To entertain myself, I rename my cats daily.
February 25, 2010 7:03 PM   Subscribe

I am bored 24/7, and when I do interesting things I know in the back of my mind it's going to be over. And it's crap. When you say you can't wait until vacation, or your weekend wasn't long enough, what do you mean? I don't get it! (warning: This question is of long and nebulous nature.)

Hello everyone. Sorry in advance for what I know if going to be a vague and personal question (Why not use my question for a long, complex one, right?), but it's actually meant to be a question for everyone else.

So, I have been perpetually bored out of my freaking mind since before I can even remember. Now, I know everyone gets bored from time to time, but it's really becoming annoying and predictable. I am in college at the moment, taking six classes, and yet I have so much extra time I don't know what to do with it. I don't even think this is a matter of "having something to do" because whenever I am doing something, I think of it not as enjoyable in itself, usually, but just killing time until I can go to sleep and get up again and so on and so forth.

I gave up on seeking out things to do—my friends are always "busy", so I do things alone. I used to go out for walks, go to the mall, bookstore, and whatnot, but that just seemed so sad and useless. I hate going places alone. So I usually just stay home and check my email over and over and over (I only have about 3 websites I go to on the internet, yet I'm online for hours). My family (my mom and sister) annoys me because they don't do much either, and they are very predictable to live with. Although, unlike them, I can't find joy in walking through CVS for half an hour. They seem very content with sitting at home. Movies are too long. Video games are too slow-moving ("Pick up the medical kit! Walk down the street! Dead end! Walk down another street!") Even my cats are starting to annoy me, because they too are pretty...well, predictable!

Like I said before, when I try to do something new it's just to "kill time". When I do fun and exciting things, like meeting a friend or something like that, it lasts just for the moment, then I go back to normal existence and the cycle starts over again. I'd do that sort of thing more, but like I said, I don't exactly have available friends. And I used to volunteer, but it was the same deal.

The only thing I like is going to school...most of my classes bore me, like most students, but my favorite class is at the end of the day and there's no mistaking the horrible sinking feeling when it's time to leave...because I know I'll have to go home and just sit. I don't know why other kids get so excited about their vacations.

That being said, my question to you is this: Do you find inherent contentment throughout your day—when you say you are looking forward to the weekend, what do you mean? when you say your vacation wasn't long enough, what do you mean? Is sitting at home for months really better than being at school (maybe not work, ew)? I ask people I know all the time just what they find so appealing about the upcoming vacation, but they don't really tell me anything surprising. They just say they are going to "stay home and sleep". So this isn't about me not leading an exciting life; I just don't find inherent pleasure in everyday life (except...er, school...but that's an anomaly. I still don't look forward to work). And it's weird because once you remove school, for example, since that's the only thing I never get bored of doing, my whole life just collapses (over winter break, I read a lot, but that wasn't sustainable. I'm starting not to read so much anymore. And I really am lost during my summer breaks, even when I was in middle/high school).

I don't think this is a job for therapy (among other reasons, I'm having my 3-month no-insurance anniversary, and it's just not happening). I am just really kind of in wonderment as to why, if everyone seems to lead the same mundane existence as I do, they don't mind it.

I don't think it's normal to hate your cats.

And I don't think it's normal to want to stay in school 24/7 because you hate being home. Whoever heard of that?

Oh, and I know this is going to come up: Yes, I'm bored because I'm boring. I know. Cool! But I'm not saying I require alpine skiing each day—I am fine doing the boring things I do (reading, etc.) but day after day it gets so suddenly old, no matter how enjoyable I found it at first! Yet—if I could just be fine doing the same thing day after day, I would just be fine.

I hope I don't sound like a psychopath or someone who is mean to my friends—they just know I won't be the one they call to party with them; I don't tell them this whole thing is their fault or anything.

Oh, I used to move a lot—I've been to about 12 different schools, which was about one new house per year. That might have something to do with this, eh?
posted by anonymous to Grab Bag (37 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
 
Read Sigmund Freud's "Civilization and it's discontents"
posted by Bacillus at 7:16 PM on February 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


So, you don't want to work more, or volunteer, or read more, and it doesn't sound like your friends really want to hang out with you or that you really want to hang out with them. Have you considered finding a hobby? Is there anything you're really interesting in learning more about, or for which you think you might have a natural talent or affinity? For example, maybe take an art class, or learn how to cook. Do you get any exercise? Consider joining a gym and taking various fitness classes there for variety. If you don't like your job, work on finding one that you do like.
posted by amro at 7:16 PM on February 25, 2010


I don't think this is a job for therapy (among other reasons, I'm having my 3-month no-insurance anniversary, and it's just not happening)

Lots of universities offer free counseling services to students. Maybe you should find out if your school does this.
posted by Lobster Garden at 7:22 PM on February 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


Anhedonia
posted by granted at 7:23 PM on February 25, 2010 [9 favorites]


You seem to like school, although you never told us what it is you're studying. But whatever it is, I will bet you there are that-thing-related organizations on campus. Go there. Meet the other members. If it is a casual place, go be bored there instead of alone (I used to spend hours in my college's ACM playing video games and shooting shit.) If it is a formal affair, show up to meetings and participate - it's your field of interest, after all. After some time, you'll probably make new friends who do want to hang out. It'll probably start looking up from there.

Also, this is really telling: I just don't find inherent pleasure in everyday life. Sure, you can't afford therapy but you can certainly afford this book.
posted by griphus at 7:23 PM on February 25, 2010


Do you find inherent contentment throughout your day—when you say you are looking forward to the weekend, what do you mean? when you say your vacation wasn't long enough, what do you mean? Is sitting at home for months really better than being at school?

When I say I am looking forward to something, it means I know I will enjoy it more than whatever I'm doing when I'm saying that. When I say my vacation wasn't long enough, I mean that I wanted to spend more time doing something else and less time doing what I was vacationing from. Sitting at home for months is better than being at school if you have interests to pursue, and a means to pursue them. It sounds like you haven't found any real interests, or if you have you didn't describe them. Personally I love reading, writing, playing games, watching shows like Good Eats\MST3K, and shopping online. Those are things I enjoy doing in my free time.

But let's break it down! I enjoy shopping online because it is a bit of a hobby of mine to familiarize myself as completely as possible with a market--history, slang and all--before making meaningful utility purchases like a pair of gloves or shoes or something else I'll have around for potentially years. I get a sense of accomplishment when that thing I ordered online shows up on my doorstep and it blows away anything I could get locally (or the price of a local good.) It feels like an accomplishment because I am getting the best personal use out of my money, which most people don't bother to do.

I enjoy reading and writing because it brings me closer to understanding myself and my reasons for what I do. If I can understand myself better, I can make myself a better person--reinforce the good bits, reason away the unreasonable and illogical.

I love playing (certain) games and watching (a small number of) shows partially for escapism, partially for comedic value, and partially because I enjoy learning implicitly via narrative rather than explicitly.


Hopefully one or more of these answers and examples will help you understand the mechanics of personal enjoyment. Also, let me say first and foremost that your problem is not having people to do things with. The best life in the world, full of the richest and most compelling information, will be bland without people to share it with. Find friends who you can spend time with, friends who you genuinely care about and who will genuinely care about you.
posted by Phyltre at 7:24 PM on February 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


study abroad in a very foreign country. you won't be bored.

you seem like a pretty intelligent person who for some reason has "shut down". Maybe it's some sort of self-protection measure? I don't know. But I think the answer will require some soul-searching. that might include traveling, or reading up on philosophy, psychology or religion...

have you always been a bored person? If not this could also be a sign that you need to challenge yourself more intellectually and maybe emotionally.
posted by bearette at 7:26 PM on February 25, 2010


Oh and re: I only have about 3 websites I go to on the internet, yet I'm online for hours

StumbleUpon can help with that. It's like channel-surfing the Internet.
posted by griphus at 7:27 PM on February 25, 2010


It's too bad you don't have insurance because it sounds like dysthymia/anhedonia.
(MFA, not MD)

I used to be bored all of the time, and I mean ALL of the time, then I moved out of the US and was so overwhelmed by work/language issues, I had no time for boredom. It helped me break out of some bad mental habits. It's not the same for everyone - one of my coworkers found life outside the US incredibly boring and he would spend hours on the internet.
posted by betweenthebars at 7:27 PM on February 25, 2010


I think a few people will want to diagnose you with some kind of attention defecit disorder.

As for 'vacation just wasn't long enough', I think that quite a bit, but that's because I fill vacation time with things that I'm passionate about and rarely have time for otherwise, so it's always hard to go back to 'normal' life. That doesn't sound like it answers your questions though. For the people who say that yet only sit around at home... they're different to you. They enjoy doing nothing, and what you call 'boring' they call 'chilling out'. They mean they don't want to go back to school, because it necessitates getting out of bed and doing work and other things they don't enjoy. That's clearly not you, so don't let it bother you.

If you like that one class at school, why not take out as many books as you can and learn more about that subject? Or if you get bored of reading, why not ask other classmates who are interested if they want to form a study group of some kind? Or just hang out? If your friends are always busy, find more friends!

As for the more general gist of the question: if you approach new things as 'just killing time', then of course they're boring. If it's just something to fill the hours, then that's all it will do. I think you need to approach everything differently. Your life isn't a monotonous task of thousands of hours for you to humbly kill, one by one, until they're gone. It's a gift of days and months and years for you to create any kind of life you want. So figure out what you want.

This may be a little harsh, but I've met several people who come across as somewhat similar to you, or at least similar to how I've perceived you in your question. They're unilaterally dull and uninspired. When people talk about travel or exciting nights out or adventures on a camping trip they invariably say 'that's so cool, I wish I could do that'. The difference between us isn't that I can do that and they can't, it's that they don't choose to. They sit at home, bored, and wait for someone to give them a schedule of exciting things to do. This kind of thing almost always has to start with a change in yourself.

So change yourself. Hell, right now, head out into town and find a backpackers, go inside, have a drink, make a friend, and take them on a midnight tour of your city. Plant flowers in a public park. Dress a statue in second hand clothes and pose with it. Have a midnight feast. Play golf on the beach in the moonlight. Make an installation art piece out of sticks and twigs in the middle of the school playground. Do whatever you like. These are all ridicuous ideas, of course, but I guarantee today will be less boring than yesterday if you have a go at something equally out of the ordinary.
posted by twirlypen at 7:29 PM on February 25, 2010 [6 favorites]


You sound depressed. I can't wait for the weekend/holiday because it gives me time to properly be myself and do what I want to do, rather than being and doing what is expected of me. But being yourself is pretty much a lifelong process and there's really no catchall fix for the issue you describe and I can't explain it to you (and probably nor can anybody else) because it's taken me three decades to get to what I am now. The fact that you don't know what you want to do or be suggests to me that you are either too young to have developed much of a personality (this seems likely, given the fact that you seem to figure yourself as totally unique in the world or perhaps residing on a different plane of existence where the infinite wonders of our infinite universe just aren't doing it for you), or you're old enough to have one and are simply depressed or have some existential angst-creases to iron out. I don't know, get a kinky fetish or start drinking or something but don't you dare sit there lamenting that everything is just so predictible because when you think you've got it all figured out that's when something big and scary comes flying out of the future and knocks you right through yourself.
posted by turgid dahlia at 7:31 PM on February 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


My guess? ADD.

Find more challenging classes - foreign language, math...

Get a part time job.
posted by k8t at 7:37 PM on February 25, 2010


What is your favourite class? Why?

Anticipating the end, and loss, of the activity you find enjoyable strikes me as stemming from a feeling of lack of control. If you knew you could make the thing that engages you continue, you would not be seeing the inevitable end all the time, spoiling your enjoyment of it.

...because I know I'll have to go home and just sit. Take some agency. If you like the class so much you don't want it to end, don't just sit. Read things that are not required. Engage. If you think of the class as a discrete task that has a beginning and end demands nothing else of you, it will be that. But if you want, the subject can be more.

You'll find something that engages you, that makes you content, that shuts off your self-consciousness and that you lose yourself in, if you keep looking. For some people, that's a career, or family, or a cause. You sound like you lack meaning in your life, and perhaps it would be a good idea to stop focussing on yourself in order to find it.

On preview, I agree with those who say you might consider challenging yourself more -- travel or study abroad is a great idea, if you can swing it. You sound like you've had some amount of change, with all the new schools, but maybe they aren't presenting the right kind of change / challenge?

To answer your question directly: For me, work is the thing that engages me the most, and so it fills most of my life. Vacations and weekends (when I'm not working) are nice because while I love my work, it is stressful, and rest and change and exposure to things outside are fun. When people say things like "TGIF" I nod and laugh and agree, but I don't mean it. It's something people say like "have a nice day". I think that is true for a lot of people.
posted by girlpublisher at 7:37 PM on February 25, 2010


PS, you sound like a perfect candidate for graduate school. We eat sleep and breath school.
posted by k8t at 7:38 PM on February 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


I went to 3 schools in the first grade, and moved 30 times by the time I hit 20. The only effects of all that that I can see is that I feel are a need to move about every 5 years and that i have no problem leaving stuff behind. What I've done to keep active is to present myself with challenges, especially when some "expert" tells me that I can't succeed at something, and then working like hell to meet those challenges. And I've always gotten there. You present a picture of someone who expects some magical outside force to toss you into a new and exciting life without any effort on your part, but that's never gnna happen. It's up to you to find that well of stubbornness that'll blast you out of your doldrums.
posted by path at 7:44 PM on February 25, 2010


I don't think you're a psychopath nor do you sound boring. I also don't think this question is as existential as it sounds. I believe this question is to some extent neurological.

Our brains learn to be persistent - to dig in and find the hook in something and then stick with it until it pays off - by the release of a pleasure hormone in our brains. The brain learns to tell itself "come on, keep working, it's going to be awesome when it really clicks and you see how this all connects." Some people's brains - a lot of scientists and artists - are predisposed to be good at telling them this. Some people's - like mine, which has ADD - and yours apparently - are not. But that feeling is, to a great extent, what people are talking about when they say they are really enjoying or looking forward to something. (Not the ones who just want to sleep, I don't know what their deal is, other than sleep deprivation.) Our brains release these pleasure hormones in the greatest amounts when they are engaged in something that is just barely within our capacities - it's almost too hard, but if we use our whole brain, we can get there, to our great satisfaction.

Like many people with ADD, my ability to focus is constantly threatened by my feeling that whatever it is is utterly failing to engage me. I sit down to work and my brain cells start humming "Only about 10% of us are into this, the rest of us need something to DOOOOO...." In other words, they're not hooked in. They are bored. Having tried various medical and organization and psychological approaches to dealing with this, the one thing that made the biggest difference was finding an activity during which, miraculously, 90% of my brain didn't immediately try to escape. It seemed to want to be there. Well, then - that's my life's work.

The biggest thing that jumped out at me from your question was that last class of the day. WHAT IS THAT CLASS? I believe that if you look at this class and try to think about what buttons it's pressing, you might get some insights into where your brain wants to be. Maybe it wants to be in that class, in some way, all the time. And if you can get it there more often, you might be able to teach it to get some pleasure - some hook - in other, seemingly more mundane activities as well.

Or maybe not. There are people - rare, important people - who don't get much from nor give much to the ordinaries of life, but in the one area of their passion are miracles of creativity and innovation. Maybe you are one of these people. Regardless, it seems clear that your brain wants to be hooked in and that it needs a lot to hook it in. It's a ravenous beast and you need to start flinging it big chunks of bloody meat.

And just to bring it back around to the existential - Camus said that the key to the essence of life is seeing that Sisyphus, when he turned around to go back down and get the boulder and start all over, was happy. That's what he was there to do. Seems meaningless, doesn't it? Camus' point was, yeah, the nihilists are right when they say don't look for the universe to tell you some big secret about what it all means. It's not out there. But they're wrong when they conclude that there IS no meaning. You're alive, right? So YOU say what it means. In fact, go mean something. Smart guy, Camus. Not so much fun on vacation though.
posted by Betsy Vane at 7:48 PM on February 25, 2010 [4 favorites]


The people I know suffer from boredom because of a general lack of curiosity. Hard to find an intensely curious person who is also bored.
posted by trinity8-director at 7:51 PM on February 25, 2010 [5 favorites]


Hey, sorry you're feeling this way. To answer what I think is your main question, yes, a lot of people are bored or unfulfilled by their lives. There are millions, probably billions, of people out there facing horribly menial jobs, suffocating marriages, or years upon years of silent loneliness. But I think what you describe is something more than a vague sense of malaise. The dullness, monotony, and lack of enjoyment you find in your life seems to be all you can feel. As you say,
I am fine doing the boring things I do (reading, etc.) but day after day it gets so suddenly old, no matter how enjoyable I found it at first!
Honestly, you sound pretty depressed. Losing interest in things you previously enjoyed is called anhedonia, and it's a pretty common component of depression. But you probably already knew this, and I know therapy isn't an option for you.

My best and only recommendation is simple but important: I think you have to get outside. If there's fresh air and open space near you, it can and will help you. One of the great tragedies of the industrial age is that people have forsaken the very things that are most likely to help them mentally and physically weather the soullessness of modern life—namely, cold air, the smell of trees, damp soil, the stars, the feeling of pushing your legs as far as they will go each day. Since you seem to have a lot of free time, find a nice big public park nearby and spend a few hours just walking around. I know you'll be alone, but at least for me, an aloneness among the wind and rocks is magnitudes better than standing around at a B. Dalton or something.

All the best. Good luck.
posted by cirripede at 7:51 PM on February 25, 2010


You need a hobby. I recommend Crossfit. It will destroy you, but shouldn't bore you and you'll get into fantastic shape.
posted by alpinist at 7:53 PM on February 25, 2010


I would suggest you read this or watch this or ask a friend who seems to always be doing something from the moment she/he gets home from work until they hit the bed (and each weekend too) what it is that drives them. I know if I hit the lottery big tomorrow (thus releasing me from a job and freeing up my days) I would spend a lot *more* time on the following interests:

learning to swim
learning to dance
practical Christianity as opposed to religion
exploring artificial intelligence
travel (to museums or landmarks or annual events or astronomical observatories, etc.)
expand my diet by finding more healthy foods that I actually like
blogging about something that matters to me
organizing and enjoying my photos from travel, friends, family, etc.
organizing my possessions so I can find things easier
watching on-line based free lectures
attending concerts or local venues with good live music
astronomy and cosmology
write a WikiHow article
discovering ways that I could help others effectively
finding out how much money is being wasted by the government and asking why (can't hurt)

Plus I would probably stumble upon *new* interests while pursuing the ones listed.
posted by forthright at 8:26 PM on February 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Well, to answer the "what do you mean?" question about not being able to wait for a vacation or the weekend, I've only ever had that feeling when I was stressed or overworked. Generally it's not that I have something else I really want to do during that time, but that I want rest where I don't have to do anything. If I'm not stressed or overworked my normal amount of free time is adequate.
posted by Nattie at 8:51 PM on February 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


By the way, one way I've gotten around this feeling is to schedule the hell out of myself, even for stuff I'm not super excited about. When I get home, all I can do is sleep and wake up and do it again.
posted by Nattie at 8:53 PM on February 25, 2010


My take is you have ADD plus depression. If you can get therapy, you should.

Suggestions: exercise, take up something really interesting and hard, like fencing, heavy-duty gardening, horseback riding. Swimming would be good too.

Eat better, try to not eat a lot of sugar and carbohydrates, they will just make you feel sluggish and miserable.

Find a physically demanding hobby. I find sculpture and ceramics really good, both are physical and mentally engaging.

If you hate walking through CVS, don't do it! I don't think you are a psychopath, but you need some grounding. You need to find something that you feel passionate about. If this something involves hurting yourself or some other person or creature, you should seek help. There are many free and low-cost clinics that will help you.

If it is ennui, try to go through the motions of enjoying something. Sometimes that is enough to break you out of your fog.
posted by fifilaru at 8:57 PM on February 25, 2010


Also, try not to spend time with like-minded people, they just make things worse.
posted by fifilaru at 8:57 PM on February 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


You have no real control over your life...I feel for you. If only you could live someplace lively and fascinating, and only visit home and do ordinary things when you finally need a break.

Life goes in phases, and this too shall pass, but you can give it a big nudge.
I am sure you are malnourished in some way, as well as lacking in exercise and early morning daylight.

You should NOT have to "go home and just sit" at the end of the day...if this is what you are doing, then you probably lack either the energy or the money to "have a life".

Learn to drive if by any chance you haven't. Get involved in theatre - very social, rarely boring. Get a job in a busy restaurant.

In the meantime, while you are working on your diet, auditioning for the theatre or whatever, go visit the pet shop.

For a cat lover, kittens are never boring.
posted by serena15221 at 9:16 PM on February 25, 2010


When you say you can't wait until vacation, or your weekend wasn't long enough, what do you mean?

I'm in the very fortunate position of loving my job. I'm still surprised that people will actually pay me to do it, and many of my coworkers feel the same way about their jobs. We're into it, we're absorbed by it, and frankly it's friggin' exhausting.

No matter how much you love something, you've got to take some time off and recharge. That's what a vacation or long weekend means to me.

My favorite class is at the end of the day and there's no mistaking the horrible sinking feeling when it's time to leave

What's your favorite thing about it? Is there a way to get more of it? As simple as it sounds, finding something you enjoy and doing more of it isn't a bad way to go through life.

Oh, I used to move a lot—I've been to about 12 different schools, which was about one new house per year. That might have something to do with this, eh?

I lived in eight houses before I was seven. It has definitely set an expectation of change in my life, and every year or so I do get the urge to make a major life change. It has not lead to the overwhelming ennui that you are describing though -- just a tendency to skip from shiny thing to shiny thing on a yearly basis.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 10:59 PM on February 25, 2010


More things to do when you are bored:

Learn to cook. Spend some time looking around the shops/farmer's market for yummy ingredients that are in season and working out new and interesting things to cook with them.

Do some of the housework or household maintenance that your family normally do for you.

Find a local juggling club and go and learn to juggle.

Get a part time job.

You mentioned skiing: if you're near enough to a ski resort and you're a decent skiier, put yourself through the instructor qualifications.

Find yourself a project related to that class that you enjoy and do it.

Get a musical instrument and learn to play it.


Many of these things may in fact be boring at first, but since everything in your life is boring, you may as well do something different and boring. Who knows where it may lead! Just make sure not to sabotage yourself by picking something up for five seconds and deciding that it's not worth bothering with because it's not instantaneously exciting.
posted by emilyw at 1:33 AM on February 26, 2010


Move out of your parents’ home. Play a team sport and do some exercise. Take an extra class and/or take a part time job.

Or

Start smoking weed. You won’t care that you’re bored anymore.

Your choice. Warning: one of these choices is sub-optimal.
posted by dmt at 2:29 AM on February 26, 2010


Stop reading and start making things. Design something and build it from scratch. Improve the design and rebuild it taking into account what you learned from the previous design.

Once you are building things you are challenged in a myriad of ways each day and nothing is ever doing the same thing over and over again. Some things will be similar (ie using a saw hammer whatever) but the final product is different each time.
posted by koolkat at 3:43 AM on February 26, 2010


This may seem glib, but I find it's true: the folks who really enjoy school often enjoy a career in teaching.
posted by AugieAugustus at 6:55 AM on February 26, 2010


When you say you can't wait until vacation, or your weekend wasn't long enough, what do you mean?

It means that while I'm on vacation or on a weekend, I'm doing something that I enjoy doing.

When you're on vacation or on a weekend, you sit around killing time until it's over. Why would you expect to look forward to that?

The answer to being bored is to do something that isn't boring. Most people don't spend their vacations "sitting at home." The ones that do, the people telling you they're looking forward to "staying home and sleeping," are probably the ones who are really busy most of the rest of the time, so taking a break and doing nothing is a novelty. For you it's not a novelty; it's apparently all you do, so it's not something to look forward to.

I am fine doing the boring things I do (reading, etc.) but day after day it gets so suddenly old, no matter how enjoyable I found it at first! Yet—if I could just be fine doing the same thing day after day, I would just be fine.

You're not fine. Obviously. You can keep talking yourself in circles about it, or you can do something about it. Your choice.
posted by ook at 9:32 AM on February 26, 2010


if I could just be fine doing the same thing day after day, I would just be fine.

But you're not fine doing the same thing day after day, so it isn't fine. You've set up this false dichotomy here: it isn't a question of "same thing day after day" versus "constant alpine skiing." I think what you really need is some kind of change to break the monotony.

I know you're in college, but high school was the last time I lived with my parents. I felt the same sense of overwhelming ennui -- we lived in a tiny town, school wasn't especially challenging, and I just did the same stuff every day. It got to the point where even my weekend routine of getting completely hammered then setting stuff on fire and/or blowing things up in my friend's sheep pasture got boring!

Many people just aren't set up to be content with doing the same things day in and day out. In fact, most of us aren't, and that's why we look forward to vacations and weekends. The only difference between most people and you is that you haven't identified anything that you would actually prefer doing, and it seems to me that you haven't really looked very hard -- when your primary entertainments are walking around in CVS, reading books, watching movies, and playing videogames, you haven't really explored the wide world of recreational pursuits. (I like reading books a lot, by the way, but I would get ridiculously bored if I wasn't doing anything else with my free time.)

My hobbies are playing and writing music (piano), cooking, distance running, swimming, taking random road trips to the middle of nowhere, triathlon, hiking and backpacking, dog training, checking out all the random little hole-in-the-wall restaurants in town, and reading. In all cases, I thought it might be fun to learn how to do these things, so I looked up how to do them, got any necessary equipment, and then went out and did them. Most of my hobbies are cheap, too (although the cost of triathlon will rapidly expand to fill any budget). So I would just suggest thinking about what your concept of an "interesting life" is -- when you think about an interesting person, what do they do in their spare time? Then try doing those things and see if you like them. You don't have to climb up Everest or buy a Steinway -- just go out for a walk in the woods, or get a little used piano off of Craigslist or something.

I think that, in order to have a balanced life, most people need an physical activity, a creative outlet, a contemplative activity, and a social life. This is completely non-scientific and has nothing to back it up, but it makes sense to me. So, for example, I get physical activity through running and triathlon training, also from hiking. I use my music as a creative outlet (also cooking, to some extent), and I get my "alone time"/contemplative time from my long runs. I don't need as much of a social life as most people seem to, but triathlon training has been a pretty good social activity for me because I belong to a club. Someone else might use walking the dog as a physical activity, use ceramics classes as a creative outlet, and use their religious practices as both an avenue for contemplation and a social pastime. So maybe use that metric to find stuff that appeals to you and satisfies your needs for different components of a balanced lie.
posted by kataclysm at 9:32 AM on February 26, 2010


^ha, typo. should read "balanced life" -- maybe this is a freudian typo and i'm secretly miserable???
posted by kataclysm at 9:35 AM on February 26, 2010


You're speaking in absolutes. (Love it or hate it stuff, vacation vs. day-to-day, I AM this or that, etc.)

I've done that before.

You are slurping up lots of experience but aren't able to find something that satiates you.

I've done that before, too.

Both when I was moderately-to-severely depressed.

I'm guessing you have a hard time being emotional? As in, you don't cry easily, especially when others around you are crying?

Do you tend to finish everything you start? How are your grades at school? Perfect, or less-than?

Which is easier for you to do? Boring stuff or really high-adventure, "challenging" stuff? (Honors anthropology vs. bowling class)

If confronted with that choice, which do you normally choose?

Not wanting to be at home...there's some therapy material. Likewise with your cats remark.

You say you hate your cats. Do you abuse them? Throw them across the room, deny them food, kick them, anything like that? Please be honest here.

Anyway...if you really want to change, and have a chance at enjoying stuff:

I would get your tail end into a therapist's office and TELL THEM YOU HAVE NO MONEY. Don't leave until you have a plan. They have dealt with no-money cases before.
posted by circular at 12:38 PM on February 26, 2010


Like I said before, when I try to do something new it's just to "kill time". When I do fun and exciting things, like meeting a friend or something like that, it lasts just for the moment, then I go back to normal existence and the cycle starts over again.

And as for this, this is what depression sounds like. I was horribly depressed for an entire decade, underwent literally years of talk therapy, about five different medications, etc. In the end, the only thing that worked for me was to move to a new city, get involved in a bunch of new activities, and retrain myself to think differently about things. That last bit, retraining your thought patterns, is what a good therapist can help with, but you don't necessarily NEED one. I didn't have one (too broke to afford one, plus in the condition I was in, I couldn't get my shit together long enough to figure out how to even find one).

At any case, what you want is to try to alter a) what you do with your life and b) your perceptions of what you do with your life, so that you can have a life that seems to you to be filled with things that are fun and exciting. Otherwise you're just spending your life counting down the time until you're dead.
posted by kataclysm at 1:08 PM on February 26, 2010


I agree with those who've mentioned anhedonism, but it really sounds your core problem is simple loneliness. You mention that you'd like to do more social activities, but don't have friends who want to hang out with you that much. In fact you do really enjoy being with other people, it just depresses you that you can't get to do it often enough.

Doing things alone, if that's the norm in your life, is pretty damn miserable. Solo travel sucks. Going to restaurants alone makes you feel like a loser. Even watching movies is more fun with other people. It's one thing to do stuff alone as a change of pace, but few folks are cut out to live a solitary life almost all the time.

I don't know that this changes the recommendation to seek free therapy from your school. You do sound depressed. But focusing your therapy on developing a regular social life could be fruitful for you. If you're going out with friends regularly, then you won't put so much emotional stake in any one event, and it won't be such a let-down when its over. I suspect that once you've got the loneliness and raw depression under control, then you'll be in a much better position to find ways to enjoy the time you spend by yourself.
posted by serathen at 5:36 PM on February 26, 2010


This perfectly describes how I felt in the past when going through periods of depression. I never sought therapy for mine, because it tends to pass eventually, and is definitely associated with winter for me and taking vitamin D pills helps to mitigate it.

If your depression is seasonal, vitamin D may help. If not, I strongly suggest seeking free counseling services at school. Don't let them turn you away - they have different people there all the time, so try to come back and speak to a few different counselors if you need to. If everything's boring, you may as well just giving this one extra boring thing a try, just in case it actually works.
posted by Eshkol at 8:24 AM on February 27, 2010


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