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Boredom: Maybe Not Such a Bad Thing

By: Sophia David '21 Editor-in-Chief

Just a few weeks ago, I would have done nearly anything for a day off. The thought of being able to spend a day in my pjs, watching Netflix on the couch with my dog was nothing more than an impossible fantasy. As a junior in high school, boredom was not a feeling I was accustomed to. My pre-coronavirus weekdays were filled with endless schoolwork, swim practices, piano lessons, babysitting, and SAT prep, with breaks only to sleep, eat, shower, and complete other tasks necessary for survival. Each hour of my day was scheduled, leaving me practically no free time to simply relax.

That is not to say I never had fun. On the weekends I would see my friends. We might have baked cookies or watched a romcom, commiserating all the while about the overwhelming number of things that we had to do and the lack of sleep we were getting, but even these moments were a part of my schedule. 

It was not until a couple of weeks ago that I began to experience a new way of life. The arrival of the coronavirus into our society turned every pillar of my life on its head, upsetting plans, changing lifestyles, and redefining my productivity. The calendar that had spanned so far into my future, guiding each waking moment of my life, was now completely useless. Everything that I had been anticipating was canceled: school, piano lessons, trips, the SAT, and even prom. For the first time in a long time, I had an abundance of free time and it was at my discretion how I would spend it.

Of course, there were limitations to my freedom. For example, I could not see anyone other than those I lived with or venture to any place outside of my house. Still, however, confined in my home, I felt more freedom that I had ever felt before.

Drawing by Lavinia Wang

Trained by my previous lifestyle to be productive always, I compiled a list of tasks I had been wanting to do and immediately got to work. During my first day of isolation I completed a 500-piece jigsaw puzzle, reorganized my closet, cleaned my bathroom, folded laundry, went for a run, wrote in my journal, vacuumed the house, watered every plant I had, and baked a cake. The second day of isolation took a similar form. However, on the morning of the third day, I was simply unable to think of anything to do, and I began to feel a novel feeling: boredom. 

Generally, boredom is disliked. I recall my typical childhood experience with boredom. About five years old on a hot summer day, I would lie, moping on the floor complaining to my mom that I had nothing to do. She would consistently respond by, first, telling me that I should read a book. When I would tell her that I did not want to read a book, she would say “then I guess you will just be bored.” Looking up from her computer, she would follow this by telling me that she wished she could be bored, and that I should enjoy this feeling because soon enough I would never get to feel bored again. 

Sure enough, she was right. For many years, I did not have the opportunity to be bored again. However, the unforetold arrival of a pandemic disease proved her wrong. 

Coronavirus has given me and nearly everyone else the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to have some completely unscheduled time. It is easy to take this time for granted. Just a few days in, I found myself itching to get out of my house, go to school, see my friends, or do anything to reduce my boredom. It is hard, in the moment, to realize just how precious this time is. However, in my overwhelmingly empty Spring Break days, I found myself thinking about this. There will probably not be another period of time in my life, until maybe retirement, where I have nothing scheduled. Instead of coming up with ways to use my time and constantly fill it, I should savor my boredom because it may be a long time before I get to feel it again.

None of this is to say that we should be thankful for coronavirus. We should not. It is a disease that is killing tens of thousands of people and upsetting millions of lives. Rather, I think that instead of complaining about staying home and being bored, we should embrace it. Not only are we “flattening the curve” and saving lives, we are also receiving a unique opportunity to feel boredom, and we should appreciate it.

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