Boredom can be painful. It is the home for ruminating thoughts, exaggerations and exasperations, careless and desperate behavior; it is the perfect whole for escape. With or without my eating disorder, I have always been an all-or-nothing person, a true black-and-white thinker. Free time and the boredom that arose from a laid-back day, landed splat in the grey, an unfamiliar and daunting territory. My weekly planner sat stuffed with plans upon plans, double-booked and crammed to make use of every second of my time. I always ensured fall-back plans which I could juggle, combine, or dismiss entirely, all with the expectation that I would never give myself a chance to be bored.
Of course, with over-booking comes burn out. I pushed myself and pushed myself to do it all, until I couldn’t. And then I would do nothing, escaping into sleep with mental exhaustion. Whether I was running around or collapsing onto the closest surface, there was consistently a lack and, thus, I found myself stuck in boredom continuously. Even in my sleep, I awoke to a need for something more, demonstrated through my dreams. Though I fought tooth and nail to confront it, the bountiful list of activities I involved myself in, each and every extracurricular on my extensive resume all produced the same dull, wandering mind, one which I presumed was hungry to be busy.
On my journey, I have ascertained far more than a meal and exercise plan. I have learned that recovery is not only recovering one’s life, but also recovering and, in many ways, discovering one’s self. I have recognized, over time, that it is not a busy lifestyle I seek, but one of intention. Stripping my life of every expectation and activity and working with an amazing team to slowly open my gates to new life, I have had to redefine what a plan means to me and what part of me it feeds. I am in seek of passion. I want plans to be things I look forward to, not ones I create to fill up my time. I want my moments to be precious and to live fully. I want to feed the part of me that hopes to grow, rather than that which destroys. I have to truly look at what I want versus my instincts and question myself. I have, therefore, agreed to “Live with Intention”.
This has meant trying and quitting. It has meant making room for flaws and putting myself out there. It has meant doing what I love, not loving what I do. It has meant accepting that what I may be good at, I may also dislike, and what I may be horrible at, I may indeed be enthralled with. And it has definitely meant removing all labels, from the world and from myself.
With these tools, I have confronted boredom, which comes frequently when having no agenda. Having previously been impaired in the field of free time, it has not been an easy task to be task-less, but I have grown to find that down time doesn’t mean doing nothing or doing everything, it is the gift of having spontaneous choice in your joy. Living with intention, I have a “Try Something New” law which I try to follow daily, even if just in my flavor of ice cream, because the fact of the matter is that I don’t know what I like and I want to. I have dabbled in drawing, cooking, painting, blogging, trampolining, reading, writing, baking, dancing, and other mini projects (many with much resistance). One I found particularly, unpredictably rewarding has been collecting sea glass.
A day when my friend and I were in the painful boredom again, I inquired if she wanted to do something. The typical response of, “What can we do?” was just as intimidating as ever. Being on our own in Malibu can become expensive, so we decided on something free. Being on our own in Malibu also means unlimited access to beautiful beaches and my inner mermaid sought the sea. Walking along the beach, I became inspired to collect the tiny pieces of sea glass, the ones skipped over in search of larger gems. Two hours later I had handfuls of exquisite colors in my palms and streams of thoughts I welcomed with excitement over what could be done with my new possessions, as well as when I’d get more. Though it previously might have felt like something too simple to enjoy, especially for so long, collecting beach glass is now a weekly excursion I look forward to, not in fear of boredom, but in pursuit of passion. Being so mindful to nature and myself in concurrence with nature, I have found it extremely connecting, deserving, and deeply satisfying on a soul level. After all, “to most, they are just washed up pieces of beach glass, but to those who see with the heart and soul, they are precious gems…”
P.S. What do you do when it feels like there’s nothing to do?