During my undergrad years I found myself on the verge of flunking. Not joking. My first couple of years out of high school were incredibly tough. Pre-med was really tough. I went to a really competitive school where it seemed like all of my fellow students seemed to magically get the oh so fun topics of inorganic chemistry and physics. I knew this wasn’t for me, but I knew I needed to finish this thang and make my Asian parents happy with a science degree. So armed with an quarter-life ADHD diagnosis (finally a scientific reason for my messy brain) and a new outlook on learning, I started to ace my courses in the final couple of years of school.
And I owe it all to colouring.
I started studying things that required visualizations. Political systems that needed to be fleshed out. Concepts, like genetics and molecular biology, that begged to be drawn and coloured, basically. My mind calmed down instantly. All the swirls became logical. I basically owe my undergrad survival strategy to a pile of colouring pencils.
Flash forward a decade and those jittery can’t focus feelings of are back with a vengeance. I also have a tendency to get frustrated and restless if I’m not creating something. But this time, I’m on the wiser side of thirty and I know how to deal with it. My colouring pencils have returned and I’m planning on spreading the colour love across all of my friends.
And the experts all agree with me. My pal Amy is an art therapist and uses colouring books to work with her clients. There was even a freaking National Colouring Book Day in August! Do I need to say more? An article from the New Yorker? Andy “Headspace” Puddicombe? It’s an art form that’s free of judgment. Nothing is going to happen if you pick the wrong colour. It is like dim sum for your creative soul. Whatever shade your heart wants.
Colouring books have also gotten so much better. These aren’t the unicorns of your kindergarten years or the mandalas which are literally everywhere in the colour world. We don’t have much on the printed side in Phnom Penh (does someone want to do a Cambodia-themed colouring book?), but there are a bajillion things you can download from the Interwebs. Hello Lemonade? Or Chance the Rapper? I love the uplifting colouring posters that Bri shared earlier this year (here and here). And freebies from the lady who brought you Colour Me Swiftly? All of them. Please. You have no excuses.
Just remember to have a good sharpener around.
All photos by Tiffany Tsang. Please request permission for use.