How Being Bored Changed Me For The Better

From boredom to self-discovery: Embrace the power of solitude, creativity, and personal growth. Find balance in stillness.

How Being Bored Changed Me For The Better
Despite the disastrous impact of the pandemic, I am grateful for the unexpected hiatus it offered — a luxury I might not have afforded myself otherwise.
How Being Bored Changed Me For The Better Audio file

"A life too full of excitement is an exhausting life, in which continually stronger stimuli are needed to give the thrill that has come to be thought an essential part of pleasure." - Bertrand Russell, The Conquest of Happiness.

When I was a child, elders taught me never to utter the phrase, "I'm bored," as they believed that young kids should never find life boring. Consequently, I grew up thinking of boredom as a negative state of mind.

During my teenage years, I found myself in the throes of the hustle culture. The expectations of an Asian kid involved sleepless nights studying, striving for top grades, and embodying the mindset that "95% is worthless if you don't come first". In this phase of life, I viewed boredom as an enemy — a sign of wasted time.

This mindset carried into my college years, filling my schedule with classes, office hours, homework, and extracurricular activities. In fact, most student organizations I joined had an academic focus. There simply was no room for boredom or even recreational fun.

However, life took a drastic turn with the onset of the pandemic, just a few months into my first semester. Initially, I was preoccupied with managing Zoom classes and online exams. But then, summer arrived, and with the border closure, I couldn't fly back home to Vietnam. I found myself confined to a campus dormitory, with only nine other students remaining.

During this period, I craved my family's presence and found solace in daily phone calls. But with the significant time difference, there were lengthy periods when I was left alone in my 14-square-meter room.

It was then that I experienced extreme boredom. With endless time at my disposal, I found myself engrossed in TikTok, YouTube, and other social media, even reading almost every webcomic on my preferred apps. My daily routine involved lying in bed and mindlessly scrolling through feeds filled with humorous clips and heart-wrenching stories. My sleep patterns were disrupted, and my emotions were on a roller coaster.

Eventually, the endless consumption of entertainment became overwhelming, and my emotional state spiraled. I found myself constantly fatigued, grumpy, and burdened with guilt for wasting so much time. Frustrations surfaced in my conversations with my mom, and my nights were frequently punctuated by tears.

After a few months, I slowly started to reconcile with my boredom, recognizing that solitude and "doing nothing" could be beneficial.

In fact, boredom sparked my creativity, allowing my thoughts to flow and connect freely. It allowed me to silence the noise of the internet and truly listen to myself. Gradually, my brain slowed down and embraced 'boring' hobbies like reading books, drawing, and even simple acts like watching a rabbit outside the window.

Boredom led me to discover and cherish the subtle, often overlooked splendors of life.

During this period, I discovered a love for photography, graphic design, and video editing, even starting a YouTube channel to showcase my creative endeavors. Looking back, while some of my early work might appear amateurish, I appreciate the learning journey it represents.

In the throes of pandemic-induced isolation, I began to appreciate human interactions profoundly. Post-pandemic, I found renewed enthusiasm for my studies, work, and extracurricular activities. This was largely due to the personal exploration and self-discovery during my 'boredom' phase.

So, if you believe boredom renders you a boring person – it certainly does not!

Now, as a college graduate awaiting the commencement of my MBA program, I'm embracing the 'boring' lifestyle once more. My days involve writing blogs, attending to household chores, eating meals with my family, and reading in my spare time.

While I still frequent social media and enjoy content from my favorite YouTubers and 'advisors' like Ali Abdaal and Mark Tilbury, I am now more intentional about how I spend my time and the content I consume.

However, getting started can be a challenge. When your brain has become accustomed to a constant serotonin boost, it's not easy to settle into boredom. This is particularly true if you're young, in college, or both, because it feels like you're 'wasting' your prime years being 'bored'.

Despite the disastrous impact of the pandemic, I am grateful for the unexpected hiatus it offered — a luxury I might not have afforded myself otherwise. However, if you missed the chance, it's not the end. Here are some tips to incorporate mini-hiatuses into your day:

  • 📚Take that book you've been longing to finish off the shelf and place it next to your bed.
  • ⏰Move your phone away from your bed and replace it with a traditional alarm clock.
  • 😴Make a habit of going to bed 30 minutes earlier each night and reading until you start to feel sleepy.
  • 🌅Wake up one or two hours earlier than usual to allow yourself a slow, peaceful start to the day rather than a hurried one.
  • 🍽 Don't bring your phone to the dining table. Enjoy the food, catch up with your family members' day, or just simply let your mind relax.
  • 🎨Find a creative outlet like journaling, painting, or embroidering.
  • 📱Delete your social media apps. You can still check updates through your browser or laptop. It's not as satisfying, but that's precisely the point!

I wish you the best of luck in your journey of embracing boredom! ✌️