A couple weeks ago, my brother and I were walking my dog when he asked me whether I was planning to write up a new blog post anytime soon. “Nope, not planning on it” I replied. The conversation topic took a different turn—probably to how cute/disobedient/smart/tiring the puppy is…puppy parenting is a mixed bag—but that question stuck in my mind.
Admittedly, it sort of bothered me that I couldn’t say yes—that I couldn’t explain that I was sitting on a golden egg of an idea that would manifest itself into a new blog series that would surely enthrall and humor my (basically non-existent) readers. After all, during my last semester of college (my busiest semester of college) at this time last year, I had written over 25,000 words in 4 months. (I never slept! Haha! I never want to live that semester again!)…Now, as I sat on my parent’s couch thinking about all these things (while my puppy ingested part of a plastic milk jug), and came to a realization: Was I becoming boring?!
The stream of consciousness went something like this: I am boring. I am sitting on my parent’s couch. I have a broken ankle. I can’t run, or hike, or ice skate, or snowshoe and I would rather watch a torturous marathon of Fuller House than participate in alternative forms of exercise. I have no exciting news to report. No plans on the horizon. I am sitting on my parent’s couch and I am boring.
In usual form, my brain rapidly fired off these thoughts, quickly dismissed them, and moved on to a new stream of thoughts and new activity. I generally feel things in bursts (except my love of bacon—it is constant, steady, unrelenting, omnipresent). It was also January, a time of general humanity-wide melancholia. I told myself and others that this was just a season: a season where there wasn’t a lot to report back on, publicly document, do, say, and so on.
But these two thoughts kept popping back in my head: What if this life I perceive as boring isn’t a season—what if this is it? As a recent college graduate, I have lived 18 out of 22 years being enrolled in a school, and in all 22 years, I have experienced seasons—literally. Fall, Winter, Summer, Spring. This is life in Western PA. Not that I’m graduated, time bleeds together more. There aren’t Tuesday/Thursday routines versus Monday/Wednesday/Friday routines. There’s no Christmas break or summer internship on the horizon. The seasons begin to blend together, and life becomes…well…a little more boring.
In that first week in January—when my I AM BORING crisis hit—I received an email from a writer named Shelly Miller. I read her thoughts on life after the holidays from the comfort of my parent’s couch, and lemme tell ya—she nailed it. She wrote this:
Last week, as time with our daughter was coming to an end, and memories from Christmas still fresh in the forefront of my thoughts, I exhaled a deep sigh while making the bed and said, “Well, I guess it’s time to get back to real life.”
Using casual slang, I interpreted time set apart with my family during Christmas as not real, meaning less valuable than the work I’d put off for weeks…I dismissed meaningful time with family with thoughts of cleaning up my house, putting Christmas decorations away, and meeting imminent deadlines.
I think we all have found moments like Miller writes about: moments where we become horrified at the ordinary. Moments where our compulsion is to enter into a frenzy of activity. Moments where we are critical of downtime and in hot pursuit of impressive activity. You know I have because I just spent the first few paragraphs of this blog post talking about it. Where we sigh and say, “Well, back to normal, boring life.”
But this week, something has changed. I guess you could say that the colors have become less dull, the prospects less dim, the circumstances less uninteresting. But here’s the thing, folks: NOTHING actually changed. In fact, I have even more reason to lament life because this week I found out I will not be doing any physical adventures until Summer…and it is January. In Western PA. And next week Michelle Obama, my style/life role model is leaving the White House! These things are cause for despair, loss of hope, and other emotions characteristic of the emotional wasteland that is ninth-grade-in-high-school.
This week I had a conversation that could be categorized in the locale of the aforementioned emotional wasteland with a person who shared a frankly depressing pessimism about the future of the world, about how they just didn’t see a reason to be hopeful. They are entitled to their opinion, and frankly, have many reasons to feel that way. But. There’s that word again. Butt. Oops, typo, meant to write but. Can’t trust these fingers!
BUT there was this thought that kept coming to my head throughout this week: This ISN’T boring! Inspiration struck, and it struck in the form of people. Ordinary people: my friends. (Are you offended I called you ordinary? Sorry about that, I mean it in the most affectionate way) I have come to see with a new appreciation what Shelly Miller was writing about: life as usual is never usual.
It’s so easy for all of us to think otherwise. For example: some friends of mine got married in the summer, and when I saw them a few months ago, they admitted that they worried they were becoming boring. But when I look at them, I don’t see boring. I see people living in to the callings and spaces that have been set before them with commitment and integrity. I see the work they are doing and I know I could never do it, and I am floored that they are gifted to fill a void with the vibrancy they inherently possess. Or another example: one of my friends manages communication for a non-profit, and her everyday work is writing—writing emails, writing agendas, writing plans, writing anything and everything— some might think that writing is boring. But I recently saw a video she produced, and the work she did through the gifts she was given was far from boring. I’m not sure how many views the video had, but it was brilliant, an exciting representation of an ordinary person telling a simple story that could inspire remarkable outcomes. I told her I loved it, and she was thrilled I watched. She is not ordinary, and neither is her work. She needed to know.
I think we need to tell people that more. Tell them what we love about them, their work, their lives, how they inspire us. Because I think we all are afraid of being boring, of being the uninteresting friend, of being a snooze. Because life isn’t a competition, and we shouldn’t spend our time trying to sort the winners from the losers.
What I see with fresh eyes in the everyday lives of my friends has helped make an old truth new again: our routines and work hold the power to transform the every day into so much more than that. With new eyes, I’m seeing the grit, bravery, and giftedness of the folks I get to call friend. I am seeing the ways their talents and passions are making their communities better. I’ve seen friends buy homes, get married, anticipate a baby, start new jobs, move across the country and world, confront conflicts, reflect beauty and truth through their art, chase creativity, pursue knowledge and fight for justice, and become pioneers and peacekeepers. So many of us need to know that the work we are doing and the routines we have and the lives we are living MATTER.
So back to that pesky thought I had in my head, the one I had on my parent’s couch: What if this life I perceive as boring isn’t a season—what if this is it? To that I say: What if it is? If I am going to practice what I preach, I answer back to that: boring isn’t bad. Every day is more than that. I do not need to panic that my life isn’t “Instagrammable” ever again, if I end up living my life in the same place. When we are living our lives—whether that’s at home, abroad, or somewhere in between, you and I are not marking time. We are moving forward. I see the people around me, facing North, and they inspire me to keep moving forward, too.
So if you’re like me, fearing that you are boring: never fear. Do not fear the silence. Do not fear the mundane. Do not fear rest. Do not fear quiet. Do not fear being boring. Your life is more awe-inspiring than you know, your impact is far more than you realize. I see you, and you have inspired me to keep moving forward, too.