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Bored All Of The Time? Here's What's Really Going On.

"Boredom is a pattern, not a reality." — Unknown

Inspiration

Anyone who has kids (or spends a lot of time around them) knows that there comes a time — usually at least a couple of times a week — when, out of nowhere, they will say, almost at a whiny pitch, "I'm bored." What's a trip about it is, if they are above the age of five and you ask them why, more times than not, they have absolutely no clue. All they know is things feel dull and tedious and they think it's up to you to figure out how to make their world more exciting again.


The interesting thing about boredom? It isn't something that folks grow out of. And personally, something that I've noticed is it's a feeling that many creatives and folks in long-term relationships tend to encounter quite a bit. And, like children, sometimes adults don't really get what the root cause of their own boredom is either. The problem with that is, if the feeling goes on for too long, they could find some not-the-best-idea ways to fill the void.

So, let's tackle this today, y'all. If you (or someone you know) seem to experience boredom, more than just sporadically, perhaps these following points can help you to get to the root of what keeps bringing you to that space.

1.Do You Know Your Purpose?

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Ask anyone who is clear that they are operating within their purpose and they will probably vouch for the fact that while there are days that some of the work that's required to reach a particular goal may be taxing or also while there may be times when they feel completely overwhelmed, it's damn near impossible to function within the framework of what you were created to do and feel bored at the same time. I can speak from personal experience that since I've been walking out my own purpose in life, I can't tell you the last time "bored" was a word that I've used.

So yeah, let's begin there. Do you know what your purpose is? If not, don't feel bad. A lot of people don't. I mean, A LOT of folks. How do you begin figuring out what yours is? What makes you happiest? What would you do, even if you couldn't get paid a lot for it? What complements your natural gifts and abilities the most? What could you die doing, knowing that you made a real contribution to this world? What does it feel like you were literally put on this planet to do? What brings your mind, body and spirit and collective sense of peace?

It's my belief that folks who aren't in their purpose tend to do some of the most reckless and nonsensical stuff in order to fill the void. After all, purpose is powerful. Once you know what yours is, it can keep you pretty preoccupied as a direct result. That's why I thought that this point was a really wise place to start (check out "5 Signs You Are Living Your True Purpose" when you get a chance too). If you don't know what your purpose is, it's almost a given that boredom would result from that.

2.Are You an Adrenaline Junkie?

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Here's the deal. Whenever you feel excited or afraid, there is a hormone that's released within your blood called adrenaline. Whenever that happens, your heart rate increases, your blood rate goes up, your breathing intensifies and you also feel a burst of energy. Some people like this feeling so much that they intentionally seek out activities that will make them feel this way — skydiving, ziplining, extreme sports, etc. It's believed by some mental health experts that this could also cause some folks to take up professions like law enforcement, firefighting and stunt work (because they also can give folks a similar rush). A nickname that a lot of these kinds of people get is adrenaline junkie.

While there is certainly nothing wrong with being an adrenaline junkie in theory, something that I am big on is balance and something that adulthood teaches us is that life isn't always gonna be thrills and spins. Sometimes, it's the tedious stuff that helps us to make the most progress. That said, you don't have enough time and I don't have enough writing space to get into the fact that some folks don't even know how to hold down a relationship unless they are creating situations that cultivate lots of excitement or plenty of drama; that is the kind of adrenaline highs that they seek. SMDH. Anyway, if you feel bored a lot, asking yourself if you are close to being addicted to experiencing adrenaline rushes could connect a few dots for you.

3.Do You Expect “Outside Sources” to Entertain You All of the Time?

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Recently, I spent some time with my goddaughters. The older one is 10. Her younger sister is two. I won't lie, to a certain extent, both of them seem to think that it's the adults' job to constantly entertain them; however, as I mentioned in the intro, we expect this from kids, right? They are still learning how to be their own friend and enjoy their own company.

Do you see where I am going with this? While I do think that extroverts probably struggle with this particular point a lot more an introverts and even ambiverts do, if you're someone who can't deal with the stillness of being alone or you're not able to enjoy doing things unless you've got a ton of people around you, you might wanna do some self-love journaling to figure out why that is the case. At the end of the day, it's not healthy to always feel like you need people always around you in order to function. If that is personally the case, chances are, there is something else going on, within, that needs to be addressed.

4.Are You Not Very Self-Aware?

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Now here's one that you might not have seen coming. How in the world can a lack of self-awareness (check out "These Are The Things Self-Aware People Do Daily") play a direct role in how bored a person can end up being? The bottom line here is self-aware people know themselves pretty darn well. This doesn't just manifest in the sense of them being able to take responsibility for their actions, them being able to understand what they are feeling when they are feeling certain things and also being able to live in reality, it also means they know what fulfills them and also what makes them tick.

I'm an ambivert. I know this about myself. I also really like being alone at home. The rare moments when I do get bored, I know it's because I've gotten caught up in a routine that needs a little bit of breaking up. That's also what I know about myself. Something as simple as watching a movie, trying a new food or catching up on the phone with someone I haven't spoken with in a while can be all that I need. I know this because I've worked pretty hard to figure my own self out.

So yeah, if you're constantly feeling bored, ask yourself if you're in touch with what it means to be self-aware and if you actually know what your internal and external needs are. Being in touch with yourself, on a deep and profound level, can also help you to stay on top of what could cause you to fall into a boredom slump.

5.Do You Drink or Smoke Weed a Lot?

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Science has a lot of data to support the fact that when we're intoxicated, it can cause our brain to experience euphoria and/or excitement and/or confusion. The THC that's in marijuana can also produce a euphoric effect. While having a few drinks or lighting up one or two sometimes isn't a real cause for alarm, what you do need to be careful of is if you're relying on alcohol or weed (or both) to keep you from feeling bored. And if that is indeed the case…why so?

While my dad was alive, he was an on-again-off-again substance abuser. A big part of it is because his parents weren't very supportive when it came to his natural gift for football or music as he was growing up. And so, he drank and drugged his pain away. He also used it to pass the time because he was bored because he wasn't living out his full purpose (see how that works?). While this might be an extreme explanation for how boredom occurs, if you drink and/or smoke daily, it's definitely not something to simply sweep under the rug. It could be what you're using to "feel something" too.

6.Does Your Life Consist of Short- and Long-Term Goals?

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Former football coach Lou Holtz once said, "If you're bored with life – you don't get up every morning with a burning desire to do things – you don't have enough goals." Welp. That about sums this particular point up. A great definition of a goal is "the result or achievement toward which effort is directed". A friend of mine and I sometimes discuss a friend that they have who lives life with absolutely no goals. At almost 40, this man has no steady employment, lives in someone's basement and owes all kinds of child support. At the same time, he's smart, witty and has a degree. Why doesn't he have is a set of goals? While growing up, charm got him so far that he never really focused on being ambitious. As a direct result, he spends a lot of time either feeling like he has no direction or being so bored out of his mind that he does stupid stuff (like sleeping around with random strangers or wasting money on alcohol) to pass the time.

Is he an extreme example of what having no goals will do? Perhaps. Still, if you're someone who doesn't have some clear goals for yourself, definitely allow him to serve as a cautionary tale in your life.

Short-term goals (goals that can be achieved within a 12-month time frame) are proven to give you focus, boost your self-esteem, inspire and motivate you and break bad habits like procrastination. Long-term goals can get you more excited about life, help you to make big changes in your world and strengthen your abilities and level of patience.

It's damn near impossible to not progress in life without goals. And you're sure to find yourself bored, more times than not, if you don't have some short- and long-term ones set in place too.

7.When’s the Last Time You Tried Something New?

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A wise person once said, "Make a habit of trying new things." There are several reasons why this can prove to be so beneficial. Trying new things can increase your confidence levels. Trying new things can make you less fearful. Trying new things can expand your perspective when it comes to how you see the world. Trying new things can encourage you to try other new things. And yes, trying new things can definitely be a great cure for boredom.

After all, one of the things that it means to be bored is to be someone who feels like you are doing the same ole' thing, day in and day out to the point where life feels like not much more than tedious repetition. Doing something new can help to break up the monotony and get you excited about life again.

So, set aside an hour or so and put together a quick bucket list of things that you would like to attempt that you never have before, whether it's a new kind of food, planning a trip to someplace you've never been or maybe even going on a blind date. The excitement alone can make it worth the effort — and definitely be the cure for boredom that you may have been looking for…all along.

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You may not know her by Elisabeth Ovesen – writer and host of the love, sex and relationships advice podcast Asking for a Friend. But you definitely know her other alter ego, Karrine Steffans, the New York Times best-selling author who lit up the literary and entertainment world when she released what she called a “tell some” memoir, Confessions of a Video Vixen.

Her 2005 barn-burning book gave an inside look at the seemingly glamorous world of being a video vixen in the ‘90s and early 2000s, and exposed the industry’s culture of abuse, intimidation, and misogyny years before the Me Too Movement hit the mainstream. Her follow-up books, The Vixen Diaries (2007) and The Vixen Manual: How To Find, Seduce And Keep The Man You Want (2009) all topped the New York Times best-seller list. After a long social media break, she's back. xoNecole caught up with Ovesen about the impact of her groundbreaking book, what life is like for her now, and why she was never “before her time”– everyone else was just late to the revolution.

xoNecole: Tell me about your new podcast Asking for a Friend with Elisabeth Ovesen and how that came about.

Elisabeth Ovesen: I have a friend who is over [at Blavity] and he just asked me if I wanted to do something with him. And that's just kinda how it happened. It wasn't like some big master plan. Somebody over there was like, “Hey, we need content. We want to do this podcast. Can you do it?” And I was like, “Sure.” And that's that. That was around the holidays and so we started working on it.

xoNecole: Your life and work seem incredibly different from when you first broke out on the scene. Can you talk a bit about the change in your career and how your life is now?

EO: Not that different. I mean my life is very different, of course, but my work isn't really that different. My life is different, of course, because I'm 43. My career started when I was in my 20s, so we're looking at almost 20 years since the beginning of my career. So, naturally life has changed a lot since then.

I don’t think my career has changed a whole lot – not as far as my writing is concerned, and my stream of consciousness with my writing, and my concerns and the subject matter hasn’t changed much. I've always written about interpersonal relationships, sexual shame, male ego fragility, respectability politics – things like that. I always put myself in the center of that to make those points, which I think were greatly missed when I first started writing. I think that society has changed quite a bit. People are more aware. People tell me a lot that I have always been “before my time.” I was writing about things before other people were talking about that; I was concerned about things before my generation seemed to be concerned about things. I wasn't “before my time.” I think it just seems that way to people who are late to the revolution, you know what I mean?

I retired from publishing in 2015, which was always the plan to do 10 years and retire. I was retired from my pen name and just from the business in general in 2015, I could focus on my business, my education and other things, my family. I came back to writing in 2020 over at Medium. The same friend that got me into the podcast, actually as the vice president of content over at Medium and was like, “Hey, we need some content.” I guess I’m his go-to content creator.

xoNecole: Can you expound on why you went back to your birth name versus your stage name?

EO: No, it was nothing to expound upon. I mean, writers have pen names. That’s like asking Diddy, why did he go by Sean? I didn't go back. I've always used that. Nobody was paying attention. I've never not been myself. Karrine Steffans wrote a certain kind of book for a certain kind of audience. She was invented for the urban audience, particularly. She was never meant to live more than 10 years. I have other pen names as well. I write under several names. So, the other ones are just nobody's business right now. Different pen names write different things. And Elisabeth isn’t my real name either. So you'll never know who I really am and you’ll never know what my real name is, because part of being a writer is, for me at least, keeping some sort of anonymity. Anything I do in entertainment is going to amass quite a bit because who I am as a person in my private life isn't the same a lot of times as who I am publicly.

xoNecole: I want to go back to when you published Confessions of a Video Vixen. We are now in this time where people are reevaluating how the media mistreated women in the spotlight in the 2000s, namely women like Britney Spears. So I’d be interested to hear how you feel about that period of your life and how you were treated by the media?

EO: What I said earlier. I think that much of society has evolved quite a bit. When you look back at that time, it was actually shocking how old-fashioned the thinking still was. How women were still treated and how they're still treated now. I mean, it hasn't changed completely. I think that especially for the audience, I think it was shocking for them to see a woman – a woman of color – not be sexually ashamed.

I hate being like other people. I don't want to do what anyone else is doing. I can't conform. I will not conform. I think in 2005 when Confessions was published, that attitude, especially about sex, was very upsetting. Number one, it was upsetting to the men, especially within urban and hip-hop culture, which is built on misogyny and thrives off of it to this day. And the women who protect these men, I think, you know, addressing a demographic that is rooted in trauma that is rooted in sexual shame, trauma, slavery of all kinds, including slavery of the mind – I think it triggered a lot of people to see a Black woman be free in this way.

I think it said a lot about the people who were upset by it. And then there were some in “crossover media,” a lot of white folks were upset too, not gonna lie. But to see it from Black women – Tyra Banks was really upset [when she interviewed me about Confessions in 2005]. Oprah wasn't mad [when she interviewed me]. As long as Oprah wasn’t mad, I was good. I didn't care what anybody else had to say. Oprah was amazing. So, watching Black women defend men, and Black women who had a platform, defend the sexual blackmailing of men: “If you don't do this with me, you won't get this job”; “If you don't do this in my trailer, you're going to have to leave the set”– these are things that I dealt with.

I just happened to be the kind of woman who, because I was a single mother raising my child all by myself and never got any help at all – which I still don't. Like, I'm 24 in college – not a cheap college either – one of the best colleges in the country, and I'm still taking care of him all by myself as a 21-year-old, 20-year-old, young, single mother with no family and no support – I wasn’t about to say no to something that could help me feed my son for a month or two or three.

xoNecole: We are in this post-Me Too climate where women in Hollywood have come forward to talk about the powerful men who have abused them. In the music industry in particular, it seems nearly impossible for any substantive change or movement to take place within music. It's only now after three decades of allegations that R. Kelly has finally been convicted and other men like Russell Simmons continue to roam free despite the multiple allegations against him. Why do you think it's hard for the music industry to face its reckoning?

EO: That's not the music industry, that's urban music. That’s just Black folks who make music and nobody cares about that. That's the thing; nobody cares...Nobody cares. It's not the music industry. It's just an "urban" thing. And when I say "urban," I say that in quotations. Literally, it’s a Black thing, where nobody gives a shit what Black people do to Black people. And Russell didn't go on unchecked, he just had enough money to keep it quiet. But you know, anytime you're dealing with Black women being disrespected, especially by Black men, nobody gives a shit.

And Black people don't police themselves so it doesn't matter. Why should anybody care? And Black women don't care. They'll buy an R. Kelly album right now. They’ll stream that shit right now. They don’t care. So, nobody cares. Nobody cares. And if you're not going to police yourself, then nobody's ever going to care.

xoNecole: Do you have any regrets about anything you wrote or perhaps something you may have omitted?

EO: Absolutely not. No. There's nothing that I wish I would've gone back and said to myself, no. I don’t think at 20-something years old, I'm supposed to understand every little thing. I don't think the 20-something-year-old woman is supposed to understand the world and know exactly what she's doing. I think that one of my biggest regrets, which isn't my regret, but a regret, is that I didn't have better parents. Because a 20-something only knows what she knows based on what she’s seen and what she’s been taught and what she’s told. I had shitty parents and a horrible family. Just terrible. These people had no business having children. None of them. And a lot of our families are like that. And we may pass down those familial curses.

*This interview has been edited and condensed

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Feature image courtesy of Elisabeth Ovesen

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