Boredom as an adult

When I was young, I got bored a lot. Depending on the time of my childhood, I would read books, do chores, play with my toys, and then be done with them, and then I’d have nothing to do. So the words “I’m bored” came out of my mouth a lot then. Once middle school started, though, it was as though the word “boredom” was no longer part of my vocabulary. There was always something new to learn, to study, more homework to be finished, yet another test to prepare for. I started reading even more voraciously in my teen years, and there was always something new to crack open. Since then, I haven’t spent any period of time really thinking that I am bored… except in random moments, such as in pointless work meetings or being stuck in awful, mind-numbing conversations with people who are either too busy bullshitting or who are extremely high in their self-orientation. And now, in my adult life, I’ve always felt like there are endless things I need to get done or want to do, and that there is never enough time for any of them. Even on the weekends, even on periods I’ve had off from work… it all seems to go by too quickly, and while a lot of my “to-do” list may have been completed, there was still a half dozen or so more things I wish I could have gotten done “if I had more time.” As I’ve gotten older, the to-do list only seems to be growing longer and longer. The endless cycle of news also doesn’t really help with that, either. My reading list for books is officially out of control (though I am way ahead of my reading goal this year, having read 17 books in full, and we’re not even halfway through October yet! 12 was the original goal for each year).

So it was weird for me to hear someone tell me as an adult that she is bored all the time and that she oftentimes finds herself with nothing to do. Nothing to do as a grown adult — this idea is so puzzling to me and in some ways, maddening. There are always current events to keep up with (as insane as it has been in recent years with politics), new topics to explore, new places to visit and see, new neighborhoods and foods to experience. There are people you could be donating your time and energy to via countless nonprofit organizations in New York. Where is one’s intellectual curiosity if you are bored? If you have no curiosity, there will no creativity to create and do new things that will ultimately benefit others and the world around you. And you won’t be fulfilled.

There are lots of people out there in the world who would kill for the privilege of being us, living in a rich country with extremely comfortable, cushy jobs in the tech industry, which not only afford us benefits and perks, but also flexibility to allow us to come and go to the office as we need to. We have no clue as to what it would be like to be poor, to be an immigrant at the border stuck in squalor, to have some life-threatening illness. Especially since Ed died, I’ve intentionally thought about my life’s privileges often, pretty much every single day. I am thankful every day for what I have and think about it every morning and every night before bed. Even though I’ve certainly encountered my fair share of discrimination, lack of equity, and horrifying experiences, I’ve lived a very comfortable and privilege life, and I’m fully cognizant that most people in this world have not had even a fraction of the level of comfort I’ve been afforded. But it’s people like me who have these privileges who shouldn’t be wasting our lives on frivolous pursuits like filling our free time with endless shopping and video games, and should be focusing on what we’re passionate about, what will help the world be better. Ed’s death pushed me to think about how precarious life can be and how quickly it can all end. I don’t want to waste my life away, and I’ve intentionally thought since his death that I want to prove to him that life is worth living through the way I will live my life as long as I am here.

The world would be better off with people who choose to live their lives intentionally, meaningfully, instead of watching each day pass by, blankly wondering what the next day will have in store for them.

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