It happens all the time: I do something social, attend a party or hang out with friends, whatever, have a great time, then come home and wonder…. wait, do they all think I’m boring?
It’s this weird paranoia I have in the back of my head (although my colleague Zoë told me that I’m the “least boring person she knows,” so there’s that), and it was definitely more prevalent when I was a shy kid/teenager, but I like to think that I am not alone in this fear—which kinda feels irrational. And my inkling was right: When I brought up my feelings at work, pretty much everyone in the office agreed that they, too, have this inherent worry that other people think they’re boring. WTF?
The dictionary defines boring as “not interesting” and “tedious.” Are that many people representing these unfavorable ideas? Here’s the thing: It’s all subjective. “What I say is fun you might not find fun, and I think boring is similar,” says Jennifer Silvershein, LCSW. “I tried to step back and ask myself what constitutes as boring, and to me, those are really abstract definitions to put on something—because what I find interesting you might find absolutely boring, and so it can really be two different things for each of us.” That’s true—I find it fascinating to talk about Game of Thrones while others roll their eyes and think I’m insane for watching the best show ever made.
So there’s that. She also likens the fear of being boring as a cover to a deeper fear of being disliked. “I think the deeper worry is not being liked, rather than just being boring—because ‘boring’ doesn’t actually hold much weight as true dislike,” says Silvershein. Also, if you stop to think about it, you’ll realize… who is doing the judging here? “Someone could be an introvert, and as an extrovert I might say, ‘she’s so boring,’ but who’s to say my judgment is fair?” she asks.
But I’ll go back to the definition part of the dilemma—though Silvershein notes that “boring” may be an abstract, subjective idea, I brought up that a definitively “boring” person might, for example, not talk in social settings, constantly be on their phone, and not ask questions in conversations. “At the end of the day, it ties back to what constitutes boring—when I think of boring, I don’t think of the person sitting on a phone, I think of the girl copying what everyone else is doing and not bringing her own stuff to the table,” says Silvershein. “I think if we fear that we’re boring in a scenario, think about what’s holding you back from being engaged.”
To really analyze your own level of boringness (lol at the sound of this), Silvershein recommends thinking about what you’re attracted to in other people. Then, once you figure out what you like in a person, check in to see if you have those traits. “I think what’s interesting is when someone talks about something different or has an open mind about a topic,” she says as one example. “So I check in with myself to see if I remain open-minded and if I like to try new things. That makes a person interesting to me.” Dial it back to your own definition of what makes a person not “boring,” and you’ll be on a path towards tweaking your behavior to emulate these interesting traits over the “boring” behaviors. Just a theory.
But Silvershein makes a great point: “Tedious” means dull, boring, and monotonous, which, when applied to people, can mean that a person just does what everyone else is doing, at all times. As long as you’re being yourself, you’re good. Another thing that helps is making sure you’re surrounding yourself with people that have shared interests. “Then the fear of being boring will be reduced,” says Silvershein, since you’ll be more engaged in the convos that happen. So in actuality, you’re probably, very most likely not boring… and if you try all of these methods above yet still feel dull AF, then maybe you need new friends who won’t lead you to even fear that you’re boring them.
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