Standing on a street corner waiting for no one is power. – Gregory Corso
During my final year in college, I was a contract recruiter at Monsanto in St. Louis. I helped hire engineers, chemists, and drafters for agricultural and manufacturing facilities around America.
Please don’t blackout from the boredom.
It was a temporary job paid through a staffing agency. I hoped it would become a more permanent job upon graduation. But there were no promises. So, I walked the stage and accepted my diploma in May and waited about two months for my life to go back to normal.
Sixty days is a long time to wait. My boyfriend had a job at the library and went to work every day, so it was Lucy and me—my rescued Maine Coon cat—with nothing to do. How did we kill time? We watched a lot of cable news, ate snacks, and mostly laid around without a purpose.
I even went through a phase where I didn’t get dressed and walked around the apartment naked. My boyfriend came home from work early and found me on the floor staring at the ceiling. He asked, “Are you gonna put on some clothes?”
I was like, “Maybe.”
When I finally got the news that it was time to return to work, I was elated. But once the allure of the paycheck wore off, I missed my old life. There was something so calming and comforting about being home, spending time with my cat, and having no obligations except to myself (and my easygoing boyfriend).
It wasn’t long before I harkened back to the good old days of eating Ritz Crackers for breakfast and naked-watching Bernard Shaw and Judy Woodruff on CNN. I missed flipping through the channels and watching C-SPAN and The Weather Channel, too.
That break imprinted an early, valuable lesson on me: Happiness and contentment don’t come from external sources. They come from creating habits aligned with our values. When I finally left my career in corporate America, I created a life surrounded by cozy furniture and animals—and with plenty of downtime on my terms to consume cable news.
If you are at home and sluggish, awaiting news of when life goes back to normal, I’m here to tell you that life never goes back. It only goes forward. Harness the course of your life right now before someone imposes a new direction on you.
And if you’re listless and feel purposeless, wondering when you can be something more than a personal valet and homeschooler to your ungrateful kids, know this: Boredom is a luxury. It’s a sneaky sign of power. Breakthroughs come from having a break.
(Although I know it doesn’t feel like a break to do laundry and cook for a family shoved together in close quarters.)
This quarantine gives all of us a chance to rethink our adult lives. Why would we go through all of this only to emerge the same? If you’re lucky, you’ll come out the other side with an understanding of who you are and what makes you happy.
And maybe you’ll finally get to spend part of the day naked, lying on the floor, looking up at the ceiling. There’s real power in that.