Oh, to be young and living in the midst of a global pandemic. As COVID–19 continues its spread—leaving social distancing restrictions in its wake—another outbreak has taken hold in our communities: boredom.
The closure of businesses, the cancellation of summer jobs, and the postponing of long–awaited events (amongst other things) have left many of us with more time on our hands than ever, and with fewer options to fill it. Sure, you can always tune in to the latest Netflix series that everyone seems to be obsessed with, or make small talk with your family during a walk around the neighborhood, or scroll through social media to see photos of high school friend’s homemade banana bread— but, that can only fill up so many hours of the day.
The excitement that usually accompanies the start of summertime has been replaced by an all–consuming ennui. Even catching up with friends, an activity that would usually serve to bring a dose of entertainment to your day, can turn into a mere back–and–forth of bemoaning how extraordinarily dull life has become.
Of course, this experience of boredom is hardly universal; for some, the advent of COVID–19 means shouldering more responsibilities than ever. And while boredom is far from the most significant crisis our society is facing, as it continues to be a significant presence in our day–to–day lives, we have to learn how to come to terms with—and perhaps even embrace it.
As human beings, we are conditioned to hate boredom—so much so that some people would rather be in pain than be left alone with their thoughts. A series of studies conducted at the University of Virginia found that 67% of men and 25% of women would rather give themselves electric shocks than sit quietly and think.
When we sense a bout of boredom coming on, we instinctively try to fight our way out of our own heads. But what would happen if we didn’t?
As college students, we spend so much of our time at school hustling from one activity to the next. With class work, friends, and clubs vying for our time, it can be rare to catch a moment for yourself. And while this type of lifestyle provides no shortage of entertainment, it’s easy to convince ourselves that we’re too busy to let our minds wander from time to time.
All of those activities that you could never fit into your schedule? Start them now. Write your memoir. Kick off your baking blog. Take up painting. Catch up with that friend you always forget to make plans with. Educate yourself on pertinent social issues. Find a new place to explore in your hometown. Watch all of the Marvel movies in chronological order. The world is your oyster—fill your days with projects that, however trivial, bring you a sense of fulfillment.
Take some time to be truly alone with your thoughts—as daunting as it might seem. Our minds are home to a myriad of memories, emotions, and ideas waiting to be realized. It’s easy to ignore your inner self when the outside world is constantly begging for your attention—what better time than now to get to know the real you?
Like the cryptic message that the Co–star app sent me the other day says: Know thyself. Before it was a corny adage, “Know thyself” was said to be the motto inscribed above the entrance to the Oracle of Delphi where the ancient Greeks would travel to obtain knowledge, as it reminds us that before seeking wisdom from others, we must first seek to understand ourselves. Only when we understand ourselves can we realize the power we have to shape our own experiences.
Instead of running from your quarantine boredom, welcome it with open arms. And whether that takes the form of planning an in–home wine tasting or engaging in some deep introspection, a shift in perspective is all you need to make sure this time doesn’t feel wasted.