We’ve all seen them displayed in a store with an elaborate cover and perfectly blended color palette of pencils on the side. Whether you’ve jumped into the hobby full force or been hesitant to celebrate a return to childhood, the popularity of adult coloring books is undeniable. I was skeptical at the start, believing I didn’t have enough time to fill in all the white space, but I didn’t give them a chance until last fall.
After a session at a women’s retreat, there were adult coloring books on all the tables waiting for us to make them beautiful. So I colored. While it was as relaxing as everyone claims, what surprised me the most was the conversation that stemmed from coloring together.
We let our guards down. We complimented each other’s color choices. We shared our thoughts from the previous session. Coloring provided a creative, safe atmosphere for getting to know one another.
Many of the women in the room that night were older than I was. They were not necessarily my closest friends or people in the same life-stage. However, we bonded together as we colored, practiced creativity and took a moment to breathe.
As an introvert, the coloring book tactic was a game changer. Instead of hiding in the back corner talking to another introvert or scooting out early to head to my room, I found myself sitting in the middle of many women, the room buzzing with casual and easy conversation. Whether it was the nostalgia of coloring or the fact that we weren’t looking at each other, the coloring books were an equalizer. We were able to share our lives, to laugh and savor each other’s company.
Whether it was the nostalgia of coloring or the fact that we weren’t looking at each other, the coloring books were an equalizer.
It wasn’t only me, the social introvert, who enjoyed coloring. The woman who just wanted to listen had something to occupy her hands and didn’t feel left out or awkward. The woman who wanted to socialize but was unsure of her words found an easy conversation facilitator. The woman who had no creative skills but wanted to be around everyone else simply picked a few colors, started filling in white space and managed to look like a pro. The woman who needed a detox from life found stress relief through the work of her hands.
While coloring books may not be appropriate for cocktail hour in a restaurant or at a fancy dinner, they are suitable for a cozy girls’ night or a get-together in a coffee shop. So whether you color solo or haven’t given adult coloring books a shot, know that they can offer more than basic stress relief.
They may be just the thing to build community at your next event.