I heard it a lot when I was younger – usually from unsympathetic adults, as I draped myself over the couch in the middle of one of those summer breaks that seemed to last a billion years, complaining I was bored. In reality, I was only off school for six weeks and if I could figure out how to make time go that slowly for my holidays now, you’d never hear a peep from me about it.
“Only boring people get bored!”
“Use your imagination!”
“Make your own fun!”
I always thought it was a dumb thing to say. If I knew how to make my own fun, wouldn’t I be doing that, instead of aimlessly whining in the living room? I supposed I was ultimately capable of entertaining myself, having done it plenty of times in the past as the youngest of three siblings who were often keen to do their own thing. But at the moment of complaint, I was running low on ideas. I needed a prompt! Some ideas. A little push in the direction of the kind of fun I should be making.
Eventually, I’d poke around in my room and figure something out. Maybe I’d read, watch Labyrinth for the 7000th time, or use my Sylvania Family figurines to passive-aggressively act out the story of an orphan who finds a new, rich family to adopt her. But it was sometimes hard to come up with something new and interesting.
As an adult, making your own fun seems simpler. You usually have more money than you did as a child, and you can readily access things that help create fun, like alcohol and rich desserts. And if you spend most of your time at work or looking after children, the bar gets lowered for what is considered “fun”. I know people who’d happily settle for a long shower or being able to use the bathroom with no interruptions (paging Amber).
But it’s also easy to get in a rut. If your leisure time is limited to what you can squeeze in between adult responsibilities and sleeping, you might settle for the path of least resistance that is Netflix and a glass of wine, night after night after night. At which point, it can become a little stale. At the tail end of what’s been a long, cold winter in the Southern Hemisphere, I’ve found myself needing to figure out how to make my own fun all over again.
I’ve realised it’s called “making your own fun” because it requires action. The older you get, and the busier your life and the lives of your friends get, the less likely it is that fun will spontaneously happen. You’ve often got to do boring organisational stuff, like think up some ideas of things you’d like to do, confirm some details, and actually get in touch with people to do it with. I’ve even gone so far as to make up a list of things I want to do, but I’d be lying if I said this was boring, because I’m a super dork who loooooves making lists.
Part of it is taking the initiative to make fun happen, but it’s also important to put yourself in the frame of mind of wanting to change things up. Go out on a Tuesday night! Go for a walk instead of going for brunch! Go to a concert instead of going for a walk! Go to the beach instead of going to a concert! Now I’ve been trying to do new things for a couple of weeks, I’m finding ideas are starting to come a little easier, and I’m more amenable to breaking the routine. Turns out fun is something you have to practice at, which is a bit of advice that might have perked up the end of my childhood summers a little. It certainly seems to be working pretty well for now.