Coloring Outside the Lines

As long as I can remember, I’ve hated coloring things. For me it was always a tedious, stressful, anxiety-inducing activity. On one hand I kind of want to color quickly so I can get the picture looking how I want it to (or, as was the case when I was little, so I can go out and play). On the other hand I get super frustrated if any stray marks find their way even a fraction of a millimeter outside of the black outline (sometime seeing the mark on the black lines is even pushing it).

I always just thought this was the way I was; that I was just naturally a pseudo-compulsive. However, recently I was having a conversation with my mom and she actually brought up my elementary school-era coloring habits and knew exactly where and how it all started. Apparently, on one of my report cards in kindergarten my teacher made a comment that I was not doing a great job of coloring inside the lines. I was so hurt and traumatize from that one comment, which was probably both common amongst my classmates and objectively true, that from that moment on I must have vowed never to color outside the lines again.

Looking back, I like to imagine pre-report card Niko happily coloring away, outlines be damned, just making a complete mess of the page with no regard for the boundaries set before him. Little did he know that his carefree dreams and creative aspirations would soon be crushed and reformed by the academic automaton that we call our education system (I don’t blame you Ms. McQueen, you’re still my favorite teacher).

As I get older, I realize how much of that I’ve carried with me throughout my life, though you could argue that my conditioning to be a people-pleaser preceded this incident. Regardless, that’s who I am now and I don’t think that is every going to change much, and I’m ok with that. I’m always going to (try to) be a people-pleaser, but I have been learning to let go a bit more and I’m constantly trying to remind myself that its ok to color outside the lines.


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