When You Become Bored with Life on the Spectrum

Austin Jones - A prison of the mind
Austin John Jones "A Prison of the Mind"

By Austin John Jones

Over the past couple years, I have thought a lot about how bored I get. I have several hobbies: video games, art, costume design, Magic the Gathering, unicycling, chinese Yo-Yo, and regardless of all these things I like to do in my spare time, I have noticed as I am getting older that these things have become boring as I keep on doing them; but I still do them.

It’s actually kind of sad to me that I keep doing them. I am literally killing time, but for what purpose? For what reason? Because I can? Because I don’t want to be doing nothing? Because I don’t know how to start doing something different or decide what that something different is?

I have two jobs. I try to work hard, and I try to make money to take care of myself. My dad tells me that a lot of people with a disability like mine aren’t able to work; but I want to keep trying to work.  But after the work is done, what else is there to do? I used to love video games. And I still play them. But my enjoyment for them has withered. I think I keep playing them because of addiction and boredom. So why am I bored?  I think it’s because I want more for my life but I’m not sure how to get it.  Even the things I love doing sometimes don’t add up to making me feel good about my life.

I am an artist. My whole life I have trained to be an artist. And I have done great and wonderful things as an artist. But sometimes, I just feel like I am tired of it. Like it doesn’t matter to me anymore. But I keep doing it because it’s what I am good at. It’s one of the only true natural talents I have.  I’ve thought a lot about how I might use my art to help me get the things I want in life, but I can’t seem to figure out how.

I used to really enjoy playing Magic the Gathering with my friends. But now I just feel…like it’s a time waster. Like it has no entertainment value. I am noticing this pattern I keep going through.  It’s difficult when I want to keep living life and being happy, but when the things that used to make me happy don’t actually make me feel happy anymore. I feel like I need to find the purpose behind why I do things and maybe that will help, but I don’t know how to do that.

At this point in my life, I feel like I should be saving money so I can eventually get married, raise a family, and continue being a successful artist. It just feels so difficult sometimes. I do want to do these things.  I want to feel happy and I want to be proud of my life. But I can’t seem to do what I see other people doing.  My brother has a nice girlfriend, but I can’t seem to find someone. I have friends who are married, but I can’t believe I will ever get the chance. I honestly don’t feel like I will ever be genuinely happy because I don’t think I will ever get married or have children or be successful as an artist.  I don’t know how to move past the boredom I feel and onto things that will help me get what I want.

Do you ever feel this way? Do you ever have these difficult feelings? What have you tried to do to get through it? Let me know in the comments below.

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Austin JonesMy name is Austin. I am an artist. I am an art teacher. I am a gamer. I am a storyteller and a writer. I love my community, I love my friends and family, and I am on the Autism Spectrum. My favorite game to play with my friends is Magic the Gathering. My favorite video game to play is Spiral Knights. I am a Guild Master of my Spiral Knights Guild: Altosk. I am an avid Hearthstone player.My favorite food to eat is Mexican Food. Specifically Carne Asada Fries and California Burritos. I went to Art Center College of Design for college and graduated with a degree in Illustration.

header picture:  Austin John Jones “A Prison of the Mind”

12 Comments

  • Hi Austin
    There is a lot in your post that I’d like to comment upon, but will limit myself to one.
    You write: “I honestly don’t feel like I will ever be genuinely happy because I don’t think I will ever get married or have children or be successful as an artist.”
    What makes you think those things will make you genuinely happy? Someone told you so?
    IMO you should first try to think about the categories of things that give you pleasure TODAY. If you cannot think of any, then you suffer from what’s called anhedonia, and you might be well-served to seek professional help for depression.
    On the other hand, if you CAN think of things that give you pleasure or satisfaction today (let’s call those “fun things” for short), regardless of whether the people in your life think those “fun things” should be fun or are worth pursuing, then go do more of your “fun things.” Hopefully, some of those “fun things” will help you meet people who share your pleasures (and/or compensate you for engaging in them).
    But please do not feel you need to (i) hang on to what you formerly found fun or worthwhile, or (ii) agree with what others find fun or worthwhile for themselves. Try to figure out what makes you happy today, and work from there.

  • I also get bored with things, with life in general. I even quit art and writing for years- “what’s the use” I thought.
    It’s a tricky thing. We HAVE to do something or we are just taking up space, waiting to die. I found Buddhism helps me deal with some of the questions you raise and I returned to art and writing simly because not doing them was too depressing.

    • I second that Buddhism part. I am currently transitioning into it as a way to live and faith system. Many see it as a way to live. I can not stress, how much Buddhism as a way to lives can help. Especially with practice. I hope this shows as a comment and not just a reply in an email format. I am trying to agree with this user. I am forum “dee da dee”.

      I am also suffering from a similar experience and feeling and am working on ways to be “happy”, or more precisely, “content”. Also, are you spiritually happy? I find many on the spectrum tend to agree on spiritual happiness and the like.

  • I think that when I realized that I needed to be happy in my own skin and not rely on any one person or a group of people to make me happy, I found peace in that. Many are in relationships and aren’t happy, so I don’t always think the notion that being married or in a committed relationship is the answer. I’ve been in a room with 100 really good friends and have never felt more alone, but that was just the phase I was going through at the time. I’ve been alone in my house but wasn’t lonely, feeling completely loved and fulfilled. I get bored, too, and I always try different things to see what’s my passion. I keep trying to develop myself and strive to do things that I haven’t tried before. I try to see the beauty in nature and seek those things that soothe my soul. My beach art and low-tide walks are my Happy Place where I can pray for others and focus on a nice, easy pace without the cares of the world to bog me down. Love you, buddy!

  • Hi Austin,

    Let me just say that I loved reading this post. To clarify, I didn’t love reading this because I feel joy about your boredom and sadness. Rather, it makes me feel less alone to know that I’m not the only one of us on the Spectrum who struggles in this way.

    I am a computer scientist/web developer, blues guitarist, abstract painter, digital photographer, and documentarian. I merely dabble in all of the above fields, and usually, a project comes to me out of boredom – because I feel I should be doing more with my life. I have Aspergers Syndrome, anxiety, PTSD, and manic-depression, and though I actively seek out telecommute computer programming gigs, sometimes I feel too disabled to “work”, if going by a conventional definition. I worked hard on recording my debut album, on creating a documentary about my life, on all of my paintings and original songs, during each session in which I bring my camera out to the woods, and on every website I build, but working for someone else has proven to be a bit hard, mostly because no one even seems to want to hire me now that I’m open about my Aspergers. Sometimes, I give up hope that I’ll ever live independently.

    Anyway, you mention getting “bored”, and I feel this way a lot, too. I think it happens most when I hit my ruts; when I’m truly down and depressed. For example, lately, I just can’t play my guitar for more than 10-15 minutes at a time. Everyone around me says I’m a fantastic musician, and it comes to me naturally in a savant-esque manner without any real practice, but lately, I just feel bored by it. I wouldn’t even say bored as much as unmotivated. It just isn’t bringing me the rush it did a year ago.

    I hope we can both get through this, as I’m sure our passions can bring us joy once again. I say “passion” rather than “hobby” because I used to call guitar playing a real passion of mine. Lately, I’m not so sure. I did record a proper album and it sounds great, but I get discouraged by those around me who just want me to think about a career. There are people in my family who don’t see success the way I do. I see “success” in the arts as successful creation; as taking an idea in your brain and successfully getting it out. In this sense, my album hasn’t even been released yet and I believe it’s a success. There are those in my family who aren’t creative and think success has to do solely with earning money. I don’t know anything about music or artistic marketing. The creative side is my forte, not the business side. When my folks want me to think about a steady career path, I get discouraged and depressed, which leads me to believe that guitar playing is boring and pointless, because they have a point. I’m 26, and I do want to think about independent living one day. There are some people in similar positions to me who can’t work on anything the way I have, though. I’ve worked for the big web development firms, I’ve worked as a freelancer and contractor building websites directly for clients, and I work – even if from a non-paying and self-indulgent perspective – on my music and art. There are so many people at 26 who haven’t recorded their own music project or their own original film. I take pride in what I do when I’m happy. It’s just that lately, it’s winter, and I haven’t been terribly happy. So, I’m bored and self-doubting.

    Anyway, Austin, I wish you the best of luck overcoming your battles.

    – Morgan

  • I found myself there 5yrs ago, now my life is completely different from before. It seemed unimaginable, but I am now surrounded by so much new and have been enjoying the experience of learning things from scratch again. It happens eventually. Little by little.

  • Another great, honest, thought-provoking and soul-searching post. Thank you for that.

    I feel some of the same things – as I imagine many others do as well. I get bored quickly. This week I had a chance to volunteer with some friends at Mama’s Kitchen in San Diego and had a good time, meeting a few new people and also putting food together for people that need help while they are ill.

    To answer your question, I think trying new things helps me break out of the “funk” as I call it.

    Keep up the great posts!

  • Hi Austin,

    Just read your email with interest. My son is on the Autistic spectrum so I have been on his journey over the years.

    I am Christian and so wondered if you have ever read the Bible? Sometimes we stop to consider the greater questions of life: why are we here? are we heading anywhere? is there any meaning to this life and what is it? and I believe that the Bible as the answers to life, meaning, hope, peace and joy. You may disagree of course but I’d encourage you to give the Bible a read before you discount God and His Word.

    Thanks once again for sharing your thoughts and all the very best.

  • Has anyone ever noticed how the symptoms of autism overlap with ascetism? My “special interest” (if anyone uses that term) is the development of religious, cultural, and spiritual practices (I’m starting to memorize holy texts, for instance). It occurs to me that, at least in those who are higher functioning, people on the spectrum act a lot like monks. Common hallmarks of an ascetic practice include: 1.) Having “cleaner” diets as it were. Monastics in many religions become vegetarians or otherwise cut out animal products. People with ASD – or so I’ve read – function best with diets of simple, organic substances. 2.) Monks in many religions fast, and may eat only once a day or once every two days, or even go longer, according to historic accounts. I have ARFID, so as a result of having ASD I rarely have the desire to eat, or else ignore my hunger, since I find consumption unpleasant. 3.) Penchant for solitude. The entire purpose of communal living is to allow people to lead “virtuous” lives away from the influence of secular society. Even within a monastery, the inhabitants usually (?) live in separate cells, so other people won’t distract them from their meditation. 4.) Desiring silence. Another way monks remove distraction. 5.) I read that one of the signs of autism is persistent self-referentiality: to spend exorbitant amounts of time thinking about one’s self, nature, situation, and problems, and how to improve them. Reflection, you might say. ‘Nough said. There are others, of course, but it’s interesting that monks strive to increase the intensity of their internal world, whilst one way of phrasing the difficulty of autism is that that world is too loud. It’s also noteworthy that the overwhelming number of mendicants in the world are men, whereas males also comprise most of the autism statistics. Ascetic practices, by the way, are a touchstone in mysticism, so the above points are true for the monks of most religions which have communal enclosure. I’m not sure of the implications of this – if there are any – but I sometimes wonder if autistic people are just monks reincarnated. Traditionally, they’re thought of more as changelings – for the outbursts, the isolation, etc. – but I think this view came from observing the more overt end of the spectrum. Problem children, in the Medieval world, are the stuff of legend. Anyway, to the concept of boredom: mysticism – regardless of what religion, even the Christian one – holds that the world is illusory. Like a dream. And is therefore unsatisfying. “Vanity of vanities, said Ecclesiastes, and all things are vanity.” (Eccles. 12:8) I sometimes wonder if maybe the reason people on the Spectrum have such trouble assimilating into the world, and finding it interesting, is because they’re naturally-formed ascetics. If the creatures of the world are just illusion – if it’s just you in your dream – then focusing on the characters and their roles is a distraction from waking up. I also muse that the first hermit may’ve had ASD (which I secretly refer to as Hermit Syndrome – for myself, anyway). Whatever the cause, the chronic boredom is maddening. But, to paraphrase what I *think* is a Rumi quote: “Be kind to crazy people: their souls are with God.”

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