I'm starting to feel like I'm a boring person + questioning what I really want

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I'm starting to feel like I'm a boring person + questioning what I really want Empty I'm starting to feel like I'm a boring person + questioning what I really want

Post by The Wisp on Thu Jun 04, 2015 2:24 pm

I think I might be a boring person. Now, I don't mean that there's nothing interesting about me, or that I have nothing interesting to say at all. Nor, for that matter, do I actually feel like I'm intrinsically boring, or boring to myself. But, I do feel like I'm not actually that interesting of a person to interact with in real life, outside of internet communities that focus on certain niches where I'm comfortable.

I pretty much live my life in a very rote though comforting routine (usually adjusted slightly 3 times a year for each new semester). I wake up between 8 an 10. If I have time, I lounge around in bed for awhile and check the few subreddits I like, a few baseball blogs, this forum and DNL Prime, and maybe one or two other blogs. I then get up, shower, eat a cliff bar for breakfast, and go to classes. After classes, I come straight home and do homework, check the same websites I did in the morning periodically for new comments, maybe run an errand or two, maybe play a video game for a few hours, maybe watch a baseball or football game (depending on the time of year), maybe watch some youtube videos on my subscribed channels, maybe go for a 30 -60 minute walk in the evening, and then go to bed around midnight, only to repeat the cycle. Weekends and vacations follow the same routine minus the classes in the middle. I realize that many people have a some sort of routine like this, and that such routines aren't bad and can have lots of benefits, but I feel like mine is a pretty extreme version in that I really don't deviate it from it much at all.

I don't experience many novel things, or consume much novel media. I don't have many non-academic skills beyond the bare basics of adulting (and even there I could probably get better at certain things). Certainly nothing really interesting. I don't really have any artsy or crafty skills, besides arguably writing, though I don't do much of that outside of classwork. I don't do anything athletic or much physical stuff besides long walks. I don't really travel that much, and the one time I traveled outside the US I basically just stuck around the touristy areas. My majors and skills don't really lend themselves to any cool internships. I've tried to find academic clubs that seem interesting, but nothing really grabbed me and the few I tried were disappointing. I don't volunteer for anything, and none of the volunteer opportunities have really interested me. Despite making a friend and having a couple acquaintances, my social life is still very inactive (in fact, I haven't interacted with A at all since that party a few weeks ago, due to lack of motivation on my part). I don't really go to interesting cultural institutions or events ever. I don't really have any hobbies that would take me out of the house.

Even when it comes to consuming media there's little novelty. Excluding books read for classes, I probably only read 3-6 new books a year. I haven't actually followed any TV shows for a few years now. My music playlists expand very slowly and I don't really follow any contemporary artists. I maybe play 6-ish new video games a year, and most of my gaming time will probably be sunk into 1 or 2 of those plus replaying a handful of games I've liked in the past. I also don't really following video game news, so I'm sure I miss a lot of interesting titles. I'm a little better with seeing new movies, in that I probably see 8-12 new movies a year, but even then I still often miss at least a couple of the big movies (for instance, I missed Captain America: The Winter Soldier last year, and I will probably not see the new Mad Max this year). I don't really keep up with the news nearly as much as I used to (to illustrate, I didn't even know about the Baltimore protests and riots until days after they had started when it was announced that the Orioles (the local baseball team) would not be selling any tickets to their one home game out of safety concerns for the fans, and would actually play the next home series in a different city). I don't read comics or manga. I don't really play any MMOs. I don't play board or card games. I'm not really hardcore enough about any of the media I consume to be able to participate in their fandom cultures.

Furthermore, the things that interest me, that I think a lot about, and that I can converse about well, are pretty limited to a few narrow subjects. I can talk about stuff I'm doing at college (mainly philosophy and math); about my personal psychological, social, sexual, and romantic issues and frustrations and things related to that; the small amount of media I consume; baseball (I live in a big football metro, so not many people are super interested in this); and that's about it. I don't know a ton of people so I can't really gossip, I don't really have many interesting or funny stories to tell from my life, and so on. I'm not really adept at the more light-hearted and random conversation or small talk, and my mind often just goes blank.

Despite all that, I'm not really dissatisfied with this routine per se. I find that I've got a good routine going that's comfortable, minimizes my anxiety, prevents me from feeling too drained, usually keeps me intellectually stimulated, usually avoids boredom, etc. In itself, my only minor dissatisfaction is that I wish I would read a little more of both fiction and nonfiction.

That said, my biggest dissatisfaction in life right now has to do with loneliness (or so I think, more on that in a second) and sexual frustration, and I feel like my current lifestyle holds me back. Not only do I just not meet many new people at all, but I also just feel like I have a hard time having interesting conversations and connecting people because of this. Even with A, I spend way more time listening and asking questions than actually talking myself.

But I've also been thinking, maybe I don't really want what I've thought I wanted. Maybe I don't really want to have an active social life. Sure, having a more active social life with lots of friends seems fun in my head, but maybe it wouldn't be in reality (just as wild parties are fun in my head but not so in reality). Perhaps what would make me happiest is to be an academic homebody who participates in a few internet communities, has 2-3 close friends in real life, and a low-pressure regular sexual partner or two, and that's it. I am a pretty sensitive, anxious, easily drained, and overwhelmed person. Perhaps a super active social life would be draining, flare up my anxiety, and make me feel just as down as loneliness does now. But even if that is true, I'd have to get out more to find the 2-3 friends and the sexual partner, and my current routine has little room for that.

Maybe, also, I'm not actually boring, I just can't connect with most people and I just have to look harder for those who are similar enough that we can have conversations on the topics I'm interested in.

Or, maybe I just got into bad habits in high school when I was really socially anxious and angry/sad all the time, and trying to break those habits will be really really draining, but I could break them with enough work.

Maybe I'm letting fear convince me I'm a homebody.

I don't know. I've just been thinking about this stuff a lot. I would appreciate advice or thoughts or people who can relate.
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I'm starting to feel like I'm a boring person + questioning what I really want Empty Re: I'm starting to feel like I'm a boring person + questioning what I really want

Post by eselle28 on Thu Jun 04, 2015 2:50 pm

Well, I'll say that I don't think you're boring at all. It doesn't sound like you're bored with your own life, either. It sounds like you're toward the lower end when it comes to a craving for novelty, which isn't always a bad thing, as I've found sometimes those people adapt better to life as working adults than people who crave high levels of it.

I also think you might be right that a super active social life isn't the best for you. It's what tends to be most idealized, and I think it's easy to idealize that kind of social life even more when you're at the other extreme and hurting from loneliness. Now that you've experienced a little more socializing, I think it's natural for you to adjust your estimate of how much of it would make you happy. It does sound like you may need to adjust a little bit to find those real life connections. As it is, I think it may be hard for you to connect with many people well enough to get to the point where you can talk about your personal life and the academic and social debates that may play into it with people, and I suspect it may be especially hard for you to connect with women unless they're studying the same subjects as you.

Would it maybe feel better for you to just label some of that as something like "work that will make it easier for me to socialize" rather than "trying to find things that interest me"? I mean, it sounds like reading a little bit more might be enjoyable, and I think you could do that if you specifically set aside some blocks of time to do that. Some of the rest may just not be as naturally fascinating, though. If you were making a checklist, you might want to add something like "read a news site for X minutes, Y times a week" to it. You might also want to think about ways that your conversations with A and A's friends go lopsided. Presumably there are points in the conversation where you speak more frequently, but it sounds like more often you're quiet. Perhaps it's worth doing a few hours of research on something that seems to interest these people on some weekend when you're not too busy? Even if the subject isn't amazingly compelling to you, it would make you more able to hold your own in conversations and would give you an extra subject that you can talk about minimally when interacting with other people (being able to talk about more than a few things on at least a surface level can be helpful, generally, as it smooths over conversations with people who don't share your interests but who you have to interact with anyway).

Another thing you may want to keep in mind when you worry about this is that you don't have to have all the answers right now. The most likely path for someone like you is that you'll accumulate social connections gradually. This may seem like too slow of a process at times when you're feeling lonely, but one benefit of it is that you'll have the ability to check in with yourself about whether you're enjoying these relationships along the way.
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Post by reboot on Thu Jun 04, 2015 3:00 pm

Nothing wrong with being an academic homebody with a handful of close friends, so if that sounds appealing then own it.

As for the rest, have you tried any of the things you do not do, like cultural institutions or volunteering? If you have and did not enjoy yourself/found it uninteresting, then that is just your preference. It does not make you boring.

Same for media consumption, if you have tried and not liked things, then you just have your own taste. No worries.

If you have not tried new things, I suggest perhaps scheduling one "new experience" each week/month/quarter/whatever you can handle. Pick things that are low investment, emotionally and financially, such as "visit art museum alone", " check one new book out of library and read three chapters", "walk in botanical garden", " volunteer for park clean up (great for introverts since you go off and pick up stuff alone)" etc to explore new things. What you do not like, you can check off your list as not for you. If you like something, you will figure out how to get it in your routine.
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Post by Enail on Thu Jun 04, 2015 3:28 pm

I can relate. I go through phases where I feel really boring and struggle to come up with things to talk about, sometimes when I am bored with myself and sometimes when I'm otherwise perfectly happy and engaged in my life but not doing things I want to discuss/that are interesting to talk about.

The things that tend to help me are making an effort to read or do some things that make good conversation topics as Eselle and Reboot suggest, interacting with people that I connect with better - who make me feel more interesting (I find how they like to talk about things is somewhat more important than shared interests) - and putting more energy into being interested and curious about the world, noticing small details or funny moments. It's probably equally divided between those three things.

As far as 'active social life' goes, don't forget that there are all manner of degrees in between tons of friends and parties, and a very quiet, small social circle, and that social lives are not static. You'll probably have times when there are too many things going on and you feel a need to pull back, and times when you wish you had more friends, or a friend who likes to do X, or what have you - if you're like me, sometimes both feelings simultaneously! So you don't necessarily have to decide exactly what you want, rather, you can push a little more in the one direction or the other as suits your needs to find an equilibrium, and even then you'll probably need to keep balancing. Since you're trying to build up a social circle now, it might be worth some extra effort at this point to be a little more on the active-and-social side than you'd like long-term, since things will probably settle down a bit later (but don't go so far that you burn yourself out!)

For interesting and funny stories, don't overestimate how wild or interesting your life has to be for them! Stories aren't all 'that time I climbed Mount Everest;" a story can be as simple as a strange customer service interaction you observed or an incongruous moment. It's as much about noticing little things as doing big, dramatic activities.
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Post by The Wisp on Fri Jun 05, 2015 12:17 am

eselle28 wrote:Well, I'll say that I don't think you're boring at all. It doesn't sound like you're bored with your own life, either. It sounds like you're toward the lower end when it comes to a craving for novelty, which isn't always a bad thing, as I've found sometimes those people adapt better to life as working adults than people who crave high levels of it.

Thanks, and yeah I'm not really bored with my life at all.

It does sound like you may need to adjust a little bit to find those real life connections. As it is, I think it may be hard for you to connect with many people well enough to get to the point where you can talk about your personal life and the academic and social debates that may play into it with people, and I suspect it may be especially hard for you to connect with women unless they're studying the same subjects as you.


Yeah, I think you're right. I met A in a philosophy class after all. I am finding it hard to talk about myself to people, because I feel like there's the shallow stuff, and then the deep deep vulnerable stuff, and little in the middle. Like, when A opened up about his post-break up feelings a little, I had nothing to share about myself to reciprocate vulnerability at another point.

The reason you think it would be particularly hard to connect with women is because all my interests are male dominated, right?

Would it maybe feel better for you to just label some of that as something like "work that will make it easier for me to socialize" rather than "trying to find things that interest me"? ...(being able to talk about more than a few things on at least a surface level can be helpful, generally, as it smooths over conversations with people who don't share your interests but who you have to interact with anyway).

But, in general, I think you're right that maybe putting in some effort to familiarize myself with more things to talk about would be a useful way to improve my social abilities generally.

Part of the issue was that a lot of what they were talking about was gossip about this group they're apart of. Other than that, nothing in particular stood out as a super big interest of theirs. With A specifically, our conversations are mostly about philosophy and adjacent topics, and his personal life. The issue is I don't have nearly as many life experiences he does even though we're the same age, so he can go on this long thing about his mixed feelings about using pot, and all I can say is "yeah I'm skeptical of pot because I think it will make me anxious" and that's it.


Another thing you may want to keep in mind when you worry about this is that you don't have to have all the answers right now. The most likely path for someone like you is that you'll accumulate social connections gradually. This may seem like too slow of a process at times when you're feeling lonely, but one benefit of it is that you'll have the ability to check in with yourself about whether you're enjoying these relationships along the way.

Yeah, this is a hard thing to accept, but it's very true.

reboot wrote:Nothing wrong with being an academic homebody with a handful of close friends, so if that sounds appealing then own it.

As for the rest, have you tried any of the things you do not do, like cultural institutions or volunteering? If you have and did not enjoy yourself/found it uninteresting, then that is just your preference. It does not make you boring.

Same for media consumption, if you have tried and not liked things, then you just have your own taste. No worries.

I guess my big worry is that I'll be boring to other people and that will have negative side effects even if I don't think I'm objectively boring.

If you have not tried new things, I suggest perhaps scheduling one "new experience" each week/month/quarter/whatever you can handle. Pick things that are low investment, emotionally and financially, such as "visit art museum alone", " check one new book out of library and read three chapters", "walk in botanical garden", " volunteer for park clean up (great for introverts since you go off and pick up stuff alone)" etc to explore new things. What you do not like, you can check off your list as not for you. If you like something, you will figure out how to get it in your routine.

I think this might be a helpful strategy for me to consider. Thanks for the suggestion!

The things that tend to help me are making an effort to read or do some things that make good conversation topics as Eselle and Reboot suggest, interacting with people that I connect with better - who make me feel more interesting (I find how they like to talk about things is somewhat more important than shared interests) - and putting more energy into being interested and curious about the world, noticing small details or funny moments. It's probably equally divided between those three things.

I think the noticing small details and funny moments is where I struggle a bit, as I tend to be in my own head or focused on something. I'll have to see if I can't bring myself to a better mindset for that.

As far as 'active social life' goes, don't forget that there are all manner of degrees in between tons of friends and parties, and a very quiet, small social circle, and that social lives are not static. You'll probably have times when there are too many things going on and you feel a need to pull back, and times when you wish you had more friends, or a friend who likes to do X, or what have you - if you're like me, sometimes both feelings simultaneously! So you don't necessarily have to decide exactly what you want, rather, you can push a little more in the one direction or the other as suits your needs to find an equilibrium, and even then you'll probably need to keep balancing. Since you're trying to build up a social circle now, it might be worth some extra effort at this point to be a little more on the active-and-social side than you'd like long-term, since things will probably settle down a bit later (but don't go so far that you burn yourself out!)

Yeah, I'm kinda bouncing back and forth. I did a lot in the last couple of months (for me), and now that it's getting into the heart of summer break I've pulled back a bit the past few weeks to relax and recharge and focus on my newly starting summer class for a bit. Also, a friend of my brother's is staying with us for the month for a summer class, so that's eating up some social energy. But, anyway, yeah it will probably be continuous evaluation and calibrating my social life without knowing in advance exactly what I need.

For interesting and funny stories, don't overestimate how wild or interesting your life has to be for them! Stories aren't all 'that time I climbed Mount Everest;" a story can be as simple as a strange customer service interaction you observed or an incongruous moment. It's as much about noticing little things as doing big, dramatic activities.

That's a good point. Having a different mindset about it might open up my ability to be better at noticing and telling stories. Thanks for the advice!
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Post by reboot on Fri Jun 05, 2015 12:30 am

For what it is worth, my best stories are the mundane ones. Everyone can relate to them
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Post by Prajnaparamita on Fri Jun 05, 2015 11:50 am

Hey Wisp, just a couple thoughts in regards to good storytelling, as I think this is an area that I'm somewhat skilled at (despite deficits in other areas of social skills). I had someone tell me awhile ago "wow, you have such an interesting life!" and I said no, I just have a lot of interesting stories, and most of those stories aren't even my own, they're stories of other people who I've run into over the years, sometimes only briefly. I consider myself a hobbit--I don't go out on adventures myself, in fact I dread the idea--in my ideal world, I'm lounging around the hearth with my feet up feasting and sharing stories of the interesting experiences and exploits of others.

Admittedly I'm lucky in that my mom is an amazing storyteller and I've gotten a lot of practice over the years in how to tell a good anecdote (which is a much better description of what I'm doing--I'm illustrating an interesting moment for the amusement of others, not telling a detailed yarn) but honestly my recommendation for you in regards to learning how to tell good stories is to get your hands on a copy of the Little Brown Book on Anecdotes and just flip through it from time to time. I loved that book as a kid, and it really informed my sense of humor and ability to meet someone and whittle down their persona to a short story to share with others.

Also, if you feel like you just haven't met any interesting people or have interesting anecdotes yourself, you can still practice your l'esprit d'escalier (staircase wit--the retorts that you only thought of long after the moment ended) by embellishing moments you already have. For example, something like:

"And then he stormed off in rage, and you know what I wish I'd said then? I wish I'd said..."

If you really know your audience, you can do something like:

"And then he stormed off in rage, and I said [snarky and outrageous thing]"

"What?! Did you really say that?!"

"Noooo, but I wish I had!"

"Oh my god I so wish you had, that would have been perfect!"

It's generally wise to not engage in the latter with people you've just met, as you'll likely come off as a pathological liar but with people who know me well and know that I tend to be a reserved person who has a snark track running in her head that she rarely expresses it's a good way to share an amusing moment. And really with stories like that the contents really are nothing more than "A person said something rude/stupid and here's what I thought" so it doesn't rely on encountering interesting characters or absurd situations if you really don't feel like you have any.

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