Nothing Is Interesting Unless You’re Interested: Enjoying Other People’s Company Even When They’re Broke, Boring or Introverted

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Article by: Brian Khavalaji

Publication date:

Photo by Andrew Neel via Pexels

I get this a lot: people saying that I ooze boredom. I guess I'm used to this uncalled-for statement, so go ahead and say it, too. It won't catch me by surprise. You won’t be the first to say it, neither will you be the last. Sometimes, I feel I do not understand why this is so. 

Not so long ago, I had a planned date. You can imagine my short-lived excitement during the planning stages and the emptiness that quickly replaced it when the date never materialised.

A long-term friend, Octavia, stood me up on Utamaduni Day. She had previously called to ask if we could hang out on the day. A day before, she told me that her family was visiting and that she would get back to me later when settled.

Because there was still hope, I started thinking of what to wear to the date, where to buy flowers (as an appreciative gesture), and whether she likes flowers or not. I swear this hardly happens to many young men. If a woman treats you this well, she is a gem. You should take her to mars, buy her a yacht or serenade her with Vijana Barubarus’ songs.

As I waited for Octavia to get back to me, my imagination remained active, exploring the beautiful moments that awaited us the next day. I waited and waited, but her confirmation never came. Disappointed, I took her silence for her tacit dismissal of our date. 

That morning, I spent the better part of it watching reels on Facebook and checking an audio mixer I had been drooling over on Jiji. At this point, my life is exemplary; I just do not have things to do. It has always been like this. In 2020, Octavia introduced me to art events like poetry shows, book launches, book reading sessions, book fairs, live music, karaoke and plays; stuff I would never have been a part of if I hadn't met her. Soon, these activities became a part of my lifestyle.

Thus, it was not shocking that Vivian, a friend I visited after I was stood up by Octavia, looked me in the eye and said, “Now that you are boring, let me find embarrassing questions to ask you.” Her small oval eyes begged me to be a fun human, as according to her, my lifestyle wasn’t fun enough. And there it was, again, that word ‘boring’ being used to describe me. 

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As a content creator, getting out of my creative realm means meeting different people. Brian Khavalaji (provided)

What if, whether you know it or not, the person you think is boring, on the contrary, is fun and exciting? I mean, how deep do you go to know someone? What is the scale that measures if one is boring? Is it the silence or the small talk? Or is it that they do not do things you find fun?

In the same spirit of questioning, isn’t it absurd that Vivian found me boring, yet she based that on simple things like the fact that I do not drink or like football and cars (like every other man), I talk less, and do not bang as much? Are these the only avenues to have fun?

People nowadays want to have fun by drinking keg, cuddling a mumama, bowling, or chewing a mubaba’s money. “Mapema ndio best,” as they put it.

I am of the thought that people like Vivian are wrong in their approach to being fun and boring. According to the Uses and Gratification Theory (UGT), media users actively choose the media to consume to fulfil specific desires.

UGT suggests that humans consume media (TV, radio, newspapers, etc.) to fulfil five needs. They include; social integrative needs, tension-free needs, affective needs, cognitive needs, and personal integrative needs.

Let’s take a moment to talk about affective needs and tension-free needs.

When people are stressed, a little Netflix and chill helps them relieve stress and escape from the real world. Others, like my friend Octavia, love Korean drama so much that they hope to marry Park Seo-joon. And that is what happens with tension-free needs. The media takes you on a journey out of the real world. On the other hand, affective needs include the pleasure, moods, and emotions that come with consuming media messages. For instance, growing up, I cried when Matonya sang, “Ata kiss na hug sipati.

We laugh when watching Bena Wa Malines, Chelsea Peretti, Ann Kansiime, Dave Chappelle, Bill Burr, or Barbara Nyambura. It is also why sometimes a scene in a movie makes you believe in love again or angers you when the main character is killed. The media does all these; it gets to our thoughts and emotions. Why do you think Marvin Gaye’s Sexual Healing fits perfectly in a bedroom playlist and Jimmy Gait’s ‘furifuri’ does not?

Every time they had drinks, they would try to ask me to drink. Photo via Pixabay

As I reflect on the above, I wish to state that people are not categorically boring. If and when I want to laugh, I head over to Tik Tok to watch Kui Gakuo (all things Gen Z) or to Instagram to watch Crazy Kenner (his sex-related jokes are always top tire). I listen to Amapiano and a touch of club bangers to boost my moods. This, to me, is what people ought to do. People will not serve your needs consistently, and it’s essential to learn them early.

In 2020, I visited friends in Kisii. Every time they had drinks, they would try to ask me to drink. I only subscribe to strong non-alcoholic drinks, and backsliding is something I do not want to associate with. Like any other social group I have been in, they called me a killjoy. I do not mind because my religion is teetotalism, and we are firm believers there. Most find such a person dull, though. 

As a content creator, getting out of my creative realm means meeting different people. Usually, I do not find some of the things they do fun. But they are interesting. For instance, I stayed with a guy named Patrick Mapesa, a man of few words when sober, but a great conversationalist on Victorian Literature, The Renaissance, and Roman Villas when drunk. One day, he came home singing the late Gabriel Omollo's Lunchtime hit, a consequence of a beating of his team, Arsenal. Such are things that people I interact with do that I do not do myself but find interesting.

Boredom results from a lack of interest. Thus, we can only argue that Vivian found me boring because I offered nothing that interested her. And how do we cure this disease? We find things that are interesting and indulge in them. If she knew other things I like doing while hanging out, things would have turned out differently. And if by any chance she liked the same thing as me, we would have those ‘Jana was fun’ moments as we chatted the night away.

A pro tip to being fun even when you are broke (when you have no money to cater to some needs, you are automatically boring) and introverted is to get to know someone. Beyond the greetings, travel those dark alleys. In their depth, understand what makes this person. What do they like and dislike? As if you are a dancer, choreograph a routine that allows you to understand them, even if it’s not entirely.

Like love languages, know what people might need and try fulfilling that. If someone’s love language is words of affirmation, create time to encourage and compliment them, and frequently communicate with them through text, call, or physical means. This person feels valued when you show affection through written or spoken words. While hanging out with people, try to understand what they enjoy doing or what they love to talk about, and indulge them.

It is also essential to find common ground, especially if the two of you are from different fields. As an introvert who may seem boring and cannot ‘buy happiness and fun,’ talking about exciting things could help. For instance, my friend Meger complains that her friend talks about cars too much. “He talks about it religiously, inaniboo,” she told me. If this friend indulged Meger in archery (she is a pro), their conversations would take a different form. The idea is to not dwell so much on what we like that we forget the other person.

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I wish to state that people are not categorically boring. Brian Khavalaji (provided)

Additionally, relax. Being easygoing allows the other person to be comfortable. Reward them with a smile, a nod, or a laugh from time to time. Do not be too rigid; try to loosen a bit by making stupid jokes. I have figured that telling people stories about my heartbreaks or other peoples’ heartbreaks has always done the trick for me. So when I hang out with people, storytelling is my tool. And who doesn't laugh at other people’s foolish decisions? (when it comes to love relationships, I am the chief poor decision maker). So, tell great stories if you can.

Find your type of humour and hone it. My friend Kams is not naturally funny. However, she is good with sarcasm and puns. I love it! Whenever she posts a meme or sarcastically responds to my messages, I am left cracking up. Finding interesting jokes can help you stay on your edge and make your hangouts fun. I guess phrases like “aki wewe!” and “aki unakuwanga m-funny” have their origin here. When you reach here, you are automatically in their good books, indicating that you are simping well or they like you.

Finally, do things that you are scared of. Go to Camp Ndunda Falls, Embu, and play in the mud like village kids who do not have anything important to do. Go bowling or zip-lining. And, for heaven's sake, go for hikes. Getting out of your comfort zone allows you to explore ways you can boost your confidence. Being spontaneous is great and fun.

I hope you find ways to be fun. But beyond everything, I hope you learn that fun can be anything, not just alcohol, cars, football, sex, and food. Strive to be a better human being, and please read widely. As I strive to be a more fun person to be around, I encourage you to stop looking for certain things in people and enjoy their company and what they come with.