How we spend our days – boredom vs apathy

Saturday, July 23, 2022 Permalink

There’s a quote by Annie Dillard that goes, ‘How we spend our days is of course how we spend our lives.’

It popped into my head this morning. Or at least a related version around how I ‘spend’ my time. (Or not as it happens!)

Unfortunately I wasn’t feeling philosophical. Rather I was wandering aimlessly around my house wondering what I could, or should, be doing (other than eating).

It occurred to me that I’ve forgotten how I spend my time. Or I’ve forgotten how TO spend time.

But what does that mean I wonder? Perhaps I’ve forgotten how to enjoy myself. Worse still, how to live life.

So then, still far from philosophical, the overthinking pondering begins…

I realise I’m bored but equally apathetic about the idea of going to ‘do’ something. I’m not sure what I could or should be doing anyway. Maybe I HAVE forgotten how to ‘live’.*

boredom and apathy how we spend our days

It was a bit confronting when I travelled back to Brisbane last weekend. It was my first weekend visit of the year. In the months preceding I’d seen online friends at bookish / other events and looked on in envy. But… once there I couldn’t be bothered. I caught up with my ‘best’ girlfriends for dinner. But essentially I spent all weekend lolling about. “I should do something.” I said to my mother and brother a couple of times. I had no desire to go shopping, but there are galleries and cafes. Things to do.

Instead I lay around and scrolled on my phone. Which is exactly what I do on weekends when I’m at my own place. I waste time on social media. More out of boredom than any desire to actually see what’s happening in the lives of others.

Is it just me, I wonder? Is it worse because I’m working from home every day and there’s a sense of same-ness about my days? Is it the fact I live outside of town and I’m apathetic about driving into town to do things? Is it just a symptom of depression… the apathy? ie. I’m bored shitless but too apathetic to do anything about it? Or am I just a home-body who needs to ease off on the no-reading/TV during the day rule and fritter weekends away in the same way I do my nights?

* And yes…. #firstworldproblems I realise
I also realise those parents rushing around with kids to many different sporting events and catching up on housework would envy my boredom. 

  • Susanne
    July 25, 2022

    I’ve always had many interests so it’s hard for me to understand how NOT doing anything in particular is a thing! I always keep busy, which is both good and bad. In the past, the lack of time when I did nothing, caused stress, but now the things I do really add quality of life. I guess it depends on whether it’s your choice and what doing nothing gives you? Is it relaxing or boring?
    To me, the thought of scrolling my phone is boredom.. I’m not the typical 2022 person I guess. I’m moving away from social media. What normal people seem to find interesting on their phones doesn’t give me anything… Twitter is boring.. Instagram is boring (because of their algorithms mostly)… I don’t even have Facebook on my phone (because I hate Facebook and only open it on my laptop now and then to check notifications), and there’s only so much news to read. I may take up my phone frequently because it’s a habit, but there’s nothing there that tickles my fancy anymore, unless someone has sent something on WhatsApp or Signal. I prefer to practise guitar or do something else creative, or go to some music event in a pub. But we’re all different!

    It was interesting what you said “Maybe I’ve forgotten how to live life”. When you did enjoy yourself, what did you do? And do you want to go back to that? I can totally relate to having to drive somewhere, it does add some hassle! But for me, after two years of isolation, I have more need than ever to get out of the house and see other people.

    I really enjoy reading these thought-provoking posts from you!

    • Debbish
      July 26, 2022

      Thanks Susanne. It worries me that I struggle to think of what I used to enjoy doing. Obviously reading and watching television. Eating and drinking. But I know I used to enjoy going out with friends. I’m not sure when everything started to feel like it was a hassle or requiring too much effort. I know for example, that people knew me talked about me becoming more withdrawn or secluded MANY years ago when I was anorexic and struggled with disordered eating. Perhaps that’s when I started finding ‘joy’ in unhealthy things like food rather than normal habits.

      Though I used to be far more sociable and spend time with friends. (I think!)

  • leannelc
    July 29, 2022

    I find myself with a few of the same dilemmas Deb. With my hip impeding my walking so much, even things like wandering around a shopping centre is hard work. I can’t walk on a beach, or go for a pleasant stroll and I find that if I’m going to sit around, I’d rather do it in the comfort of my own home. That being said, it definitely feels like my world is closing in on me a bit and I could relate to some of what you were saying. I do find that pushing myself to be a bit more social pays off in the end – even just a coffee in a cafe with a friend – something to break up my week into more interesting chunks. It’s a tricky one indeed…..

    • Debbish
      July 30, 2022

      Yes, it’s very much about making the effort isn’t it? I realise it’s also about expectations though as well. Just recently a few other people have spoken about ‘the way they spend their days’ and many aren’t overly sociable. Some comment on not wanting to do things at night if they’re working all day and weekend outings being planned and including some down-time. I wonder if the whole ‘best life’ we see on social media makes me feel worse about my lack of motivation to be out and about. I know we see others’ highlights reels – their dinners out or trips away or forays to markets etc – but have to remind myself they probably also spend time scrolling on their phone or playing solitaire on their phones at time.

      (Having said that, I know I’m far more isolated than most and realise it’s exacerbated by the fact I live alone and don’t see / speak to others in person for days and days (and days) at a time. I spent a few days working at my mother’s last week and have a post I need to finish that actually helps me understand some of that.)

      PS. I hope your injuries clear up soon. (Though my experience is – as we get older – they seem to niggle for longer!)

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