Grieving Boredom

Sunday, October 11th, 6:28AM

I had finally uploaded and re-uploaded everything according to the rubric. I had fixed some last-minute sound issues. I was dizzy from endless cups of homemade coffee brewed into an inky, muddy sludge. The few nights prior I had only managed four to five hours of sleep peppered with nightmares about assignments.

I finally crept into our bedroom, climbed into my side of the bed, and turned on Airplane Mode. I had to wake at 8:00 for a nine-hour drive to see the in-laws for Thanksgiving.

Think of it as a quick nap. Once you get up there, you’ll rest.

As soon as my eyes shut, it happened.

For what seemed like hours, I had zero self-awareness. This was no nightmare; I was fully awake. I had become a story line in Final Cut Pro. The cursor sliced along my digital body, ruthlessly resizing, razoring, undoing and redoing. My breathing was shallow; my heartbeat thumped through my forehead. I wondered if I was dying. I needed to do something human. As the sunrise peeked through the blinds, I fixated on a small, white lamp. Its contours, its shape, its length. Anything to distract me from the internal horror. J turned and comforted me.

“I think I’m falling apart.” I muttered.

“Sounds like you’re a student.”

J assured me we could postpone the trip one day. He hadn’t gotten much sleep that night, either. Ironically, just hours before going to bed that terrifying that, I remembered I hadn’t had a panic attack in over one year; and what a milestone that was. Last year, I felt quite sure of myself. Armed with regular therapy visits, self-help books, meditation podcasts, and plenty of gymming, I often served the role of therapist for fellow students, friends, and family. Now, the therapist needs therapy. But she doesn’t have time to shower or eat dinner, let alone sit on another Zoom call for fifty minutes each week.

I have had the great privilege of working only part-time while in school. Still, from the moment I wake at 8AM to the time I cave in to my human needs around 2AM, I cannot seem to get ahead. In these eighteen wakeful hours, not once am I mindlessly scrolling through social media, watching YouTube, or phoning up loved ones. The day is a constant game of attending to the immediate, a DJ managing fifty turntables at once. And yet such discipline never seems good enough. For the first time in years, I’m regularly doubting my talent, intelligence, and capabilities.

On one hand, a packed schedule is good for the anxious, ruminating mind. Tending to the immediate leaves you unable to wallow in boredom, worrying that you are wasting time. Internally berating yourself for something horrible you said in 2009. My sense of purpose is strong, stressed as I am. Yet I miss boredom. I miss staring into space. I miss falling down YouTube rabbitholes, learning about the dangers of Victorian baths and the most volatile chemicals on Earth. I miss waking at 11AM and getting out of bed at 3PM.

I don’t doubt I’ve made the right choice by returning to school. But I cannot meet all of my needs if I am to complete my studies. So, I will at least honour these feelings by acknowledging their presence. I am grieving boredom. Spaciousness. Leisure. Yet if age has given me anything, it has given me perspective. You know whatever discomfort you are experiencing is temporary. One way or another, life will settle into a more sustainable pattern. And hopefully by then, I will have learned to savour the unscheduled.

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