I have always wondered what the fuss is about people who love de-stressing with a coloring book, and finally the other day I got to try it for myself. I walked in on an event where one activity is to color paper with a landscape outline. The medium is watercolor, so I excitedly jumped on it thinking, “Oh, I’m a painter, I’m sure mine will look great,” and sat there with a smug smile on my face. I got a photo with a view of women harvesting roses in a field; there was a guide and all you have to do is copy it. So I started to mix the colors. Painting with watercolor starts from light to dark, and I am used to using acrylic where you can always go back and put something light on top of dark paint. With watercolor, you have little control over the paint and it dries so fast. As I worked on the piece, I started to feel anxious, stressed, and I looked over at the other people and they all looked happy working on theirs.
What the hell is wrong with me? “Coloring” as they say should be therapeutic right? And I sat there sweating, my piece didn’t look like how I imagined it and, the darn watercolor was messing up the outline. Ugh! I don’t know why people say “coloring” is anti-stress!
My instant reaction was to consult my long time doctor, Dr. Google. So I typed away on the search button: “Why do some people get stressed with coloring books?” I couldn’t get an answer, all I got were – “it’s a stress reliever,” “more coloring books for adults,” “it’s the new craze!”, “Color the stress away…”
I ended up on the fifth page and still no results! What an uncommon phenomenon! So I diagnosed myself instead (lol). I think that being confined to outlines stresses me, having no control of the image I am coloring makes me really agit. Typical, such a “control freak.”
Control freaks, I always see these people everyday and fail to recognize that I, too, am one. Guilty. Sooo guilty. “Why are you so irate?” I usually get this question from friends, officemates, my exes and people at home. I usually get angry if things don’t happen as I expect them to be. I always think that things need to be a certain way, done a certain way, and then the world would be perfect. Control freaks are often perfectionists, critical and obsessive. In certain situations, it can be good, but often bad.
“Ate, pwede na po akong sumubo?” asked my sister-in-law as we were eating dinner, then she started to laugh. I was talking to her and asking her so many things, and I commanded attention as I was speaking. I was a little shocked being asked if it was okay for her to start eating. It made me feel bad to be perceived as “controlling” because seriously, sometimes the most “controlling” person in the room usually is the most clueless of his or her behavior. And you know, we don’t necessarily mean bad, we actually mean well; we just fail to recognize that we are different and people around us are different, too. We just want things to get done, and to create possible solutions.
Over the years of managing people under the creative department I had to accept that people don’t all work the same, and everyone has a way of doing things. Oh yes, especially creative minds. I learned how to let go of my own personal mantra – “If you want something done, you have to do it yourself.” But it took me years to adjust to it.
“Chill, loosen up, just let it be,” so they always say. It does feel liberating, like dancing in the middle of the club and shaking everything off, losing control. To let go means you have to shed all expectations and let everything take its own course. This also means you are vulnerable. Oh God, that word makes me want to hold on tighter on a piece of rope.
“We live in a vulnerable world. And one of the ways we deal with it is we numb vulnerability,” explains Brené Brown in The power of vulnerability, TEDxHouston, 2010. “The other thing we do is we make everything that’s uncertain certain. Religion has gone from a belief in faith and mystery to certainty. ‘I’m right, you’re wrong. Shut up.’ That’s it. Just certain. The more afraid we are, the more vulnerable we are, the more afraid we are.”
Control breeds certainty, it does feel better to know. “What time will I get there?”, ‘If I jump I will be okay,” “If I eat this it will not make me fat,” “I can get sick today, then I will be okay at this exact date when I have a schedule.” “Yes, this writer will submit tomorrow,” “No, I will not grow old alone,” “This date will turn out fine,” “If I vote for this President he/she will turn the country around.” To know is liberating, but to keep expecting it to turn out the way you think it should is not.
So, I shall buy a coloring book and finish every page and try not to be stressed. Oh God, stress…
For comments, suggestions and violent reactions, you may email me at [email protected] For my crazy life’s adventures follow me at @tatumancheta on Instagram and Twitter.