I don’t remember ever being bored as a kid. At least, not for very long.
My own kids, though… oi. If I had a dollar for every time one of them said, “I’m bored!” — and then repeated it eighteen million times over the next couple of hours — I’d be writing this from Nevada. (Yes, my dream-retirement plan involves living in Nevada. Don’t judge me.)
Looking back, it seems like when I was young, there was always something to do. If there wasn’t, then we made something up.
When I was a kid, there weren’t many entertainment options. We rarely went to the movies, I was only allowed to watch a couple of hours of television on Saturday mornings, and there weren’t any VCRs. There wasn’t an arcade nearby, but there was a mom-and-pop convenience store that a) had a Centipede cabinet, and b) was just far enough away that we weren’t allowed to go on our own. On the rare occasion that I was able to sneak over there, I generally only had enough quarters for a game or two before I had to get back.
Don’t get me wrong — I’m not knocking video games (like that would even be believable, coming from me) or movies, or even television. They just weren’t as easily accessible when I was a kid. Back then, my choices were a) read a book, or b) go outside and think up something to do.
People like to make that sound very gosh-golly-gee once-upon-a-time innocent, except nope. Having access to more video games would have resulted in less delinquency, because I would have spent less time outside, thinking up things to do. It wouldn’t be unfair to say that I left a bit of a trail of devastation in my wake when I was ten. Hey, at least I wasn’t bored. I had few options, and I made the most of them, much to the detriment of… some stuff. But I read a ton of books, too.
People like to point to the relatively media-free childhoods of the past and paint them as some kind of golden era, but you also have to paint a big old YMMV over that nonsense. They say it was safer, but it wasn’t. They say it was more wholesome, and, umm, nope. I’m not complaining, though — I spent my childhood imagining all kinds of things, and then making them happen in some form or another, and I think that’s an important bit to remember.
Imagining things is great. Figuring out a way to make those dreams happen is the hard part, especially when your parents, your guidance counselor, and that evil old woman who calls herself your grandmother (and calls you the devil’s spawn when no one else is listening) are all telling you that since you’ll never make it as an artist, you should probably pick a real career.
Sure, becoming a famous artist is unrealistic, but who says you can’t do both? Pick a career that’ll put food on the table, and go hard at your dreams the rest of the time. I mean, somebody’s going to become a famous artist. Odds are, it won’t be you, or me… but if you don’t try, then there aren’t any odds on you at all, because you’re not even in the race. Fame can be fleeting, and it may elude you entirely, but all of the stuff that you create may very well be around forever.
I learned how to edit videos because I was bored and made up something to do. That’s why I learned to sew and use Photoshop. Hell, I started learning how to code because the games available on the C64 bored the crap out of me pretty quickly, and that’s what I get paid to do now. “I’m bored” shouldn’t be a brick wall that you slam into, it should be a gateway drug to creativity.