Things I Learned from Colouring My First Adult Colouring Book Page

March 11, 2022

Neema Ejercito (she/her/hers), Low Entropy Volunteer Writer

 

I was never about fads or following what was trending. In fact, I shunned fads to a fault. It took me a while to read the Harry Potter series, and I still haven’t read The Fault in Our Stars. And back when alternative music was viewed as “dirty,” I forced myself to listen to it to drown out the popular easy-listening or pop rock bands. There was even a time I looked down on anything pop, but thanks to the wisdom of age, I’ve come to terms with it, and I now admit that BTS and Arianna Grande are musical treats.

 

When adult colouring books became popular in the Philippines in 2015, my initial response, as usual, was “meh.” I appreciated the ones my illustrator friends were working on and supported them when they sold theirs. But it wasn’t till another artist friend gave me my own that I realized how truly awesome they were.

 

The book instructed me to choose my favourite page, and stop whenever I felt like it. From there, I learned other truths that I think are lessons I keep learning in other areas of my life:

 

  1. I don’t have to fill in all the empty spaces.

I don’t know about you, but I tend to get obsessed with white spaces in a colouring book, especially with something as intricate as the designs in an adult colouring book. With the guideline to stop whenever I liked, I learned to take a look at my work and just know when to stop.

 

Kind of like in real life. I tend to fill my schedule so that I don’t waste time. My husband’s been telling me that I tend to fill up empty horizontal spaces, whether on a table or on the floor. So when I see an empty entry in my daily divided-per-hour calendar, I sometimes have to remind myself that that’s okay, and it’s actually time to rest or watch Netflix or just do something that doesn’t have to make sense.

 

  1. It’s okay to colour outside the lines. 

 

I’m usually the type of person who is really strict about sticking to lines and making sure that my colours are even, but just letting that go in the colouring book has actually been a more creative process for me. Letting go doesn’t necessarily mean being messy. Or even if it seems like it is, it doesn’t have to mean chaos.

 

I’m still learning this lesson as a mom, especially when I wish my kids would keep their clothes clean and ironed so that I can take nice pictures of them. But sometimes, the best pictures are actually the ones of how they actually look — when they just ate chocolate cake or when they’re sweaty from running around.

 

  1. The big picture will sometimes look better if you don’t concern yourself with the little details.

 

I wanted to have a colour plan for my first page so I would know where it was headed, but I found that I sometimes had to go one colour at a time to know my next colour. It was freeing to see it all come together without my control.

 

I’ve tried so hard to direct my life in a certain way, feeling that I should have a plan and always know where to go. Maybe that works for others, but I’ve learned to accept that it doesn’t always work for me, at least not in the way I want. I’ve also learned that Someone really is in control and knows what’s best for me and is taking care of me, and I’m still constantly growing within that.

 

It’s amazing what a piece of paper with some lines and a box of crayons can do.  Like a writer friend of mine said, the reason that clichés are cliché is because they are true. They resonate with so many people. And there’s nothing wrong with that.  

 

Neema Ejercito is a professional writer, director and creative writing mentor. Her 3D edutainment series for beginning readers, AlphaBesties, is showing in YouTube Japan and Prairie Kids. When she’s not writing or mentoring, she manages her household with her very supportive husband and three children.

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