The world as it is
The alarm goes off at 6 in the morning. You get out of bed and head into the bathroom to brush your teeth and shower for the day. In the next hour, you are on the road headed to work, catching up on emails and texts. The next few hours of meetings pass in a blur. When you reach home, you do something you haven’t done in a while.
You sit on the couch and just think. Your thoughts about work give way to confusion. Your body feels heavy like it’s suddenly become lead. You try to stand and instead your brain fogs over. You tumble back down. You look around and wonder “What the hell am I doing here?”
This world is an interesting place. For all the time we have in the world, 24 hours every single day, we tend to fill it up pretty quickly. We go to school, work, hang out with friends, watch TV, and scroll social media. In the midst of all the things we have to do, we don’t ever stop the think we have a problem.
Do you find yourself reaching for your phone in times of silence? Whenever your favorite TV show gets a little bit dull, do you check social media? Is your schedule so full of things to do that you don’t have five minutes to breathe? Sorry to break the news, but you may have a fear of boredom.
Fear of boredom
Hear me out = it sounds like one of those weird irrational fears, like being afraid of falling into the sky (Casadastraphobia). And yet, you match these symptoms.
In our society, we have left no room for boredom. If you get tired of a TV show, there’s a thousand more to watch on Netflix. If a conversation slows down, you can scroll Instagram and see what your friends are up to. There’s such a wealth of information out there – from books to articles to videos – it’s incredible. But it has also enabled us.
To hide from ourselves. To hide from our thoughts, fear, and deepest desires.
This form of escapism – the continuance of external stimuli to keep us engaged – it’s blocking you from self-reflection. Our solitude is a mirror. In it, our good and bad qualities are reflected back to us. And that’s scary.
Perhaps you’re afraid of what you’ll find hiding underneath all the business and stress you’ve made for your life. If you never let yourself step back, you will wake up 5 to 10 years down the road, wondering “How the hell did I get here?” If you never stop and think to yourself, “Is this really making me happy?” how will you know it actually does?
Do you ever notice when someone is sitting by themselves or not doing something, they look weird or out of place? Sitting down and doing nothing is not something we do anymore. There are actual studies that say we fear sitting by ourselves with our thoughts. People would rather be shocked than be bored. Sadly, I’m not making that up.
What does that say about us? That we refuse to sit and be bored. That we’d endure electric shocks rather than sit in our own presence. That we always need to do something or be stimulated by media somehow. That we need some form of entertainment or activity at every moment of every day.
I think we’re afraid of finding the truths about ourselves and our lives. I mean, let’s face it, would you want to know if you spent the last 5 to 10 years of your life on something you didn’t really want? The truth hurts and it’s scary. Because then, you have to figure out “where do I go from here?”
Stop defaulting to technology whenever you’re overwhelmed. Stop hiding in a room full of people when you can’t face yourself. Give yourself the space to feel as overwhelmed and as low as you do. Because when you confront your feelings, you can let them go and move on.
Face your fear
Do yourself a favor. Practice being by yourself for 10 minutes. You are sitting down WITHOUT your phone in your hand. You just sit and let your thoughts wander. Discover where your mind drifts off to when you let it. Maybe you have this new idea for a business. You remember that you forgot to call your mom. Better yet, you are able to truly relax without some form of stimulation from the outside world.
Go be bored. Face yourself. Then let go.
I challenge you to sit still for 10 minutes. Then comment your experience down below. How did you feel before? How do you feel now?