On the Bright Side
February 15, 2020
I used to suffer greatly from a condition known as FOMO – Fear Of Missing Out. I wanted to see everything, do everything, be in on everything.
As a child I hated bedtime, because if other people were staying up longer than me, I just knew I might miss something fun. My nightly whine became "I'm not tired and I'm not sleepy" in the hopes that I would be allowed to stay up a little longer. (I actually used that line through college and beyond, with friends as well as with my parents; it worked much better with those friends than it ever did with my folks.)
If someone was having a party, or if someone was planning any kind of day of fun and activity, I was there. I loved doing what I loved to do, and I equally loved trying new things. If any of my friends were going to be there, I was going to be there too.
If there was a volunteer situation I could help with, I was there. If anyone needed anything, I was there and ready to help. As I said, I didn't want to miss out on anything.
Of course I wasn't invited to every party, or every event, or every other activity, but I did get in on my share of the action. That FOMO kept me going even when I should have been resting or doing something else (like a responsible adult doing housework or taxes or yard work or some such thing), but I would never admit to being too tired or too sleepy or too anything else to go do whatever was being done with whomever was doing it.
Consequently, as a teen, if I didn't have a reason to get up on a Saturday morning, I found it very easy to sleep till noon (or beyond.) But of course then by that evening I was not tired, nor was I sleepy, and nor did I want to go to bed.
My how things have changed.
Nowadays my condition is more JOMO – Joy Of Missing Out. I've almost done a complete 180 in my desire to be included and to experience anything and everything that anyone else is experiencing. I find great joy and comfort in skipping a variety of activities to be by myself or with one or two close friends, and even, yes, to go to bed early sometimes (for now I'm all too ready to admit when I am tired and/or sleepy).
I must say I like this feeling of JOMO, even as I occasionally relapse into FOMO and try to do too much. I like a little slower pace and a little more control over how I spend my time. Not everyone seems to understand my willingness – in fact, my preference – to forego many parties or other populous settings, or activities that don't interest me, and while I don't ever like hurting someone's feelings or having them think I let them down, I do like having the ability to say no and mean it.
I love the opportunity to spend my days and nights in less hectic fashion, no matter what I might be missing out on. I love not feeling like I have to volunteer for everything that "needs" my time or talents, or like I have to sign up for everything that crosses my desk (even when it is something I used to love to do). I love this slower and more meaningful pace, one more significant to my newfound need for quality over quantity of feelings and experiences.
Not everyone feels this way, nor does everyone understand JOMO, but that's all right too. The whole point of this particular syndrome is self-care, self-realization, doing things with a purpose rather than "just because." (I used to go running to climb the mountain just because it was there, and now I just enjoy knowing the mountain is there and I can climb it or not, if and when I ever see fit.)
And now that I've got my column done for The Loop, I think I'll go take a nap because yes, I admit it, I am tired and I am sleepy. And I really don't want to miss out (my new version of FOMO) on a chance to nap.