Will You be Happy with Your Reflection in 20 Years?

 When I came across this photo on Google, I was amazed to see that the photographer captured a star alone in the sky. It is rare that we look up at the sky at night and see one star; the sky tends to be full of stars often accompanied by the bright moon. To many people, the picture may seem boring because it is a white dot in a black rectangle but it is much more than that. The lone star even provides a deeper, valuable lesson about boredom.

Sometimes boredom should not be regarded as a bad thing, but as a blessing. The solitude illustrated in this picture is comparable to a situation people find themselves in often. Instead of complaining about spending a night in solitude, people should instead embrace it and use it as a time for reflection. I often hear teens complaining about how tedious their days are, but it is a nice break from the real world and as they mature they will realize its better to be bored sometimes. When I got to college I understood the value of boredom; now I am lucky if I experience an hour of boredom throughout a day.

There are various opinions on this topic in literature; in my opinion Adorno has some of the most interesting thoughts in relation to free time. He believes that free time is not actually free, no matter what you are doing during your free time, you are often spending money or contributing to an industry. He also presents an interesting idea, more connected to boredom, he states that “If people were able to make their own decisions about themselves and their lives, if they were not caught up in the realm of the eversame, they would not have to be bored.” It is an interesting idea but I do not completely agree because many people choose their careers and still become jaded.  For example, teens choose to attend college and then become bored with classes and studying, even though it is what they chose.

Interests change and new activities appeal to you, therefore it is very difficult to choose one path, and remain content for the rest of your career. One of my teachers last year told me how he had become bored with the same routine everyday. His days consisted of going through the same slides he had for the past five years and during free time, either scheduling or talking with the same teachers. He said the only time he enjoys his job is when he gets to “hangout” with my friends and me. The insight he provided me with, taught me that as I age I might not be content with the choices I have made. That is why I believe you must take time to think about the career you choose to pursue. It is not a decision that can be based off of income or the “perks” of the job.

It is not easy to be sure of every decision in order to ensure you will not regret anything.  In the link you will see a list of “fourteen choices you’ll likely regret in 20 years.” There is not an easy way to think about every decision you make and if it will affect you later on. As I grew up I realized if I was bored, there was something I could do to occupy myself. I could do something to better myself, such as studying, or do something to stimulate boredom such as video games. It is hard to pick studying over video games, but when I began classes at Pitt, I realized that was the obvious choice. The past two weekends I did not go out, because I had important exams, and the result was only getting one wrong on my chemistry exam. The weekends were full of monotony and I even regretted my decision to not spend time with my friends. Two of the regrets on the link above are “stressing out” and “working too hard” and after seeing my success on the last exam, I do not think I will ever regret either of those. Although I endured lots of boredom and stress, it was worth it.

Hard work is something that people often seem to regret at the time, because in most cases it is very boring. But in the end it is all worth it; it may be stressful at the time, but later on it allows you to have a lot more free time. If you work hard enough, you will be more likely to succeed and as a result have more time to be “bored.” By this time, you will hopefully mature enough to realize that boring times are a blessing. They allow you to reflect on your time and the decisions you have made. In recent days, I have been doing a lot of reflecting with the free time I have had and it has made me a better person. At first, I found myself bored and not sure of what to do; I later realized how rewarding it was to just think about recent and past times. The times when you are alone and are able to reflect on the past are some of the best.

According to Barry Sandywell in the Dictionary of Visual Discourse: A Dialectical Lexicon of Terms, not only our pasts, but all of civilization is rooted back to the concept of boredom. He believes, among other ideas, that it is a major factor in the growth and decline of societies and major civilizations. Later on in the definition of boredom, he claims that it is the “hidden motive of aggression and the destructive impulse,” as outlandish as this idea seems, I find myself agreeing with Sandywell. Although the thoughts I have when I am bored are not “aggressive,” I often think about the potential success I can earn through hard work and determination. When I am lying in bed late at night, unable to sleep and plagued by tedium, I think about my future and all of the goals I hope to achieve. These nights help me provide myself with the motivation I need to continue following my dreams.

You may recognize the football player in the above picture, but odds are that you do not; a lot of people will not recognize him. Matt McGloin grew up in Scranton, Pennsylvania (my hometown) and later walked on at PSU and ended up earning the starting role. After all of his perseverance, he still was not invited to the NFL combine, but he never gave up and this past weekend started his first NFL game for the Oakland Raiders. He may tell you different, but I believe his hard work and motivation was caused by the boredom of our small town. It is experienced by many of us from Scranton, as there are no major sources of excitement. In my opinion, Matt McGloin used this tedium as a time to think about his goals and create a game plan.

His success story may be rare but it is an extraordinary tale of the value of determination. As a result of his hard work, it is doubtful that he will ever become jaded during his time in the NFL. Boredom encourages people to pursue a career that they believe will provide them with endless excitement, instead of a monotonous career. Throughout my first semester, I found myself unentertained by the classes related to my major, specifically chemistry.

My original plan was to become a dentist but the boredom I experienced in chemistry provoked a lot of thought about my future and inspired me to do something I truly enjoy. I decided to pursue graphic design (along with Finance, as a back-up plan) because it is something I have always enjoyed doing.  In my opinion if you without a doubt love something, it is very difficult to lose interest in it. For the past four years I have been interested in drawing and graphic design, which started out of boredom. I always had nothing to do late at night when everyone else was sleeping, so I decided to draw. Years later the same boredom which sparked my interest in art led me to pursue it as a career.

Adorno claimed he has no hobbies (he is not a workaholic) but he takes all of his activities outside of work “very seriously.” He later clarifies more by saying that classifying the activities as a hobby would make a mockery of them. I believe that this holds true because I do not consider drawing a hobby because I invest a lot of time in it and it is important to me. The word hobby, itself, makes the activity you are referring to seem childish and less important. I believe that if you are rewarded in some way from your “hobbies” then they are not hobbies because there is something gained and it is not just serving as a time-filler.

There are not many activities I take part in that I would classify as hobbies, but one that I would consider a hobby is watching television. I do not take it seriously nor do I feel compelled to watch it everyday, it is just something to entertain me. Last night after spending a significant amount of time writing this essay, I decided to take a break and watch a David Blaine special. After it was over I continued to watch the next show, and before I knew it the clock read 1:30 AM and I could not sleep. I was more bored while watching television than I had been while writing, and it made me reflect on the way I was spending my time. I realized I wasted valuable time that could have been spent writing, so I decided to do so until I became tired. Although I wasted time, it was helpful because it motivated me to work harder and make the best of the time I had left to write.

Boredom is related to time because if you maximize your time with homework or studying, it is fulfilling and you do not regret it later. But if you waste your free time on a less rewarding endeavor you will often lament it soon after. It is difficult to become bored while involved in something you love, and if you make the right choices and follow your instincts your career will be more gratifying. It is rare that a person who pursued their passion is ever unhappy (in terms of their work) for extended periods of time. Boredom is unavoidable, but it is important to embrace it and reflect on your recent decisions and use it to better yourself.

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by | November 21, 2013 · 1:51 am

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