ESCHLEMAN: Boredom must be valued
In high school, a lot of my college friends bragged about the abundance of free time they had in college compared to high school kids. And in a way, what they claimed is true. On the one hand, now that I’m in college, I’m out of school for 7 hours straight, so I have more free time for activities like studying, doing my homework, doing exercise, socialize, participate in clubs and clean my room.
And, of course, I can’t forget that I also have to devote some of my time to the essentials, like eating, taking a shower, and brushing my teeth. Having said that, because a student’s free time can be spent on all of these activities, I don’t think students are bored enough.
If free time is defined differently, as in, free time means time to do nothing, I feel like I don’t have any free time. But why is this a concern? You would think that students want to be constantly concerned. I disagree.
In a item by Time Magazine titled “Being bored can be good for you – if you do it right.” Here’s how, “Sandi Mann, senior lecturer in psychology at the University of Central Lancashire in the UK, describes boredom as” a search for neural stimulation that is not satisfied … if we cannot find that, our mind will create it. ”
Essentially, if we’re really bored, there aren’t any external sources that satisfy a person’s need for neural stimulation, like your phone, so our own minds have to come up with ideas to entertain us. This means that boredom opens up an opportunity to discover our most creative beings.
But how do you unlock this level of creativity? Mann suggests doing activities such as walks, swimming laps, or just sitting with your eyes closed on a regular basis. No music allowed. The article listed other similar wise activities, such as walking around the grocery store or sitting in a waiting room.
After reading all these examples, a thought occurred to me. Why did I choose to title my Thoughts about the Shower column? Because in the shower, I’m finally really bored. I perform a simple task with no technology to distract me. Not even music. My mind can wander, so most of my thoughts come up when I’m in the shower.
But, have I ever thought of an idea for an article while doing my math homework? Nope. Except once, I considered writing an article about how unnecessarily hard calculus lessons at Rutgers are. Stay tuned.
Either way, these examples highlight the power of real boredom. Having said that, it’s not that easy to find opportunities to be bored. On the one hand, in a technological world, boredom demands discipline. If a person really wants to give boredom a chance, they have to resist the urge to just scroll through their boredom. But it is also more than that. It is not entirely the fault of college students that they do not necessarily value boredom.
University culture, higher education and society as a whole perpetuate a toxic lifestyle of non-stop work. As a student, I always feel like I should be doing something. I should study or do my homework or apply to clubs or network or exercise or socialize. And if I don’t do any of these things, then I’m late or I’m missing something. But, I believe that this culture crushes not only creativity, but general well-being by inevitably leading to burnout.
I think society and higher education need to do a better job of encouraging boredom, but students can’t rely on them to do it. College students need to value themselves and create boredom for themselves. You will never know what your mind is capable of until you try real boredom.
If the college truly values ââlearning and growth as an individual, the college culture should encourage boredom, stimulate internal thinking and creativity, instead of promoting the constant grind. If I had never been bored in the shower a few weeks ago, I might never have had my first idea for a post that led to the creation of my Shower Reflection Column.
How do you think books, music, movies, business ideas, and podcasts were created? People were probably bored enough, so their minds had to find something convincing.
So maybe the next time you’re on the bus, try looking out the window and letting your mind wander instead of catching up with your favorite Netflix show or scrolling on TikTok. See what’s going on.
Sara Eschleman is a first year of Rutgers Business School with a specialization in Marketing and a minor in English. His âShower Thoughtsâ column is broadcast every Thursday.
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