Boredom is bad, a state we should actively strive to avoid. As you read these words, I challenge you to remember the last time you were bored, I honestly can’t say I can.
Success! You might think. You’re leading a thrilling and fulfilling life. One so exciting boredom hasn’t been able to catch up to you. I wish I could say yes, but honestly I can’t.
I remember being bored, or at least I remember saying I was bored last as a child. “I’m so bored.” I would say it to my parents, say it to my friends. I less remember what this actually felt like than I remember saying and thinking it.
Why was it that I couldn’t recall the last time I was bored, even though I could openly admit I wasn’t living an exciting, or even very busy life?
This question made me feel uneasy, and in my actions to relieve this uneasiness was my answer (and possibly yours).
I reached for the closest piece of technology, which at the time was my smart phone. You may see no fault in this. Technology can be a powerful tool in searching for and seeking out answers, but thats not what I used it for. Over the next 30 minutes, I mindlessly scrolled through picture after picture on Instagram, until my mind was numb and I no longer felt the discomfort of my confusion. It was a cheap fix.
We become bored when we have nothing distracting our minds. When this happens a rare space is made where our thoughts, which usually flow without our awareness, get some attention.
Today social media is so readily available that we hardly ever meet this state. The content that we view offers a seductive escape that puts distance between us and our thoughts, shifting our minds onto auto pilot . We waste so much of our precious time mindlessly scrolling, wasting our lives on things we don’t add real value to, or that don’t add value to ourselves.
So whats so bad about our thoughts that we subconsciously crowed them out the moment they start to surface?
Quite often our thoughts are scary. Some are plainly villainesque, and chip away at us insisting we wont be able to succeed, or we aren’t lovable, but mixed in are some quieter, less ugly, but just as scary thoughts: “I can succeed, I am lovable”.
Confused? Stay with me.
In order to keep clean lines and black and white from mixing into grey, we create rules. Boredom is bad, and hope is good, but in doing so we loose a deeper understanding. Hope sometimes hurts. It takes your permission slip to the field trip to a plain, but safe life, and rips it to shreds. It calls upon our hearts to be very vulnerable, and to entertain a future that would involve risking our safety.
When every thought of “I can” comes with the exhausting burden of fighting off 10 “no you cant’s”, its easy to see why hope is something we’d want to turn off, but how long can you run?
Even if you don’t recognize this hopeful voice, because you have never given yourself the space to meet it, you still carry it around like a weight, and I’m sure you’d admit its damn heavy.
I’ll admit, coming to this realization put me in a head spin. I barely felt like I had a handle on my life as it is, and taking on the risk and change that would be necessary to follow my dreams, was too heavy to comfortably sit with. Sometimes distracting was the only way I could catch my breath, but deep down I knew I couldn’t avoid my heart forever, and I didn’t want to.
Letting yourself be bored, facing your present, and making the conscious decisions that life demands means being accountable for the choices you make in life. It means thinking, ditching solid ground, and allowing yourself to loose your balance. It means being brave, learning, changing, and growing.
I’m not saying you can never relax and mindlessly watch a T.V. show, but what if just sometimes you let yourself be bored, meet the uncomfortable thoughts that might be counterintuitive to let stick around, and see what can come of it.
Letting your hope out to coexist with and contradict your normal sate of “I can’t” might leave you feeling a little sea sick, but don’t use that as an excuse to put hope back in its cage. Let it stick around as much as you possibly can, until your doubts are the foreigners, until your hope is the very essence of who you are, and you no longer recognize the old you built in fear.
We have but this one life to live, this one chance to be happy. To even have a chance at being happy in the future, we must find the bravery to fully face the present. So what can you cut out of your life to make room for boredom? So you can finally face your hopes. It might not be easy, it might not feel safe, but happiness is worth the risk.