It has been a trending item in the form of hashtags, Pinterest pages, and entire Barnes & Noble shelves. It has topped the list of relaxation tips and other articles over the past year. It’s Adult Coloring: your favorite pastime as a kid, but all grown up.

The term “adult coloring” barely existed in the English-speaking world before 2014, and until Feb. 2015, the idea was just a small blip on the Internet’s trend tracker. The adult coloring mania is said to have begun in France, back in 2013 when coloring books designed for relieving stress and anxiety began selling at record highs. Rochester hasn’t missed a beat in taking up this new trend, though, and just this past Sunday the University book store held an Adult Coloring Event, advertising it as a time to color, create, and de-stress.

Students and members of the public alike, old and new to the idea of adult coloring, came to Barnes & Noble to give the trend a try on Sunday. Anabel Quiroz, a junior at UR, works at Barnes & Noble and said “there was a time when I feel like every other customer was buying a coloring book.” Coloring books are definitely not just for kids anymore. She added that the customers were “variety of people from young to old, both male and female.”

The coloring pages themselves aren’t necessarily adult, or adult-themed, as some may think—though, with some digging you can find the “Sex Position Coloring Book” and “Let’s [Expletive] Color”—they are usually filled with geometric designs, uplifting mottos, or garden scenes. Peter Sesti, a sophomore at UR, joked that there should be “Paying Taxes: The Adult Coloring Book.” Joking aside, it seems that whatever you find most relaxing (even if that’s paying taxes), likely to be a coloring book out there for you. While most people at the event said that garden- or  nature-themed coloring books were their favorites, Sesti had his own experience to add to the table. “[My girlfriend] got me a Donald Trump [coloring book], and it’s hilarious,” he said. “It’s just random pictures of Trump.” I don’t know many people who would pass up a coloring book with Donald Trump impersonating Marilyn Monroe, and Sesti surely wasn’t one to object. “I love it! It’s entertaining, but I do color outside the lines.”

Other students weren’t as excited to color as Peter and his girlfriend, Danielle Wright. Their friend, sophomore Erik Nunez, resisted at first, but soon warmed up to the idea. One woman was more than happy to join the table and begin coloring a dragon—she herself being the happy owner of a Hello Kitty coloring book—but her boyfriend resisted with a short grunt.

The greatest example of how the coloring craze became a worldwide obsession is the story of freshmen Emily Trowbridge and Jordan Martin. The two students knew about the fad because Emily’s roommate enjoys adult coloring books. “My roommate loves them. She has a full collection,” Trowbridge insisted. “She’s a fanatic.” The girls themselves, however, had never really given the hobby a try. Martin’s parents had “bought into the craze of it,” she said, and had given her a “Game of Thrones” coloring book over the holidays. However, Martin had yet to sharpen her pencils and open the pages. When asked how they felt about coloring in general, the girls answered similarly. Martin recalled “it always used to calm me,” and Trowbridge, who works with children, observed “I think it makes kids focus; they’re usually all over the place,” but once they’re given a coloring book, she says “they’ll sit down and be quiet and focus on something.”

So how would two freshmen in college react? I encouraged them to give it a go. Over the next hour and a half they quickly began to realize why so many people praise adult coloring books. “It’s kind of relaxing to focus on one thing and for it not to be something that’s important,” said Trowbridge. “This is really chill, actually.” There was a feeling somewhere between relaxation and determination, some happy medium that all attendees felt. The feeling, in fact, was addicting, and once they’d begun they couldn’t quit until the entire paper was filled. “I feel like the stakes are higher!” Martin said, with a focused look on her face. “Like, you’re an adult and you should be good at coloring! But, I guess it’s kinda impossible to mess up.”

In the end, aside from one resistant man, the answer seemed unanimous: adult coloring is just plain fun. About 100 colored pencils and “The Coloring Book for Grown-Ups” on the table was all it took to break down social barriers between strangers. Soon, everyone was chatting, becoming acquainted, and complementing each other’s color choices. When I suggested the University introduce a coloring and PAWS event, Peter replied “that would cure the world’s problems,” and Jordan asserted that “no one would ever be sad again.” Whether they colored to keep anxiety at bay, to relax during finals, or just to give their hands something to do while watching TV, those who have shelves of coloring books at home all had their own reasons. And for those who were new to the coloring table, whether just to procrastinate from Monday’s assignments, or because they’d been dragged along by friends, the group of coloring students this past Sunday saw for themselves what this hype was all about.

“I’m not gonna lie,” Trowbridge said as she finished up. “I feel pretty accomplished.”



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