Bloom in the Boredom
I wrote this post about two years ago while I was experimenting in a Corporate America job. I had left my first job as a Special Needs teacher in pursuit of something new, a greener lawn. After three months at my desk job, and the realization that the grass was in fact less green than expected, I decided I had to get back to the classroom and began to teach Pre-K. I still teach and I still love it, however finding my creative outlet has been such a life changing experience. Now, in the midst of COVID–19, I thought this would be the perfect first post for Kayla’s Sweetly Lived Life. I hope you can find some peace and happiness in the hurricane of uncertainty and boredom.
The feeling. It is hard to describe. Sometimes it’s a good thing, sometimes it’s painful, sometimes we encounter this feeling frequently and other times, we don’t have enough of it. Sometimes we run toward it and other times we do anything to get away from it. This feeling is something everyone on the planet has experienced before. Adults, children, I am sure even animals have felt this feeling. Can you guess the feeling?
What should we do to alleviate boredom? When I was a small child, my mom would always have activities I could do: clean my room, dust, weed the garden, come up with a dinner menu. The list of chores went on and on. As a small child, nobody ever wants to partake in chores. So, what does a small child do instead? Watch tv. I don’t know how many hours I spent in front of the tv when I was a child. It is incredibly scary to think of how many hours were spent, trying to alleviate boredom by putting the tv band aid on it. How many ideas were lost? How many creations were not made because with the ease of technology, we alleviate boredom by watching a screen?
As I got older, the tv screen moved to the phone screen. Scrolling through Facebook, tapping through various Snap Chat stories, posting more Instagram stories. We as people are not bored anymore and when we are, it is incredibly painful both physically and emotionally. Nobody knows how to exactly embrace boredom and instead, we do everything in our power to do something else. I have taken intentional steps in my life to try to be more comfortable in the boredom. I have deleted all social media, I’ve really taken an interest in calligraphy,photography, writing and house decorating. I have actively pursued all these hobbies and yet, I still fail to fully be ok being bored. At my 7:30–3:30 Corporate America job I find myself staring into the abyss. For the 8 hours I am at work, I work about 2–3 hours. The rest of my time, I listen to podcasts, scream inside for something to do, walk, run the stairs, write, click the refresh button on my email every half hour or so and just sit and think about how great it would be to be busy.
As I sat down to write this note, I thought about being bored because I was in fact very bored. I had listed to about 5 episodes of an hour-long podcasts, did my stair runs, went for strolls outside, filled my water bottle about 4 times and still had that antsy feeling. What now? When is it going to be done? What is next? As I write this, I am thinking about how beautiful boredom can be, if we continue to be present in the boredom and indulge in creative outlets while we are bored. I read a book called “First, We Make the Beast Beautiful” by Sara Wilson and she talks a lot about being able to be ok in the grime. She really hits on the notion of embracing the things that make us feel like we could explode and breathing through it, embracing it and sitting in it.
My day to day grime right now is everything that triggers my anxiety. When I was a teacher, I could mask my anxiety with busyness, movement and care for others. Eventually, that coping mechanism wore me out and left me drained, but my day to day anxiety of sitting alone with nothing to do was masked, covered and pushed to the back burner. Now, in a job that has me sitting with nothing to do, I am in my head all day. “hopefully I can have a baby soon” “what am I going to do to make the time pass?” “O my god, it has only been 5 minutes since I last checked the time” “I need to take care of someone” “am I getting fat just sitting around?” “I’m hungry, but I just ate… are my hormones out of whack?” “maybe I should play some Word Scapes for a while” the list of thoughts rumbling in my head goes on and on, and in this case, I don’t’ have anything to output it to. There are no students, there is no hustle and bustle, it’s quiet and I am left alone, to stew on these thoughts in my head and embrace the grime.
My husband always encouraged me to have hobbies, create things and use my potential in ways I didn’t know I could. I would always brush him off or say, “yeah, ok honey” and move on. But he always encouraged me and It’s one of the things I love most about him- he always knows I can do more and be better than I even thought possible. In the past six months or so, I have tried to listen more and take advice when given, so I started doing what I could to create. It is hard. I find myself most days unable to come up with a good topic to write about or too tired to paint another room in the house and most of the time, I want to revert. Turn my social media back on, turn on the tv and vegetate on the couch. I am always afraid what I create isn’t good enough, that what I choose to do with my time will be a waste of money and energy. And that whatever I choose to do will be quiet, and I’ll be left to sit and hear the anxieties of life roll about in my head. But at the end of the day, when you are stuck in an uncomfortable situation that you cannot run away from or mask with busyness, creating something beautiful from the anxiety and boredom is the most fulfilling. I spent today at work, I arrived at 7:30 and plan to leave at 3:30. I had one social conversation and two actual work tasks I had to get done. The rest of the day, I let the anxieties of life stew about and I felt myself ready to explode. Until when I channeled those thoughts about the past and worries about the future and annoyances of the present into something creative, fulfilling and productive. Instead of feeding the thoughts and the boredom, I leaned into it, sat in it then decided: I’m going to write. I’m going to create. I am going to see the beauty in the grime, anxiety and quiet. I bloomed in the boredom.