Fear of missing out, also known as FOMO. As Wikipedia defines it: “anxiety that an exciting or interesting event may currently be happening elsewhere, often aroused by posts seen on a social media websites.” Millennials’ are known to acutely suffer from FOMO. I’ll be the first to stand up and raise my hand, my name is Jo’el, and I am addicted to this idea that I am perpetually missing out.
I want it all. To be single, to be married, to travel, to have a career, to have money and free time. At any given place in life I am usually thinking that the grass is greener on the other side. Not only do I suffer from FOMO, but I also perpetuate it. I carefully organize my instagram and social media accounts with the best pictures, portraying a life that is a highly stylized snapshot of my existence. I am flattered when people are envious of where I have been and my life (the life I portray on instagram at least). That satisfaction lasts only as long as it takes me to browse through other people’s instagrams to be envious of their adventures.
This past week a couple of my best friends took a trip to Mexico. A trip that I was supposed to be on. Unfortunately, I am in the middle of finding a new job and at the last minute it was going to be a far more responsible choice for me to stay home. I hated that I had to choose between being responsible and, well, missing out. I was disappointed, but then I started to think. In the span of a year I have radically changed my life. I’ve changed my definitions of what success and happiness mean to me. I have abandoned some life goals, and swapped some out for new and improved goals. I deliberately redefined my life to find happiness and contentment.
I couldn’t make it on this Mexico trip, but what am I actually missing out on? The joy in every day life. The beauty that is spring in Salt Lake City, the fact that I am healthy and the people I love are healthy. I am so preoccupied with the future, with goals and travel plans, that living in the present becomes very difficult. I was asked in a recent job interview what my one-to-five year plans were, and the first thing that leapt to my mind was “I want to be happy.” I want to have a work-life balance. I always associated being happy with “when I get married,” “when I get that promotion” or “when I can take that trip”. I have aggressively crossed off items on my life to-do list, and achieved everything I set out to achieve, I still haven’t been happy. I am constantly restless, filled with a deep loneliness and fear that I am somehow, missing out on something. Success has a different meaning for me now. Now, being content is my definition of success. Not that I’ve abandoned all goals, I think it is supremely important to continue to strive and be better than you were the year before. However, the difference is internal. I want to be more loving, more gracious, more content, more peaceful than I was last year – all of those things are not about what trips I’ve taken or what job title I held.
When the day finally came and I had to drop my friends off at the airport, my heart didn’t sink. Even though I couldn’t be part of this trip, I wasn’t missing out; I am realizing the gloriousness of the moment in front of me.