I’ve been thinking a lot about the role of boredom in our lives, or more specifically, how I should let myself get bored more often. I thought that I am probably at my most bored when I am sitting in LA’s famed traffic. But, I am listening to my iPod on shuffle and getting giddy about how good the music is on it and also getting angry about how much LA drivers suck, and how much my gas mileage sucks, and how sitting down for so long sucks. In my experience, I have found Montreal drivers to be the most offensive, shortly followed by Boston drivers. I hope those sentiments are not too controversial and it should be noted that my list is limited by places I have been. Regardless, I don’t think driving in Lalaland counts as genuine boredom.

I feel like being bored lets your other senses fly because you aren’t distracted by racing thoughts, pointed conversation and impulsive reactions.Β The last time I was genuinely bored was four-months ago when I went to UCB show alone.Β I challenged myself to not spend the 30-min wait texting people on my phone, my generation’s go-t0.

Side rant: Some members of my generation seem to think that checking-in places makes your life seem interesting, but I feel like I would have to be next level bored to do that. So in my eyes, that -ish backfires. Also, no one cares that you’re dining at the Olive Garden or that you’reΒ buying socks at Old Navy, unless they too, are next level bored. Go read a book. I will now step off my throne of judgment and step back into our scheduled programming.

I challenged myself to just stand there and wait, alone. It was so uncomfortable, but also totally inspiring. You find the droll parts of conversations you would normally dismiss as boring (or as none of your beeswax), you notice which parts of your ears get cold first and it becomes more and more obvious which part of your feet you stand on. The last part might be less relevant if you are bored while sitting. The whole thing is kind of beautiful, and I would love to try a day alone at Disneyland. If only for the sake of pushing myself into that uncomfortable place, and for the single rider line.

Has anyone else experimented with boredom? I live a pretty fast-paced life as a dream chaser with a day job, but I think I might benefit from some good old fashioned boredom. I think my learnings would be helpful as a writer and maybe as a person who is curious about ancient Egyptians, because even they must have gotten bored, not cared what other people had for dinner and gotten angry at crazy drivers in Montreal.


62 thoughts on “Boredom

  1. Elyse says:

    I love the new look, Ashley!

    As for boredom, I think it is often what we need to let our minds relax, revive. Everything doesn’t need to be exciting. When I’m bored, I think. I read, I work things out. It is vital and it is missing from so many people’s lives.

    1. ashleyjillian says:

      Thank you :). I totally agree. Lately, I’ve been doing me-time Thursdays because I am out doing comedy and acting things pretty much every other night of the week. This year I am going to try to make me-time Thursdays and writing Sundays.

    2. suzi says:

      I agree, busy-ness, life, work, phones, social networks, etc all provide a constant backdrop to our lives. It can be unnerving when they disappear to start with, but I love it when everything stops! I find my brains starts to think again, rather just operating on autopilot.

  2. Southern Sea Muse says:

    Judge on, sister. I am glad to know I am not alone in scorning the text-happy in-liners. I almost divorced my husband last week for taking my call while he was walking/shopping/talking to me.Quel horreur. On another note, boredom is what refuels us and gives you material for the next gig. Wise post!

    1. hendersontree says:

      Sometimes when I’m bored I watch episodes on Netflix which sucks me into this bad addiction of wishing I could write like the people who wrote the script for the show.. Ever feel or do this?!

  3. Aurora HSP says:

    A psychologist friend once said, “Being human is being judgmental. Even judges are judgmental.” It sticks in my head still. So does the way you found such a gift in your boredom to share with us! Thank you.
    Happy New Year πŸ™‚

  4. Sheila Morris says:

    Like the new look! As I sit among my friends and family this holiday season, I wonder what we ever found to actually talk about all those years prior to cell phones, Iphones, Ipads, 4G, 3G, the ultimate 5G and so on. Maybe we were just bored so we ended up talking to each other. Shocking.

  5. seventhvoice says:

    Great blog post. I think boredom can be a good thing. Too many of us are losing the ability to allow ourselves to just switch off and simply appreciate being who we are, where ever we are and with whomever we happen to be.

  6. La Stranezza says:

    Whenever I get really bored I’m go into my closet and just lie down for a really long time and read. But sometimes I’ll do that when I’m not bored, too, so maybe I’m just weird.

  7. SenderElla's Attic says:

    “The reason boredom deserves such scrutiny is that it represents pure,
    undiluted time in all its repetitive, redundant, monotonous splendor.” the frontal cortex needs boredom… excellent post as it made me think, then embrace my boredom instead of admonish myself for not being productive.

  8. musingaboutwriting says:

    Consider that boring time as free time. Time to read, for example. Take your Kindle with you and always have something going on there. Or write snatches of ideas that you can develop later. Or listen to music that uplifts or energizes you. The list is limited by your imagination, and you have plenty.

  9. jcnierad says:

    Enjoyed your observations; I think the key is finding that comfort within the discomfort, as you did. I saw another commenters reference to teacher wisdom, one of my most memorable teachers always said, “Only boring people get bored.” So I guess if all signs point to a situation being boring, but you can find a peaceful, sensory-heightened place within that situation, perhaps you are not bored after all.

  10. sarahinguangzhou says:

    cellphones are such a lifesaver when you feel uncomfortable alone. I often get mine out and stare at it intently, as if I have a very important message that I just need time alone to consider it. It’s not a boredom thing; it’s a ‘feeling insecure’ thing. It makes being alone in crowded places easier, because you can pretend you’re waiting for a bunch of very important people.

    1. ashleyjillian says:

      i think it’s a way to avoid being in the present moment of boredom. There is nothing wrong with it, and I totally do it. I just push myself to do uncomfortable things every once in awhile.

  11. asklotta says:

    I think this a study in “Life is greener” What ever you have, you think the other side has it better. Personally, I think being bored is not healthy but creating peace in your life (calling a time-out) is the healthiest thing we can do for ourselves and for the ones we love! Happy New Year!

  12. Pam Bickell says:

    Ashley Jillian, I so enjoyed this post. You are wise and funny and made me smile. Thank you. And re:boredom, I’m an expert. I have a chonic illness that keeps me from working and recently learned I can’t drive anymore, either. It’s something I hope never happens to anyone else, but so much time to myself has caused me to peek around within and see what’s going on in there and it’s pretty dang interesting! But, may you never get that bored–and I hope you keep writing. The world needs a lot more smiles.

  13. merrildsmith says:

    I enjoyed this post. It made me really think about boredom–and the difference between being bored and just having down time to contemplate. It seems to me that if you’re feeling bored, but then you do some of the other things you describe (and enjoy them), then you are not actually bored any more. In any case, with “boredom” you seem to have a found a topic that many people find interesting!

  14. whiskeypants says:

    I think we are, as a society, terrified of being bored. And we do often conflate quiet time with boredom. I don’t think we have as much to worry about boredom as we think we do; there is always something to think about, do, say, play, watch, hear, experience–even if we aren’t doing much at all.

    But then, the way you describe boredom covers that: boredom done right leads to creativity; creativity = lack of boredom. So true boredom really just comes from a lack of imagination.

  15. stephpickett says:

    So easy to relate too! I used to always use the phone trick, text someone, check facebook, twitter and instagram. Now that I’m working I always feel unprofessional doing that anywhere near the workplace, so recently I have sat in silence. It’s amazing the things you think about and pick up on when you’re bored. Have to admit some of my best story ideas have come from my train rides into work.

  16. Author Charmaine Gordon says:

    I’ve never had a moment to be bored. My life, a long one at this point, is a busy one. So even with what you call a day job, I hope you can fill your precious life with interesting things to do, good friends to be with because life is short. . .Personally I have much more to accomplish. No time for boredom. Happy New Year.

    1. ashleyjillian says:

      I think being bored can inspire good art, that was the point. I am also incredibly busy, hence, writing about the last time I was bored 4-months ago. I also believe you can be bored and busy (i.e. taxes)

  17. cestgigi says:

    This was an interesting post- I just get royally frustrated in traffic, so I end up reading a book at stop lights, and then get frustrated because lights that seemed so long, are now too short to finish what I am reading. NPR helps, too. I always carry something to read, to avoid being bored standing in line. I always feel like there is something else I should or could be doing, but now I am going to start eavesdropping. My girlfriends and I used to do that at Denny’s when we finished our evenings there at o’dark thirty. I agree about the texting, but then I’m old school. (I like that so much better than saying I’m an old lady!)

  18. modelion says:

    i always try to enjoy the boredom, cause that’s the time you can actually relax or as Redhead Carol says; those are rare things nowadays.

  19. hendersontree says:

    I really loved reading this! I enjoyed the entire piece. πŸ™‚ it’s seriously my first actual piece that I have read on here but I was expecting some lighter reading to begin with. Well that probably didn’t come out right- I mean that I imagined reading several blogs of material that I might not have read the entire page. Thumbs up to u!! You appear to have attracted quite the audience too! Gewd stuff! I hope I’ll get good at this and will be able to interest regular followers as well. Happy new year, and good luck to you.

  20. momuverse says:

    Teach yourself to knit, no kidding. You’ll be amazed at where your thoughts take you while you’re working on a knitting project. Bonus when you’re done you’ll have a fab scarf or something.

  21. reocochran says:

    This is a cool page and enjoyed your post. I would call it a different name but liked someone’s use of contemplative. I think it is nice to not be so busy at times, but turning off my thoughts that are directed towards my worries is hard!

  22. amandajfitzroy says:

    I am rarely bored, as it is my biggest fear. I can’t even stand in a queue without reading a couple of sentences of my latest book (always at hand) or learning a new word of a different language. I feel that if I haven’t learnt something new or achieved something every second I am wasting my life. But it is when we are bored that we can be at our most creative. I get bored while washing the dishes, or any manual labour so I always keep a pad and pen handy on the shelf above the sink!

  23. cheratomo says:

    There is a quote that says something similar to ‘Boredom is just what happens when you feel the world has to entertain you instead of you giving to it.’ I don’t quite remember the full, actual quote but the idea fits well. You say you were bored, but clearly you were not. You entertained yourself with your mind, with thinking and paying attention to the world. When people say they are “bored” it’s not because they aren’t finding something to do, it’s typically because they feel that what they are finding to do isn’t good enough for them. -shrug- I haven’t felt bored in years, mostly because I’ve always been aware that there is something I can do anywhere I go. It makes waiting rooms one of the most pleasant experiences I get to have in a day.

  24. nicky301 says:

    There is much value to boredom, I absolutely agree. Houston drivers and Houston traffic blow mind-boggling chunks, so I too have much time waiting. I refuse to wear headphones or earbuds in my vehicle, and my radio got stolen last summer, so there is no music to distract me. I have deliberately NOT replaced it, because I have come to enjoy the solitude, and the necessity of listening to my own thoughts, rather than smothering them in noise.

  25. miaow83 says:

    Boredom is something that afflicts me often, despite the infinite forms of entertainment in our modern world. Boredom is so subjective though – I’ve been to third world countries where the bus timetable is so loose, people have to sit and wait at the bus stop for potentially an entire day. I am in awe of their patience and calm.

  26. petchary says:

    I am retired, from a rather high-powered job – in other words, a stressful one. People look at me now as if to say, “What is she doing with herself these days?” but I can honestly say I have never been bored. I enjoy the lack of stress in my life. I am not on a treadmill (well, only on the creaky old one at home which I use to try and keep my weight down!) Such is life in Kingston, Jamaica. Never dull, believe me.

  27. Violet says:

    I learned a lot about boredom in my last few years being unemployed. I caught up on a number of television shows, rewrote a story that I had been setting aside and just laid in bed staring at the ceiling. It taught me a lot about time and life. I learned more importantly the importance of walking. Its rather cathartic.

  28. Giggles says:

    My best friend adopted the Buddhist principle of living within your feelings. So many times people are told to shift feels that aren’t “happy” feelings. I like what you wrote about feeling which parts of your ears get cold first. Being in the moment (even a bored one) does open up the world in new ways.

  29. gamillerlasvegas says:

    One zillion years went by before you were born, one zillion shall go by after you die. Now that’s boredom. Right now waves roll in and there are concerts and games of horseshoes, enjoy them.

  30. LB says:

    What an interesting post (I’m not sure why this comment is in italics). I always say that I can not imagine being bored … life is too full!
    Perhaps my quiet time is someone else’s boredom. I love a few quiet moments to read, walk, take pics … just breathe.
    Until then, I just want you to know that I am going to go get another cup of coffee (HA! loved your rant about silly posts …)

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