A little known fact about me: my number two biggest fear is being characterized as boring. Boring. To me the biggest way you can insult someone is by calling them boring. And, after chatting with a girlfriend about this a few days ago, it sounds like other people have a similar aversion to boring people.
The dictionary defines the word boring as “not interesting, tedious.” Who wants to spend time with people who are not interesting or don’t have anything interesting to contribute? Author Elizabeth Gilbert explains that boring people are simply bored all of the time. They are bored with themselves, with other people, with work. These are not the ambitious humans I want to surround myself with. But every once and a while I find myself bored or at a loss for what to do and it’s tough to motivate myself to do something.
Now, those who know me well would say that I am certainly not boring and I tend to agree –most of the time. But when I find myself reluctantly Netflix-ing in my PJs on a Sunday morning, I really start to worry that I have nothing interesting to fill my time with. One of the reasons I find boredom so frustrating is because I always have some sort of to-do list. Apartment projects, blogging tasks, thank you notes to write, etc. Why am I so bored when I have so much to do? Opening up a book or taking yourself on a walk seems like such an easy fix but most of the time it really isn’t. For me, boredom is debilitating and makes me feel not like myself. It can feel incredibly lonely.
Boredom also frightens me because it reminds me of when I first moved to San Francisco and didn’t have a social life. I dreaded the weekends because I usually finished my to-do list way too early in the week and feared spending time alone. And, honestly, doing boring or mindless things with other people helps me find a little bit of contentment, just one step above boredom. But empty days when your friends are busy and you have no plans are inevitable.
So what are we supposed to do when boredom strikes? Here are a few of my new attempts:
- Understand that the feeling of boredom, like all feelings, is temporary. This is a tough one especially when you’re in the moment feeling hopeless and can’t bring yourself to do productive things. But think about it: are you going to be this bored an hour from now? 12 hours from now? This might not be an instant remedy for boredom but it is a good reminder that even the worst feelings are fleeting.
- Get at that to-do list. Grocery shopping, laundry, cleaning your kitchen – those things aren’t going to do themselves! A couple of weekends ago I forced myself to clean and organize my entire closet while I was bored. It was something I had to do anyways but just kept putting off. I’ll be honest and say that it was far from fun but now I look back now and am quite happy I finally did it.
- Pick up the phone. If you can’t hang out with your bestie, pick up the phone. Call your mom. I know that when I call mine, it really makes her day. Sometimes I’ll call my aunt and uncle and ask about the smallest things. They’ll tell me all about their cats or dinner they made that week. Chatting with family or someone close will usually inspire you to do some things that are necessary or even random. Like paying for your car insurance or finally putting the new tabs on your license plate…
- Remember you are a dynamic, very un-boring person. It’s easy to think when you’re bored that no one wants to hang out with you and is the reason why you’re alone with nothing to do. And every time (hopefully) this is so far from the truth. The fact that you are so terrified of boredom is because it is naturally uncomfortable for you. That’s a good sign! Boredom should also bring you a stronger appreciation for busyness or doing things you really enjoy.
I know that these tricks may not be the best fix for everyone who is bored or feeling less motivated. But they are worth trying!
How do you beat boredom?