The Sanity of Boredom

The standout feature of this week has been how freaking bored I feel. This is partly due to spending 40 hours a week doing work that just does not interest me. But the boredom extends further than that. It has to do with who I am, or maybe who I think I am, and why the hell I have been floating around in this mire of low self esteem, wasted creativity, and all-round frustration for so many years.

When I was in primary school, my mother would pack me off to my Grandma’s house every couple of weeks for a weekend. Grandy (as I called her) spoiled me rotten with huge batches of baked goods (including, but not limited to, her famous cheese straws), answered my million and one questions about everything, and taught me the rules of tennis during our marathon Wimbledon-watching sessions. But inevitably at some point during my two-day stay I would start to whinge. ‘I’m bored’ I would whine, feeling hemmed in by the sandy wastelands of the retirement village Grandy lived in, and the lack of playmates my age. Grandy always had one answer to this complaint: ‘Only boring people are bored’ she would admonish.

At the time I didn’t understand what it meant, and I’m not sure I do now. Does the fact that after  ten years of typing, filing and answering phones the tedium makes me want to run screaming from my office building mean I’m a boring person? Or is it a sane, rational response for someone who had years of stimulating university study and horizon-expanding travel, and then came to rest, very uncomfortably, in what society sold in honeyed tones as the ‘right and normal’ thing to do?

I don’t think I’m very good at right and normal, at least not society’s definition of it. And I know for sure I’m really, really crap at being bored. Rather than reach some pinnacle of peace and acceptance I’m just getting more and more afraid that I will die never having done the things I really want to do. That urge to run screaming from the building is getting  louder by the hour. Okay, backtrack. Screaming and  running aren’t part of the plan. When I leave office work for good, I hope it’s with excellent references and an appreciation on my part for all the good things that having a safe, regular job has given me. But on that longed-for day when I take leave of my flouro-lit cube for the final time, I can’t guarantee there won’t be a skip in my step on the way out the door, which could potentially segue into a Gene Kelly-esque heel click of irrepressible joy. Sometimes grandmas can be wrong. Sometimes feeling bored doesn’t mean you’re boring. Sometimes it’s a sign of being sane.

A Gene Kelly-esque heel click of irrepressible joy...


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5 Responses to The Sanity of Boredom

  1. Have run the same interior monologue for decades …. and changing life styles and jobs often does not delete the audio track.
    It may be a factor of age, but … learning to enjoy the process of listening ever more quietly to what’s going on inside has become my strategy of choice … and sometimes it leads me to do some “stupid” things (which a bit down the road can easily look borderline brilliant) and sometimes it becomes a litany of picky little choices, but has always been better than stuck boredom.

  2. … and here’s a link to a fellow blogger, wondering along similar lines.

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