just the principle of the matter. Coloring is for children. Adults should do other activities to relax. Then again, I thought, some of the things adults do to unwind aren’t always healthy.
Thoughts of coloring began to seep into my brain like some sort of virus.
I caught myself thinking about coloring while listening to an audiobook, or sitting in class. Hmmm, it’d be cool to be able to do something with my hands while I listen. Like many from my generation, I find it difficult to devote all my concentration to a single task. Maybe coloring would allow me to satisfy my ADHD side, while also permitting me to retain what is being said.
One fateful morning while I was gift shopping for a friend, I finally caved.
I browsed the broad selection of adult coloring books until I found one that looked interesting. It was more expensive than I had hoped, but I tried to console myself with the possibility that it might be worth it. There were pictures of animals with intricate patters woven into their faces, menageries of fishes and sheep, dragons too.
After purchasing some colored pencils at Target (and feeling as thought I’d brought great shame onto my family), I went home to test out this new craze.
To my utter dismay, I found that I enjoyed it.
I liked performing the menial task of filling in the blank lines with color while listening to audio dramas. I enjoyed the waxy smell of crayons and how simple it all was. I found a small sense of accomplishment after each project was finished as well.
More than that, I found my retention was greater while listening to audiobooks and coloring than when I was just sitting in my chair or playing games on my iPhone.
I’m not addicted to coloring. When the day has been hard I don’t feel the call of Crayola the same way alcoholics might their booze, or druggies their narcotics. I can’t see myself sitting around a table with my friends, coloring in pages of animals as we talk about our days.
However, I don’t think it’s something to be ashamed of anymore.
It’s better for your mind than TV and it’s definitely healthier than drugs or alcohol.
If someone approached me and told me that what I’m doing is juvenile, then I couldn’t really disagree with them. Afterall, I came from the same mindset.
But at the end of the day, does this activity really hurt anyone?
I, personally, don’t believe so.
My handwriting still sucks, though.